Commission Pauses on Turkey Season Changes as Data Is Reviewed
Also, Leigh Gaddis to Become First Female Commission Chairman
In its regular meeting June 7, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission decided to temporarily postpone a decision on a resolution that would change turkey hunting season dates and bag limits. A proposal was set forth by agency staff that, among other changes, would have set a statewide season April 16 to May 16 and reduced the statewide spring season limit at one tom.
However, Commissioners expressed their interest in making the most informed decision possible and will be taking a deeper dive into the available data, including population trends and harvest numbers, as well as reviewing the more than 5,000 public comments submitted regarding the proposed changes. Commissioners have scheduled a special meeting June 28, when they are expected to decide on any turkey season changes.
Also, Commissioners approved the annual resolution setting this fall’s hunting season dates and bag limits for migratory birds. Hunting for ducks, mergansers and coots will be Oct. 9-Jan. 5, 2022, in the Panhandle counties, and Nov. 13-28 and Dec. 4-Jan. 30, 2022, in the remainder of the state. The bag limit will be six daily including no more than five mallards (only two may be hens), three wood ducks, two redheads, two canvasbacks, one scaup and one northern pintail.
In other business, Commissioners:
• Recognized outgoing District 1 Commissioner Robert S. Hughes II of Bartlesville upon the completion of his eight-year term.
• Approved a Fiscal Year 2022 agency budget totaling $78.15 million.
• Accepted a donation of $7,020 from Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever chapters to support upland game conservation efforts, presented by Oklahoma Regional Representative Laura McIver and Central Oklahoma Chapter President Troy Ellefson.
• Heard an update on plans for the North American Falconers Association 60th annual meeting set for Nov. 14-19 at Quartz Mountain State Park.
• Passed regulations for opening the new Barren Fork Wildlife Management Area for public use. These rules mirror those applying to nearby WMAs.
• Approved Commission officers for the coming year: Leigh Gaddis, chairman; James V. Barwick, vice chairman; Rick Holder, secretary-treasurer.
• Received reports from Director J.D. Strong on activities in each of ODWC’s divisions since the previous meeting. One highlight was continued success with the Department’s first Outdoor Oklahoma Adventures raffle program, with a cow elk hunt and a lifetime combo license generating the most interest. Raffle tickets will be sold through Aug. 6. For more information, go to https://www.wildlifedepartment.com/outdoorok/adventures.
To view a video recording of the June regular meeting, go to https://youtu.be/BbBtGkJMxh4. The next scheduled Commission meeting will be a special meeting set for 9 a.m. June 28, 2021, at the John D. Groendyke Wildlife Conservation Building, 1801 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City.
* * *
Leigh Gaddis Selected First Female Wildlife Commission Chairman
The selection of Leigh Gaddis as chairman marks the first time the state Wildlife Conservation Commission will have a female at the helm.
Gaddis, of Ada, was appointed by then-Gov. Mary Fallin in 2014 to serve out an unexpired term, and again in 2018 to a regular eight-year term representing District 4 in central Oklahoma.
“The outdoors are so important to me and my entire family, and it’s an incredible honor to be able to help support the mission of conserving our vital fish and wildlife resources while expanding opportunities where we can to enjoy those resources,” she said.
“There are certainly many great conservation successes in recent decades, particularly with our big game species, but there also some challenges with species like turkey and quail and other ground-nesting birds. I look forward to working with Department staff to keep outdoor recreation great in this great state I love so much.”
Gaddis, of Ada, and her husband, Roger, co-founded Gaddis & Gaddis Wealth Management, a financial planning and investment business that has operations in Ada, Ardmore, Durant and McAlester.
Gaddis is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association; a member of Safari Club International; annual participant in the Oklahoma City Gun Club’s Women on Target Shooting Clinic; and helped host the Governor’s Big Buck Hunt in 2011.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology education from East Central University. In her free time, she enjoys hunting and fishing with her husband and their four sons.
* * *
The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Oklahoma Senate.
Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commissioner Leigh Gaddis of Ada
was selected to become chairman of the Commission beginning in July.
She becomes the first woman to hold that position in Oklahoma.