Tuesday, September 2, 2014 · 7:36 a.m.

Wildlife commission relaxes commercial fishing regulations

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These are the 13 districts for the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission, although the current District 4 commissioner has been removed. A new District 4 commissioner has not been appointed. (Image: Contributed)

In an effort to allow commercial fishermen to more aggressively pursue Asian carp, the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission approved an amendment to the commercial fishing proclamation at its March meeting, which was held Friday in Nashville.

Frank Fiss, TWRA Fisheries Division assistant chief, presented Proclamation 13-02. The amendment added black carp to the list of commercial fish species, modified commercial fishing hours on embayments of Kentucky Lake and changed gillnet mesh size regulations.

On the Mississippi River, legal mesh size will be 3 inches or larger. On other commercially open waters, legal mesh size will be 3 to 4.5 and 6 inches and larger. The changes will be effective 30 days after filed in the secretary of state’s office.

Chuck Yoest, TWRA wild hog coordinator, provided a summary of the 2012 landowner exemption program. The exemption program exists to enable property owners to control wild hogs. There were 1,114 exemptions issued in 2012 to landowners across the state.

TWRA estimates that approximately 3,800 wild hogs were taken by exemption holders in 2012. Of the wild hogs taken, 38 percent were taken through trapping, 38 percent by shooting, 18 percent by other means and 6 percent by unknown means. TWRA has received overwhelming positive feedback regarding the exemption program, Yoest said.

TWRA state ornithologist Scott Somershoe gave a report about TWRA’s participation in a multistate project to track the movements of golden eagles. The report indicated that the winter golden eagle population is higher than it was originally thought to be in the state.

The March meeting was the first under the direction of the new TFWC officers that were appointed at the February meeting. Dr. Jeff McMillin, the new TFWC chairman, announced the eight committee assignments for the commission for the coming year. One of the committees is new, which will be known as the Biodiversity/Multiple Use Committee. Commissioner Julie Schuster will serve as the chairperson, while Clayton Stout will serve as the vice chairperson.

Bill Reeves, TWRA chief of biodiversity, reported on the TWRA receiving the Teaming with Wildlife Partnership Award for its efforts with hellbenders. The award was presented earlier this month by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies in Washington, D.C., at the Rayburn House Office Building.

Joey Woodard, executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation, spoke to the commission about the upcoming 2013 Governor’s One-Shot Turkey Hunt to be held April 5-6. The format for the event has changed this year, as the hunt will now be held on two days. The Williamson County Ag Expo Center in Franklin is the new hub for the event. The Governor’s One-Shot Turkey Hunt benefits the foundation and various TWRA outreach programs.

The TWFC will return to its regular two-day format at its next meeting in April. The meeting will be held at the Paris Convention Center in Henry County on April 25-26.

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