Release Date: 11/08/2005

Louisiana State University (LSU) released a draft report of their Hunter Attitudes Toward Duck Seasons in Louisiana study to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC) at the commissions Nov. 3 meeting.

The study was conducted by Craig Miller Ph.D., Dawn Schaffer and Meya Holloway from the LSU School of Renewable Natural Resources with cooperation from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) over the summer to better understand hunter concerns over duck seasons and harvests. 

According to the report, the study was conducted to determine:

* Louisiana hunters satisfaction level with duck hunting.
* The perceived number of ducks seen, shooting opportunities and harvest for the 2004-05 season when compared to the previous five years.
* Duck hunters zone, season and option preferences for pintail and canvasback hunting.
* Duck hunters characteristics that may influence satisfaction levels of hunters.

The researchers sent out 6,500 surveys to Louisiana hunters and received a response of 2,916. 

The report found that 76 percent of the respondents hunted ducks in Louisiana during the 2004-05 season.  About 56 percent of the hunters harvested between one and 20 ducks, 12 percent harvested none, 17 percent harvested between 21 and 40 ducks, 5 percent harvested between 41 and 50 ducks and 10 percent harvested over 50 ducks.

During the 2004-05 season, 46 percent of the surveyed hunters indicated they hunted between one and 10 days, 23 percent between 11 and 20 days and 13 percent between 21 and 30 days.

Most hunters (75 percent) said they did most of their hunting during December 47 percent responded with January and 45 percent indicated November.

Cameron Parish was the most popular hunting destination this past fall with 9 percent of the respondents hunting there, followed by 8 percent for Vermilion, 6 percent for Terrebonne, 5 percent for Plaquemines and 4 percent for both Avoyelles and Lafourche parishes.  Duck hunters also indicated that 35 percent of them hunted on leases last year, 26 percent hunted on someone elses property and 23 percent utilized the states wildlife management areas.

The report indicated that 67 percent of the hunters felt that the overall quality of duck hunting in Louisiana to be fair to poor.  Other key findings from the hunters follow below:

* 81 percent were dissatisfied with duck sightings.
* 78 percent were dissatisfied with the number of harvested ducks.
* 71 percent were dissatisfied with number of shots they took.
* 48 percent were dissatisfied with the number of days they hunted.

The report also showed that 88 percent of duck hunters felt the trend of hunting success in Louisiana is getting worse to much worse as compared to five years ago. 

Over half (55 percent) of the hunters did not get their daily limit of ducks at least one day during the 2004-05 season.  As compared to five years ago, 84 percent of the hunters indicated that the number of days they bagged their daily limit was fewer.

The study next measured the hunters perceptions on reasons why their success was poor.

* 69 percent of the hunters think farming keeps ducks up north.
* 61 percent think warmer winters.
* 50 percent believe that too many ducks are being harbored on refuges.

When asked about their feelings toward bag limits and seasons even if season length and bag limits negatively affect duck populations, duck hunters responded with:

* 45 percent preferring a 60-day season.
* 23 percent wanting a 50-day season.
* 25 percent favoring a 45-day season.
* 38 percent wanting a six-duck limit.
* 29 percent preferring a four-duck limit.
* 26 percent wanting a five-duck limit.

Duck hunters were also probed for their feelings towards the canvasback and pintail season-within-a-season format. 

* 44 percent preferred a short season for pintails and canvasbacks at different times to match peak migration, and 41 percent had no opinion.
* 42 percent wanted the pintail season held till late in the season and 30 percent had no opinion.
* 60 percent preferred a full season for all ducks that allows harvest of only one total per day of hen mallard, pintail, canvasback or mottled duck.

The report also found that 53 percent of the hunters like the current two zone system with split seasons and 53 percent would not favor statewide shooting hours that end at mid-day.

Sustained cold and freezing temperatures on the northern end and central portions of the flyway could bring more ducks further south, said Robert Helm, LDWF waterfowl study leader.  That has not been the weather pattern in the last several years and weve seen fewer ducks as a result.  Weather is certainly a contributory factor.

The report concluded that dissatisfaction is high among Louisiana duck hunters, but is not confined to one age, region or experience level.  The next step for the researchers is to put this report into context with the other states findings concerning duck hunting attitudes.

EDITORS: For more information, contact Robert Helm at 225-765-2358 or rhelm@wlf.louisiana.gov.