Avid goose hunters like New Iberia native Elliott Sale probably will be relieved the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission voted to reject an amendment adopted at its March meeting altering the light geese and speckle-belly hunting season.
The LWFC met May 2 and approved the 2019-20 and 2020-21 resident game hunting seasons, 2019-20 general and Wildlife Management Area hunting seasons, rules and regulations, 2020 general and WMA turkey hunting season, rules and regulations and 2019-20 migratory bird hunting season, rules and regulations. The latter drew the most attention in the weeks leading up to the meeting.
As originally scheduled, the season will run 88 days with a daily limit of two birds. The first split will be from Nov. 2-Dec. 8 with the second split set for Dec. 21-Feb. 9, 2020, in both the North Zone and the South Zone.
The Conservation Order for Light Geese also will be held as scheduled originally with the first split Dec. 9-Dec.13 and the second split Feb. 20-March 15, 2020.
As adopted March 7, the amendment decreased the number of available days in the season from 88 to 74 but increased the daily bag limit of speckle-bellies from two to three. The daily bag limit for snow, blue and Ross geese would have remained at 20 per the amendment.
The first split would have been from Nov. 16-Dec. 8 and the second split from Dec.14-Feb. 2, 2020.
In mid-March, Sale, a 28-year-old outdoorsman and veteran goose hunting guide who lives in Youngsville, expressed his concerns in a story in The Daily Iberian about proposed changes being considered by the LWFC. He was fresh from an extremely subpar goose hunting season.
Sale, who owns Easy E’s Guide Service, which he started in 2011, two years after he graduated from Catholic High School, believes adding a bird to the daily bag limit would have put more hunting pressure on speckle-bellies.
Apparently, public comment swayed the decision and prompted commissioners to reject the proposal.
To view the full Notice of Intent and all hunting season dates and regulations changes for the upcoming hunting seasons, go to www.wlf.louisiana.gov/action-items.
On a related subject, Teche Area hunters are urged to join other Louisiana hunters to participate in the annual game harvest survey for the 2018-19 hunting season to be reviewed by the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The survey is being conducted for the state agency by the LSU School of Renewable Natural Resources.
Luke Laborde, an instructor with the LSU School of Renewable Resources, said in a prepared statement that the survey is voluntary, anonymous and takes just a few minutes of a hunter’s time to fill out.
“You only have to answer four background questions and questions about the game species that you actually hunted. If you did not hunt this past season, you only need to complete questions 1-4,” Laborde said.
Louisiana resident hunting license holders were selected randomly to receive the survey, he said. He urged recipients to complete the survey, which addresses hunter demographics, effort and harvest for all wildlife species hunted in the state, before May 31.
Laborde also said the study benefits the state’s many hunters by ensuring that future season dates and bag limits maximize hunting opportunity while maintaining sustainable wildlife populations.
The first four questions:
1. A-Did you purchase a Louisiana resident basic season, Sportsman’s Paradise hunting license, or resident senior hunt/fish license for the 2018-2019 season? (Yes) (No)
B- Are you: (A lifetime license holder?) (60 years of age or older?)
2. Did you hunt in Louisiana during the 2018-19 season? (Yes) (No)
3. How old are you?
4. What is the Zip Code of your residence?
Deer hunting questions address the number of days hunted and harvest numbers and what a deer hunter hunted with … Modern firearm (with or without dogs), primitive firearm, bow and arrow and/or crossbow? They also ask which deer areas the deer hunter hunted and if supplemental feedings were used this past season. If so, how much?
The survey also asks if the hunter harvested a bobcat or coyote in 2018 and, if so, which parish? And hunters are asked if they hunted or had the opportunity to shoot feral hogs in 2018-19.
Turkey hunters are included in the survey. They are asked how many days they hunted and how many turkeys were killed and in what parish?
Small game hunters and waterfowlers also have a chance to provide input.
Perhaps the most interesting question is on which issues negatively impact hunting game and birds in the Sportsman’s Paradise. Habitat loss, legal/political challenges to habitat access and control; wildlife diseases; non-native invasive species; hunting/overharvest; insufficient revenue for wildlife management or enforcement; marsh loss/sea level rise, and changes in waterfowl migration patterns are the eight issues and hunters are asked to rank them in order.
Help Louisiana officials and biologists plan for the future. If you got a survey, please fill it out.
DON SHOOPMAN is outdoors editor of The Daily Iberian.