The move to allow suppressors, also inaccurately known as “silencers,” has been growing throughout the country in the last few years with fits and spurts.
Some state wildlife agencies or legislatures, or both, have balked. Others have been at odds, one proposing and one pushing back. Perceptions about poachers running rampant with “silencers” on guns still exist. The American Silencer Association has been working with agencies, legislatures and hunters to try to get approval.
Alabama slipped one through the wickets during the March 1 meeting of its Conservation Advisory Board. The board proposed that “the prohibition on silenced firearms will be removed to allow for federally permitted silencers to be used,” according to this report from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
I live in Alabama, and no one saw that one coming. At all. For the folks with federal permits for suppressors who are hunters, it’s huge news — but only if the Advisory Board formally approves the proposal, which would then be recommended to DCNR Commissioner Gunter N. Guy to approve or ignore. The board meets two more times, in April and May, so it may not be voted on for a while.
Alabama’s deer hunters were mostly interested in whether the DCNR would expand the Southern Zone to more counties than the 10 that enjoyed 10 days of February deer hunting in the 2013-14 season. Rumors had been flying for weeks about an expansion northward from last year’s southwestern counties and possibly east of Interstate 85, which was the border this season.
The board did propose an expansion to most of south Alabama below I-85 and U.S. 80, with the eastern boundary running mainly along two major highways. Fetal conception data showed late January and/or early February average breeding dates in the southern part of the state. The extreme eastern portion in the Chattahoochee River Valley is in early January. (see map)
The board also proposed that doe limits be reduced to one per day statewide. This follows about a decade of a two-doe-per-day allowance statewide and a significant reduction of the population, based on hunter reports and state biologists’ surveys.
“This is just an attempt to respond to the desires of the hunting public that’s been talking to our biologists and staff,” said Chuck Sykes, director of the DCNR’s Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. “I’ve been traveling throughout the state and had the same thing brought to my attention. The hunters feel like the doe numbers are not where they need to be, and we need to start by reducing the antlerless bag limit.”