Gov’t Shutdown Could Affect Arkansas Elk Hunt


LITTLE ROCK – The federal government shutdown is affecting fishing and hunting on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuges and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes in Arkansas. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is reminding anglers, hunters, hikers, campers and others that the federal shutdown could change their plans.

AGFC Director Mike Knoedl said the federal government shutdown could influence people’s outdoor recreation plans in Arkansas. “If you’re heading for federal wildlife refuges to scout, hunt or fish, that activity is prohibited,” Knoedl said. “Arkansas Game and Fish Commission lands will remain open and our officers will be on duty,” he added.

USFWS land and facilities are closed due to the lapse in appropriation for 2014. For more information on the shutdown, go to

If there is not a resolution before next week, there will be no hunting allowed within the Buffalo National River boundary, which will affect the elk hunt scheduled for next week.

Gates to all U.S. Forest Service use areas will be locked where applicable and use areas will be closed. However, the forests will remain open to public recreation.

Knoedl said boat ramps may also be closed, which impacts access to Corps lakes. “Closures may include visitor centers and gates on all access points,” he said. Wildlife management areas leased by the AGFC on Corps property will be open and managed by the AGFC. Boat launch ramps inside Corps campgrounds will be inaccessible. All other launch ramps will be open.

Before heading out to your favorite Arkansas Corps lake, go to or call 501-324-5551 to find out about public access.

UPDATE: 10/4/13

From the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission:

Elk zone 1 hunt may close because of federal government shutdown

PONCA – The recent shutdown of the federal government has caused some problems with next week’s elk hunt. The first elk season is scheduled for Oct. 7-11 with eight hunters looking for a prize elk.

The problem is two of the hunters in elk zone 1 are hunting on land that is completely within the Buffalo National River. The BNR is closed to all activities and will not reopen until there is a resolution in Washington, D.C.

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Elk Program Coordinator Wes Wright said that elk zone 1 lies entirely within the BNR boundary and includes no other state or federal land open to hunting. “There are two hunters in zone 1. One either-sex and one antlerless permit.  These hunters have been notified about the zone closure and may be postponed until next year’s hunt,” Wright explained. “If there is a resolution reached over the weekend they are on standby to go hunting next week.  If not, these two hunters will be allowed to come back next year and hunt the same zone and dates.”

Elk zone 2 is primarily state-owned property within the boundary of Gene Rush Wildlife Management Area. There are two hunters in zone 2, one either-sex and one antlerless permit. These hunters will not be affected since they will be hunting on state-owned property.  The portion of the BNR that lies adjacent to Gene Rush WMA that is within elk zone 2 will be closed.

Elk zone 3 has a large portion of BNR land that will be closed to hunting.  The Richland Valley Sonny Varnell Elk Conservation Area will be open to hunting since it is state-owned property. There are two hunters permitted for zone 3, one either-sex and one antlerless permit. These hunters will have to stay on state-owned property within the elk conservation area.

Elk zone 4 is within the boundary of the Ozark National Forest and will be open to hunting. There are two hunters in zone 4, one either-sex and one antlerless permit.  These hunters will not be affected by the public land closures.

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