During a special meeting yesterday (Aug. 17), the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission decided to allow deer hunting with dogs on Kisatchie National Forest during a nine-day period in December.

The addition to the already approved 2011-12 hunting season structure was undertaken as a declaration of emergency, and came after national forest administrators' decision to ban the use of dogs was overturned in July.

"Because the federal ban on deer hunting with dogs on Kisatchie has been reversed, the Commission felt the issue should be reconsidered in fairness to those hunters who choose to hunt deer with dogs," LWFC Chairman Stephen Sagrera said.

Dates approved by the Commission were Dec. 17-25, and will pertain to the Catahoula, Winn and Kisatchie Ranger Districts and the Evangeline Unit of the Calcasieu Ranger District.

However, the National Forest Service said the issue is being readdressed, meaning their ban could be re-established at a later date.

"The Forest Service will proceed with addressing those deficiencies identified in the previous process and will include opportunities for the public to comment and participate," said Michael Balboni, KNF Forest Supervisor.  "The goal is to make a new decision this fall."

Commission action, taken as a declaration of emergency, was necessary since the 2011-12 deer hunting dates recommended by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) had been finalized following the public comment period provided from February through May of 2011. LDWF had not included deer hunting with dog dates as part of the proposed 2011-12 deer hunting season due to a decision announced by KNF officials in the fall of 2010 that deer hunting with dogs would no longer be allowed on KNF property.
 
US Forest Service officials in Washington, D.C., reversed the regional decision to discontinue deer hunting with dogs indicating that the rationale used to make that decision was not sound. That information was presented to the Commission at their Aug. 4 regular monthly meeting, prompting a reconsideration of the 2011-12 deer hunting dates already in place.

If deer hunting with dogs on the national forest proceeds on the dates approved by the Commission today, the permitting process as established by LDWF in 2010 will again be required for all hunters during the Dec. 17-25 portion of the Kisatchie deer season, the LDWF said.