Alabama wildlife officials are trying to calm hunters upset by a new series of state hunting regulations.
Wednesday night, the Alabama Cooperative Extension held the first of several public forums for administrators with the Alabama Department of Conservation and natural Resources to address what it calls "misconceptions" about the new rules.
The most controversial change is "Game Check," a requirement that hunters who bag a deer or turkey report the harvest within 24 hours. "We really need the information," said ADCNR Commissioner Gunter Guy.
Some hunters have complained that the 24 hour time limit is too short for hunters who may be deep in the woods without cell phone or internet access. Critics also said the potential $500 fine for violating the rule is too steep.
Guy said violators are most likely to receive tickets that start at only $50, and that wildlife officials will be understanding with hunters who truly can't file their report. "If you can't do it within 24 hours, just try to do it as soon thereafter as you can," he said.
He also said the information hunters supply will make hunting in the state better in the long term. "We really don't know, to the degree we'd like to know, what our deer population is," he said. "Particularly on a county by county basis or a region by region basis. The only way we can properly manage the deer or the turkeys is to know what kind of population we have. And the data that we'll get from game check will greatly increase the opportunities for us to do that."
The Cooperative Extension is planning another public forum in Moulton on Sept. 9 and another in Hartselle on Sept. 17.
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