Commission hears updates on waterfowl populations heading into duck season

Arkansas Game and Fish Commissioners heard reports on the AGFC’s wetlands and waterfowl management programs at today’s scheduled meeting in Stuttgart. The timing of the subjects was on point as the meeting was sandwiched between the Commission’s Stuttgart Town Hall Meeting, where waterfowl were a key focus of the public,  and the opening of duck season in The Natural State.

AGFC Wetland Program Coordinator Jason “Buck” Jackson presented the habitat and wintering duck population goals for Arkansas according to the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. He also presented a brief overview of the many projects, such as moist-soil plant management to work toward fulfilling those goals.

According to Jackson’s presentation, the management and manipulation of moist-soil plants on public land offers an excellent complement to Arkansas’s agricultural waterfowl habitats to promote a variety of food for migrating waterfowl.

“If you have a diverse community of plants, you have a diverse community of ducks,” Jackson said. “In a monoculture-type stand, such as millet, birds will jump on it really quick and exhaust it just as quickly. The variety of seeds and invertebrates offered by moist-soil communities promotes ducks coming back and forth long after millet would have been eaten up.

In other business, the Commission:

  • Heard a tribute to Arkansas fishing and conservation legend Jerry McKinnis, who recently passed away.

  • Presented AGFC Habitat Biologist Brian Infield as the annual recipient of the George H. Dunklin, Jr. Arkansas Waterfowl and Wetland Management Award for his tireless work in promoting wetland and waterfowl habitat in the Arkansas River Valley.

  • Heard an update from AGFC Aquatic Resources Education Coordinator J.J. Gladden on the AGFC’s fishing derby and mobile aquarium programs.

  • Heard a presentation from AGFC Education Coordinator Lea White on the results of the 2019 Becoming an Outdoors-Woman workshops held at the C.A. Vines 4H Center in Ferndale and the Ozark Natural Science Center in Northwest Arkansas.

  • Heard an update from AGFC Deer Program Coordinator on the status of the 2019 White-tailed Deer Strategic Management Plan. The plan is scheduled to be presented for public review in December.

  • Heard an update from AGFC Waterfowl Program Coordinator Luke Naylor on continental waterfowl populations and 2018-19 hunter harvest data compiled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

  • Heard a presentation from Deputy Director Chris Racey on a special regulations review project to help simplify and reduce hunting and fishing regulations.

  • Viewed the artwork produced by AGFC Graphic Designer Greta James to be featured on the first edition of the AGFC’s new Arkansas Turkey Stamp to raise funds for turkey habitat improvement and awareness.

  • Heard the first reading of an amendment to the AGFC Wildlife Violation Points System and Administrative License Suspension Process to clarify the violation points process and make adjustments to the point ranges and life of suspensions under the AGFC Code of Regulations.

  • Named one of the classrooms at the J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Ozark Highlands Nature Center for the Schmieding Foundation in Springdale, Arkansas, for their generous contribution to help with the construction of the center and educational exhibits.

  • Authorized AGFC Director Pat Fitts to extend existing 2018-19 Wildlife Breeder/Dealer Permits and Wildlife Importation Permits through June 30, 2020. The extension will apply to permittees authorized to import, breed or sell zebra, water buffalo, addax, aoudad sheep, brindled gnu, gaur, oryx, capybara, leopard, jaguar, hippopotamus, warthogs, rhinoceros, gerenuk, Himalayan tahr goat, impala, kudu, lechwe, ibex and nilgai.

  • Approved the removal of outdated and obsolete inventory with a total original cost of $124,472.19 and a net book value of $8,599.00.

A video of the meeting is available at