By Randy Zellers | Arkansas Game & Fish Commission
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will host three meetings in the next month to discuss Arkansas’s deer herd and changes to local deer hunting regulations for portions of the state where chronic wasting disease was detected during the 2021-22 deer season.
Open-house meetings will be held at the Pocahontas Community Center in Randolph County from 5-8 p.m. Aug. 30 and the El Dorado Conference Center in Union County from 6-9 p.m. Sept. 15.
An additional virtual meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 8, for those who cannot attend the in-person meetings. Hunters who can travel to an in-person meeting are encouraged to do so.
“We’ve restructured the format of these meetings to be much more informal and more inviting,” Cory Gray, chief of the AGFC Research Division, said. “There will still be a short presentation to relay information about CWD and why it’s being monitored so closely, but we’ll also have biologists and researchers available throughout the meeting to speak one-on-one with anyone who attends.”
The Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation has agreed to provide hot dogs and hamburgers during the El Dorado meeting so attendees don’t have to miss supper to learn about the work AGFC is doing and how to get their deer tested for CWD during hunting season.
In addition to questions about CWD, biologists and enforcement officers will be on hand to answer any questions on regulations, the Deer Management Assistance Program and other habitat management work benefitting Arkansas’s deer herd. Staff from Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge and Louisiana Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks will also be in attendance to visit with hunters.
The virtual meeting on Sept. 8 will be held via Zoom conferencing software and will feature talks on the basic science of CWD, the South Arkansas response in 2021-2022 and what hunters can do to help fight this disease in Arkansas.
Dr. Jenn Ballard, state wildlife veterinarian for the AGFC, said. “CWD is a different type of disease than what people commonly think of in terms of human health, and the methods to monitor and slow the disease’s spread also are different. Participating in this Zoom webinar will help deliver that same information to an audience, no matter where they are participating from. We know a large percentage of hunters who check deer in south Arkansas travel from other parts of the state, so this virtual option lets them tune in and learn about how the recent detection will impact their hunting as well.”
All participants in the virtual meeting must register online through the AGFC’s Outdoor Skills Calendar at https://www.register-ed.com/events/view/186489. Attendance is limited to the first 500 people who sign up.