Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks
March 2018
In This Issue

Quick Links
Purchase a License
Boat Registration
Find a Park Near You
Report a Violation
Supplemental Feeding Regulations
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Confirmed in Mississippi
MDWFP Takes Action

CWD Response Plan Update: February 27
A white-tailed deer collected on January 25, in Issaquena County tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The deer was a 4.5-year-old male that died of natural causes and was reported to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP). 

This is the first time an animal in Mississippi has tested positive for the disease, which is fatal to white-tailed deer. MDWFP will immediately implement the CWD Response Plan under the auspices of the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.

Pursuant to the Order of the Executive Director on behalf of the Commission, effectively immediately, supplemental feeding is banned in the following counties:  Claiborne, Hinds, Issaquena, Sharkey, Warren, and Yazoo.

CWD was first documented among captive mule deer in Colorado in 1967, and has been confirmed in 25 states, three Canadian provinces, and two foreign countries. It has been found in the free-ranging herds in 23 states and among captive cervids in 16 states.
According to the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance, CWD affects only cervids (hoofed animals in the cervidae family such as deer, elk, and moose). CWD affects the body's nervous system. Once in the host's body, prions transform normal cellular protein into an abnormal shape that accumulates until the cell ceases to function. Infected animals begin to lose weight, lose their appetite, and develop an insatiable thirst. They tend to stay away from herds, walk in patterns, carry their head low, salivate, and grind their teeth.

Additional Information

March Means Time for Turkey Season!
Season Opens March 15

For most, March is a time for beautiful spring weather and flowers in bloom. For Mississippi's estimated 50,000 wild turkey hunters, it also brings something else. The spring turkey season begins on March 15 and ends May 1. For hunters 15 and under, the youth season begins a week earlier on March 8.

"Turkey hunting is a pretty popular pursuit in Mississippi," said Adam Butler, the Wild Turkey Program Coordinator for MDWFP. "We do not have as many turkey hunters as we do deer or duck hunters, but, generally speaking, turkey hunters tend to be a very intense bunch," continued Butler.
To participate in spring turkey season, Mississippi residents, ages 16 through 64, must obtain a hunting license unless hunting on lands titled in their own name. All non-resident hunters, except minors under the age of 16, are required to obtain a hunting license while hunting in the Mississippi. In addition to any statewide license requirements, purchase of a Wildlife Management Area (WMA) User Permit is required prior to hunting on public WMAs. Hunters planning to hunt WMAs or any other public lands are urged to check the area-specific regulations before going afield. Season dates and bag limits on some WMAs may differ from the statewide framework. Hunting on many WMAs is by drawn permit only during the first two weeks of the season; some areas are permit-only throughout the entire season. Other public lands may also require special permits.

Bag Limits

Mixed Forecast for 2018 Spring Turkey Season
Forecast by Region

Based on data collected by the MDWFP, most turkey hunters should expect a replay of last year's season when they hit the woods on March 15. 
"Our forecast for turkey season is based on a combination of information from our summer brood survey and observations recorded by hunters who participate in the annual Spring Gobbler Hunting Survey," said Adam Butler, a wildlife biologist who serves as the MDWFP's Wild Turkey Program Coordinator. Butler says the metrics that the MDWFP tracks from these two sources of data are similar to the values observed last spring. "We estimated that licensed hunters harvested about 27,000 gobblers last spring. Although we anticipate some regional variation, most of our figures suggest the 2018 harvest should be pretty similar to that of 2017."     
As with all wildlife populations, numbers will vary by region. The following accounts describe what to expect in different regions of Mississippi this spring. 
  • Northeast Mississippi: This region was the state's hot-spot in 2017.  Brood data from previous years, and last season's juvenile gobbler observations, suggest overall harvest should dip slightly in northern Mississippi. However, populations are still strong, and gobbler harvest in the north will probably once again outpace most other regions in 2018.
  • The Delta: The Mississippi River has been at or near flood stage at some point during seven of the last 10 turkey nesting seasons.  Unsurprisingly, turkey populations in the Delta have plummeted.  MDWFP's data indicates 2018 will not see much of a turnaround.  Hunters on most properties should temper expectations as harvest totals likely will be well below average for much of the region.
  • East-Central Mississippi: Available data suggests that much of central Mississippi should be poised for a very exciting season. The region had an excellent hatch in 2016, which translated into a sizeable spike in jake observations last year. With this above-average crop of two-year-old gobblers roaming the woods, east-central Mississippi should offer outstanding action in 2018.           
  • Southwest Mississippi: Both brood data and last year's jake observations mirror the previous year's tallies, suggesting that hunters in southwest Mississippi should expect a pretty similar spring season to what they found in 2017. 
  • Southeast Mississippi: The Pine Belt's two-year-old crop of gobblers should be slightly better than last year, suggesting that harvest will likely also be up, but this modest bump will probably not bolster populations levels to what hunters remember from some of the better years of the past.
Voluntary Survey Allows Hunters to Aid Wild Turkey Management
Lend a Helping Hand

