‘Agents will not be writing any tickets for this ordinance,’ agency says
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries confirmed in a written statement on Monday that they, in fact, would not be enforcing an ordinance passed last spring in Plaquemines Parish that will require hunters on parish-owned land outside the levees to sign a hold harmless agreement — and pay an annual fee that will cost $50 for parish residents and $250 for non-residents.
That contradicts a statement made last week by the sponsor of Ordinance 18-41, Plaquemines Parish Councilman Jeff Edgecombe, who told Louisiana Sportsman that both the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office and the LDWF would be enforcing the ordinance, which passed the council unanimously on April 26.
“The primary mission of the LDWF Enforcement Division is enforcing the Title 56 and 76 regulations while out on patrol. This local parish ordinance won’t be LDWF’s primary focus. Local parish ordinances are handled by the local sheriff’s office,” LDWF’s statement said. “LDWF agents are aware of this ordinance and will pass along information to the sheriff’s office if they happen to encounter anyone breaking the ordinance rules while out on regular patrol, but LDWF agents will not be writing any tickets for this ordinance.”
The department’s press secretary, Ed Pratt, also confirmed that the LDWF was not consulted by Edgecombe when the ordinance was being drawn up last spring.
Edgecombe did not return multiple calls seeking comment on the department’s statement.
Last week, Edgecombe said he introduced the ordinance to protect the parish from liability in the event of a hunting accident, as well as raise revenue and restrict the use of mud motors in the area. As of last week, he said the ordinance would be ready to be enforced when duck season starts in November, although the mechanics of where both resident and non-resident hunters will have to go to sign the agreement, pay the fee and get an ID card were still being worked out.
The ordinance, which can be viewed online here starting on page 11, would fine violators up to $500 for the first offense, and up to $950 for the second offense, with the possibility of five days in jail.
In addition, the ordinance stipulates that guided hunting trips on public wetlands will be prohibited, with violators facing similar $500 and $950 fines for first and second offenses. However, licensed hunters targeting feral hogs and those having permits to harvest alligator eggs and hunt nutria won’t have to pay or sign the agreement.
According to a copy of the ordinance provided by the council secretary, council member Nicole Williams seconded the motion to adopt last April. Members who voted in favor of the ordinance, in addition to Edgecombe and Williams, were John L. Barthelemy Jr., W. Beau Black, Kirk M. Lepine, Irvin Juneau, Benedict Rousselle, Charlie Burt and Audrey Trufant-Salvant.
The ordinance currently restricts fishing on parish-owned property outside the levees as well, but Edgecombe said last week the fishing portion of the ordinance was going to be amended and fishing restrictions and potential fines would be removed.
The next meeting of the Plaquemines Parish Council will be this Thursday, Sept. 13 at 1 p.m. in the Belle Chasse Council Building, Council Chambers, located at 333 F. Edward Hebert Blvd., Building 203 in Belle Chasse.