With turkey hunting season approaching, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is reminding hunters that hunting turkeys over or with the aid of bait is illegal. Baiting means placing, exposing, depositing or scattering of corn, wheat, or other grain, salt, or other feed so as to constitute a lure, attraction or enticement to, on or over any areas where hunters are attempting to take turkeys.
In areas where turkey hunting occurs, deer feeders should be turned off and emptied. Hunters should be aware that an area is considered baited for 15 days after the complete removal of the bait. LDWF Enforcement Division agents are authorized to close baited areas to turkey hunting.
There are exceptions to the baiting law. Hunting over standing crops or food plots where grain grown in the field has been scattered by normal agricultural procedures or manipulations for wildlife management purposes is not considered baiting, provided that the grain has not been removed and then returned to the field. In addition, hunting more than 200 yards from a baited area or deer feeder is not illegal. The complete text of the baiting statute as it applies to wild turkeys can be found on the department's Web site at www.wlf.louisiana.gov.
Hunting turkeys over bait is punishable by fines of $250 to $500, or jail time up to 90 days, or both plus court costs. Penalties may also include forfeiture of seized items, community service, probation and loss of hunting privileges.
Violations of the turkey baiting regulations or any other wildlife violation can be reported to the Louisiana Operation Game Thief toll free hotline at 1-800-442-2511. Callers who provide information leading to the apprehension of violators of the turkey hunting regulations are eligible for cash rewards from Louisiana Operation Game Thief and the Louisiana Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. Callers have the option to remain anonymous.
Hunting turkeys over bait remains one of the most common wild turkey hunting violations encountered by LDWF agents. Not only is hunting turkeys over bait unethical, it poses a health risk to wild turkeys. Repeatedly placing grain in the same area may expose healthy birds to disease contaminated soil and grains containing lethal toxins. There is also evidence that predation on wild turkeys and their nests is higher in the vicinity of bait sites. Properly distributed food plots are far more desirable for turkeys and have the added benefit of appealing to a wide variety of wildlife.
For more information, contact Fred Kimmel at 225-765-2355 or firstname.lastname@example.org.