A potential closure to the deer season in a large swath of the Atchafalaya Basin looms if the Morganza Spillway is opened to divert flood water from the swollen Mississippi River, according to a news release from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

In addition, land in and around the Bonnet Carre Spillway also would close to deer hunting in the event it is opened to relieve stress on the levees protecting New Orleans.

At its  Thursday meeting in Baton Rouge, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission voted that any closures would become effective a half hour after sunset on the dates when the spillways open.  

All land within the Morganza Spillway, which could be opened as soon as Monday (Jan. 11), would be closed to deer hunting, including from the Morganza control structure, south to I-10 and from I-10 south within the protection levees of the Atchafalaya Basin.

Additionally, the following buffer area east of the Morganza Spillway will be closed to deer hunting: All land between the East Atchafalaya Basin Protection Levee eastward to Highway 1, beginning at the junction of Highway 1 and Highway 10 in Morganza, then following Highway 10 west to Highway 77, then south on Highway 77 to Highway 81 near Fordoche, then south on Highway 81 to Highway 77 south of Livonia, then south on Highway 77 to Highway 76 at Maringouin, then south on Highway76 to Highway 3000, then south on Highway 3000 to I-10 at Ramah.

Other closures would include Sherburne WMA, including the Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge, the Bayou Des Ourses Area and the Indian Bayou Area.

Land in and around the Bonnet Carre Spillway, which could be opened as soon as Saturday (Jan. 9), also would be closed.

The commission acted under authority of Louisiana Revised Statue 49:953 of the Administrative Procedure Act. The closure will remain in effect until rescinded by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary.

The public is encouraged to monitor the spillway openings this weekend prior to planning deer hunting in these areas, the release states.