The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is changing some of its hunting regulations, and local hunters can provide input at an April 15 meeting at the Gainesville Civic Center.
The proposed changes would go into effect for the 2019 fall hunting season and are available on the DNR website.
One change being considered is the reduction of either-sex deer hunting days in some counties, while days will be added in other counties. Those are days when hunters can legally harvest either bucks or does.
Dawson, Gilmer, Habersham, Lumpkin, Murray, Pickens, Stephens, White and Whitfield counties currently have 12 either-sex days but would only have eight under the proposed changes. Fannin, Rabun, Towns and Union counties would go from five days to three under the new rules.
Public input on hunting regulations
When: 7 p.m. Monday, April 15
Where: Gainesville Civic Center, 830 Green St.
Send input: firstname.lastname@example.org or Ga DNR/Wildlife Resources Division/Game Management Section; Attn: Tina Johannsen; 2067 U.S. Highway 278 SE; Social Circle, GA 30025
However, hunters could still travel somewhere else for more either-sex days — Banks, Franklin and Hart counties currently have 12 days but would get 72 days if changes are approved.
Tina Johannsen, program operations manager for game management at the Georgia DNR, said those counties have higher deer populations that could withstand additional deer-hunting days.
“What we’re looking at is the larger area of the county, particularly some of those far northern counties, their (deer population) numbers are down. We have to reduce the amount of either-sex opportunities,” Johannsen said. “We did increase it in three counties, Banks, Franklin and Hart, because we do feel like across most of the county, the herd can withstand that additional pressure.”
Johannsen said the DNR can evaluate deer populations based on what hunters report.
“Our biggest monitoring tool is harvest data,” she said. “People have to report their harvest, whether it’s through our Game Check app or if they’re hunting on public land, they may have to bring that animal to a check station and we collect additional biological data on those deer.”
Hunters are required to report their game within 72 hours.
Another change would be the addition of a 9-day quota hunt for hunters to use dogs to hunt bears at the Chattahoochee and Chestatee wildlife management areas. The Chattahoochee WMA is in White County, while the Chestatee WMA is in Lumpkin and White counties.
Johannsen said the bear population in these areas could withstand the addition of a bear dog hunt.
“There’s a tradition of pursuing bears with dogs in the mountains, including the North Georgia mountains, and those folks wanted an opportunity,” she said.
Regulations will also be updated to reflect the DNR’s hunter education program. Hunters born on or after Jan. 1, 1961, are required to take a hunter education course prior to purchasing a season hunting license. The course is not required to hunt on one’s own land or land owned by a parent or guardian. Hunters under age 12 do not need to take the course, either, but they have to be supervised by a licensed adult when they go hunting.
Johannsen said the Georgia DNR is seeking public input on the changes to hear how the community would like wildlife to be managed.
“Our first concern always has to be what’s the status of that particular wildlife population, but a very close second is those wildlife belong to people, the people of this state,” she said. “You have to have public input to know what the public wants done with their wildlife.”
A public input meeting will be held on Monday, April 15 at 7 p.m. at the Gainesville Civic Center. People can also submit input by 4:30 p.m. on April 26 by emailing email@example.com or by mail to GA DNR/Wildlife Resources Division/Game Management Section; Attn: Tina Johannsen; 2067 U.S. Highway 278, S.E.; Social Circle, Georgia 30025.