Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission

Commission Overview

While Louisiana's first wildlife conservation law was passed way back in 1857, and many regulations regarding oysters were passed in the late 1800s, it was not until 1909 that a formal body was appointed and given the task of overseeing wildlife and fisheries conservation in the state. In 1909, Governor John Parker, an avid conservationist and friend and hunting partner of President Theodore Roosevelt, convinced the Louisiana Legislature to create the Louisiana Board of Commissioners for the Protection of Birds, Game and Fish. One year later, in 1910, the Louisiana Oyster Commission (which had been created in 1902) merged with the Board of Commissioners to create the Louisiana Department of Conservation.

Act 127 of 1912 constitutionally created the Conservation Commission of Louisiana as a department of Louisiana's state government, with the mission of providing for the protection of the state's birds, fish, shellfish, wild quadrupeds, forestry and mineral resources.

Act 105 of 1918 changed the name of the agency back to the Department of Conservation and directed that it be controlled by an officer known as the Commissioner of Conservation, who would be appointed by the Governor, by and with the consent of the Senate, for a term of four years.

The Department of Conservation continued in the role of lead agency in charge of wildlife and fisheries conservation until the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries was officially created on December 11, 1944, in accordance with the terms of a Constitutional Amendment approved by the people of Louisiana on November 7, 1944.

This amendment separated the former Department of Conservation into three independent state agencies: the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Louisiana Forestry Commission, and a new Department of Conservation.

Initially, the new Department of Wildlife and Fisheries was directed by a Commissioner, who was appointed by the Governor. Governor Jimmie H. Davis appointed John G. Appel as the first Commissioner of the Department.

In 1952, another Constitutional Amendment changed the name of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission and also established a commission of seven members to oversee and direct the activities of the agency. For day-to-day management and administration, the Commission was directed to appoint (hire) a Director of the Commission.

This confusing terminology, with a commission (board) managing the Commission (agency), continued until 1974, when the new Louisiana Constitution was completed and approved by voters. All of the old sections and amendments regarding normal functioning and administration of the agency were removed from the Constitution, retaining only the language regarding the composition and appointment of the seven-member Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, as follows:

Section 7. (A) Members; Terms. The control and supervision of the wildlife of the state, including all aquatic life, is vested in the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission. The commission shall be in the executive branch and shall consist of seven members appointed by the governor, subject to confirmation by the Senate. Six members shall serve overlapping terms of six years, and one member shall serve a term concurrent with that of the governor. Three members shall be electors of the coastal parishes and representatives of the commercial fishing and fur industries, and four shall be electors from the state at large other than representatives of the commercial fishing and fur industries, as provided by law. No member who has served six years or more shall be eligible for reappointment.

(B) Duties; Compensation. The functions, duties, and responsibilities of the commission, and the compensation of its members, shall be provided by law.

(Constitution of the State of Louisiana (1974), Article IX - Natural Resources, §7. Wildlife and Fisheries Commission)

The Louisiana Legislature subsequently created the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) as part of Act 720 of 1975, the Executive Reorganization Act, which legislated the establishment of 20 cabinet level state agencies. The name and administrative structure of LDWF were codified in R.S. 36: §601-609, and §610 details (43) commissions and preserves that were transferred into the new department.

While Act 720 changed the role of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission from administration to policy-making, the make-up of the Commission remains essentially the same today as when it was first conceived back in 1952: six members with 6-year terms plus one member whose term runs concurrently with the Governor. Three of the seven members are to be representatives of the commercial fishing and fur industries from the coastal parishes, and four members are "other than representatives of the commercial fishing and fur industries" from the state at-large.

Current Commissioners

The six current members of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, with their appointed role and term completion date, are:

Mr. William D. “Bill’’ Hogan, Chairman

Ruston, LA
At-large appointee


William D. Hogan is a longtime Louisiana resident who lives in Ruston, La. He is the President and CEO of Century Next Bank. Hogan was born in Nashville, Tenn., grew up in Fort Smith, Ark., and graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in finance. He moved to Louisiana in 1989. He and his wife Kelly of 25 years have two daughters, Taylor and Natalie.