Turkey hunters with an interest in helping the conservation and management of their favorite game bird can aid the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) by acting as their on-the-ground eyes and ears. Participation in the MDWFP's annual Spring Gobbler Hunting Survey (SGHS) gives turkey hunters a chance to collect data that is used to track populations and evaluate management decisions.  

Participation in the SGHS is free, and easy, and only requires a few minutes after each hunt to record observations in a booklet provided by the MDWFP. All hunters, regardless of skill or experience level, are encouraged to participate. Hunters interested in becoming involved in the survey can enroll online at www.mdwfp.com/turkey or by contacting the MDWFP at (601) 432-2199.
MDWFP Youth Fishing Rodeos
Coming to a Lake or Pond Near You

We have more than 30 Youth Fishing Rodeos scheduled through June at lakes and ponds all across Mississippi! MDWFP Youth Fishing Rodeos are held Saturday mornings and are a great opportunity for families to spend quality time together in the great outdoors.

Each of these rodeos will have MDWFP fisheries biologists and technical staff present to provide fishing education, guidance, and technical information.

Upcoming Fishing Rodeos

March 24
Canton, Turcotte Education Center - 9 a.m.

April 7
Brookhaven - Hansel King Sportsplex - 8 a.m.
Walnut Gove - Willow Lake - 9 a.m.

April 14
Tupleo - Veterans Park - 8 a.m.
Pearl - Bright Park in Pearl - 9 a.m.
Brooksville - Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge - 8 a.m.

April 21
Sardis - Cypress Point at Sardis Lake - 7 a.m.
Meridian - Q. V. Sykes Pond - 8 a.m.
Amory - McAlpine Lake - 8 a.m.
Diamondhead - Diamond Head Twin Lakes - 9 a.m.

April 28
Jackson - Mayes Lake at Lefleur's Bluff State Park - 8 a.m.
Louisville - Lake Toppasha at Legion State Park - 7:30 a.m.
Natchez - Natchez Lake at Natchez State Park - 7:30 a.m.
Meadville - Clear Springs Lake at Homochitto National Forest - 7 a.m.

MDWFP and MSU to Host Pond Management Workshop in Calhoun County
March 5

The MDWFP and the Mississippi State University Extension Service are hosting a pond management workshop in Calhoun County. The workshop will be held at the Calhoun County Multi-Purpose Building at 121 Parker Street in Pittsboro on Monday, March 5. A meal will be served at 6 p.m. by the Calhoun County Extension office in conjunction with the Calhoun County Forestry Association. The meal will be followed by an hour-long presentation that will include topics on pond design, fish stocking, harvest, vegetation control, liming, and fertilization. A question and answer period will follow. 

Those interested in attending the workshop are asked to register by March 2 by calling the Calhoun County Extension Office at (662) 412-3177 or emailing Trent Barnett at trent.barnett@msstate.edu . Early registration will help ensure enough food is prepared for the meal.
Fishing Reports
At Mississippi State Fishing Lakes

Want to know what is biting at your favorite fishing hole? MDWFP Fishing Reports are posted on a weekly basis from mid-February through November by MDWFP fisheries  biologists at www.mdwfp.com/fishingreports.
Fishing reports provide information on angler and fishing activity, fish attractor locations, water visibility, water temperature, water levels, and depth maps.
Reel Facts
Fish Sampling Results Available  Online

