Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission passed an emergency rule to provide a different procedure for issuing duck blinds this year to help protect public health due to COVID-19. The action came Friday at the June meeting of the commission held at Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Region II Ray Bell Building.
The handheld drawings usually result in large crowds gathering at the various sites. A computerized drawing will be held instead of a handheld drawing for 12 wildlife management areas and applications can be submitted at GoOutdoorsTN.com from July 2-26. Results will be available by August 1 and successful hunters will receive an electronic blind permit. Additional details concerning this year’s process will be coming soon.
In addition, TWRA will also hold a computerized drawing for all sandhill crane tags and not conduct the traditional in-person drawing for the Southeast Sandhill Crane Zone tags. The application period will be September 2-23 on GoOutdoorsTN.com. More information will also be available in the coming weeks.
An update on chronic wasting disease (CWD) was given. Chuck Yoest, TWRA’s CWD coordinator, said the agency is in the process of finalizing procurement for the incinerator to be placed in Unit CWD. It will be located at the Fayette County Landfill in Somerville.
In partnership with Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA), TWRA is continuing disposal planning for this fall. In, addition, an extensive effort will begin to recruit landowners in strategic CWD areas to supplement hunter harvest to help best manage CWD. Other planning includes developing a comprehensive budget for CWD and preparing to provide CWD testing opportunities to hunters for the deer they harvest this fall.
Fisheries Chief Frank Fiss presented an overview of angler recognition programs. Tennessee Angler Recognition Program (TARP) started in 2003 and recognizes trophy-sized fish as well as first catches. To date, more than 7,000 entries have identified some of the best waters to fish in the state. Anglers can look to the TWRA website to learn more about these programs and where trophies are being caught.
Jenifer Wisniewski, Outreach and Communications Chief, reported on R3 (Recruitment, Retention, Reactivation) during the Covid-19 pandemic. People are returning to or trying hunting and fishing for the first time this year, and we can see that in the increase in the number of fishing and hunting licenses sold so far. There are several projects on the horizon including brand partnerships, advancing CWD communications, an online store, event system, and continuing outreach and marketing efforts.
TFWC’s next meeting is scheduled for August 20-21 in Kingsport.