OK: New wildlife management area to open for hunters this fall

This fall Oklahomans will have about 8,000 new acres of public
land to hunt thanks to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife
Conservation’s acquisition of the new Cross Timbers Wildlife
Management Area in Love County.

At its July meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation
Commission approved emergency rules for the new property, which
includes 6,100 acres that have been purchased by the Department and
an additional 2,000 acres under lease agreement.

The emergency rules open hunting seasons on the new WMA this
fall and establish rules on camping and area use.

“Since it’s a brand new area and in an area of the state that
might receive a lot of hunting pressure, we think the best approach
is to start with conservative hunting regulations,” said Alan
Peoples, chief of wildlife for the Wildlife Department.

Most small game seasons on the area will be the same as
statewide season dates, except closed from the opening day of deer
archery season through the first nine days of deer gun season.
Additionally, deer muzzleloader, deer gun and spring turkey hunting
on the area will be conducted through the Wildlife Department’s
controlled hunts system.

Peoples said structuring the hunting seasons in this way will
help provide a measure for the level of hunting pressure the area
will receive.

In other business, the Commission approved dates for the 2011
dove season, which will run Sept. 1 – Oct. 31, statewide, followed
by another nine-day period open from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1, 2012,
statewide. In previous years, dove season was split only in the
southwest portion of the state, whereas the majority of the state
was open for a continuous 70-day season in the fall.

According to Peoples, the concept of providing a late season
dove hunt during the holidays worked so well in the southwest dove
zone that the idea appealed to other regions of the state as well.
But until this year, federal framework options set forth by the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not provide for it. When the
option became available to Oklahoma this year, the Wildlife
Department took the opportunity.

“This is a great opportunity that can benefit hunters statewide
with more hunting opportunity,” Peoples said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers populations and
habitat status for establishing hunting seasons on migratory game
bird seasons that open prior to Oct. 1 at an annual meeting during
June of each year. The Service publishes the federal hunting season
frameworks for these species soon after its meeting, when state
wildlife agencies can then make their selections within the
framework guidelines. Other season regulations remain unchanged
from last year.

Along with approving dove season dates, the Commission also set
dates for September teal season (Sept. 10-25 statewide; limit four
daily, eight in possession after the first day) and special
September resident Canada goose season (Sept. 10-19 statewide;
limit eight daily, 16 in possession after the first day). In
addition, the Commission set dates and limits for rail, gallinule,
woodcock and snipe. For full details, consult the “2011-12 Oklahoma
Hunting Guide,” which will be available later this summer.

The Commission also heard a presentation on the Wildlife
Department’s new, fully-redesigned website, wildlifedepartment.com.
The new site organizes information in a user-friendly format while
providing resources for those interested in learning about Wildlife
Department programs, projects and more. Along with accessing
information such as hunting and fishing regulations, users can also
manage their own account for online purchasing of licenses and
check in their harvested deer, elk or turkey online. To view the
Wildlife Department’s new website, log on to

The Wildlife Department also recognized Bluestem Ranch in Osage
County as its Oklahoma Landowner of the Year Award recipient.
Bluestem Ranch is comprised of about 43,000 acres of cross timbers
and tall grass prairie and is owned by widely-known conservationist
Ted Turner. Ranch manager John Hurd and his staff oversee
management and day-to-day operations.

The Commission also welcomed Altus sportsmen, farmer and rancher
Robert Dan Robbins as the newest Wildlife Commissioner. Robbins
will serve on the Commission through 2019 as the District 7
representative, after having recently been appointed by Gov. Mary
Fallin and confirmed by the Oklahoma Senate.

The Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member
governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife
Conservation. The Wildlife Commission establishes state hunting and
fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department and
indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation
activities. Commission members are appointed by the governor and
confirmed by the Senate.

The next scheduled Commission meeting is set for 9 a.m., Aug. 1,
at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters
(auditorium), located at the southwest corner of 18th and North
Lincoln, Oklahoma City.



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