Throughout the year, MDWFP fisheries biologists use various sampling methods to assess the fish populations in the state's waters. Captured fish are identified, counted, weighed, measured, and released back into the water. The sampling results for selected water bodies include MDWFP managed lakes, reservoirs, oxbows, rivers, and the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. Results are summarized in the Reel Facts sheets, which are available for anglers to view online at www.mdwfp.com/fishing-boating/reel-facts
MDWFP's Special Response Team Participates in PATRIOT South 2018
At Camp Shelby

Members of the MDWFP Special Response Team participated in the PATRIOT South 2018 exercise at Camp Shelby this February.  PATRIOT South 2018 is a domestic operations disaster response training exercise conducted by National Guard units working to support federal, state, and local emergency management agencies, and first responders.
Conservation Officer of the Year 
Awarded by the Mississippi Wildlife Federation

Congratulations to MDWFP's Master Sergeant Sheila Smith of Brookhaven! During Smith's 13 years with MDWFP, she has demonstrated hard work, integrity, community involvement, and selfless service to her profession, the citizens of Lincoln and the surrounding counties, and the State of Mississippi.

Smith was awarded Conservation Officer of the Year at February's Mississippi Wildlife Federation (MWF) Banquet and was also recognized for her achievement by the Mississippi State Senate.  
VEC to Host Spring Break Programs
At MDWFP's Visitor Education Center

The MDWFP's Visitor Education Center (VEC) adjacent to Enid Lake, will host spring break programs March 13 - 16 at 2 p.m. each day.

March 13 & 14: Bird Feeder Programs

Youth will create feeders from natural and recycled items using peanut butter and birdseed. Youth will learn to identify commonly seen "backyard birds."

March 15 & 16: Feathered Fish Predators

Participants will learn about bird species that prey on fish, including ospreys, pelicans, green herons, blue herons, and more. Replica skulls, eggs, and talons of some of these predators will be available for youth to handle during the program.

The programs are free with price of admission. Admission is $2.50 for adults ages 18-59, and $2.00 for youth ages 3-17 and adults over the age of 60. For additional information, call the VEC at (662) 563-8068.

The VEC is part of MDWFP North Mississippi Fish Hatchery and is located at Exit 233 east off I-55.

Easter Egg Hunts
At Select Mississippi State Parks

Join us for family fun this month with Easter Egg Hunt opportunities at several of our state parks. Participating parks include: Lake Lowndes, Tishomingo, Roosevelt, G.P. Cossar, J.P. Coleman, and Golden Memorial.

Participating Parks

Fossil Road Show
 March 3 at MDWFP's Mississippi Museum of Natural  Science

Pack up your fossils and hit the road! Bring your fossil discoveries to get expert opinions about their ages and identities from our team of scientists on March 3 at MDWFP's Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. 

In addition to the Museum's fossil collection, there will be collector displays and institutional exhibitors, hands-on activities, "fossil digs", and a scavenger hunt.

So, go through your "rock boxes" and challenge our staff with your prehistoric oddities.  Admission is  $6 for adults, $4 for children ages 3 and up, and children under 3 are FREE. Museum members are FREE. 

Learn More
Conservation Quest
The Newest Exhibit at MDWFP's Museum of Natural Science

Visitors to MDWFP's Mississippi Museum of Natural Science are invited to explore the "Conservation Quest" exhibit through April 29. This interactive exhibit explores energy and conservation: what energy is, where it comes from, how we use it, and why it is important to use it wisely.

See how simple actions can make big differences for families and communities:
  • Find ways to save with light bulbs, electricity, and recycling,
  • Explore solar, wind, and hydropower,
  • Connect circuits to power up lights, alarms, and fans,
  • Take the interactive energy conservation challenge,
  • See how much electricity you use,
  • Check out the latest energy-saving inventions and learn about the future of energy.
The exhibit is included in the regular museum admission fee of $6 for adults, $4 for youth ages 3-18, and $5 for senior citizens ages 60 and up. Museum Members are free with current membership.

Download the Official MDWFP App

The official MDWFP app is a powerful tool for hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts in Mississippi, providing easy access to information and services provided by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks. This application features a digital license display, rules and regulations, season dates, bag limits, feeding times, and much more.

February Overview
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