I had a phone conference two weeks back with two Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation officials and State Representative James Lockhart about the stopping of baiting in the Wildlife Management Areas. I said that I could not understand why hunter conflicts out west was changing the rules in the east because that was what the attendees were led to believe at the public comment meeting at the Kiamichi Technology Center about a month ago.
The wildlife officials wanted to bring up a new topic that they didn’t discuss at the public comment meeting. Now, it wants to talk about possible diseases that could be spread by a concentration of feeders on public land. But then, the ODWC could not give me a good answer on why they did not stop baiting on private land if diseases were a true and valid problem. I said that it would be just as detrimental to the deer if 100 deer were eating at one feeder as it would be if 100 deer were eating at 50 feeders. To my amazement, they did not concur with this line of thought.
I asked Lockhart what he suggested the department should do about the issue of no-baiting on Wildlife Management Areas, and what he planned to do to help the cause for the hunters in our part of the state.
“I would like to see Oklahoma's wildlife laws or rules be based upon sound scientific data that ensures sustainable wildlife management practices rather than on what's popular with certain special interests,” Lockhart said. “I have, and will continue, to fight to keep access open to public lands and ensure those lands are available to future generations. Hunting and fishing are FAMILY traditions, especially in southeast Oklahoma — and it’s a tradition worth protecting.”
I personally think this is a very politically correct answer. It’s a little vague, generic and almost canned, but this is his comment — and it is better than nothing. I hope to talk candidly with him one-on-one in the near future to give him some of my thoughts on a solution which maybe both sides could accept.
Lockhart did agree with my feelings on the public comment meeting at KTC being a joke, and waste of time and taxpayers' money. To start the meeting, the ODWC officials at the meeting had an informal discussion, and then turned on the tape recorder — and then hurried through the agenda really quickly. I have been to some of these “public comment” meetings in the past that took place by the U.S. Forest Service. Obviously, our comments mean nothing to either of these groups. The meetings are set up to meet specific regulations and guidelines, and that’s the real deal.
I will soon have a list of the wildlife officials' and commissioners' names, along with their contact information. This way, you can bombard those offices with opinions and more comments on the issue, and your thoughts on the way this is being handled.
Have a great week!
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