Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation commissioners unanimously approved a slate of regulation additions and changes during their regular meeting Feb. 1.
The regulations, changes to Title 800 that governs the operations of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, were proposed in December and went through a public comment period in January. Among the most notable changes and additions are:
Legal shooting hours will close at 7 p.m. daily during spring turkey season on several wildlife management areas in western Oklahoma: Altus-Lugert, Beaver River, Beaver River-McFarland Unit, Black Kettle, Cimarron Bluff, Cimarron Hills, Cooper, Ellis County, Fort Supply, Optima, Packsaddle, Rita Blanca and Sandy Sanders. The rule is designed to reduce disruption as turkeys are returning to roosting sites
The statewide bag limit for hybrid striped bass will be 20 per day with only five greater than 20 -inches long allowed.
Harvest of largemouth bass at American Horse Lake will be the same as the statewide bag limits.
Rules for shooting ranges on WMAs are being clarified to address safety concerns. Among these rules are the requirement of eye and ear protection while shooting, shooters 15 and younger must be supervised by an adult, and shooters must possess a valid state hunting license or combination hunting-fishing license unless exempt
The entire slate of rule changes and additions is pending approval by the State Legislature. The commissioners anticipate the rules will become effective this fall.
Also, commissioners created a Feral Hog Subcommittee after viewing a presentation about feral hogs in Oklahoma and surrounding states by Jeff Pennington, central region supervisor in the Wildlife Division.
Feral hogs are now found in nearly every county of Oklahoma and are posing problems for farmers and wildlife, Pennington said. Primary responsibility for feral hogs lies with the Agriculture Department, as they are not considered wildlife. Bill Hale, assistant chief of law enforcement, outlined Wildlife Department regulations that are in place concerning feral hogs. Oklahoma requires feral hog hunters to possess a state hunting license when hunting on public land, but no license is required for shooting hogs on private land. Also, removing any feral hog alive from a wildlife management area is prohibited.
Several proposals concerning feral hogs are expected to come before the State Legislature this session