NRC adopts fees, drops rifle and sunfish proposals

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Indiana Natural Resources Commission has authorized certain fee changes for some Department of Natural Resources properties and given final approval to a package of fish and wildlife rules after dropping three proposals in that rule package.

The NRC is an autonomous board that addresses topics pertaining to the Indiana DNR.

The proposals that were removed from the fish and wildlife package would have expanded the use of high-powered rifles for deer hunting, placed a statewide 25-fish daily bag limit on sunfish (i.e., bluegill, redear, etc.) and allowed landowners to provide oral permission instead of written permission for another person to take coyotes from the landowner's property.

All three were part of a package of changes submitted to the NRC by the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife. The rule package received preliminary approval from the NRC in September 2014, kicking off a six-month public comment period.

After review of the submitted comments, DNR Fish and Wildlife requested removal of the three items from the package.

Some of the key provisions in the approved package were:

-- Addition of the 28-gauge shotgun as legal equipment for deer hunting.

-- Allowing hunters who place a blind or tree stand on state or federal property to mark the stand with either their name, address and telephone number or their DNR-issued customer identification number.

-- Renaming Urban Deer Zones to Deer Reduction Zones along with other changes (renaming Urban Deer license as Reduction Zone license; eliminating past zone boundaries to create flexibility, authorizing the DNR director to establish boundaries on an annual basis; and raising the bag limit in Reduction Zones to 10 deer, of which only one can be antlered).

-- Allowing a youth hunter participating in the special youth deer season (late September) to take one antlerless deer when hunting in a county with a bonus antlerless quota of "A."

-- Prohibiting the use of dogs to chase wild pigs.

-- Limiting hunters to two cock ring-necked pheasants at Pigeon River, Willow Slough and Winamac fish and wildlife areas.

-- Reducing the daily bag limit of bobwhite quail to two at DNR properties north of Interstate 74 and four at DNR properties south of Interstate 74.

-- Matching the fall firearm season for wild turkeys in northern counties with the season dates in southern counties (first Wednesday after Oct. 14 for 11 consecutive days).

-- Requiring wild turkey hunters to wear hunter orange in counties designated for special late antlerless deer season on the dates those two seasons overlap.

-- Establishing season dates, reduced bag limits and size requirements for taking Eastern snapping turtle, smooth softshell turtle and spiny softshell turtle.

-- Raising the minimum size limit for possessing muskellunge and tiger muskellunge taken at Lake Webster, Backwater Lake and Kiser Lake from at least 36 inches to 44 inches.

-- Setting a minimum size limit of at least nine inches for crappie taken at Dogwood Lake (Daviess County) and Hardy Lake (Scott County).

-- Setting a minimum size limit of at least 16 inches for walleye taken from Indiana waters north of State Road 26. The exceptions are Lake George (Steuben County), where the minimum size is 15 inches, and Bass Lake (Starke County) and Wolf Lake (Lake County), where the minimum size is 14 inches.

Other changes approved cover DNR State Parks and DNR Forestry fees and include daily and annual off-road cycling permits and a service fee for booking campgrounds through the Central Reservation System.

Forestry also received approval for new fees on daily/annual gun range passes and management assistance for the Classified Forest program, plus fee increases for self-registration campsites, firewood collection permit, state tree nursery seedling prices and timber buyer licensing.

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