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LWF Hunter Survey Results
What do you think about limiting the harvest of buck deer, or morning-only hunting for waterfowl? Would you be willing to pay a few extra dollars a year to support a deer and turkey harvest record/tagging program? What do you think about the practice of hunting ducks over artificially-flooded, unharvested crops of grain...should it be illegal?
The results of a survey of hunters taken last fall and winter has recently been announced by the Louisiana Wildlife Federation. The survey was mailed to approximately 25,000 sportsmen, including hunting club members and subscribers to outdoor magazines with questions concerning issues of current interest to wildlife managers and conservationists. Over 2,000 individuals responded to the LWF survey for an 8%+ return. Although the sampling method was not designed to make statistically-valid inferences from the results, LWF believes that the responses provide some interesting and useful trends to contemplate. Survey results have been forwarded to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, both currently considering actions that are pertinent to some of the survey questions. The specific questions and responses follow.
QUESTION: If it would increase your opportunity to harvest larger, better quality bucks, would you support reducing the limit on buck deer to 2 per season (within an overall 6-deer limit)?
78% yes; 22% no.
QUESTION: A regulation to require hunters to tag and report information on every deer and turkey harvested is under consideration. Implementing it will increase management costs. Do you support a tagging/harvest record program for deer? turkey? If yes, would you be willing to pay an additional $2 a year for your big game license (or in addition to your lifetime license) to pay for implementing this program?
Tagging for deer: 64% yes; 36% no.
Tagging for turkey: 62% yes; 38% no.
Support $2 increase to support program?
Of those supporting tagging, 81% supported a $2 fee to pay for the program; 18% were opposed to paying extra.
LWFC RULEMAKING PROCESS
QUESTION: The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission has been criticized for proposing, and ratifying at the same meeting, changes in the hunting seasons, thereby preempting the opportunity for hunters to express their opinions before adopting regulations. Do you support establishing a formal policy that will prevent the LWFC from ratifying a regulation (non-emergency) on the same day it is proposed?
83% yes; 17% no.
(Note: The LWFC cannot adopt a rule the same day it is proposed, except under an emergency declaration. Because of space limitations on the survey, the question had to be oversimplified, but it essentially suggested the situation that occurred at the July 2004 LWFC meeting where substantive changes were made to the proposed hunting season rules [that had been under consideration for the previous 4 months], and subsequently ratified at the same meeting.)
QUESTION: To make planning for the hunting seasons easier, do you support the idea of setting hunting season dates at least 6 months in advance of season opening?
87% yes; 13% no.
QUESTION: Two of the factors that bear on the presence and abundance of ducks in Louisiana during the waterfowl season are local hunting pressure, and habitat enhancements up the flyway ("shortstopping"), including the practice of impounding and artificially flooding unharvested crops. To reduce hunting pressure and increase hunting success, which of the following restrictions on duck hunting would you support? You may check more than one.
51% supported morning-only hunting.*
27% supported moving shooting time up to official sunrise.
25% supported a 5-day hunting week (Sat., Sun., Mon., Wed., Thurs.). A few of these respondents wrote in different days, but supported the 5-day waterfowl hunting week.
3% supported afternoon-only hunting.
5% suggested other strategies to reduce hunting pressure.
28% opposed any additional restrictions to reduce hunting pressure.
* Waterfowl hunters in North and Southwest Louisiana favored morning-only hunting restrictions by a significant margin over waterfowlers in southeast and south central Louisiana, with the greatest differences between the New Orleans area (30% favored) compared to hunters in the Shreveport and Lake Charles areas (58% favored). This is probably related to the locations hunted in that waterfowlers who hunt the Mississippi and Atchafalaya River deltas like to have the option of hunting when the tides are favorable to move the ducks, which can be later in the day.
QUESTION: Because of its similarity to the illegal practice of hunting over bait, do you support prohibiting the shooting of waterfowl over unharvested crops that have been artificially flooded?
56% supported a prohibition on hunting over artificially-flooded, unharvested crops
44% opposed prohibiting hunting over artificially-flooded, unharvested crops.
One question asked if the respondent was or is a quail hunter; 30% replied in the affirmative. Based on recent counts of active quail hunters, and comments written in the margins of the survey form, it is clear that most of those responding "yes" have been relegated to armchair quail hunters, at least in Louisiana. Many of the respondents volunteered to assist the "Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative" to restore quail and quail habitat in the state.