At the June meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission, the TWRA presented changes to the August handheld duck blind drawings. The TFWC wanted to make the drawings more consistent and wanted to reduce the likelihood of buying/selling of blind sites.

So, at the Aug. 3 blind drawings, a two-stage process will be used. Parties will be formed after the first drawing. The second drawing will be for blind locations for those selected in the first drawing.

The TWRA’s recent and ongoing research projects include monitoring the movement and abundance of Asian carp, an evaluation of Florida largemouth bass in Chickamauga Lake, and assessing the contribution of stocked rainbow trout fingerlings in the Clinch River. Dr. Mark Rogers, leader of the Tennessee Cooperative Fisheries Research Unit, provided an overview of the cooperative agreement between the TWRA, U.S. Geological Service (USGS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and Tennessee Tech. The cooperative leverages USGS and TTU resources to address TWRA’s research needs.

An overview of the TWRA quota hunts program was given. TWRA currently holds nine drawings a year. The TWRA Licensing Division and Brandt, the agency’s license vendor, have worked to provide customers and agency personnel with a more user friendly application process for quota hunts.

The commission approved a rule amendment in regard to the governing of shooting operations of private wildlife preserves. This amendment allows big game wildlife preserves to acquire in-state CWD susceptible species once the animals are enrolled in a CWD monitoring program with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA). This removes the current mandatory enrollment, minimum of five years, and prior to a preserve taking possession of the animals. Also, the amendment requires the TDA to be responsible for all mandatory CWD testing on preserves and any escapes of non-indigenous mammals.

STAMP: The Federal Duck Stamp and Junior Duck Stamp for the 2019-2020 hunting seasons was introduced on June 28. More than a million waterfowlers and conservationists traditionally purchase one or more of the colorful stamps for $25 to invest in waterfowl conservation and wetlands that support many other species of wildlife. One third of America’s threatened species make their homes in wetlands. Every year the program raises more than $25 million used to purchase wetlands in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Since its inception in 1934, the Duck Stamp, officially the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, has raised more than one billion dollars to help acquire and protect more than six million acres of habitat in the NWR. The artwork for the stamp is chosen by annual competition. This year’s stamp, a swimming wood duck and wood duck decoy, was painted by Minnesotan Scot Storm, his second honor.

More than 3,000 junior duck stamps are sold annually for five dollars each to help promote conservation education through art. The 2019-20 Junior Stamp features a harlequin duck painted by Niocole Jeon, a 16-year-old from New York.

Hunters age 16 and older of ducks, geese and cranes are required to purchase the federal stamp in addition to their hunting licenses. Still, 10 percent of stamp sales come from stamp collectors and non-hunting conservationists. It can be purchased at many license agencies, most U.S. Post Offices, by phone at 800-STAMP-24, and online. Find all buying options at www.fws.gov/birds/get-involved/duck-stamp/buy-duck-stamp.php.

FALCONRY: Falconry is regulated nationally by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and locally by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. For the second consecutive year the USFWS has granted Tennessee five permits for the taking of peregrine falcons to be used in falconry.

Again this year Tennessee’s permits will be allowed statewide. Previously one peregrine falcon was allowed to be taken from counties located in the TWRA’s Region I (West Tennessee). This marks the ninth consecutive year that a USFWS permit has been issued for Tennessee.

The population of peregrine falcons has recovered enough since their near extinction in the early 20th century to allow for a limited take of these birds for their use in falconry.

The 2019 application period for the trapping of peregrine falcons is July 1 – Aug. 15. Resident and non-resident master and general falconers are eligible to apply. Find the application and instructions in the Law Enforcement section at www.tnwildlife.org. The TWRA will conduct the drawing on Aug. 28 for the five permits. For more information, contact the TWRA’s Walter Cook at walter.cook@tn.gov or phone 615-781-6647.

Email wiest.tom@gmail.com to share your news with Tom Wiest.

Tom Wiest is a long time columnist on all matters outdoors. He welcomes news, questions and comments from readers.

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