Those unable to attend the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ public meetings may submit feedback electronically or in writing by Jan. 18.
Electronic statements can be submitted online at: www.georgiawildlife.com/Hunting/SubmitComments.
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.
Baiting and coyotes were among the hunting and fishing issues discussed Tuesday night during a public meeting organized by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
The gathering drew about 75 people from several counties in northeast Georgia to the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center.
“The purpose is for us to receive comment from the public,” said Mark Whitney, chief of game management, who led the meeting. “We had plenty of comment and that’s what we’re looking for. It really went well.”
The meeting, the second of eight being held across the state seeking input for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 hunting seasons, marks the beginning of the department’s biannual process to update regulations.
The remaining session in north Georgia is set for 7 tonight in Clayton.
Probably the most discussed topic Tuesday was baiting, or placing feed out and then killing animals at the feed site.
According to Whitney, baiting wasn’t allowed in the state until last year, when the General Assembly approved the practice for deer in south Georgia and hogs statewide.
“Feeding had been allowed, but you couldn’t hunt 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 Tuesday were against it all together, while the other half were in favor of allowing the practice for hogs and deer throughout the entire state.
Another issue discussed was whether to allow coyote hunting, as many in attendance believed the predators are having a dramatic impact on deer populations.
Other popular topics included adding days during hunting seasons when youth can participate and altering 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 were also mentioned.
While Tuesday’s meeting was well attended, the first session Monday in Richmond Hill, near Savannah, didn’t attract as large of a crowd.
“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,” Whitney said. “We’ve seen as many as a couple hundred people at these meetings.”
All input received Tuesday will be reviewed and used to develop proposals that will be presented to the DNR board in March.
Public hearings will follow in April and the final regulations will be developed in June and distributed to the public the next month.