With rifles and shotguns continuing at the ready for their next trip afield or a-marsh — archery guys and gals have hunting days left, too — the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission poured through pages and pages of the proposed 2020-2021 hunting seasons during its Thursday meeting in Baton Rouge.

While there are few significant changes from the current season’s dates or bag limits, there are proposed changes.

  • Military veterans will enjoy a new duck-hunting status. The proposal allows veterans two special hunting days similar to youth-only hunts in our state’s three waterfowl hunting zones.
  • Duck hunters face the same 60-day season structure. The major change is a limit on dos gris (scaup) with only one bird allowed in the six-duck daily limit during the first 15 days of the season and two daily for the remaining 45 days.
  • Hunters targeting specklebelly geese will have their season shortened to 74 days but will be able to take three “specks” each day, up from two.
  • The Canada goose season will be the same as seasons on all other geese.
  • Nontoxic shot will be required on all Wildlife and Fisheries shotgun ranges.
  • Hunters will be allowed to use electric bicycles on some wildlife management areas but must stay on designated ATV trails.
  • Airboats banned from the Maurepas Swamp WMA.
  • Moves portions of Ascension and Iberville parishes from Turkey Area B to Area C, which reduces the season from 21 to 14 days, and closes the turkey season in a part of Rapides Parish.

Hunting dates for resident game will be published Jan. 19. The entire hunting season’s notice of intent is available on the LDWF’s website: wlf.louisiana.gov/action-items.

A series of seven statewide public meetings are scheduled throughout February. LDWF biologist Tommy Tuma is accepting public comment via email through March 5: ttuma@wlf.la.gov.

Trout

After outlining sampling data showing a lack or decline of older speckled trout in coastal waters, LDWF marine biologist Jason Adriance presented a series of alternatives to the seven-member commission.

Adriance said the options for rebuilding the speckled trout stock depends on how fast or slowly each option affords the effort. Options include slot limits, decreased daily limits, a size-limit increase, season closures and “special regulations following significant freeze events.”

Adriance made it a point that these are talking points and any and all options can be included in a management plan, and the commission responded by seeking public input and the LDWF staff setting up a series of statewide public meetings and comment periods before deciding on any scheme.

Red snapper

A heavy push into offshore waters during the Christmas holidays (47,500 pounds) pushed the state’s 2019 private recreational red snapper catch to 848,340 pounds, or some 31,901 pounds more than the 816,439-pound limit.

The commission also approved a notice of intent to open a Fridays-through-Sundays only season annually on the Friday before Memorial Day, with four-day seasons on Memorial and Labor days weekends and a special July 4 opening. Again, the LWFC will accept public comment. Email Adriance: jadriance@wlf.la.gov.