Saturday, October 25, 2014 · 6:14 a.m.

Wildlife commissioners hear about carp, turkeys and mobile apps

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William Brown of Chattanooga was honored at the conclusion of the February meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission on Friday. Brown, an attorney, served as the chairman of the governing board of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for the past two years. (From left to right) TWRA Executive Director Ed Carter, Commissioner Jim Bledsoe (Jamestown), William Brown, Commission Chairman Dr. Jeff McMillin (Bristol) and Commission Vice Chairman Jeffrey Griggs (Lexington). Brown will continue to serve as a member of the commission. (Photo: Contributed)

The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission received a final preview during its February meeting on the new Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency mobile app. The TWRA mobile Web application is set for launch on Monday, Feb. 18, the first day of sales for 2013-14 hunting and fishing licenses.

The TFWC concluded its two-day meeting on Friday at the TWRA Region II Ray Bell Building. The TFWC also elected its new officers for 2013-14 at this month’s meeting.

Michael May, TWRA Information Technology Division chief, gave details about the new TWRA mobile app. At the TFWC January meeting, the commission approved a change regarding future big game tagging and check-in procedures. The change calls for all big game animals to be checked in at an approved TWRA checking station, on the TWRA website or by the TWRA mobile app by the end of calendar day of harvest. As a result, the previous paper kill tag methods are being replaced with new harvest log procedures.

The new mobile app allows customers to report a big game harvest via a smartphone or tablet device. In addition, customers will be able to purchase licenses and renew boat registrations on these devices.

Customers will still have the option to purchase licenses, renew boat registrations and report big game harvests in the traditional methods that are currently available. The new app goes live at 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 18. Instructions and information are available here.

Along with the buttons for license sales, boat renewals and harvest reporting, there is a view harvest log and diary button. This screen allows sportsmen to track their season’s harvest.

Dr. Jeff McMillin assumed the role of chairman at the completion of the meeting. He replaced William Brown of Chattanooga, who served two years as chairman of TWRA’s governing board. He was the final chairman for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission and became the first chairman of the newly named Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission. Brown will continue to serve on the commission until 2015.

McMillan, a dentist from Bristol, was serving as vice chairman. Jeffrey Griggs of Lexington moved into the vice chair position after serving as secretary. Jim Bledsoe of Jamestown is the new secretary.

In other business at the meeting, Dr. Gray Anderson, TWRA Assistant Forestry and Wildlife Division chief, gave a preview of the upcoming spring turkey hunting season.

He reported that the population is stable in the state as indicated by spring harvest numbers. Turkey hunters have harvested more than 30,000 birds on an annual basis the past 10 years, and the 2012 harvest was near 34,000.

TWRA Fisheries Division Chief Bobby Wilson presented the status of Asian carp, which is a nuisance species in Tennessee’s waterways. Silver and bighead carp are spreading from the Mississippi River up the Cumberland and Tennessee systems. At the agency’s request, Kevin Irons of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources presented Illinois’ efforts to eradicate these species.

The TWRA Fisheries Division, at the request of the Commercial Fishery Advisory Committee, proposed changes to commercial fishing regulations in an effort to increase harvest of Asian carp. The TWRA is recommending that 4 1/2-inch mesh gill nets be allowed as legal commercial tackle. Commercial fishers anticipate better efficiency at removing carp with the large mesh.

The CFAC also requested to extend the hours of commercial fishing in the creeks and embayments on Kentucky Lake. Currently, commercial fishing activities are restricted during the months of April and May from 9 p.m. until 4 a.m. This regulation was enacted years ago to decrease encounters between crappie fishermen and commercial fishermen. The TWRA is recommending to extend the nighttime commercial fishing activities to one hour after sunset until 5 a.m. in April and May.

The third request by the commercial Fishing Advisory Committee was to open up more areas in the Duck River embayment to commercial fishing. TWRA recommended no changes to this regulation because of concerns for striped bass and paddlefish fisheries.

The TWFC will hold its next meeting on one day, Friday, March 22. The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. in the TWRA Ray Bell Region II Building.

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