Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency news

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State wildlife commission
holds final meeting of year

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission held its final meeting of 2010, with status reports presented on several programs and projects.
•Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) Wildlife Division Chief Greg Wathen provided commission members information on the State Wildlife Grants program, which was implemented in 2000 to provide critical funding in support of fish and wildlife that are rare and on the decline. Since the program began, the TWRA has been allocated more than $10 million, which has been used to enhance nongame wildlife conservation programs statewide. Many of the projects funded with these dollars have provided important habitat for all wildlife.
To participate in the State Wildlife Grants program, each state wildlife agency was required to develop a State Wildlife Action Plan. Tennessee’s plan has been recognized as one of the best plans in the nation due, in large part, to the partnership that TWRA formed with The Nature Conservancy.
In recognition of the 10-year anniversary, Scott Davis, executive director of The Tennessee Nature Conservancy, spoke of the benefits the partnership had garnered and outlined the role that his organization had played.
•Al Cecere, founder and president of the American Eagle Foundation, along with several staff members, brought a variety of birds that have gone through rehab provided by the foundation. Among the birds present was a well-known bald eagle named Challenger that performs nationally at athletic and various events and will be appearing during the pre-game at the Titans-Colts football game on Dec. 9.
•Kevin Liska, director of the business media center at Tennessee Tech University, presented a pair of educational programs, “Ollie the Otter” and “Sammy Sturgeon,” designed to bring awareness to seat belt safety among elementary and middle school students. Sammy Sturgeon will also deliver conservation messages, including careers related to wildlife, fish and renewable energy.
•A project overview and status report for the Elizabethton Fish Hatchery was made. The commission heard a report and viewed a video on the status of hellbenders in Tennessee. The hellbender is the largest amphibian in North America.
The TWRC will hold its next meeting on Monday, Jan. 24, 2011 at 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

Bear season
is underway

The final portion of the 2010 bear-hunting season is underway, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). The season continues through Dec. 15.
Tennessee counties open for bear hunting include Blount, Carter, Cocke, Greene, Jefferson (east of Hwy. 411), Johnson, Monroe, Polk (east of Hwy. 411 and north of Hwy. 64), Sevier, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington. All bear reserves are closed to bear hunting.
For bear hunting on wildlife management areas, hunters should consult the 2010 regulations as they pertain to specific WMAs. Regulations can be found in the 2010 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide, which is available online at www.tnwildlife.org  and anywhere hunting licenses are sold.
The 2009 season set an all-time record with 573 bears harvested in Tennessee. State wildlife officials expect another good year, as the bear population continues to be healthy.
The limit on bears for any person participating in statewide or WMA hunts, or both, shall not exceed 1 bear per calendar year. This bear may be either sex.
Cubs or female bears with cubs may not be taken at any time. A cub is defined as a bear weighing 75 lbs. or less. Bears may be whole or field-dressed but must weigh 75 lbs. or more when checked in.
The reproductive organs must remain attached to each bear until it has been officially checked in at an official TWRA checking station. Bears may not be checked in via the Internet.