Because of to the coronavirus pandemic, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is closing most of its checking stations and has announced a major change in check-in procedures for harvested turkeys.
Effective with Saturday’s opening day of turkey season, before transporting a harvested bird, the hunter must check it in by mobile app in the field, or attach a paper “transportation” tag to it. Once the tagged turkey is taken home, it can then be checked in on-line via the TWRA website, tnwildlife.org as in the past.
The transportation tags can be printed by going to gooutdoorstennessee.com and clicking on “Licenses.” The hunter then logs on with his or her ID. Click on “Transportation Tag” in the right-hand corner of the box, and print out the paper tag.
Prior to going on a hunt, it is a good idea to laminate the paper tag, or cover both sides with Scotch tape, to make sure it does not become water-damaged or tear off during transportation. Punch a hole through the plastic and attach a string. It will be necessary to carry a pen in the field to fill out the tag after a turkey is killed.
TWRA closures: In addition to check-in stations, several other TWRA facilities have been closed and events cancelled, including o-site Hunter Education Classes.
Hunter Ed classes can still be taken on-line. A special Apprentice License is available for those who fail to complete the class. Details are available at tnwildlife.org and in the Tennessee Hunting & Trapping Guide.
All TWRA shooting ranges are closed.
The TWRA’s main and regional offices are operating on shorter hours. Visitors are advised to call ahead or, if possible, conduct business by phone.
The TWRA-sponsored state high school archery tournament scheduled April 2-3 is canceled.
The Tennessee Game & Fish Commission’s March 27 meeting was canceled and all items on the agenda moved to the next available meeting.
Parks remain open: Tennessee’s state parks currently remain open. But the situation remains fluid, and visitors are advised to call park headquarters to make sure there are no last-minute changes, especially involving campgrounds other facilities.
Elk watching: The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s fascinating “elk cam” shows dozens wild elk browsing on the North Cumberland WMA’s Hatfield Knob area.
The live camera operates around the clock. The activities of the elk vary — sometimes the meadow is vacant, and sometimes it is covered with animals.
The elk cam can be accessed on the TWRA website, tnwildlife.org or by entering “TWRA elk cam” in the computer.
Turkey plan: Turkey hunters have until April 2 to submit comment about the TWRA’s Strategic Management Plan for wild turkeys.
The plan can be accessed on the Agency website, tnwildife.org.
The TWRA, in partnership with the University of Tennessee, is in the midst of a five-year study of the wild turkey situation. While the population and harvest remain fairly stable state-wide, some areas have seen drastic declines.
The Strategic Plan details the history of the Agency’s wild turkey restoration program, its current management, and its long-term goals.
Invasive species: With the peak spring fishing season at hand, the TWRA warns anglers to beware of inadvertently introducing invasive species into area waters.
The Tennessee Fishing Guide provides information about the ongoing battle to combat invasive species such as Asian carp, and how fishermen can assist. For example, it is illegal to dump live bait, such as minnows, into the water. All live bait should be disposed on on-land at the end of each trip.
The Fishing Guide is available for free at most outdoors outlets, TWRA offices or on-line at tnwildlife.org.
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Larry Woody is The Democrat’s outdoors writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.