The rising Mississippi River could claim another casualty, with deer hunting season shutting down within much of the Atchafalaya Basin as early as Friday (Jan. 8), the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced today.

The automatic closure, triggered when the Atchafalaya River reaches 18 feet at the Butte La Rose gauge, will cover portions of Area 9 within Iberia, Iberville, St. Martin and St. Mary parishes, the LDWF said.

The closure applies only to deer hunting seasons, and all other legal game (such as hogs) can continue to be hunted, according to LDWF's Trey Iles.

Current National Weather Service projections call for the Atchafalaya River to top 18 feet Saturday or Sunday.

The last time flooding forced the closure of deer hunting within the Basin was during the 2004-05 season, LDWF Scott Durham said.

When enacted, hunting seasons will be closed south of Interstate 10 and north of U.S. Highway 90 between the east and west guide levees of the Basin, according to the LDWF news release.

The automatic closure was approved by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission in Louisiana Administrative Code Title 76, and is outlined on page 31 of the current hunting regulations.