Tuesday night, I headed out to the Kiamichi Technology Center for the public comment meeting concerning proposed changes in Wildlife Department regulations. The two main changes that I am interested in deal with baiting on wildlife management areas and the expanding of bear season.
The Wildlife Department is looking at extending bear archery from Oct.1 to the third Sunday in October. This could be anywhere from 15 days to 21 days depending on what day the first falls. Also proposed is a week-long primitive arms bear season that coincides with deer primitive arms season. There will be a 20 bear quota during the primitive arms season if passed.
These are changes that I believe are needed to help control the bear population, and also give everyone a better opportunity to take a bear. Joe Hemphill of the Wildlife Department expects no more than 50 bears to be taken if these changes happen.
Now, the proposal that I have a problem with is the one that will make it unlawful to bait in the WMAs. There was a fair amount of discussion over this issue, including several trappers who use bait for there traplines along with deer hunters. Hemphill said that he had checked the online comments earlier in the day, and said that there were about 200 comments and most of them were against the change.
If that is true, we will see if the Wildlife Department public hearings are actually used to make decisions or just a formality. I dealt with the forest department in the past, and, from my experience, public hearings are just for show. I hope these are not the same.
One interesting thing I learned was the reason for the proposed changes dealing with baiting in WMAs. Apparently there were some conflicts in some WMAs out west that ended in fights over hunters hanging stands over somebody else’s corn. Now, I don’t like the idea of everyone being punished over a few inconsiderate (and down right dumb) individuals. That is just not right. (You know what Ron White says, “You can’t fix stupid.”)
Please go to the Wildlife Department's website and post your online comments on the proposed changes by Friday. It also would not hurt to talk to our state representatives, and let them know how we feel about the proposed changes.
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