Contact: Chris Horton, Senior Director, Midwestern States and Fisheries Policy
On November 12, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) announced the state’s first opportunity for waterfowl hunters to enter a drawing for a permit to hunt on 40 private rice fields scattered throughout the state. Eastern Arkansas is widely known for being the number one rice-producing state in the nation (49% of all rice produced in 2015), and where there are flooded rice fields in Arkansas, there can be plenty of ducks.
The permit-based waterfowl hunts are a result of the newly created Waterfowl Rice Incentive Conservation Enhancement Program (WRICE), thanks to a grant from a Farm Bill conservation program known as the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP). More than 3,800 acres of private rice fields are available for weekend hunts to those who are successfully drawn through the AGFC’s permit system.
Successful permit holders and up to 3 additional guests will have access to a designated field for both Saturday and Sunday of the weekend for which the permit is drawn. Unlike other public waterfowl hunting areas in the state, the permit allows for afternoon hunting as well. In order to allow the ducks a chance to rest and continue using the area, hunting will only be allowed on the weekends, which will provide a better chance for a quality hunting opportunity for the successful applicants. Permits will be available for each weekend of the Arkansas waterfowl season, and applications are accepted from Thursday through Sunday of the preceding week.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?