October 7, 2021
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|November 4, 2021
Joe L. Herring Room
2000 Quail Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70808
|December 2, 2021
Joe L. Herring Room
2000 Quail Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70808
Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission
The Commission is charged with the control and supervision of the wildlife of the state, including all aquatic life. The Commission operates as a policy-making and budgetary control board, with no administrative function. The Commission receives and reviews biological, socioeconomic, and other technical data and management recommendations from LDWF, gathers public input, and ultimately votes on which actions will best achieve long-term management goals. In general, the Commission is charged with setting seasons, times, places, size limits, quotas, daily take, and possession limits based upon biological data and setting fees for nonresident recreational fishing licenses, among other authorities.
The Commission meets the first Thursday of every month. Unless otherwise noted, Commission meetings begin at 9:30 am. Commission meetings are open to the public.
The commission consists of seven members appointed by the governor, subject to confirmation by the Senate. Six of the members serve for overlapping terms of six years, and one serves for a term concurrent with that of the governor. Three members, from coastal parishes, represent the commercial fishing and fur industries. The other four, from the state at large, represent interests other than the commercial fishing and fur industries.
Chair: Ms. Jerri G. Smitko
Commercial fishing and fur industry representative
Term ends 1/07/2022
Jerri 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 two children, Maxwell and Mackenzie.
Among her many positions held since graduating Tulane in 1986, Smitko was chair of the Louisiana Indigent Defense Assistance Board from 2006-2009, on the board of directors for the Terrebonne Parish Indigent Defenders Office from 2000-2006, 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 1992-1998 and the assistant parish attorney for the same body from 1988-1992.
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.’’
Vice-Chair: Mr. William J. “Joe” McPherson
Term ends 12/12/2023
Joe McPherson lives in Woodworth 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 Louisiana outdoors men 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, Louisiana Outdoors Writers Association, and the Louisiana Wildlife Federation.
He is a Life Member of the Louisiana Wildlife Federation, Quality Deer Management Association, and NRA, and a Member of Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, and Avoyelles Wildlife Association.
Reason for serving: “I want to thank Governor Jon Bel Edwards for the opportunity to work with my fellow Commissioners and the dedicated staff at LDWF to ensure that this and future generations continue to enjoy the tremendous outdoor opportunities afforded in our Sportsman’s Paradise.”
Mr. Andrew Blanchard
Commercial fishing and fur industry representative
Terms ends June, 2026
Andrew Blanchard, a lifelong Louisiana resident, is president of Pearl Inc., a seafood processing plant in Chauvin.
The Terrebonne Parish native has served on the Louisiana Shrimp Task Force, Louisiana Shrimp Association, Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, American Shrimp Processors Association, Terrebonne Parish Port Commission, and many others.
Reason for serving: “I look forward to serving the state I love. Our state’s natural resources have not only provided business opportunities for me and my family but have provided a lifetime of fishing and hunting memories. I am thankful that I have been asked to be a part of a commission with such a long history. The conservation of our state’s natural resources and habitats are crucial to the generations behind us.”
Mr. Dusty J. Guidry
Term ends 4/30/2025
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. William D. “Bill’’ Hogan
Term ends 12/20/2022
Bill Hogan is a longtime Louisiana resident who currently lives in Ruston. He is the President and CEO of Ruston Bank. Hogan was born in Nashville, TN, grew up in Fort Smith, AR, and graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in finance. He moved to Louisiana in 1989. He and his wife Kelly 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 in the Ruston area. 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. 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. Harlie E. “Gene” Reynolds
Term ends 3/19/2027
Reynolds is a lifelong resident of Louisiana and currently resides in Dubberly. He is married to Martha Nell Moore Reynolds, and they have two children and two grandchildren. The Shreveport native is a retired educator and is a former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from District 10.
Reynolds served on the Natural Resources and Environment; Education; Insurance; Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture, and Rural Development; and Commerce committees while in the Legislature. He is also a member of the Louisiana Coastal Conservation Association, National Wild Turkey Federation, Minden Lions Club, Minden Civitans, and Louisiana Retired Teachers Association.
Reason for serving: “The ‘Sportsman’s Paradise’ has been a part of my life since I was a boy. I look forward to learning how that tradition can be continued for future generations. I have been passionate about the natural resources of our state my entire life and look forward to another opportunity to serve the people of our state."
Mr. Alfred R. "Al" Sunseri
New Orleans, LA
Commercial fishing and fur industry representative
Term ends concurrent with the Governor (January 2024)
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 to the Commission my experience and expertise in the oyster business and as a proponent of coastal restoration.’’
While Louisiana's first wildlife conservation law was passed 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 form 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 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:
(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.
The Louisiana Legislature subsequently created the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries 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.