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Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency news

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 Commission votes to delay

Sandhill hunting seasons

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission (TWRC) has delayed a decision for at least two years to move forward through the regulation process and request the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to establish a hunting season for sandhill cranes in the Volunteer State.

The decision came in a vote by the commission at its January meeting, which concluded Friday at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Region II Ray Bell Building in Nashville. A lengthy discussion was held during the wildlife portion of the committee meetings on Thursday. The commission heard presentations from Tim White, migratory game bird coordinator for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), and Jim Kelley of the USFWS. The TWRC also heard opinions from representatives on both sides of the issue. 

A draft hunt plan by the TWRA had been presented to the commission at the June 2010 meeting for a 2011-12 season. The Mississippi and Atlantic Flyway councils approved this plan in July 2010. The commission had directed the agency to develop this plan as a result of a request made by the Tennessee Wildlife Federation. A period for accepting public comments began last fall concerning the possibility of the establishment of a sandhill crane hunting season and continued until prior to the TWRC meeting.

In other business at the January meeting, the TWRC approved the TWRA’s proposals for a third managed elk hunt in Tennessee this fall. The hunt will be held Oct. 17-21, with five permits available for antlered bulls only. 

Four of the elk permits will again be randomly selected through a drawing conducted by the TWRA, while the fifth permit will be donated to an organization ‑ yet to be determined ‑ which will help raise monies for Tennessee’s elk program.

As in the previous two years, hunters will be assigned to one of five elk hunting zones. Additional tagging procedures will also require hunters to adequately mark the exact location of their harvest.

The commission approved a proposal concerning a TWRA and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation marketing/branding program. TWRA Executive Director Ed Carter told the commission that Steve Nifong and Ed Warr would serve as interim directors of the law enforcement and wildlife divisions, respectively. Sonny Richardson retired as law enforcement chief, and Greg Wathen is now serving as Gulf Coastal Plans and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) coordinator. Both Nifong and Warr were assistant chiefs in their divisions.

The TWRC set its meetings for the next two months. The commission will meet Feb. 23-24 and March 23-24 at the TWRA Region II Ray Bell Building in Nashville. The public is invited to attend.