Turkey season closed at WMA in Concordia Parish, duck hunters get court date

Published 4:13 pm Thursday, January 5, 2023

JACKSON — Cooler temperatures are on the way and duck numbers continue to rise in Mississippi and Louisiana. According to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, Mallard harvests saw an uptick and gadwall, northern shovelers, and green-winged teal made up a large percentage of hunter harvests. 

Birds returned to flooded fields following frozen shallow water thawing out with the warm temperatures in search of food. Weather and wetland habitat availability will continue to impact the season with three and a half weeks left of the season. 

Enjoy these other wildlife, fisheries and outdoor briefs while you are sitting in a duck blind, relaxing by the fire after a day of fishing or sitting on your porch at home watching the birds. 

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Turkey season closed 

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission adopted a Declaration of Emergency to close turkey hunting on two Wildlife Management Areas in the state at their monthly meeting Thursday. Richard K. Yancey WMA in Concordia Parish and Sherburne WMA in St. Martin Parish needed the action to protect their local turkey populations. 

Louisiana faces several challenges in supporting a healthy and huntable turkey population with habitat being the biggest obstacle. Over the past 11 years, Richard K. Yancey has seen intensive flooding and above average rainfall during the nesting and brood rearing periods which hurt their turkey population. Commissioners decided to take action. 

While hunting has not been a primary cause of the turkey population declines in these areas, it could contribute to declines and delay population recovery because these flocks are at a very low density,” the declaration of emergency states. 

Richard K. Yancey peaked at 87 turkey harvests in 2009 but has since dwindled to one in 2022. Numbers dropped similarly in 1997 to zero harvests before climbing again. The closure would be effective indefinitely until conditions and populations improve. 

Court date for Duck hunters

Brandon Nettles and Colton Nettles, of Woodville, will appear before a federal judge in the Western District of Louisiana later this month. They were cited by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for alleged migratory bird violations on December 20, 2021 in LaSalle Parish. 

Agents cited them for taking over the daily limit of ducks, the daily limit of pintail, intentional concealment of wildlife and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile. Louisiana’s daily limit of pintail ducks is one and the Nettles had allegedly harvested 12 pintails and 25 ducks in total, six ducks is the daily limit. Agents found seven pintails which were concealed. 

The Nettles were federally charged with taking over the daily limit of pintails and ducks and their case was referred for federal prosecution by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in January 2022. Colton and Brandon are scheduled for their initial appearance at 1:30 p.m. on January 18, 2023 at the US District Courthouse in Alexandria. The United States of America is listed as the plaintiff in the case according to the Western District of Louisiana Court Hearings Calendar. 

Fishing Reports

State Park and State Fishing Lakes typically offer a report to help anglers approach their fishing trips but these are not updated from Mid-December to Mid-February. Fishing Reports will return on February 15, 2023. In the meantime, it could be a good time to get out on the water and look for structure to fish when there is higher water and familiarize yourself with a lake. 

If you do decide to fish it is not a bad time of year to go. Temperatures have been warm and the water temperature should be warm as well. Typically, the bass are biting slow and react to slower retrieved lures such as crankbaits or jigs. 

Crappie are a good cold season fish to target. Look for structure in deep water along dams, old creek channels or around piers and jig for the delicious fish. Bream might be tough to catch this time of year as they are more active in warm weather. 

If you own a pond and are looking for a way to provide better fish habitat look no further than the old Christmas tree. Instead of throwing away your real Christmas tree, just place it out in the pond to provide a nesting area for crappie or bass. 

HPAI cases detected

Mississippi reports more cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza were detected this past week. To date, 154 cases have been reported with 29 new cases in the past two weeks with the majority of new positives being in Lowndes County. Black Vultures and Canada Geese were the two species mostly affected with a few snow geese and a bald eagle. 

All of the new positive birds were found dead before testing. USDA has not reported any new cases of HPAI in commercial poultry. Mississippi had one flock of 34,400  birds affected by an outbreak last November in Lawrence County but more could catch the disease throughout the remainder of the migratory season. 

HPAI is tested at the Mississippi Veterinary Research and Diagnostic Lab in Pearl. The lab also handles Chronic Wasting Disease which has seen 4,371 samples tested this year with 49 new positives. Chronic Wasting Disease is a disease which is 100 percent always fatal to deer.