Dove, duck hunters get good news

File photo provided by CHRIS MACALUSO Waterfowl guide R.J. Guidry shows the limit of ducks taken over rice fields at the Deux Chenes Hunting Club south of Abbeville during the 2012 season. For the 18th straight year hunters in the three hunting zones will get a 60-day, 6-ducks per day season.
File photo provided by CHRIS MACALUSO Waterfowl guide R.J. Guidry shows the limit of ducks taken over rice fields at the Deux Chenes Hunting Club south of Abbeville during the 2012 season. For the 18th straight year hunters in the three hunting zones will get a 60-day, 6-ducks per day season.

Wingshooters across Louisiana got a Christmas present in July during Thursday’s Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting.

First on the list was the announcement that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has added 20 days to the dove hunting season. The new 90-day seasons for the state’s North and South dove-hunting zones will be divided into three splits. Opening day in both splits will come with Sept. 6 noon-to-sunset hunting hours and, through the three splits, will run to a Jan. 15 close in both zones.

Duck hunters got good news, too, after State Waterfowl Study leader Larry Reynolds announced that USFWS numbers released Wednesday show another “liberal” season in the federal duck-hunting framework. That means an 18th consecutive 60-day, 6-ducks-per-day season in the state’s Coastal, West and East Waterfowl zones.

To allow for duck hunters to comment on proposed seasons in all three zones, Reynolds offered Nov. 8-30 and Dec. 13-Jan. 18 splits in the Coastal Zone with a youth-only Nov. 1-2 weekend; Nov. 22-Dec. 7 and Dec. 13-Jan. 25 East Zone dates with Nov. 15 and Jan. 31 youth-only hunts; and, Nov. 15-Dec. 14 and Dec. 20-Jan. 18 West Zone dates and Nov. 8 and Jan. 24 youth-only days.

“It’s the Coastal Zone that gives me lots of heartburn, because we want to set as early dates as possible,” Reynolds said. “And we expect to have lots of public comment about those dates.”

Reynolds followed with other Coastal Zone options for waterfowlers’ comments — Nov. 15-Dec. 7 and Dec. 13-Jan. 18, and Nov. 15-Dec. 7 and Dec. 20-Jan. 25 with both options carrying Nov. 8-9 youth-only days.

Approval of the final 2014-2015 duck-season dates is set for the commission’s Aug. 7 meeting.

The USFWS’ Breeding Count Survey also showed teal numbers remained high enough for a 16-day, Sept. 13-28 teal season, and a second year of expanded, six-teal-per-day limits.

The woodcock hunting season remained 45 days to run Dec. 18-Jan. 31 with a three-bird daily limit.

Other commission action included:

Hearing a report from Ducks Unlimited about Louisiana’s 50 years of annual contributions was spent on waterfowl habitat and other projects in prairie Canada;

Approving a notice to post rules and regulations to allow aerial take of feral hogs after the State Legislature approved Senate Bill 681 allowing the practice;

Passing a notice to amend state regulations covering large exotic cats, primates and other “dangerous” quadrupeds, notable to redefine requirements for zoos and “educational institutions;”

Renewing the 17,994 acres of the Peason Ridge Wildlife Management Area in the state’s WMA Program;

Passing a notice to establish the Louisiana Fisheries Forward Program to include apprenticeship-level requirements for commercial crab fishermen in the state;

Approving a notice to bring Louisiana in line with new federal regulations for species of reef and deep-water fishes not common in Louisiana offshore waters. The list included three species of grouper; schoolmaster, mahogany and dog snapper, black sea bass; and anchor and blackline tilefish;

Hearing a report on the new studies, the characteristics and the status of crappie in Toledo Bend and Lake D’Arbonne and the expansion of the study into 11 other waterbodies;

Learning that Enforcement Division agents issued 1,105 citations and 661 written warnings, and that agents worked two fatal boating incidents during June;

And, approving its November meeting for Nov. 6 in Baton Rouge.