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Hunting seasons set by commission

The state Game and Fish Commission decided Thursday on a Sunday opening for this year’s dove hunting season.

The opening had sparked some debate among dove hunters. Most seasons traditionally open on Saturday. With Sept. 1 falling on a Sunday, the commission’s decision was between opening on a Sunday with the Labor Day holiday following the next day or waiting until Saturday. Sept. 7.

Federal regulations do not permit dove hunting to begin earlier that Sept. 1. The state wildlife agency kept tally on hunters’ opinions, and 57 percent favored the Sept. 1 opening and 43 percent preferred a Sept. 7 opening. Others were undecided.

Dates for duck and goose hunting, except for the early Canada goose hunts, will be set at the commission’s August meeting.

The early migratory bird seasons set Thursday:

• Mourning Dove and Eurasian Collared Dove, Sept. 1-Oct. 20 and Dec. 21-Jan. 9.

• Teal, Sept. 7-22.

• Rail, Sept. 7-Nov. 15.

• Woodcock, Nov. 2-Dec. 16.

• Common Snipe, Nov. 1-Feb. 15.

• Purple Gallinule and Common Moorhen, Sept. 1-Nov. 9.

• Early Canada Goose, Sept. 1-15.

• Northwest Canada Goose Zone, Sept. 21-30.

Under new federal guidelines, the daily bag limit for teal, which are small early migrating ducks, was raised from four to six. Also under new federal rules, all migratory birds will have possession limits of three daily bag limits, up from the two-day possession limits previously in effect.

Also Thursday, the commission accepted a donation of 12 acres adjoining the Perry Mikles Blue Mountain Special Use Area in Logan County. The privately owned land has been used for camping by field trial participants. The donor, Dr. Robert Rankin, has also offered to pay for installing electrical outlets at the eight campsites.

The panel approved a five-year agreement to operate the Pontoon Recreational and Access Area on the Petit Jean River near the Yell-Conway county line. The area had been closed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A volunteer group, Friends of Pontoon Park, will help with maintenance.

The commission authorized paving of an access area on the White River at Norfork at an estimated cost of $33,000. Marine Fuel Tax money, which comes from state taxes paid on boating fuel, will be used.

In other action, the commission approved a land swap on the Arkansas River at North Little Rock. FutureFuel, formerly Eastman Chemical, of Batesville, will get the AGFC’s Gribble Street Access on the eastern side of North Little Rock in exchange for a site of equal value upstream near Riverside Park to be used as a boat launching ramp and parking area.

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