The best news for resident-game hunters for the 2015-16 seasons is there’s no news, at least no big news for south Louisiana lands.
When biologist Steve Smith presented the state’s Wildlife Division’s proposals for the next seasons on deer, squirrel, rabbits and quail during Thursday’s Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting, the hefty list of seasons and regulations contained no major changes in the season structure for private lands.
The only major change will affect deer hunters in Area 5, heretofore a heavily regulated deer-hunting zone in northeast Louisiana, where a change to add two weeks to the deer season proposed in 2014 will kick in for the next season.
And for the 2016-17 season, Area 5 will be merged with State Deer Area 1, which has the state’s most liberal of all deer seasons among the state’s 10 deer-hunting areas.
There were also no proposed changes to the frameworks for the spring 2016 turkey hunting seasons.
The biggest proposed change for south Louisiana is on the Biloxi Wildlife Management Area, the expanse of marshes and bayous in St. Bernard Parish.
A new rule there will restrict the use of shallow-water boats to “... use of mud boats or air-cooled propulsion vessels to straight shaft ‘long-tail’ air-cooled mud motors that are 16 total horsepower or less.”
Smith explained that the Biloxi Marsh Lands Corporation asked for the changes after determining that larger horsepowered engines caused damage to the marshes.
Other proposed 2015-16 WMA changes in south Louisiana included adding six days to the either-sex-take deer season on the Sherburne WMA, adding a youth-only squirrel hunting weekend for the last weekend in September on the Maurepas Swamp WMA and adding bird-dog training to the list of allowed uses inside WMAs with Small Game Emphasis Areas.
Additional youth-only ducks, deer and turkey hunting opportunities were proposed for as many as 12 more WMAs and federal refuges.
Interested parties will have the next three months to comment on the proposed changes.
Other commission agenda items included:
A notice was approved to merge the 13,000-plus acres of the Ouachita WMA into the Russell Sage WMA. A recent Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ purchase of a parcel of land between the two WMAs joined the two tracts and will boost the Russell Sage WMA to 34,845 acres in Ouachita, Morehouse and Richland parishes.
A notice was approved that mandates hunters on Deer Management Assistance Program lands to carry state tags when hunting and further mandates hunters affix the tags on all antlerless deer taken before the animal is removed from the field.
LDWF Enforcement Division agents issued 1,567 citations and 438 written warnings during December.
There was one boating fatality during December among the six boating accidents the Enforcement Division investigated during the month.
Voting its May meeting for May 7 in Baton Rouge.
Pat Manuel from Eunice and Dan Davis from Houma were elected to serve as chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, for the seven-member commission through the current year.