Three major items were addressed during this month's Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting, and hunters and recreational fishermen were knee deep in all three.

First, state wildlife biologist Tommy Tuma revealed the state’s Wildlife Division plans for the 2018-2019 hunting seasons.

Other than a dozen or so changes for specific state wildlife management areas — the most notable is increasing from five days to 14 days for modern firearms, either-sex deer days the Thistlethwaite WMA — proposed major hunting season changes include:

  • Modifying Deer Area 9 for either-sex take in primitive and modern firearms days.“The change in dates will occur earlier within the normal season framework to facilitate antlerless harvest earlier in the season with the intent to improve sex ratios in advance of breeding. There is no reduction or addition of available hunting days," Tuma said.
  • Moving West Feliciana Parish from Deer Area 4 to Area 6.
  • Prohibiting the use of drones on WMAs.
  • Moving a portion of St. Martin Parish into Turkey Hunt Area A.

Only calendar date adjustments are set and the proposed season dates will be published here later this month in advance of public comment during the commission’s regular monthly meetings and a handful of soon-to-be-announced public hearings around the state.

The complete hunting seasons package is posted on the Wildlife and Fisheries website: wlf.louisiana.gov/action-items.

Tuma said public comment will be accepted through March during meetings or in writing until 9 p.m. March 1. Mail comments to: Tommy Tuma, LDWF Wildlife Division, P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA 70898-9000, or email: ttuma@wlf.la.gov.

Waterfowlers

For migratory bird and waterfowl hunters, there are no changes — another 60-day season is in store for the duck hunters — and the September teal season is set to run Sept. 15-30. And there will be an additional pintail (from one to two) added to the six-duck-per-day limit. Youth waterfowl days will retain the same format.

On public lands, there’s a proposal to establish limited access areas, a ban on the use of gasoline-fueled outboard/inboard engines, on all waterfowl impoundments except the Wham Brake area on the Russell Sage WMA.

And red snapper

Louisiana’s application for an exempted fishing permit, a move to allow additional recreational red snapper fishing days this year and next and the LDWF’s Marine Fisheries Section has offered the public to comment on its draft application, but you have only a couple of days to do it. Federal fisheries managers have set an 11 a.m. Jan. 18 deadline for EFP applications from the five Gulf states.

While there remains an invitation-only meeting for user groups set for Tuesday by the state’s fisheries staff, the LDWF opened comment on the application to the recreational and charter-for-hire user groups.

The LDWF’s press release stated, “Keep in mind that this application is still in draft form and is subject to change — we would appreciate your feedback on the draft application by Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, before we finalize our application for submission.”

Email comments to: redsnapper@wlf.la.gov.

The state’s full, again not final, EFP is posted on the LDWF’ website: wlf.louisiana.gov. Find the “Red Snapper Management” page, then scroll down to the listing “Securing an exempted fishing permit from NOAA Fisheries,” and you can read Louisiana’s EFP proposal by clicking on “draft proposal.”

Once submitted and approved, Advocate Outdoors will publish rules and regulations for anglers to participate in this two-year program basically designed, among other objectives, to study red snapper catches on artificial reefs.

Hog wild

The third major issue involved feral hogs, and how the LDWF and its Enforcement Division agents plan to deal with transporting these animals.

If approved, the move will allow LDWF agents to enforce state Agriculture and Forestry regulations covering this activity, and will allow agents “to confiscated and disposed of in accordance with LDWF policy,” transported feral hogs without proper LDAF documentation.

LDWF veterinarian Jim LaCour is handling comment. Email: jlacour@wlf.la.gov.

On the water

Fishing reports from the Delacroix and Golden Meadow areas aren’t good when it comes to catching trout and redfish. Apparently bass fishing is better in the brackish-water spots.

At least eight contacts reported catching fewer than eight trout each and fewer than three redfish on 12 trips during the last week.