Fees, Gator Hunts Proposed for US Wildlife Refuges in Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing fees for using eight national wildlife refuges in southeast Louisiana, and is also considering lottery alligator hunts on six of its refuges.

The two together could raise about $120,000 for the Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuges Complex, about two-thirds of the money from user permits, project leader Neil Lalonde said Monday.

The user fees would be $20 for an annual permit or $5 for a one-day permit, a news release said. People age 60 and over could get a $5 annual pass, and those under age 18 would not need a permit. Two permits would be needed to get into all eight refuges administered by Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuges Complex staff.

One permit would cover five national wildlife refuges in the New Orleans area and farther east: Bayou Sauvage, which is in New Orleans; and Big Branch Marsh at Lacombe; Bogue Chitto at Pearl River; Delta, about 65 miles southeast, near Venice; and Breton on the Breton and Chandeleur barrier islands. Another would cover three refuges farther west: Cat Island near St. Francisville, Mandalay near Houma and Bayou Teche near Franklin.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries administers the Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge under regulations for the state-owned Sherburne Wildlife Management Area. People who don’t have a state fishing or hunting license and want to go into the refuge need a Wild Louisiana Stamp for $9.50 a year or $2 a day.

The permits would take effect Sept. 1. and raise money for such things as road improvements, parking lot maintenance, informational brochures, public outreach and educational programs, and law enforcement support, according to a news release.

The proposed lottery alligator hunts could raise about $40,000 a year, Lalonde said.

The state administers alligator hunts on state land and private property, and would administer lottery alligator hunts at six national wildlife refuges: Atchafalaya, Bayou Sauvage, Bayou Teche, Bogue Chitto, Delta and Mandalay. Deer hunting is already allowed on those and at Big Branch Marsh and Cat Island National Wildlife Refuges.

Alligator tags would cost $40 each with a $5 application fee and a maximum of three to five tags per person.

The service got a fair amount of public comments on both sides of each issue, Lalonde said.

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