A member of Ducks Unlimited for 25 years, Hogan has served as state chairman of DU and is a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation. He also has been active in several organizations including the Coastal Conservation Association. He is vice president of the Louisiana Tech University Foundation and served as chairman of the Ruston-Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau. He was campaign chairman and a board member of the United Way.

Reason for serving: “As an avid outdoorsman and a long-time Louisiana resident, I am honored to serve and support the state in its efforts to conserve, protect and wisely use our abundant hunting and fishing habitat, species and opportunities with which we are uniquely blessed,’’ Hogan said.

“I believe we all have obligations to act as stewards of these natural resources and ensure that our rich outdoor traditions and culture are managed and maintained for current and future generations to enjoy. I am truly honored to be appointed as a commissioner by Governor John Bel Edwards and pledge to work for the people of Louisiana to help keep our state as the true Sportsman’s Paradise.’’

Mr. Hogan can be contacted at:

2317 Soyars Circle
Ruston, LA 71270
Phone: 318-255-3733
E-mail: Bill@bankruston.com


Ms. Jerri G. Smitko, Vice-Chair

Houma, LA
Commercial fishing and fur industry representative

Jerri G. Smitko is an attorney and the owner of Smitko Law, APLC, in Houma. She is a graduate of Nicholls State University and Tulane law school and has one son, Maxwell Smitko.

Among her many positions held since graduating Tulane law school in 1986, Smitko was chair of the Louisiana Indigent Defense Assistance Board from 2006-09, was on the board of directors for the Terrebonne Parish Indigent Defenders Office from 2000-06 and on the board of commissioners of the Terrebonne General Hospital Service District No. 1 from 1997-2009.

She was also special legal counsel to Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government from 1992-98 and the assistant parish attorney for the same body from 1988-92.

Smitko is a member of the American Bar Association, Louisiana and Terrebonne Parish bar associations and the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. She served in the Louisiana Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve until her honorable discharge in 1985.

Reason for serving: “As a lifelong sportswoman, a licensed commercial fisherman and an attorney with more than 30 years in practice, I understand how important the law is in protecting our natural resources. I also have a deep appreciation for those who rely on those resources for their livelihood, sustenance and enjoyment. I am eager to champion the causes of our commercial fishermen and trappers who have served as the backbone of the bayou communities for generations.’’

Ms. Smitko can be contacted at:

P.O. Box 1669
Houma, LA 70361
Phone: 985-851-1313
E-mail: jerri@smitkolaw.com


Mr. Alfred R. Sunseri

New Orleans, LA
Commercial fishing and fur industry representative

Alfred R. “Al’’ Sunseri, the owner and general manager of New Orleans’ P&J Oyster Co., is a lifelong Louisiana resident. He has owned and managed his family oyster business and has been an advocate of the Louisiana and Gulf of Mexico oyster industry since 1985.

He was a founding member of the Gulf Oyster Industry Council and has served on several oyster boards. Sunseri, who lives in New Orleans, graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond with a degree in business administration in 1980.

In addition to serving on several boards, Sunseri has helped draft state laws and regulations relating to the oyster industry and coastal restoration. He currently serves on the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection, Restoration and Conservation, the Louisiana Oyster Dealers and Growers Association, the Louisiana Oyster Task Force, the Gulf Oyster Industry Council and the Louisiana Restaurant Association. He also was a member of the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference and the National Fisheries Institute.

Sunseri is married to Sally Lincks Sunseri and they have three children, Blake, Alexandra and Victoria.

Reason for serving: “Our family has been involved in the oyster industry for more than 142 years as well as involved in creating the old Oyster Commission in 1902. I have been a champion of the oyster industry with a lot of help from my family and friends during my 39-year career running our oyster house in the French Quarter.
“I look forward to bringing my experience and expertise to the commission in the oyster business and as a proponent of coastal restoration.’’

