A deer taken in Issaquena County, Mississippi, Jan. 25 tested positive for chronic wasting disease which prompted last week’s meeting among state wildlife biologists and wildlife veterinarians from Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas.

Issaquena County is in far northwest Mississippi and its western border is the Mississippi River, which means the deer was found close to Louisiana. The report from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries indicated the deer was five miles from the state border.

It also means Mississippi is the 25th state to confirm CWD in its deer herd. Arkansas found CWD there two years ago.

The meeting was held to review the response to this finding, and Arkansas shared the information its biologists and game managers had dealing with this disease.

In 2017, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, at the urging of LDWF veterinarian Dr. Jim LaCour, banned the importation of certain parts of deer and other cervids taken in other states, a move to keep CWD from entering resident deer populations.

The LDWF’s release stated, “Louisiana and Mississippi will have coordinated and measured responses. Although Louisiana has not detected the disease, the CWD-positive deer was only about five miles from the Louisiana-Mississippi border. LDWF has implemented its response plan along with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

“Landowner contacts and logistics of surveillance work are being planned and finalized. Louisiana and Mississippi personnel will communicate closely with each other as well as landowners and the public within the surveillance zones.”

The LDWF has posted a CWD notebook on its website: wlf.louisiana.gov/hunting/CWD.

And Mississippi’s agency has posted what it calls a “CWD surveillance zone” on its website: mdwfp.com/media/254611/cwd-management-zone.pdf.

Just in time

With hopes work was done in time for the spring and summer saltwater fishing season, CCA-Louisiana, along with several partners, set about establishing and enhancing reef sites south of Cocodrie in Terrebonne Parish inshore waters.

An original reef-building site, the 1985 Point Mast Reef, was enhanced in 2009, and this latest effort used 1,200 tons of crushed limestone to create two, and possibly three, new reef sites in the same area.

CCA’s volunteer project director John Walther said this project will continue to support a wide variety of marine life, forage species that will attract redfish, speckled trout, flounder, drum and speepshead, and others to a site he said was, at one time, islands made up of old oyster shells supporting dense black mangrove stands.

“I grew up fishing this area, and I have watched the marsh and habitat disappear throughout my lifetime,” Walther said. “The opportunity to create new habitat while providing an easily accessible spot for anglers to enjoy is very special. I am proud to have worked with our great partners on this effort.

“We would expect this reef to be holding speckled trout, redfish and drum this spring,” Walther said.

Chevron, the Building Conservation Trust, which is part of CCA's National Habitat Program, and the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) partnered with CCA for this project. It’s the third time CCA Louisiana and Chevron have joined to build nearshore reefs and this project sends CCA to over $8 million in spending to establish reefs.

Funds for this project came from Chevron, the LDWF’s Artificial Reef Development Fund, CCA’s Building Conservation Trust, DLS Energy and the Paul Candies Family.

LDWF secretary Jack Montoucet touted the effort: “These are the kinds of crucial partnerships that help all concerned, but especially Louisiana’s fishing community,” he said. “This is Louisiana at its best.”

Reef coordinates 29 degrees, 6 minutes, 21.574 seconds North and 90 degrees, 38 minutes, 3.114 seconds West.

Check the skies

With bass busting darned near everywhere in south Louisiana, including the marshes on both sides of the Mississippi River — and the full moon coming March 1 — anglers need to keep current on weather conditions, especially daily rain predicted through most of the week.

Try these websites:

  • National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Forecasts: nws.noaa.gov. Find the “Coastal/Great Lakes Forecasts by Zones – Gulf – New Orleans, La.” and a map with 13 different nearshore, offshore and Lake Pontchartrain wind and waves predictions for the next five days.
  • Weather Underground: wunderground.com. Current conditions, a 10-day forecast, and hour-by-hour predicted temperatures, winds, precipitation and barometric pressure.
  • National Weather Service’s River Forecast Center: water.weather.gov for river stages.