Wildlife Department halts WMA baiting starting on July 1 in spite of public input

Not too long ago, I attended a public opinion meeting regarding baiting in Oklahoma Wildlife Management Areas. While at the meeting we were told by Jody Hemphill that “most of the people” who commented on the issue were “against” stopping baiting in the WMAs, we were also told that the problems were happening in WMAs out in the western part of the state, not here in the east. Specifically, hunters were placing bait in WMAs, and ,when they came back to hunt, another hunter would be set up over the bait. This caused physical and verbal disputes between the hunters.Now as a result of this issue, the Wildlife Department made the announcement a few weeks ago that baiting within Wildlife Management Areas would not be allowed after July 1 anywhere in the state.I understand where there could be a problem when there is limited public land to hunt (as in the case out west), but we have about 250,000 public acres here. So, it has not been an issue for us and never will be.I personally believe that we were misled at the meeting, for whatever reason, and that they were going to make the change regardless what the public opinion turned out to be. Obviously, the comments they were taking were simply a formality, and we were all wasting our time filling them out.I also don’t understand why we have to have restrictions in the eastern part of the state for problems that happen out west. Representative James Lockhart was at this meeting and heard everything that I did. I hope that he goes to bat for his constituents in his district and gets this decision reversed.How do you think the people in the western part of the state would feel if their turkey season was cut to two weeks because we have low numbers in the east? That is exactly what happened to our turkey season this year. We have less hunting days than those out west. So, you can’t reason with me and tell me that every rule has to apply to the whole state because season dates and hunting methods vary for several species all across the state. So, there “are” differences from there to here.I really hope someone wakes up and finds a big bowl of common sense and decides to not punish us in the east for problems that arise due to the west’s limited public hunting land. Mr. Lockhart, the hunters here in LeFlore County are hoping (and expecting) you get active on this issue.Have a great week!— — —Email questions or comments to gmidgley_golf@yahoo.com.