The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Outdoors

March 23, 2014

Sportsmen, the DNR wants your comments

Attention, sportsmen. The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources wants your comments about the recent proposed regulation changes for hunting, fishing and trapping for the upcoming years.

I commend the WVDNR for their efforts and willingness to make it easy for us sportsmen to voice our opinions on our favorite pastime: time afield hunting and fishing.

This past week, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources held 12 public meetings across the state to provide hunters, trappers, anglers, landowners and other interested parties an opportunity to review and comment on proposed 2014 hunting regulations for white-tailed deer, wild turkey, black bear and boar, proposed 2015-2016 general hunting and trapping regulations, proposed 2015 fishing regulations and amphibian and reptile regulations.

“These public meetings have been designed to use an ‘Open House’ format,” said DNR Director Frank Jezioro. “This informal meeting style allows people to attend at their convenience during the scheduled meeting times, learn of proposed regulation changes, discuss these proposals with personnel from the Wildlife Resources and Law Enforcement sections, and comment on the proposed regulations and other wildlife-related issues.”

If you happen to miss the meeting in your area, don’t fret. The questionnaire is available for downloading online at wvdnr.gov, or you can take a road trip to your local DNR district office and pick up a copy or two. Either way, it’s not too late for your written comments on the proposed hunting, trapping and fishing regulations. The deadline for written comments is April 4, 2014. The process is simple and, in my opinion, a great way for us to become involved in the procedure.

I placed a call to a friend of mine who attended a couple of the WVDNR sectional meetings to get a feel of what topics were being dragged in off the streets by sportsmen. I was excited to learn that a few hunters were in a discussion about squirrel hunting and how an extended season into February would be a great opportunity. I am not a biologist or a professional wildlife manager but I am a sportsman and as a general rule, I am always for more opportunity. And I have to admit, hunting squirrels with the leaves off the trees in late season is a lot of fun — especially with dogs.

It kind of makes sense to me that squirrel hunters are talking because there seems to be a growing popularity in small game hunting across the country. I have seen more products introduced for small game, air rifles for example, and I even read about a successful media event held in Alabama — the first “Squirrel Master Classic,” an outdoor event that will be held each and every year with the “Best of the Best” in hunting across the nation. I was told the event even included some exceptional cur and feist treeing dogs.

The way I understand it, all of the proposed changes and our comments will be reviewed and then the new regulations will be voted on by the Natural Resources Commission at their next quarterly meeting. We will have to wait and see if the squirrel hunters’ conversation about lengthening the season will make it on the agenda. If it does, I know a few dogs, kids and squirrel hunters that will be more than happy to hear the news.

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