Roseau Cane aerial photo

File photo

The widespread die-off of roseau cane in areas south of Venice along the Mississippi River is being cause by an insect identified as Phragmites Scale. State biologists are asking waterfowl hunters to take preventative steps to avoid spreading the scale both during and after their hunts. The teal season opens Friday and runs through Sept. 30.

It’s the hot spinach-and-artichoke dip of the waterfowl hunting seasons, and a time to sharpen all those skills to make sharp cuts into what’s coming in November’s main course.

Yep, it’s teal season, and those among Louisiana’s 100 grand waterfowl hunters who’ll take advantage of September’s annual special 16-day celebration should find all they want in numbers of birds, and more than what they missed last year.

There’s little doubt the 2016 season was a comparative bust to teal seasons past. Water was high everywhere — in the rice and soybean fields and especially in the marshes — and teal, a bird that likes water more in shallow puddles than deep, expansive lakes, couldn’t find a home in most south Louisiana spots.

And, in 2016, there was a brief hint of fall a couple of days before the season, but most of those 16 days were sweltering even at sunrise.

That’s different this year. Even though afternoon temperatures are predicted to creep into the 90s again, this week-long run of cool mornings and 80-degree afternoons sure swept most northern breeding areas clean of bluewing teal — the mainstay migrant in this special season — and a week of northerly winds helped push some of that water from Hurricane Harvey from the marshes in the state’s usually duck-rich southwestern parishes.

There’s another difference, and if you see duck hunters in your neighborhood hitting the road today, then it’s because this year’s teal season opens on a Friday, not the usual Saturday.

State Waterfowl Study leader Larry Reynolds said one look at the calendar late last year convinced him to ask for the last 16 days of the month rather than opening this season on September’s second Saturday.

“It will give us a chance to get more birds into the state and hopefully bring cooler conditions,” Reynolds said earlier this year.

And there were birds here as early as late August, about three weeks earlier than last year. They were bluewings mostly with some early pintails mixed in the party.

Reynolds said what it means is the season will end on a Saturday, and added the last time this Friday opener happened it turned out to be one of the better teal season for state hunters.

A plea to help

State biologist Todd Baker came to last Thursday’s Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting with a plea to help curtail the spread of an insect threatening to destroy valuable Roseau cane in the southeastern coastal marshes.

Baker said Phragmites Scale, a nonnative insect causing a die-off in vast stands of cane, have been found in Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Jefferson, Lafourche, Terrebonne, St. Mary, St. Charles, Orleans, St. John the Baptist and Tangipahoa parishes and spots along the Mississippi Gulf coast. The major concentrations are in Plaquemines Parish.

Baker asks teal hunters — fishermen, too — to help stop the spread of the insect and asked hunters to heed a list of four specific action items, including:

  • Not transporting Roseau cane;
  • Not tying boats up to Roseau cane;
  • Removing all Roseau cane debris from boats before leaving local marinas;
  • and, washing boats with soapy water and draining boats at or near marinas.

Baker said scientists working on controlling the insect and its spread believe “these measures will limit the spread of the scale or other vectors that could be the source of the die off.”

He also asked hunters and fishers to report areas of cane that appears to be distressed — cane should be 8-10 feet tall with bright green leaves at this time of year — by going to website:

For more info on Roseau cane, go to the LDWF’s website:

New LAA on a WMA

Teal hunters heading to the Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area need to know the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission expanded the WMA’s Limited Access Area through Jan. 31 next year.

The LAA’s new boundaries on the Main Delta are marked with signs, and the WMA’s Wax Lake area now are marked by what the LDWF said is a combination of signs or GPS coordinates.

The best way to get a look at the new boundaries is to go to the LDWF website:

LAA restrictions ban the use of internal combustion engines from Sept. 1-Jan. 31, and allow hunters and fishermen access by using electric trolling motors or by paddling or push poling. Boats with engines can enter the LAA only if the engine is tilted out of the water and in “an inoperable position.”

And on Pass a Loutre

The LDWF issued an advisory for waterfowl hunters about the 2 p.m. cut-off for the use of outboards and stern-drives inside the Pass a Loutre WMA near the mouth of the Mississippi River.

A second notice informed hunters and fishermen about the Sawdust Bend Dredge Disposal Project continuing through the teal season and the 60-day duck season making the Willow Tree Cut Canal impassable because a dredge pipe spanning the canal.

What you need

To be “legal,” Louisiana resident hunters ages 16 through 59 need a state basic hunting ($15) license and a state waterfowl stamp ($5.50), and the same requirement applies to all nonresident hunters ages 16 and older ($150 annual basic hunting & $25 state waterfowl stamp). All hunters 16 and older must have a federal waterfowl stamp ($25, signed in ink across the face of the stamp), and a no-fee Harvest Information Program certificate.

If you’re planning to hunt wildlife management areas, you need a WMA permit ($15 resident & nonresident).

Louisiana resident hunters with birthdates on or after June 1, 2000 are required to have a Senior License ($5) that covers basic hunting, the state waterfowl stamp, WMA hunting permit, along with big game hunting, bow, primitive firearms, turkey stamp and basic/saltwater fishing licenses.