TWRA Turns Focus From Protecting Game To Protecting Habitat

Deer populations in Tennessee have increased from roughly 2,500 in 1960 to an estimated 750,000 today. Credit: burnto via Flickr

Deer populations in Tennessee have increased from roughly 2,500 in 1960 to an estimated 750,000 today. Credit: burnto via Flickr

Tennessee’s agency that oversees wildlife is rethinking its entire approach to managing hunters and wild animals. TWRA now plans to take a hands-off approach to game populations and instead spend time protecting their habitats.

Previously, game wardens might physically move elk or turkeys to a certain part of the state to beef-up numbers. That kind of intervention will no longer be a focus, says Daryl Ratajczak, TWRA’s chief of wildlife. He says most big game have bounced back to the point that their “persistence is no longer in question.”

They don’t need humans to take care of them,” Ratajczak says. “What they need is a place to live.”

TWRA’s six-year plan calls for protecting all types of habitat, from forests to wild grasslands to cave openings.

Even urban areas are included in the wildlife plan as negative interactions between humans and game like deer increase.

“I believe dealing with these urban issues and these nuisance animals – unfortunately – is really going to take a higher priority,” Ratajczak says.

The agency is taking public feedback until Jan. 21.

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