Mr. Sunseri can be contacted at:
1039 Toulouse St.
New Orleans, LA 70112
Phone: 504-523-2651
Fax: 504-522-4960
E-mail: asunseri@cox.net


Mr. Chad J Courville

Lafayette, LA
At-Large Appointee

Chad J.Courville is a lifelong Louisiana resident who resides in Lafayette and is employed as the land manager for Miami Corporation. He is currently chairman of the Louisiana Alligator Advisory Council and a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, the Coastal Conservation Association, and the Louisiana Association of Professional Biologists.

Courville received his Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental and Sustainable Resources from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (then USL).  He and wife Kylee have two children. 

Reason for serving:  “It is a great honor to serve the people of the State of Louisiana, and with my fellow Commissioners, as we strive to manage fish and wildlife populations within Louisiana’s vast habitats.  I have been very blessed to have parents who exposed me to Louisiana’s outdoors, and I look forward to my time with fellow Commissioners to ensure that my children, and future generations, have that same opportunity.”

“Louisiana’s wildlife and fisheries resources cannot be taken for granted.  There are numerous pressures on those resources from habitat loss to special interest groups.  I look forward to communicating with LDWF’s knowledgeable, experienced staff, utilizing the best available science and data, and gaining public sentiment to make informed decisions on how we move forward in responsible management and utilization.”

Mr. Courville can be contacted at:
309 La Rue France, Suite 201
Lafayette, La 70508
Phone: (337) 264-1695
Fax: (337) 264-9499
E-mail: ccourville@miami-corp.com


Mr. William J. “Joe” McPherson

Woodworth, LA
At-Large Appointee

Joe McPherson lives in Woodworth, La. with his wife Karen and is a businessman and graduate of Northwestern. He served 24 years as a State Senator and during his tenure authored numerous laws and Constitutional Amendments that expanded and protected La. outdoors men’s and women’s rights and opportunities to enjoy our Sportsman’s Paradise. His work on behalf of our outdoor heritage has brought him recognition from various groups including Ducks Unlimited, Safari Club International, La. Outdoors Writers Assc. and the La Wildlife Federation.

He is a Life Member of the La. Wildlife Federation, Life Member of Quality Deer Management Assc., Life Member of NRA, and a Member of Ducks Unlimited,  Delta Waterfowl, and Avoyelles Wildlife Assc. 

Reason for serving on the Commission: “I want to thank Gov. Jon Bel Edwards for the opportunity to work with my fellow Commissioners and the dedicated staff at W&F to ensure that this and future generations continue to enjoy the tremendous outdoor opportunities afforded in our Sportsman’s Paradise.” 

Mr. McPherson can be contacted at:
William J. “Joe” McPherson, Jr.
2000 Maison Rue Drive
Woodworth, LA   71485
O. 318-445-0350


Mr. Dusty J. Guidry

Lafayette, LA
At-large appointee


Dusty J. Guidry is a native of Scott who now lives in Lafayette. He is the Director of Pretrial Services for the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s office.

Guidry has two children, Isabella and Cruz. He holds a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from the University of Southwestern Louisiana, now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Guidry serves on the Cajundome Commission and is a member of several boards. He is a member of Ducks Unlimited, the Coastal Conservation Association and the Louisiana Wildlife Federation.

Reason for serving: “I consider it a great honor and privilege to continue serving the people of the state of Louisiana. I am blessed to have parents who exposed me to our state’s natural resources and instilled in me a passion and appreciation for wildlife. I aim to assist the commission in the ongoing coastal restoration and conservation efforts. Doing so will aid in keeping the natural resources of this state viable and in better shape for generations to come.’’

Mr. Guidry can be contacted at:

P.O. Box 45
Carencro, LA 70520
Phone 225-229-9823
Fax 225-389-8552
E-mail: Dusty.Guidry@ebrda.org