Strong survey means another liberal season for waterfowlers _lowres

Advocate file photo by JOE MACALUSO Amidst a flock of blackbirds are as many as 20 teal taking flight from a pond in the Cameron Parish marshes during a past special September teal season. Louisiana hunters will get another in a long line of 16-day teal season this year running statewide from Sept. 12-27.

Coincidence, maybe, but the stars aligned for ducks hunters Thursday, especially those who can’t wait for September’s special teal season, and for the remainder of the more than 100,000 of Louisiana’s wild waterfowlers.

Almost at the same time Thursday morning, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission approved the 16-day September dates — Sept. 12-27 — and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released the 2015 May Waterfowl Breeding Count Survey.

The statewide teal days Louisiana hunters get is based on the survey’s teal numbers. If greater than 4.7 million, and this year’s estimate has a total teal count of 12.638 million birds, it triggers that 16-day season in the Mississippi Flyway. Louisiana is one of 13 states in that flyway. And for the second year, the daily teal bag limit is six. The season is limited to the take of greenwing, bluewing and cinnamon teal.

Better yet is that the survey showed an estimate of 11.643 million mallard breeding count, which triggers another in a long line of 60-day later-in-the-year duck seasons.

Overall, duck numbers are a best-ever 49.522 million birds on the Canadian prairies and U.S. breeding areas in Montana and the Dakotas. It’s up just one percent over last year’s record numbers, and 43 percent above the average of the surveys that stretch from 1955 through 2014.

The 24-page report, “Trends in Duck Breeding Populations, 1955-2015” is the top story on the USFWS website: www.fws.gov.

Thursday’s LWFC July meeting produced the usual outline to get wingshooters afield.

Teal are included in the early migratory bird seasons-setting process, and the commission also approved another 90-day season for the state’s dove hunters, the standard 45-day woodcock season — Dec. 18-Jan. 31 — and included rails and gallinules hunting opportunities inside the special teal season. The balance of the 70-day seasons on rails and gallinules will come in August when the commission approved dates and bag limits for ducks and geese.

The dove season mimics last year’s breakdown for the state’s three splits each in North and South zones.

Both zones open the season Sept. 5, the Saturday of Labor Day weekend.

And hunters will be able to get into fields on private lands one-half hour before sunrise on opening day, and for the rest of the season.

The South Zone’s first split will run through Sept. 13. The second split will run Oct. 10-Dec. 1 with the balance of the 90 days coming Dec. 19-Jan. 15.

First split in the North Zone ends at sundown Sept. 17 with an Oct. 10-Nov. 8 second split and a Dec. 10-Jan. 15 third split.

The daily limit remains 15 and the bag can include mourning, white-winged, Eurasian collared and ringed-turtle doves, with special provisions to exclude the nonnative Eurasian collared-doves and ringed-turtle doves from that limit if hunters keep a fully feathered wing and the head attached to the carcass of those birds.

A reminder to hunters is that state and federal water stamps are required to hunt teal, and a fee-free Harvest Information Permit, the HIP endorsement, is required for anyone hunting migratory birds and migratory waterfowl.

Again, for a second year, hunters will be allowed a possession limit of three times the daily bag limit.

Volunteer honors

Three Baton Rouge area men and a Lafayette Parish instructor were among 18 honored by state Wildlife and Fisheries for their volunteer efforts in the LDWF’s Hunter/Aquatic Education Program.

The Southeast Regional Team Award went to Fred Gueho and Mike Lorio from the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, who with WBR Sheriff Mike Cazes, have worked 21 years in Hunter Education Program.

Larry Lapeyrolerie earned the Southeast Region’s Instructor of the Year after his 15-year effort at the Waddill Wildlife Refuge in Baton Rouge that has certified more than 1,100 young hunters.

Shane Mayers received the Southwest Region Instructor of the Year award. Mayers, despite a diagnosis of terminal cancer, continued his volunteer efforts primarily in Lafayette Parish at the Wilderness Gun Club. Mayers died in May.

Others honored came from the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Pineville Police Department and LaSalle Parish High.

For more on the Hunter Ed Program, call LDWF coordinator Eric Shanks (225) 765-2355/email: eshanks@wlf.la.gov.

Big ‘Dry Water’ net

Wildlife and Fisheries’ Enforcement Division agents working last weekend’s Operation Dry Water, the nationwide enforcement effort to curb boating-while-intoxicated operators, arrested three south Louisiana men for alleged BWI violations.

The arrests included Steven Sander Jr., 35, of Metairie, on Bayou Segnette; Donald Lennox, 54, of Prairieville, on the Amite River Diversion Canal; and, Jay Burchfield, 39, of Hammond, in North Pass near Lake Maurepas.

If found guilty, BWI violators could face jail time, fines and loss of driver’s license and boating operator privileges.

Changing the landscape

Hoorah for Allyson Marcel. She teams with Tyler Rivet at Nicholls State for this week’s Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. They are the next in line from the 2-year-old Nicholls State’s bass fishing team to qualify for the nationals, and will be among 89 other teams on Lake DuBay.

They advanced to the nationals with a 13th-place finish in June’s Carhartt Wild Card Tournament in Tennessee.

Walker & DU

Former Louisiana Ducks Unlimited chairman Robert Walker Jr. was elected to DU’s Board of Directors during the spring national convention in Milwaukee.

Walker, who lives in Walker, is a member of DU’s Baton Rouge and Zachary chapters.

More closures

The high and still rising Mississippi and Red rivers have forced the closure of Blount, Catfish Bayou, Dobbs Bay, Sostien Bayou, Goose Lake and Ross roads on the Richard Yancey Wildlife Management Area in Concordia Parish off La. 15 south of Ferriday.