On May 1st, 2016 the WVDNR Commission held its second quarterly meeting for the year at Twin Falls Resort Park. The quarterly meetings are always open to the public and are moved around from place to place in the state to give everyone an opportunity to see the inner workings of the commission.
This open meeting policy is so that the concerned hunters and fishermen from around the state can always keep tabs on those that make the rules that govern our sport and to let their voices be heard when controversial topics arise. It also allows for the commission to get a feel of what the sportsmen and women around the state are most interested in.
There were several items on the May 1st agenda, but the main topic of focus was to approve the 2016 big game regulations as they were proposed at the February meeting of the commission.
The framework for the proposed regulations was presented at the February meeting and then it was put out for public input all across the state. The WVDNR also holds 12 sectional meetings at various locations throughout the state in mid-March to allow sportsmen the opportunity to offer input on the proposed regulations.
This year just over 300 people showed up to the 12 sectional meetings and made comments on the proposed regulations. An additional 131 individuals mailed in comments along with 49 clubs representing another 7,725 members.
Turnout and input on this year’s proposals was not as high as it has been in the past, but it was pretty close to the average of what they see according to Gary Foster, Supervisor of Game Management for the WVDNR. According to Foster, “this means everyone is either pretty happy with what we are doing, or they just didn’t think it would matter.”
Hopefully, the low turnout is truly because the sportsmen-at-large are satisfied with the way the WVDNR is managing our wildlife. If not, we have a whole lot of people missing the boat when it comes to making their voices heard about the states wildlife resources.
Gary did point out that there is generally a higher attendance and response to the meetings and the questionnaire in years when there are big changes or controversial topics on the proposed regulations.
This year the biggest change in the big game regulations comes in the form of a 1 week statewide fall turkey season that was proposed.
In years past the number of spring gobblers that were harvested determined if the county would be open for a fall either sex turkey season. Under the new regulations a statewide season is proposed with the traditional turkey strong holds having the 2 or 4 week fall season as they have in years past.
All remaining big game regulations will be pretty close to that of last year, with only a few minor tweaks here and there. These were mostly in the form of fine tuning counties and bag limits on antlerless deer in various counties around the state. There were no major changes in those regards.
The regulations were approved by the commissioners as they were proposed and the new regulations pamphlets should already be in the works. These will be hot off the press in the upcoming weeks.
If you can’t take the anticipation, you can always look up the regulations as they were proposed at www.wvdnr.gov. There you can find exactly what was proposed to the panel and see how it might affect your upcoming hunting season.
The 2017 small game regulations will be on the agenda at the next meeting set for July 17th, 2016 and then the 2018 fishing regulations will show up not long after that. So, if you are a concerned sportsman and looking to have your voice heard, make a point to attend the commission meetings and check out how those regulations are set.
If you can’t make it to the commission meetings, then be sure to make plans to attend the sectional meetings held around the state next March and get your two-cents worth put in. These meetings are also a great way to meet the hard working guys and gals from the WVDNR who are on the front line protecting the wildlife resources we all love.