Commissioners propose reducing teal limit from six to four birds in September

Louisiana duck hunters could be looking at a four-teal limit next September, if a proposal made at January’s meeting of the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission is ultimately approved in April.
Louisiana duck hunters could be looking at a four-teal limit next September, if a proposal made at January’s meeting of the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission is ultimately approved in April.

Department seeking public comment on suggested hunting regs, season dates

Louisiana duck hunters might be shooting fewer teal next September, after the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission proposed the possibility at its January meeting of reducing the daily bag limit next fall from six birds back down to four.

Commissioner Bart Yakupczak made the motion to amend the notice of intent and reduce the teal limit after biologists with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries proposed hunting regulations and season dates to the Commission for 2019-20 — and recommended the daily bag limit for teal remain at six birds.

“There’s no biological justification for it. We proposed a bag limit of six during the teal season,” Larry Reynolds, the state’s waterfowl study leader, said after the meeting. “But he said he’s talked to a number of hunters who wondered why we ever increased the bag limit because it’s ‘ruined our teal hunting.’

“So he made a motion that we reduce the the bag limit during teal season from six to four, and five of the other six commissioners agreed with him — so that actually amended the notice of intent so it currently has a reduction in the bag limit during teal season from six to four.”

“That’s what’s going to be presented at the public meetings right now.”

The final vote on the measure won’t be held until the April 4 Commission meeting, but the Department will be holding public meetings across the state seeking input on the amended notice of intent beginning in late February and early March.

Commissioners Al Sunseri, Bill Hogan, Robert Samanie, Joe McPherson and Jerri Smitko voted in favor of amending the NOI and reducing the teal limit. Commissioner Chad Courville opposed it.

Yakupczak did not reply to a voicemail message seeking comment on his motion for this story.

If Commission members had asked Reynolds for his input on the motion, he said he would have spoken against it.

“We recommended a bag limit of six because although the blue-winged teal population in the U.S. has declined over the last four or five years, it’s still well above long-term average,” Reynolds said. “I was part of the national group that did the Teal Harvest Potential Assessment a few years ago, and there’s absolutely no reason … In fact, based on that Harvest Potential Assessment, we could have increased the limit larger — higher than six — and still been fine. So, I would have recommended against it. There is no biological evidence, and there was no hunter opinion data presented to support that proposal. All he said was that he had talked with hunters, and the teal hunting had been negatively affected.”

In addition to amending the NOI regarding the teal limit, Yakupczak is also interested in exploring the possibility of reducing the speckled-belly goose season from 88 to 60 days, and requested that Reynolds come up with some shortened season dates reflecting that change for the next Commission meeting on Feb. 7.

The Commission also voted to amend the NOI by advancing the Coastal Zone duck hunting season dates proposed by the Department by one week. The initial proposal opened the season on Nov. 16 next fall, with the first split running through Dec. 8, and the second split going from Dec. 21 to Jan. 26.

Commissioners opted to start the Coastal Zone season a week earlier, so current dates for the first split up for public comment are now Nov. 9 – Dec. 8, with the second split running Dec. 21 to Jan. 19.

Public comment will be accepted at LWFC monthly meetings from February through March, and can also be submitted in writing by mail to: Tommy Tuma, LDWF Wildlife Division, P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA 70898-9000, or via email to ttuma@wlf.la.gov until 9 a.m., March 7, 2019.

To view the full notice of intent and all proposed hunting season dates and regulations changes for the upcoming hunting seasons, please visit http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/action-items.

The dates and locations of the six public meetings across the state to comment on the notice of intent are:

  • Monday, Feb. 25 at 6 p.m. at the Ponchatoula High School Library, 19452 Highway 22, Ponchatoula.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. at the LDWF Lafayette Field Office, 200 Dulles Drive, Lafayette.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. at the LDWF Minden Field Office, 9961 Highway 80, Minden.
  • Thursday, Feb. 28 at 6 p.m. at the LDWF Monroe Field Office, 368 Century Link Drive, Monroe.
  • Friday, March 1 at 6 p.m. at the Alexandria Convention Hall, 915 3 rd Street, Alexandria.
  • Saturday, March 2 at 10 a.m. at the LSU Ag Center Building, 7101 Gulf Highway, Lake Charles.
Patrick Bonin
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Patrick Bonin is the former editor of Louisiana Sportsman magazine and LouisianaSportsman.com.