Deer infected with CWD

Good news on CWD front

This whitetail deer buck shows all the signs of having the always-fatal chronic wasting disease.

The good news is this deer was found in another state.

The final results are in from the latest brush with chronic wasting disease. State Wildlife and Fisheries reported no positives from 217 samples taken from whitetail deer in Union and Morehouse parishes.

Samples were collected from landowners and hunters after CWD was detected in southern Arkansas about seven miles from the Louisiana-Arkansas state line.

Further testing is scheduled for more and 80 additional samples.

The LDWF reported hunters and landowners provided 1,109 samples in 2021 to push the total 19-year CWD testing total to 13,052, all without a single positive CWD in Louisiana.

Hunters can have deer they’ve taken tested after contacting the LDWF website: wlf.louisiana.gov/page/cwd-testing.

January is named for the Roman god Janus, the single image of a man looking backward and forward. The inference is obvious, especially for hunters.

Because that’s what hunters can do this week with most all game available to them when they head into fields, forests, swamps and marshes — and with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission hearing Thursday about the seasons state Wildlife Division biologists will offer for the 2022-2023 hunting seasons.

And, for the next couple of months, hunters will be able to let the seven-member commission and Wildlife and Fisheries’ game managers know what they would like to see for the next seasons now that they have fresh images of this ongoing season.

There’s not much waterfowl hunters can change: Louisiana is in the second year of a two-zone, multi-split program (any changes need a federal OK). Migratory bird seasons are pretty much set in stone, too.

So, if hunters want to affect change, their input can strike home in deer, squirrel, rabbit, quail and turkey seasons’ date and bag limits.

What’s more, the seasons and regulations for the LDWF’s extensive wildlife management areas along with federally managed lands in our state will be offered, and state managers always welcome hunters’ recommendations for change.

Other major agenda items include:

  • A notice to change rules for the Recreational Offshore Landing Permit;
  • An update on flounder regulations approved by the state Legislature;
  • A report on comments received on the Menhaden Buffer Zones notice of intent and to consider amending that notice;
  • And, an update and report on current research of the impact of invasive carp species on native fish species.

Thursday’s 9:30 a.m. meeting is set for the Joe Herring Room at state Wildlife and Fisheries headquarters on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge. A live stream will be available via Zoom.

If you want to provide a comment without attending the meeting, then submit an email by 2 p.m. Wednesday to: Comments@wlf.la.gov.

Snappers

The recreational red snapper season closed Friday, and we’ll have to wait another week or so to get the final catch total. The gag grouper season is also closed.

All is not lost, because New Year’s Day brought reopenings of seasons for lane, blackfin, queen and silk snappers and wenchmen along with red grouper in state and federal waters.

A rare case

State Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents reported the Dec. 26 arrest of 32-year-old Brendan Nolan in Plaquemines Parish on charges of “harassment of a person lawfully hunting, simple assault, criminal damage to property and illegal discharge of a firearm.”

The report stated that duck hunters hunting on public lands near Venice filed a complaint and filed a video showing Nolan driving a boat into a decoy spread, verbally harassing the hunters and using a pistol to shoot the hunters’ decoys.

Agents and a Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s deputy eventually seized a pistol from Nolan, then arrested and booked him into the Plaquemines Parish Detention Center.

Nolan faces fines near $2,000 and near one year in jail and civil penalties, as defined by the state’s harassment law, to allow the hunters to recover any and all expenses that “were rendered futile by the actions of the person violating the law."

Stiff penalty

Tommy Berthelot, of Buras, made sure we’d close out 2021 with a bang.

LDWF agents found Berthelot, 43, using a skimmer net during a closed season last April, and, in early December pled guilty to his fifth such offense.

It became apparent Judge Kevin Conner had seen enough and revoked Berthelot’s commercial shrimping license and privileges for two years, a sentence which, according to the ruling, means Berthelot “cannot be on any shrimp vessel possessing shrimp or gear to take shrimp without having a vessel-monitoring system that is monitored by the LDWF Enforcement Division for a period of three years.”

He also was placed on two years inactive probation, then, while in court, faced another citation for allowing an unlicensed fisherman to use his vessel during a closed shrimping season in late July, which could cost him a $500 fine and 90 days in jail.