On Tuesday the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC) voted to repeal a ban on all hunting for portions of the Orleans Parrish. The ban was originally instated in 1991 by the LWFC to assist the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in establishing the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge. More than 20 years later, the refuge is now currently the largest urban wildlife refuge in the country and plays host to an increasing amount of young waterfowlers.
Keith Westlake, a wildlife specialist for Bayou Sauvage, told Associated Press that over 2000 young hunters visited the refuge for the past two years.
“It seems to be growing in popularity every year,” he said.
The two previous hunts were conducted under an emergency order by the LWFC’s department secretary. With the ban repealed, this is no longer needed. Regulations for hunting outside the refuge will be at the discretion of the New Orleans city government, but deer hunts are already allowed in some locations within city limits. Striking down the ban could potentially allow hunters to pursue feral hogs, which are causing problems outside the refuge. Westlake said that beginning in 2011 wildlife officials have culled 575 pigs from the area to reduce the damage the animals can cause. Feral hogs are an increasingly critical problem for conservationists and hunting regulations for these animals are generally lax.
For now the area’s alligators seem to be enjoying the lack of competition, as well as the carcasses left behind by management hunts.
Image courtesy Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries