Teal season opens Saturday, Sept.11, and thousands of hunters will make their first waterfowl hunts in the coastal marshes since last winter. Although no areas in Louisiana are closed to hunting due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill impacts, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) advises hunters that they may encounter clean-up activities, boom protecting habitat, and possibly oiled habitat or birds. Additionally, some boat launch access points will be in use for continued clean-up activities.
Launch and Habitat Access
Boat launches serving the clean-up operation will be crowded with vehicles serving that mission. For example, launches in Hopedale, Cocodrie, Myrtle Grove and Venice are departure points for oil-spill workers, and the launch at the end of LA Hwy. 665 near Pointe-aux-Chenes Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is closed to public use. Once on the water, hunters should expect additional boat traffic in areas near oil impacts. Like fishermen, hunters are not allowed to cross protective boom and are required to stay at least 65 feet from boom and other clean-up equipment.
The U.S. Coast Guard and oil-spill response operations personnel have agreed to minimize wildlife habitat disturbance where individuals may be hunting. Air-boat activity on WMAs will be stopped, low-level aircraft flights and other operations will be delayed until later in the morning, and clean-up crews will be briefed about potential hunting activity during the Sept.11 – 26 teal season.
LDWF asks hunters to remain aware of clean-up crews along the coast and understand the significance of their continued efforts. Oil-spill responders will be in clusters of boats and wearing white Tyvek suits. Their presence puts added emphasis on standard gun-safety procedures. Oil impacts are generally on the exterior marshes and islands, open bays and barrier islands. Any questions or issues relating to teal season hunting in areas of oil impact or cleanup activities should be reported to the Louisiana Teal Season Hotline at (985) 647-0266.
Oiled Wildlife or Habitat
In the unlikely event that hunters harvest an oiled bird, it must be kept as part of the daily bag limit, but LDWF is advising hunters NOT to eat visibly oiled ducks. Hunters are asked to report any oiled bird harvested, and any other oiled birds observed in the field, to the Oiled Wildlife Hotline at (866) 557-1401 and also to the nearest LDWF Field Office. If possible, wrap the oiled bird in aluminum foil or paper, and deliver it to the nearest LDWF Field Office or active bag check station so the bird can be analyzed and become part of the oil-spill damage assessment.
Hunters are also encouraged to report oil impacted marsh habitat to the Environmental Hotline at (866) 448-5816.
As part of the wildlife recovery and rehabilitation process, a few game birds that were recovered have been cleaned and released back into the wild. These birds have been tagged with a standard silver federal band and a red auxiliary band that says “Oil Spill Bird.” Hunters should not eat these birds, but should call the phone numbers on the band to report them.
For more information please contact Larry Reynolds, LDWF Waterfowl Study Leader, at (225) 765-0456 or firstname.lastname@example.org.