It may seem like a long way off for some outdoor enthusiasts, but the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has announced public meetings to discuss the future hunting, trapping and fishing regulations this year.
On March 18-19, there will be 12 public meetings at various locations throughout the state to provide hunters, trappers, anglers, landowners and other interested parties a chance to review and/or make comments on the proposed 2013 hunting regulations for black bear, deer, wild boar and wild turkey for 2013.
Outdoors men and women will also get the change to make a comment for the proposed 2014-2015 general hunting and trapping regulations and the 2014 fishing regulations. All of these meetings will be conducted from 6 to 8 p.m.
Like last year, the DNR will be using the "open house" format. This meeting style permits sportsmen to attend the meetings at their convenience during the scheduled times and discuss or exchange ideas with the game biologists and natural resources police officers.
On Monday, March 18, the meetings for this generalized area will be in Fairmont at East Fairmont High School (commons area) and in Summersville at Nicholas County High School.
On Tuesday, March 19, there will be a meeting in Moorefield at the Moorefield Middle School cafeteria and the Elkins Operations Center.
For several years, I have tried to get as many sportsmen as I could make contact with to attend these meetings, because this is their chance to speak out. A few times I have seen good results, but other times the results have been disappointing. I think it was about 1988 when I put out several signs I had printed up for this purpose in the Elkins area. The total attendance was about 180 people, which included my wife who does not hunt or fish.
A few days after that meeting, I ran into one of the game biologists and asked what he thought of the attendance. He replied, " that was fabulous."
Last year, I made the comment if as many as five percent of the sportsmen who are residents of Randolph County would attend the Elkins meeting, they would be packed in the Operations Center Conference Room like Vienna sausages in a can. However, last year's attendance in my opinion was no more than two-tenths of one percent of the sportsmen of this county. When the attendance at these annual meetings is this low, the game biologists and the DNR Commissioners are going to get the impression that sportsmen on the whole are in full agreement with all of the decisions being made. I know this is not the case, and many sportsmen in this area will agree with me.
There have been a few changes I have wanted the DNR to make for several years. First, I would like to see continuous open season on red and gray fox. This is the way things were done in the 50s and 60s. I don't recall any problems with this setup.
Second, I detest the idea of not having Sunday hunting because the game animals need a day off too. This is simply a "lot of bull." Sunday is just another day to wild animals.
These are two of the changes I would like to see implemented. I just don't have enough space to print all of the changes I would like for the DNR to put into effect.
Each year, written comments, ideas, and recommendations from the public are encouraged. The deadline for this is April 5.
Right now is the time to mark your calendars if you plan to attend one of these meetings.
Remember,, this is your opportunity to speak out and make yourself heard.