Hunters Losing Public Land Opportunities

Hunting opportunities on public land in one southern state are being eliminated due to loss of land and fragmentation of a wildlife management area.

After more than 50 years, the lease agreement between the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries and the landowners of the Wolf Creek Wildlife Management Area will be terminated on mutual terms.

Beginning in the fall of 2014, there will no longer be a Wolf Creek Wildlife Management Area in Fayette and Walker counties. From 1990 to 2012, acreage owned by various families and timber companies was removed from the WMA, decreasing it from 31,000 to 9,055 acres.

Personnel and resource limitations, coupled with a decline in public use of the remaining lands during the past several years, are the primary reasons for the decision by WFF.

Ray Metzler, Acting Chief of Wildlife, began his career at Wolf Creek WMA as an Area Biologist.

“The Murphy, Johnston, Baker and Shaw families, along with many other small family ownerships and several timber related corporations, were and continue to be conservation pioneers whose actions benefit Alabama’s wildlife resources and rich hunting heritage,” Metzler said. “WFF appreciates the conservation-minded actions that these families and corporations exhibited for more than 50 years. Their willingness to provide public hunting land for inclusion in Alabama’s WMA system has provided an opportunity for thousands of hunters to enjoy the state’s great outdoors.”

Many individuals have fond memories of their first deer, an extraordinary hunt, or some other positive thought about the Wolf Creek WMA. The elimination of the Wolf Creek WMA will be disappointing to those who have enjoyed it in the past, but more than 700,000 acres are still available for public hunting in Alabama.

“We will continue to seek out additional land for possible inclusion in the WMA system,” Metzler said. “Partnerships with entities like the Forever Wild Land Trust are also helping secure land that can be used for hunting and outdoor recreation.”

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