Deer & Turkey Tagging Proposal
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is seeking input from hunters across the state concerning a proposed deer and turkey tagging system. Public comment will be taken during a series of 10 public hearings scheduled to obtain public input on the proposed upcoming season dates, bag limits and wildlife management area regulations. The public hearings begin in Lake Charles at 6 p.m. on March 11 at the LSU Agriculture Center.
For hunters unable to attend any of the public hearings, comments on the tagging proposal may be made through the LDWF's website at www.wlf.louisiana.gov. To reach the web poll questionnaire, click on "Deer/Turkey Tagging Proposal" under "What's New" on the LDWF home page. The full schedule of public hearings is also available via the home page. The department and commission will review comments from hunters and a tagging plan will be developed.
LDWF's Wildlife Division is specifically interested in the opinions of resident hunting license holders, license-exempt resident hunters ages 60 and older, and license-exempt resident hunters ages 15 and younger who participated in the 2004-2005 hunting season.
Wildlife Division administrators have acknowledged that tagging will not be in place for the 2005-2006 hunting season. If a tagging program can be developed that is acceptable to hunters, and if funding is available, LDWF will attempt to initiate the program in 2006-2007 or 2007-2008 with point-of-sale vendors.
Legislation passed during the 2004 Session gave authority to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission to establish a tagging system for turkeys and a tagging system for deer, if the deer proposal includes a limit on antlered bucks. Many hunters in Louisiana would like to see the state pass regulations that would help develop an older age structure of bucks in the deer population. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologists believe that a buck limit is the best approach statewide to develop this older age class of bucks rather than using statewide antler restrictions. A tagging system would provide the means to enforce a buck limit and provide the LDWF with harvest information. Tagging would provide an exact count of hunters who hunt deer and hunters who hunt turkeys. A validation or reporting program would provide information to the LDWF concerning harvested deer.
All deer hunters and all turkey hunters, regardless of age or license status, would obtain deer tags and turkey tags for hunting deer and turkeys. Deer and turkey hunters would obtain tags from license vendors who issue them through current point-of-sale system. Turkey hunters would receive two gobbler tags and deer hunters would receive three antlerless deer tags that could be used at any time during the season, and three buck tags.
One alternative to having three buck tags would be two bucks-of-choice tags and one program buck tag (six point or better). This would restrict the harvest to only two young bucks and the third buck would be an adult. LDWF is also looking at ways that tags can be issued to hunters via the internet or by phone.
Tagging will involve added administrative cost that LDWF must accommodate, and the department is exploring ways of paying for a tagging program without increasing license fees. One option the department is considering is a bonus tag program that would allow hunters to purchase a bonus buck tag and bonus antlerless deer tags.