LITTLE ROCK — Biologists with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission are seeking public input on the current revision to Arkansas’s White-tailed Deer Strategic Management Plan. This is the first review and revision of the plan since 2013.
The plan is reviewed every five to seven years to adapt to changing needs by developments in Arkansas’s deer herd and available habitat.
“Obviously, the discovery of chronic wasting disease in Arkansas is a major factor that has changed Arkansas’s deer management strategies since the last version of the plan,” Ralph Meeker, AGFC Deer Program Coordinator, said during a presentation to the Commission about the revision. “We also have an upcoming review of our CWD management plan that focuses solely on that part of our deer management. However, this strategic plan takes a deep look at trends in harvest, biological, and observation data for each deer zone. From that we are able to draft regulation proposals intended to reach target deer densities.”
The plan was drafted by the agency’s deer program coordinator and assistant deer program coordinator with considerable input from the agency’s Deer Management Team, a collection of biologists and enforcement personnel from every region of the state. Additional review was provided by Wildlife Management Division administration as well as representatives from the agency’s Research, Evaluation, and Compliance Division and Communications Division before being submitted to the Commissioners for their review.
“A lot of work goes into the development of this plan. Once the nuts and bolts of the plan are in place, we try to get as much input from staff that work regularly with both deer and the public in order to ensure that we submit a quality document for public review. Once the public is able to submit their comments through the online survey, we will try and incorporate pertinent changes before the plan is presented to the Commission for final approval,” Meeker said. “We try to be as transparent as possible about the plan, and we try to do what we can to adjust it to what the majority of our hunters want as long as it is something that makes sound biological sense. We do realize and appreciate that hunters are our biggest partner in the management of white-tailed deer in Arkansas.”
The draft of the plan and a public comment survey are available at www.agfc.com/en/hunting/big-game/deer/2019-strategic-deer-management-plan/. Comments will be accepted until Jan. 20th. The Deer Management Team will then make needed revisions and submit the final draft to the Commission at its regularly scheduled February meeting.