WMAs stay open during feds closure

Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries secretary Robert Barham confirmed Thursday that LDWF-owned and managed wildlife management areas will not be affected by the federal government’s shutdown.

Through public announcements and information obtained from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service websites, all federal wildlife refuges, preserves and national forest properties in Louisiana are closed until further notice.

That includes youth-only and handicapped hunters-only deer hunts on the National Red Dirt and National Catahoula preserves set for next weekend.

Barham said all lottery and special hunts as well as the open seasons posted in the 2013-2014 Louisiana Hunting Regulations pamphlet will remain open. Hunters using lands in the state’s WMA system need to have the special $15 WMA permit along with a basic hunting license and, if needed, a big-game license.

The LDWF owns or manages more than 1.4 million areas in the state.

Karen closes Elmer’s

The latest on Elmer’s Island is that the LDWF closed access to this stretch of beach west of Grand Isle on the advance of Tropical Storm Karen, and indicated Elmer’s would remain closed until further notice.

Turkeys for 2014

The Wildlife and Fisheries Commission approved the 2014 spring turkey season dates and other special turkey-season rules during Thursday’s meeting in Baton Rouge.

The season will open March 15-16 on private lands in Areas A, B and C for youth and handicapped hunters. The regular season opens in all three areas the following Saturday, March 22, and runs through April 6 in Area C lands, through April 13 in Area B lands, and through April 20 through Area A. The only change in area boundaries is a closure of a small portion of Caddo Parish for a restocking program.

Ratification also included youth-only, lottery hunts and regular season dates for six national wildlife refuges and areas in the Kisatchie National Forest. Those hunts and dates are subject to the federal shutdown, should the shutdown not be resolved by spring.

Other key turkey season changes include changes in youth and regular-season lottery hunts; eliminating the GPS location requirement on Tunica Hills WMA and one of the two youth-only hunts on the Pearl River WMA; opening Pomme de Terre WMA for April 16-20 hunting; replacing the two 3-day lottery hunts with a March 29-20 lottery hunt, a March 15-16 youth-only lottery hunt and open hunting March 31-April 6 on the Union WMA; and moving the regular-season lottery hunt to March 28-30 on the Sabine WMA.

Scenic Rivers move

The LWFC voted a notice of intent to ban all ATV use on the river beds of the 3,000-plus miles of waters in the state’s Scenic Rivers Program. The move came after landowners protested the use of ATVs in the Comite River. More than 50 commented on the move with half calling for the ban and half against the move.

Public comment will be accepted through November.

Cadets can apply

The LDWF opened enrollment for 30 applicants to the agency’s 2014 Cadet Academy to fill vacancies in the Law Enforcement Division.

Anyone interested can apply through state Civil Service’s website: www.civilservice.louisiana.gov.

Devillier honored

LDWF Enforcement Division Sgt. Lance Devillier from Lawtell was named Agent of the Year and honored during the LWFC meeting by Shikar-Safari Club International.