Wildlife and Fisheries announces dates for Louisiana waterfowl hunting season _lowres

Advocate staff photo by John Ballance - Ducks in flight.

After debating for more than one hour, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission voted Thursday to open the state’s Coastal Waterfowl Season on the first Saturday in November and divided that zones evenly between the first and second splits.

The move to a Nov. 7 opening date in the Coastal Zone is eight days earlier than it opened in the 2014-2015 season, and ignored a request by Coastal Zone hunters to have later seasons to take ducks.

As approved by a 4-2 vote, the state’s 2015-2016, three-zone, 60-day, duck hunting dates are Nov. 7-Dec. 6 and Dec. 19-Jan. 17 in the Coastal Zone; Nov. 14-Dec. 6 and Dec. 19-Jan. 24 in the West Zone; and, Nov. 21-Dec. 6 and Dec. 19-Jan. 31 in the East Zone.

Special youth-only duck hunting dates will be Oct. 31-Nov. 1 in the Coastal Zone, Nov. 7 and Jan. 31 in the West Zone and Nov. 14 and Feb. 6 in the East Zone.

The dates also apply to taking coots, a species known across south Louisiana as “poule d’eau.”

It’ws the 19th straight season for a 60-day, 6-ducks-per-day bag limit. The daily bag , as set by the Mississippi Flyway Council and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, limits the take of mallards to four per day, of which only two can be mallard hens, three woods ducks, three scaup, two redsheads, two pintails, two canvasbacks and one each mottled duck and black duck. The limit on canvasbacks is an increase of one per day from the 2014-2015 season limitations and was due to increased numbers of the species in the May Breeding Count estimate.

Seasons on geese, to include blues, snows, Ross’, specklebellies and Canada geese will be announced later Thursday, along with the Conservation Order periods on blue, snow and Ross’ geese. The commission approved a cut in the state’s daily bag on Canada geese to one after a three-bird limit from last season, and elected to have an 81-day season on specklebellies with a bag limit of two per day.

With the early opening of the Coastal Zone duck season, the 54 remaining days for taking rails and gallinules was pushed to a Nov. 7-Dec. 31 season in all three waterfowl zones.

The 107-day snipe season will also be announced later Thursday.