WAHA meeting not about answers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 26, 2004

Many wanted answers, while others just wanted to voice their concerns and opinions Monday night at the Demopolis Civic Center, when over 120 hunters and concerned citizens of West Alabama came out of the woods for the first public meeting of the West Alabama Hunters Association.

On going concerns with West Alabama’s deer management situation and deer population concerns has quickly become the hot topic of conversation throughout Alabama, and Monday night concerned hunters, small and large landowners and citizens of West Alabama finally had a chance to speak up.

Lee Youngblood, Selma resident and past president of the Alabama Wildlife Federation, may not have been on the list of quest speakers Monday night, but knowing the concerns of many West Alabama hunters and being a man who loves to talk, Youngblood addressed the large crowd.

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“I know that many of you feel that much of the problems with our deer situation in Alabama is not so much with those of us here, but with our neighbors,” Youngblood said. “I’m doing the best I can to manage my land, while my neighbor kills everything in sight.”

Heads shook in agreement with Youngblood’s comments as wildlife biologist and state representatives listened in. According to Gary Moody, Chief of Wildlife for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, that was what this meeting was all about, listening.

“This was a great opportunity for us to here the concerns of the hunters,” Moody said. “We came to hear what they had to say, to hear the voice of concern. And we heard it loud and clear.”

Moody said he was impressed with the amount of concerned hunters who came out on a Monday night, that it was a good start, but there needs to be more.

“We can see that the concerns in West Alabama are great. And we will be working diligently on the issue,” Moody said.

“But I would encourage every hunter who has a concern or complaint to talk with their local wildlife biologist and conversation officers. In order for us to help, we need to know about any and all situations as soon as possible. If hunters come across any dead or unhealthy deer, they need to contact us immediately. The number in Demopolis is 289-8030.”

But still many may have misunderstood the true meaning of the meeting and left feeling that nothing was accomplished Monday night.

WAHA founder Doug Etheredge said that he felt the meeting was a success as far as it’s indented purpose, but many people didn’t understand the indented purpose.

“We had a great turnout Monday night, but I think many people came expecting answers to the problems,” Etheredge said. “But that’s not what the purpose of the meeting was for. The purpose was to raise awareness of the situation and to try and get financial support to go to Montgomery on March 6th.”

The WAHA meeting brought supporters from over seven counties throughout West Alabama including: Perry, Hale, Greene, Tuscaloosa, Choctaw, Dallas, Marengo and Sumter Counties.

But even with such a big gathering, the WAHA still has not received any donations to help them take this on going battle to Montgomery next month.

“We have plenty of people contact us and say that they are behind us 100 percent, and even some that want to join in our fight and make it a state wide effort,” Etheredge said. “But still no financial contributions have been donated as of this time.”

March 6th is less than two weeks away and in order for the WAHA to be able to make it’s stand against the deer problems in Alabama, they will need funds from those in support.