HARRISBURG, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has asked a circuit court judge to throw out a lawsuit filed against it by a local group that wants to prevent the agency's removing private duck blinds from public lands.
It's a controversial move that has many in the duck-hunting community in an uproar. Some of the blinds have been in place more than 60 years, according to documents.
A motion filed Monday in Harrisburg asks Circuit Judge Randy Philhours to dismiss the suit filed by the St. Francis Lake Association. Poinsett County isn't the proper venue and doesn't have jurisdiction in the case, the AGFC argued in court documents.
"Blind removal on Big Lake and St. Francis Sunken Lands WMAs by the AGFC was to begin Oct. 15," Commission public information coordinator Keith Stephens told The Sun. "Last week the judge in the case issued a temporary stay halting the planned removal until further notice."
No blinds have been removed by the AGFC, Stephens said.
Philhours could possibly rule on the motion as early as next week. Michelle Grilletta, trial court assistant for the judge, said her office is working on setting a court hearing in the matter.
The hearing is tentatively set for Oct. 24 or Nov. 2 with a location yet to be determined.
If Philhours dismisses the suit, it could likely be brought back to court in Pulaski County. According to state court precedent, court cases involving state agencies including AGFC are heard in Little Rock.
The debate over the issue has been discussed by hunters, fishermen and Game and Fish Commission members since mid-2011.
A series of hearings was held in the region in fall 2011 about the policy change.