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DNR releases summary of questionnaire

Last week, I got a summary of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources questionnaire that was handed out to all of the sportsmen and women who attended one of the regulations meetings held this past March.

A total of 379 attended the 12 meetings that were held throughout the state. This is up from the 248 who attended these meetings last year.

The one for this area was held in Buckhannon and had an attendance of 54, which was the highest of all the 12 meetings. The meeting at Fairmont finished a close second with 53. The meeting that had the lowest was held at North Bend State Park in Ritchie County with an attendance of 14.

This year, 55 clubs with a total of 7,802 members and 323 individuals submitted questionnaires. All of the WVDNR proposed regulation changes were approved by large margins (most by 85 percent or more by the clubs and individuals who sent in questionnaires).

The one question that caught my eye was when the director of the DNR sought the opinion as to whether hunters would be in favor of reducing the annual antlered deer bag limit from three to two antlered bucks per year. Sixty-nine percent of the individuals were in favor of this, to 31 percent who were opposed. Sixty-seven percent of the hunting clubs were in favor of the idea that 33 percent who were opposed.

When it comes to the individual comments from the questionnaire, the results are just about like they have been in the past years. Some were good, some not so good and some that were just downright senseless and totally unworkable. While I don’t have enough space to print all of the individual comments, I will try to put the ones in the column that I think will be of interest to area anglers and hunters.

In the deer-general column, one club with 10 members wants the DNR to close all deer hunting on all private acreage so the herd can rebuild. Three individuals would like for the DNR to put all of the big game harvest figures of the animals taken on public land in the annual Big Game Bulletin. The DNR used to do this and I would be in favor of this idea being renewed.

In the deer-buck column, 19 individuals are in favor of statewide antler restrictions. Such an idea would be extremely difficult to enforce. One club of 30 members is in favor of a Trophy Class Deer Stamp. I am in favor of having more of the Wildlife Management areas being turned into older-aged deer management areas like Kanawha and Kumbrabow State Forests.

In the deer-archery/crossbow column, one club of 45 members and two individuals would like to have separate bow and crossbow seasons. One individual wants crossbows banned except for disabled, elder and youth hunters.

In the bear column, eight individuals want a spring bear season where baiting would be permitted. In the turkey-spring gobbler season, one club with 14 members and five individuals wants the DNR to prohibit the use of rifles during the spring gobbler season. Four individuals want to be able to hunt spring gobblers all day.

In the small game column, one club of 800 members are saying that the otters are overpopulated and destroying private ponds. Two individuals want the DNR to keep improving the habitat for ruffed grouse.

In the hunting-miscellaneous column, five individuals want harsher poaching penalties, bigger fines, and confiscation of firearms, bows, and vehicles from the people who are willfully violating game laws. Three individuals are opposed to any Sunday hunting. One club with 40 members, along with six individuals, wants the DNR to keep up its good work.

In the fishing-general column, one club with 12 members wants the DNR to stop stocking predator fish, primarily musky. Another club with 75 members and two individuals want the DNR to lower the daily trout limit from six to four per person.

The participation with the annual questionnaire this year was an improvement over last year. I would still like to see the overall participation to be at least 10 percent of all of the individuals who hunt and fish in West Virginia.