The fallout from the discovery of chronic wasting disease in northwest Mississippi near the Louisiana state line fell out Thursday when the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission approved an emergency declaration to ban supplemental feeding in East Carroll, Madison and Tensas parishes effective Monday.

The move came after state biologists and Wildlife and Fisheries’ veterinarian staff sought the move as one method to control the spread of CWD. A buck tested positive for CWD Jan. 25 in Issaquena County, Mississippi. The initial report indicated the deer was taken five miles from the Louisiana state line.

In part, the emergency notice stated: “The immediate cessation of all supplemental feeding, including mineral or salt licks, is hereby initiated for East Carroll, Madison and Tensas parishes. The purpose of this feeding ban is to reduce the potential for the spread of CWD into Louisiana by reducing the risk of exposure when deer are concentrated around feeding sites.”

The notice further stated bait “not normally ingested by deer” and used to trap feral hogs will be allowed, but that “all bait must be placed and contained within the trap itself,” and landowners can continue to use backyard bird feeders.

During the discussion, LDWF game managers said the agency has tested more than 8,300 deer since 2002 and has not detected CWD in the state, and it was the first instance of CWD detected in Mississippi.

Honors and sentence

On Thursday, LDWF senior agent Tyler Wheeler received the 2017 Conservation Officer of the Year award from the Shikar-Safari Club International during the commission meeting.

If you recall, Wheeler, 26, of Monroe, returned six months ago after a months-long recovery and rehab after being shot four times during a stop of Amethyst Baird Rathore, 32, about 2 a.m. Jan. 7 last year along U.S. 165 in Morehouse Parish.

Friday, Rathore’s trial ended when 4th Dictrict Judge Carl Sharp sentenced her to 60 years in prison without the possibility for parole for attempted first-degree murder of a police officer. Sharp added to 40 years for obstruction of justice, 10 years for illegal possession of a stolen vehicle and 10 years for illegal possession of a stolen firearm to run concurrently to Rathore’s sentence.

Wheeler, a five-year veteran, returned to patrolling northeast Louisiana last August.

“This sentencing will hopefully give Tyler and his family some kind of closure as they continue to work on getting their lives back to normal,” LDWF secretary Jack Montoucet said. “Tyler has had a long road to recovery from the bullet wounds he suffered and we feel that justice has been served. More than anything, though, I am glad that Tyler is back on the job doing something that he loves.”

Reward posted

Acadiana Chapter of Safari Club International, the Safari Club International Foundation, the state’s Operation Game Thief and the Humane Society of the United States have partnered to offer $5,500 in rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved in the illegal killing of two black bears found Feb. 14 near the Humble Canal south of Franklin in St. Mary Parish.

According to the LDWF’s report, a necropsy confirmed the two adult male bears were shot between Feb. 2-4.

Information can be called into the round-the-clock Operation Game Thief hotline at (800) 442-2511 or the LDWF’s tip411 Program by texting LADWF and their tip to 847411.

Floods, closures

While recreational and commercial fishermen keep an eye on rising water levels in the Atchafalaya Basin — and the possibility of opening the Bonnet Carre surfaced late last week — heavy rains and floodwaters forced the LDWF to close roads in four major wildlife management areas, to include:

  • The main road from Ruby Road Kiosk to Ouachita Parish Landfill on Russell Sage Wildlife WMA;
  • Cas-cas Road on the Grassy Lake WMA with the possibility of closing more roads this week;
  • Dobbs Bay, Union Point, Lincecum, Blackhawk roads and a portion of Blount Road on the Richard Yancey WMA;
  • Sandy Bayou and Muddy Bayou roads on the Dewey Wills WMA.

Bait coming

With the wild crawfish season ready to kick in, the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission voted to open a commercial season on bait menhaden March 15.

A usual season runs Nov. 1-30 with a 3,000 metric ton quota, but if the take falls short of that quota, an April 1 season opens the next year. Last Thursday, commercial fishermen asked to push the season up two weeks to “meet customer demand.”