LWF has submitted a letter to the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Wildlife & Fisheries Commission highlighting concerns over Catahoula Lake.
Catahoula Lake, located in central Louisiana, is the largest freshwater lake in Louisiana and water levels had been managed since the 1970s to benefit wildlife, including migratory game species and shorebirds. It is known for offering world class hunting opportunities that attracted people from all over the country. It was named a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance due to its excellent feeding and resting areas for a variety of avian species—waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds.
In 2020, the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld part of a lower court rule stating Catahoula Lake constitutes a basin that Little River seasonally floods and that the land along Little River is private land, which includes areas once considered public land. This created a need to affirm property boundaries and ownership. It also raises concerns about beneficial managment of the basin area for wildlife and recreational use by the public.
Louisiana is at a major decision point for many aspects of the Catahoula Lake situation as it continues to evolve since the court decisions declaring the lakebed to be private property. Members of LWF are very concerned about the possible loss or degradation of this important wetland as well as the huge loss of public hunting opportunities.
In LWF’s letter, several actions/policies are recommended regarding maintenance of the habitat and management of what’s left of the public hunting area, including the recreation of a conservation pool refuge, expanding the Dewey Wills WMA, controlling woody vegetation, conducting aerial surveys of waterfowl, and the reestablishment of “rest areas” (mini-refuges) in WMAs of northeast Louisiana in an attempt to retain more ducks in this heavily hunted region of the state.
The letter was submitted on behalf of the many LWF members who are veteran Louisiana duck hunters distressed by the current downtrend in waterfowl numbers and believe that our state’s habitat management and hunting management policies must start with the reality of that trend characterized by fewer ducks coming here, those that do come arriving later, and heavy hunting pressure that needs to be better managed.