In retrospect, elk for crappie trade a good will gesture

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By Jeff Lilly

My column last month stirred up a little conversation that leads me to address it a bit further this month. Some outdoorsmen, including me, had a beef over the deal with Missouri to swap 150 of our eastern Kentucky elk for crappie.  

Yes, elk for fish.

According to additional information I have obtained, this may not be quite as bad of an idea as it originally seemed. If only the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources had bothered to let us bill-paying sportsmen in on the following explanation beforehand things would have seemed much better. I say “bill-paying sportsmen” because the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources receives no state tax dollars. The money to run the department comes from money spent by sportsmen for hunting, fishing and trapping licenses and permits, boating fees, ammunition taxes, etc.

I received an e-mail response from Kristina J. Brunjes, Ph.D. Ms. Brunjes is the Deer and Elk Program Coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.  I have informed Ms. Brunjes that I would be using her explanation of the “elk for fish swap” and have included her e-mail response in order to make sure it is accurate.  

According to Ms Brunjes:
“Our motive for donating 50 elk this year (up to 150 total over the next couple of years) is simple – we are assisting another state in their effort to restore a native species that once inhabited all of the eastern U.S. Thanks to the generosity of 6 western states which gave us over 1,500 elk, we now have the largest elk herd east of the Rocky Mountains. 

“While the Missouri Department of Conservation and their partners are paying the costs of the project, neither KDFWR nor our staff is getting anything other than a chance to ‘pay it forward’ by helping restore elk to the Ozarks. The crappie swap is a good-will gesture and as crappie are difficult to propagate in hatcheries, it benefits our sportsmen for Missouri to give them to us. The 50 elk captured this year were nuisance animals that needed to be captured and relocated, as the area they primarily use is off-limits to hunting due to active coal mining. 

“The removal of those animals has no impact on the number of elk tags issued for hunting in Kentucky.

“I would like to advise sportsmen to contact the department if they have questions or concerns, rather than listening to rumors and hearsay. We have both a 1-800 number (800-858-1549) and they can email our information center. Our staff tries very hard to respond to all calls and emails, and we are always happy to hear from sportsmen.”

I would like to thank Ms Brunjes for her response to questions concerning this issue and for her continued work with the department. Keep up the good work.
Saturday, April 30 is also the last chance to apply for the elk permit lottery.

Commisioners proposed changes from March meeting
The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission made a couple of proposals at its March 4 quarterly meeting. The first being to move the bear season to a week earlier in December by setting the proposed dates as Saturday, Dec. 10 and Sunday, Dec. 11. The bad weather during the first two modern bear seasons are apparently the main issue resulting in the dates being changed. The Commission also recommended making it illegal to take bears from dens.
In the fisheries-related area, the Commission wants to adopt Tennessee’s trout regulations on Dale Hollow Lake. This involves a seven-fish limit per day.  

A proposal a little closer to home involves a proposal to remove the special fish regulations on the Taylorsville Lake Wildlife Management Area ponds.

The changes, if passed, will become effective March 1, 2012.
The next Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting will be held at 8 a.m., Friday, June 3, 2011 at 1 Sportsman’s Lane off U.S. 60 in Frankfort.

Youth turkey season
Kentucky’s youth only turkey season is scheduled for Saturday, April 2 and Sunday, April 3.  Youth 15 and younger may participate in this early spring hunt for bearded birds only.  Be sure and check the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources rules and regulations before going afield.

Kentucky statewide
spring turkey season
Kentucky’s statewide spring turkey season is set to open on Saturday, April 16 and run until Sunday, May 8. Again, always check rules and regulations before going afield.

I’ve gotten a few reports of bass being taken on some of the local lakes as waters continue to warm up. Crappie should really get going soon with the blooming of the dogwoods. I could use some help from some of you die hard fishermen as far as reports of what you’re catching and where. Pictures are always good too. Send your pictures and information to sports@theandersonnews.com.

New hunting, fishing
and trapping licenses
All Kentucky hunting, fishing and trapping licenses expire on the last day of February each year.  That means new licenses must be purchased before going afield. Check the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources publications or website to clarify license types needed as well as costs.
Take a kid hunting and fishing soon!
See ya outside!

Jeff Lilly is an outdoors columnist for The Anderson News.