The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission has made regulatory changes in response to the confirmation of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer in Fayette and Hardeman counties. The changes came at a called meeting of the TFWC on Dec. 20 at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency headquarters.
The commission voted to establish a CWD management zone, which currently includes Fayette, Hardeman and McNairy counties.
The commission took action to create deer carcass exportation restrictions and a restriction on feeding wildlife within the high-risk area of the CWD management zone, with exceptions that apply. The high-risk area of the CWD management zone includes counties within a 10-mile radius of the location of a confirmed CWD positive deer.
Another regulation change for the CWD management zone is the creation of a new deer hunting season. An archery/muzzleloader/gun deer season was established there for Jan. 7-31, 2019. The bag limit for the season is one antlered deer and unlimited for antlerless deer.
All wildlife management areas and other public land on which deer hunting activities are permitted within the three counties will be open during this newly established season.
As of this weekend, all hunters harvesting deer on weekends (Saturday-Sunday) are required to check the deer in at a physical check station.
The TWRA will publish the locations of these stations on its website (www.tnwildlife.org).
The TWRA is continuing its efforts of targeted sampling for CWD outside of the CWD management zone. Emphasis will be placed on those counties surrounding the CWD management zone.
With the positive confirmation, Tennessee became the 26th state to have documented CWD. There also have been three Canadian provinces to have CWD. The TWRA enacted the CWD Response Plan last week following the preliminary positive detection. The response involves a coordinated effort between TWRA, Tennessee Department of Agriculture and other partners.
Although CWD has no known risk to the health of humans or livestock, it is a contagious and deadly neurological disorder that affects members of the deer family. It is transmitted through animal-to-animal contact, animal contact with a contaminated environment and with contaminated feed or water sources. It is the most significant threat to the deer population nationwide, as it is 100 percent fatal to deer and elk.
Wildlife agencies across the country are working to inform the public about CWD, its deadly results and possible impacts to economies.
More information about CWD, including cervid import restrictions and videos that explain how to properly dress an animal before transporting it, can be found on TWRA’s website at www.tnwildlife.org (www.tn.gov/content/tn/twra/hunting/cwd.html).
ANTLERLESS DEER HUNT
Deer hunters across Unit L, which comprises all counties in West Tennessee and the lion’s share of those in Middle Tennessee, will have a special antlerless hunt from Jan. 7-11.
According to TWRA regulations, no public lands or wildlife management areas are open during the period. No antlered deer may be taken during the segment.
For additional information, log on to TWRA’s website at www.tnwildlife.org.
DEER HARVEST UPDATE
Henry County continues to maintain its second-place ranking among the state’s 95 counties in the total deer harvest.
Since season opened on the fourth Saturday in September, hunters here have checked in a total of 2,799 as of midweek.
Giles County is leading the statewide harvest. Hunters there have taken 2,988 thus far.
Deer hunters will see the season fade away for the regular gun season on Jan. 6, but another five days of antlerless hunting will run through Jan. 11. The curtain will fall after the last of two youth deer hunts on the weekend of Jan. 12-13.
WINTER FISHING SCENE MEDIOCRE
Winter crappie anglers got a few nice days the last week or so when mild temperatures and light winds allowed them to venture out to main lake areas.
There were a few windy days, too, when chilly conditions interrupted the fishing scene, but sandwiched between some inclimate weather were opportunities.
Crappie anglers are still struggling for the most part in their quest to find consistent catches of keeper fish.
However, there have been a few decent stringers reported lately by lucky anglers who managed to find and catch some of the illusive panfish.
Depths of 12-13 feet gave up a few fish for anglers targeting big bays on the east side of the reservoir lately. Most of the fish seemed to reside in such places as they dodged the current that has been in existence for several weeks.
The overall early winter crappie fishing scene has been inconsistent for the bulk of anglers. An occasional success story filters in by a lucky boat or two who found a few fish one day. If they return the next day, hoping to duplicate their success, it seems the fish are not there.
TVA has been pulling water down all week, but projected the reservoir would be down to its low ebb of winter pool by this weekend. Elevation on Christmas Day was about 354.9 at Kentucky Dam. That’s down about a foot from a week ago at this time.
Water color has been relatively clear across the reservoir. Surface temperatures have been in the 45- to 46-degree range.
After a few mild days, the forecast appears to be turning cooler by this weekend, as some nasty north winds are expected to descend and chill the overall scene.
Looks like winter weather will hang around well into next week, kicking off a cold start to the new year. Temperatures are forecast to climb only into the mid 40s and dropping down at night below the freezing mark.
Jan. 6 — Deer gun season ends.
Jan. 7-11 — Antlerless deer hunt begins in Unit L.
Jan. 12-13 — Young Sportsmen’s deer hunt.
Jan. 15 — Dove season ends.