Commission Approves All Hunting, Fishing Rule Changes Except One
During their regular March meeting, Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commissioners approved all but one of the changes, additions and deletions proposed this year for Title 800, the administrative rules that govern operations of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
The one proposal that did not come before the Commission would have required all fish taken while bowfishing to be kept until the angler stopped fishing for the day. This proposal was dropped from consideration after it generated considerable public comment. Staff decided to delay the proposal so that more data can be collected before possibly proposing future harvest rules, Fisheries Chief Barry Bolton said.
Among the fishing rule changes approved at Monday’s meeting were setting a daily limit of three trout statewide; allowing paddlefish harvest on Mondays and Fridays; and an amended rule to prohibit the disposal of fish remains within 100 yards of any boat ramp or swimming area; and an amended requirement to label certain fishing equipment, such as trot lines and jugs, with the angler’s ODWC customer identification number or name and address.
Wildlife rule changes included exempting blaze orange clothing requirements for dove hunters when big-game firearms seasons are underway, and closing feral hog hunting on Kaw, Sandy Sanders, Hackberry Flat and Waurika Wildlife Management Areas because of ongoing eradication projects by the state Agriculture, Food and Forestry Department. Continued hunting of feral hogs on those areas creates disturbances that will jeopardize project effectiveness.
In other business:
- Commissioners approved a resolution recognizing the National Rifle Association for its involvement in creating Oklahoma’s free online hunter education program. NRA representative Peter Churchbourne said Oklahoma has been a trendsetter nationally in developing the NRA’s hunter education program and using it to bring about $190,000 in additional federal matching funds into the state each year for fish and wildlife management. The Department’s Hunter Education Coordinator Lance Meek presented an overview of the state’s hunter education efforts.
Lands and Minerals Coordinator Kristen Gillman explained how the Wildlife Department’s mineral interests on Wildlife Management Areas and other facilities are managed in partnership with the Commissioners of the Land Office and leased to produce income for ODWC conservation activities.
- Legislative Liaison Corey Jager updated Commissioners on the status of wildlife-related bills that are still moving through the Oklahoma Legislature. Bills remaining active include requiring land for sale be listed for six months on open market before ODWC can consider buying that land; a request to move all licensing out of statute and allowing the Wildlife Commission to create licenses and set fees by administrative rule, which will allow modernization of ODWC’s license structure; and allowing coyote and hog nuisance control at night without a permit requirement.
- Director J.D. Strong reported on ODWC’s activities in various divisions since the previous meeting, including plans for the second Game Warden Training Academy and a divisional name change from Information and Education to Communication and Education, to better describe ODWC’s goal to foster back-and-forth communication between the agency and the people it serves. He also mentioned the launch of the Outdoor Oklahoma Adventures raffle program that will offer various prizes including guided hunts, fishing trips and ODWC outings.
- Commissioners recognized Lands and Minerals Coordinator and GIS Supervisor Kristen Gillman for 20 years of service.
Go online to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZYs8DAiCXc to view a video recording of the meeting.
The next regular Commission meeting is set for 9 a.m. April 5, 2021, at the John D. Groendyke Wildlife Conservation Building, 1801 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City.