THE POST-SIGNAL / Desiray Seaux
Briefing the Crowley Rotarians on the current standing of Louisiana’s Wildlife and Fisheries was Jack Montoucet, secretary. Available for the presentation were Ed Habtez and Suzy Webb, Rotary Club President elect.
Rotarians briefed by Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary
With hunting season in full swing in the “Sportsman’s Paradise”, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Jack Montoucet spoke to the Crowley Rotarians on the current state of the LDWF.
Montoucet (the former two an a half term District 42 representative) says, “I always enjoy coming back to Crowley as an attendee of the International Rice Festival or for a show at the historic Grand Opera House of the South.”
He opened by expressing his great love for the state and affirming his commitment to make sure that everyone has access to hunting and fishing on all properties owned by LDWF.
Among the items Montoucet touched on:
• Louisiana issues approximately 710,000 fishing licenses per year and approximately 350,000 hunting licenses per year.
• Seafood alone is a $1.8 billion industry for the state.
He also discussed his departments land holdings.
The LDWF owns about 1.6 million acres of public oyster grounds and over see 1.6 million acres of land.
With 49 wildlife management areas that range between 50 to 150 acres are maintained so state residents may visit.
They are also responsible for six wildlife refugees and three fish hatcheries that are used to stock ponds with species such as bass, catfish and brim.
The LDWF is made up of approximately 800 employees that breaks down into 250 biologist, to oversee the plants and animals; 250 technical employees; and 260 enforcement agents, spread throughout the state. They are all working together to make sure future generations will be able to experience the plants and animals we have today.
The agency has been responsible for a lot of endangered species in the state. Such species include our country’s national bird, theBald Eagles; pine snakes; black bears (whose population has risen to around 1,200 compared to only 200 when the conservation started) and the whooping crane, which will fly as far as Dallas, Texas and Arkansas but return home to nest.
Learning to co-exist with native species is something all Louisianans will have to learn. Such as the practice of locking trash containers to discourage the black bears from rummaging in open top trash cans. And, if a particular bear is decided to be nuisance to call the proper authorities so it can be trapped and relocated.
Hopeful that when the black bear species makes a full recovery and a hunting season can be introduced a balance will occur.
Alligators, have also been a regulated species for many years but were once considered endangered from mass hunting. However, today nuisance alligators are fairly common.
Last year, of about 33,000 wild alligators, 2,000 were a nuisance call.
Nuisance alligator hunters are in every parish, and can be expect to be needed more often as the number of calls is on the rise due to the lost costal grounds.
The Rockefeller refuge was once over 100,000 acres and is now down to 70,000 acres due to costal erosion.
However, the wildlife and fisheries employees also serve the community in other ways besides protecting the wildlife and their habitat. Such as, during and after hurricanes and floods they are ready and available to assist both in Louisiana and in the neighboring states of Texas and Florida.
Montoucet would like to encourage everyone to visit the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries web-site to see what they have to offer. As well as, learn about hunting and fishing safety. And lastly, he encourages people to buy and hunting and fishing license as the agency’s funds are self generated through the licenser programs. The agency does not receive any money from the state’s general funds.
He reports that the low price of oil has effected the agency’s budget and creative ways to save are being considered. For example three offices in various cities will be consolidated to one unified office in Lafayette.
With holidays quickly approaching, Montoucet would like to remind everyone that remind holiday shoppers that a life time hunting/fishing license is a great gift.