Liberalizing the harvest of smaller black bass, and shortening quail hunting season on public lands in western Oklahoma for nonresident hunters, are among new regulations approved Monday during the regular monthly meeting of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission.
After considering feedback on the proposed rule changes, collected during the official public comment period, Commissioners approved all the suggested regulation changes put forth by the Department’s Fisheries and Wildlife Division this year, with one notable modification.
A proposal to close quail hunting two weeks earlier on public lands in western Oklahoma generated the most discussion. A presentation by Tell Judkins, Upland Game Biologist for ODWC, outlined the reasons for the proposed changes. Commissioners approved an amended proposal to close quail season Jan. 31 on public lands in western Oklahoma to nonresident hunters. This rule doesn’t affect resident quail hunters.
Another rule approved by the Commission will modify the statewide harvest limits for largemouth and smallmouth bass. The new daily limit will be six bass of any length, with only one being greater than 16 inches long. This rule is accompanied by a black bass fishing tournament exemption that allows fish over 16 inches to be kept alive until weigh-in, after which the fish must be released.
Some of the other rules approved Monday include formally adopting changes made earlier this year for turkey hunting; modifying the bag limit in the Lower Mountain Fork River trout area to only one brown trout of 30 inches or longer; including the marbled crayfish as a harmful species unlawful to import into the state; open several western Oklahoma public lands to trapping for the month of February; reducing parcel size to 320 acres to qualify for private land youth bonus antlerless deer hunts; close Selman Bat Cave property to public access; and clarifying restrictions on number of days camping is allowed on Wildlife Management Areas.
All new regulations must now pass through the state legislative process and be considered by the governor. If approved, the new regulations will become effective later this year.
Also, Commissioners and ODWC recognized Federal Aid Coordinator Andrea Crews with the 2021 Spirit of ODWC Award, along with a service award for her 25 years working on behalf of the sportsmen and sportswomen of Oklahoma. The award honors ODWC employees who exemplify ODWC principles and are not eligible for other job-specific awards.
In other business:
- Legislative Liaison Corey Jager reported on the opening of the state legislative session. She said ODWC is following the 49 wildlife-related bills that have been filed, including two ODWC-request bills to allow the Department to modernize and streamline its license structure.
- Director J.D. Strong reported on ODWC’s activities in various divisions since the previous meeting, including plans to hold the annual Rack Madness event March 1 at the Oklahoma City headquarters, the addition of 6,200 adjacent acres to the Sandy Sanders Wildlife Management Area, and an agreement with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to create a public access site along the Barren Fork River in eastern Oklahoma.
- Executive Director Rick Grundman of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Foundation said planning is already underway for the second OWCF Gala and Conservation Hall of Fame induction ceremony, set for Oct. 6, 2022, at the Omni Hotel in Oklahoma City.
Go online to https://youtu.be/5WfZbXN3nyM to view a video recording of the meeting.
The next regular Commission meeting is set for 9 a.m. March 7, 2022, in the John D. Groendyke Wildlife Conservation Building, 1801 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City.
The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The 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 Oklahoma Senate.