The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is seeking comments for its 2019-20 waterfowl and other migratory bird hunting regulations, including sandhill cranes. This is an opportunity for the public to provide ideas and share concerns about hunting regulations with TWRA staff. The comment period is open Oct. 15–Nov. 30.

Due to changes in the timing of the federal regulation process, waterfowl and other migratory game bird hunting seasons now are proposed to the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission at its January meeting and voted upon at its February meeting.

Public comments will be considered as proposals for regulation changes. Email submissions to twra.huntingcomments@tn.gov and include “Waterfowl Season Comments” on the subject line. For comments by postal mail, send to: 2019-20 Hunting Season Comments, TWRA, Wildlife and Forestry Division, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, Tenn., 37204.

The later bear seasons continue in BHZ-1, BHZ-2 and BHZ-3 on Oct. 29 through Nov. 2 with dogs and all weapons (guns, muzzleloaders and archery); this area reopens on Nov. 18-21 for no dogs. The next season for BHZ 1-2-3 opens on Nov. 26 with dogs but the closing dates vary: BHZ-1 closes Dec. 15, BHZ-2 closes Dec. 20, and BHZ-3 closes Dec. 9. The final bear hunt is in BHZ-3, with dogs, on Dec. 27-30.

The counties in BHZ-1 include Carter, Cocke (north of Interstate 40), Greene, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington. BHZ-2 counties include Blount, Cocke (south of I-40), Jefferson (east of U.S. Highway 411), and Sevier. BHZ-3 counties are McMinn (east of U.S. 411), Monroe and northeastern Polk. For more information, go to page 36-37 of the 2018-19 hunting guide, also online at www.tnwildlife.org.

Attention: There is an important change in procedure for the sandhill crane and duck blind computerized drawings for wildlife management areas. The 2018 results are ready, and successful applicants can view them at www.gooutdoor stennessee.com.

Now for the change: In past years, successful waterfowl applicants have always received a “Notice of Intent” with which they declare their intention to hunt their assigned blind pool. For the first time, this year TWRA is implementing an electronic method to reply by email.

Applicants first must submit an electronic Notice of Intent (NOI) by the designated deadline to the specific area. Applicants will have to navigate to QuotaHunt.GoOutdoorsTen nessee.com and log into their customer profile. They will see a “Complete Form” button next to the Waterfowl Blind Reservation Quota Hunt Award. If participants do not confirm their hunt by the deadline date, their reservation will be canceled.

Then, print your awarded Quota Hunt Permit documents. This is your permit needed to hunt. Visit http://tn.gov/twra/article/waterfowl-hunting.

Gun owners, take heart. The FBI released its annual Uniform Crime Report (UCR) last week, showing a 3.3 percent decrease in the national crime rate for 2017. This is the 15th consecutive year of dropping crime rates. Homicides overall declined in 2017, with firearm-related homicides dropping slightly more than total homicides. In addition, assaults with knives, hands and feet, and hammers were several times more numerous than firearms of any kind.

There is more. While the data for the UCR is from 2017, another report out last week previews a similar picture for 2018. The preliminary data from the report “Crime and Murder in 2018: A Preliminary Analysis,” show that crime in 2018 appears to be dropping back to the historical downward trend. The Brennan Center, a left-leaning think tank at the New York University School of Law, published the report. Despite the lack of any new gun control laws in most states, it was found that in 19 major cities, crime rates and homicide rates are dropping. The data suggests that in 2018 the murder rate in these cities will be 7.6 percent lower than in 2017.

In a related story, the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) has just issued its 2018 annual report on the number of concealed handgun permits in the U.S. In 2018, the number soared to more than 17.25 million — a 273 percent increase since 2007. Permits are held by 7.14 percent of American adults. Still, an even larger number of people carry because in 14 states people don’t need a permit to carry in all or virtually all those states.

The CPRC report also noted that concealed handgun permit holders nationwide are extremely law abiding, much more so than police officers. In Florida and Texas, for example, permit holders are convicted of misdemeanors and felonies at one-sixth the rate at which police officers are convicted.

Email wiest.tom@gmail.com to share with your news and comments 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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