In addition to several January meetings scheduled to discuss specific proposals that address deer management, officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) will discuss a broad range of other wildlife proposals January 16. Most of the measures deal with rule changes governing Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs).
A new public hearing process aimed at improving communication between the Wildlife Department and hunters regarding proposed rule changes will be used at the meeting. Under the new process, the meeting will begin with wildlife biologists explaining each of the proposed rule changes, along with reasons for the proposals.
Applicable biological and social survey data relating to the proposed changes also will be explained at this time. As each proposal is being discussed, those attending the meeting will have the opportunity to ask Department personnel questions about the changes or the reasoning behind the proposals.
Once the discussion has concluded, the public meeting will be adjourned and a formal "hearing" will be called to order. At this point, anyone wanting to make formal comments – either for or against – on any of the proposed changes may do so. Comments made at the meeting will be presented to the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission when Department personnel ask the Commission to adopt the rule changes.
According to Bill Dinkines, assistant wildlife division chief for the Department, most of the rules are "house-cleaning" type measures or rules that will increase hunting opportunities.
"Within the Title 800 Wildlife Code, we occasionally have language that is redundant and needs clarification, or, we have rules that are no longer warranted. In order to change those rules, however we are first required to hold public meetings to get input from constituents," Dinkines said. "Within the upcoming public meeting, we have several of these proposals such as one that would clarify how Wetland Development Units are defined on some WMAs."
Among other proposals for the upcoming hearing is one measure to establish a waterfowl refuge portion on the Hackberry Flat WMA, and another to allow hunting within an area of Ft. Cobb WMA that had previously been closed. Once home to enormous flocks of crows, the Crow Roost portion of Ft. Cobb WMA was closed to hunting. However since the 1980s, the crows have dispersed and no longer roost in that specific area.
The meeting will also include various rule changes on 16 different WMAs as well as proposals dealing with elk, antelope, and the Department^s controlled hunts program. The public hearing begins at 7:00 p.m. at the ODWC Auditorium 1801 N. Lincoln in Oklahoma City.