The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Commissioners had their quarterly meeting at the Elkins Operations Center this past Sunday. At this particular meeting, they finalized the dates and regulations for the 2011-2012 hunting and trapping seasons. Conducting this meeting was WVDNR Director Frank Jezioro.
Responding the 2011 questionnaire were 74 clubs or outdoor organizations claiming a total membership of 36,454. Two groups did not list their number of members, and 349 individuals submitted questionnaires. One petition with 879 unverified signatures was also received.
The four proposals the DNR made for the 2011-2012 hunting and trapping seasons were approved by individuals and clubs by large margins. The one proposal to have a one-week turkey season the first week of January 2012 was approved by the individuals by 68 percent. It was also approved by the clubs with a total membership of 23,631 plus by 68 percent. However, the seven DNR commissioners rejected this idea by a unanimous vote. I am not a big spring or fall turkey hunter; but if I were, I would definitely show these approval figures to my representatives in the state legislature.
The five proposals for the 2012-2013 hunting and trapping season were all approved by at least 80 percent margins by the individuals and clubs responding. Five of the six fishing proposals for the 2012 season were approved by at least 90 percent margins by the clubs and individuals responding.
The one proposal to establish a 12-inch minimum size limit on all black bass on most of the Ohio River was approved by 96 percent of the individuals and 100 percent of the clubs responding. West Virginia wildlife biologist Steve Wilson has been compiling all of the data from the annual questionnaires for several years.
At the presentation he made before the commissioners on Sunday, he said that he had never seen a 100 percent approval of any DNR recommendation in all of his years at the Elkins Operations Center.
When the individual presentations were finished, the commissioners had their meeting. Commissioner David F. Turban of Morgantown made a motion to abolish the antlerless deer gun season held between Christmas and New Years. There was considerable discussion among the commissioners and some of the game biologists present. During the discussion, it was revealed that about 15 percent of the antlerless deer are taken in this late short season based on a five-year average. Turbon's motion did not receive a second among the commissioners, and according to WVDNR Director Jezioro, "the motion dies." When it comes to managing the deer in the state, I think the game biologists seem to know what they are doing, and the commissioners would do well to leave them alone.
Here are a few of the additional recommendations made by the clubs and individuals responding to the 2011 questionnaire that I think will be of interest to local sportsmen and women. In the deer-general column, two clubs with 262 and nine individuals want to eliminate all baiting of deer. In the deer-buck column, two clubs with a total of 1,015 members and 26 individuals want the DNR to limit the buck season to one per year.
In the deer-antlerless column, several clubs and individuals want the DNR to reduce the antlerless harvest, and several others want the DNR to increase the antlerless harvest.
Two individuals want the doe season closed statewide for five years, and another person wanted it closed for a year. In the deer muzzleloader column, one club with 29 members wants the muzzleloader season moved from December to January.
In the furbears column, seven individuals want the DNR to permit coyote hunting in the woods all year. To do this would require a vote from the legislature.
In the hunting-miscellaneous column, five clubs with 1,108 members and 11 individuals favor Sunday hunting. One person would like to have four DNR law enforcement officers in each county. I have always been in favor of more law enforcement officers statewide. However, in the small counties like Hancock, Ohio, and Pleasants, four would be too many. In the large counties like Greenbrier, Pocahontas and Randolph, I think four is not nearly enough.
In the fishing-trout column, one person would like for the DNR to close trout fishing for a year but continue the stocking program. Trying to enforce such a law would be more difficult than enforcing prohibition.
The attendance at the regulations open-house meeting in March in Buckhannon was 35. The last meeting held in Elkins was in 2005, and the attendance was 69. I made the recommendation at the commissioners meeting Sunday that the sectional meeting needs to be moved back to Elkins from the standpoint of higher attendance. I remember a regulations meeting held at the National Guard Armory where the attendance was well over 150.