Looking for a place to hunt, fish, or just enjoy the outdoors? You may find just what you are searching for on one of 18 National Wildlife Refuges managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service here in the State of Louisiana.
Encompassing nearly half a million acres, these National Wildlife Refuges offer a wide variety of wildlife recreation opportunities from the coastal plains to the northern state line. Among the most popular activities are hunting and fishing. All of these public lands are opened to either hunting, or fishing, or both. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service coordinates with the State of Louisiana^s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in providing these outdoor recreation opportunities, especially in the management of hunting.
Eleven of these outdoor Meccas are opened to public hunting. Depending on a number of factors, including population levels and management needs, the seasons may vary from state regulations and from refuge to refuge. Throughout the state, opportunities for hunting waterfowl, white-tailed deer, small game and turkey can be found. Some refuges allow the use of both modern and primitive weapons, others only primitive, thus allowing for a variety of skills and experiences. Special hunting days for youth-only are becoming more popular as parents pass on a traditional outdoor heritage to their sons and daughters, along with opportunities to meet the needs of those who are physically challenged. In an effort to provide for a higher quality hunting experience, many of the National Wildlife Refuges in Louisiana conduct quota or limited permit hunts -- primarily for white-tailed deer as part of the overall hunt program.
Visitors enjoy fishing at Breton National Wildlife Refuge in St. Bernard and Plaquemine parishes.
Photo by James Harris
In 1998, almost 50,000 people hunted on National Wildlife Refuges in Louisiana. Of those, 10,000 hunted waterfowl, more than 31,000 hunted deer, and the remainder were small game and turkey hunters. Many participated in more than one type of hunt. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is looking for ways to expand opportunities, and opened 3,000 additional acres at Upper Quachita National Wildlife Refuge, near Monroe, in 1998. Additional days for hunting small game, geese and waterfowl are now being offered at a number of refuges in the state.
Special days were also added for youth hunts. At Tensas River near Tullulah, 50 youths were selected to deer hunt during the week between Christmas and New Year^s Day. There are also plans to develop a similar hunt for waterfowl in association with Ducks Unlimited. At Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge near Lake Charles, a 16-day youth waterfowl hunt was initiated. One hundred and sixty- two young hunters were selected to hunt on Saturdays and Wednesdays (during the holidays).
You can fish at all 18 National Wildlife Refuges in Louisiana where many are opened in accordance with the state seasons. National Wildlife Refuges offer a wide range of fishing experiences. These range from fishing piers, and designated bank fishing areas to lake and river fishing with parking areas and boat ramps. New facilities are being constructed to be universally accessible.
Depending upon the part of the state, you can fish in fresh or salt water, or go crabbing or shell fishing; you may use a rod and reel, a cane pole or cast net. In 1998, about 190,000 anglers made use of the many fishing opportunities on refuges in the state.
National Wildlife Refuges in Louisiana play a significant role in meeting the needs of people wanting an outdoor experience. As more and more land is not opened to the public for hunting, fishing or just enjoying the outdoors, public lands, such as the National Wildlife Refuges are becoming increasingly important.
In 1998, 500,000 people visited National Wildlife Refuges in Louisiana. Not all went fishing or hunting, many came to birdwatch or just to enjoy nature. Many of the National Wildlife Refuges in Louisiana are becoming known for their birdwatching and wildlife observation and photography opportunities. You can find out more about the opportunities and permit fees on the National Wildlife Refuges at www.fws.gov/r4eao.
So no matter if you hunt, fish, birdwatch or just enjoy nature; the National Wildlife Refuges in Louisiana offer abundant chances to do it all.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fish and wildlife management assistance offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state wildlife agencies.