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Baiting hot topic at meeting on hunting regulations
About 75 people attended Forsyth County meeting
Mark Whitney, chief of game management for the Department of Natural Resources, talks to a crowd Tuesday night in Forsyth County. - photo by Jim Dean

A wide range of hunting and fishing topics were discussed during a public meeting held by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

About 75 people from several counties in northeast Georgia attended the Tuesday night meeting at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center in Cumming.

Mark Whitney, chief of game management, led the meeting, which was the beginning of the department’s biannual process to establish hunting regulations.

The meeting was the second of eight being held throughout the state seeking input for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 hunting seasons.

Whitney said he was pleased with the turnout.

“The purpose is for us to receive comment from the public,” he said. “We had plenty of comment and that’s what we’re looking for. It really went well.”

The first meeting, held Monday night in Richmond Hill near Savannah, didn’t draw quite as large a crowd, Whitney said.

“It wasn’t quite as well attended as this, but pretty close,” he said. “We’ve had years where we may only have two, four, six, eight people show and then it really depends on what the topics are or if there’s something controversial coming up. (Then) we’ve seen as many as a couple hundred people at these meetings.”

Probably the most discussed topic Tuesday was baiting, which means placing feed out and then killing animals at the feed site.

Whitney said baiting wasn’t allowed until last year when the General Assembly approved baiting for deer in the southern portion of the state and for hogs in both the south and north.

“Feeding had been allowed but you couldn’t hurt within direct line of sight or within 200 yards of that feed (area),” Whitney said. “But that changed last year in the legislature.”

About half the people who spoke about the practice were against it altogether, while the other half were in favor of allowing the practice for hogs and deer throughout the state.

Other topics included changing the number of days each deer season in which hunters can kill does, changes to turkey hunting seasons, and adding more dog hunting training days.

Many also encouraged additional days during hunting seasons when youth could participate, and others suggested enacting coyote hunting days as they believed the predators were having dramatic impacts on deer populations.

Other public input meetings are planned for Columbus and Camilla today and Clayton and Folkston on Thursday.

All meetings begin at 7 p.m.

All input will be reviewed and used to develop proposals that will be presented to the DNR board in March.

In April, public hearings will be held, and the final regulations will be developed in June and distributed to the public in July.

Those unable to attend the public input meetings may submit feedback electronically or in written statement by Jan. 18.

Electronic statements can be submitted online.

Written statements can be mailed to: GA DNR/Wildlife Resources Division/Game Management Section, Attn. John Bowers, 2070 U.S. Hwy. 278 Southeast, Social Circle, GA 30025.

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