How to keep 3.1 million ducks in Louisiana this hunting season

How to keep 3.1 million ducks in Louisiana this hunting season

Ducks escaping the arctic blast to the northern states migrated to Louisiana in record numbers just in time for hunting season.

"It's going to be a great year," Ryan Lambert, the owner of Cajun Fishing Adventures in Buras, said.

However, the problem may be keeping the ducks in Southeast Louisiana through through the winter.

Feathers flew off thousands of birds harvested in the first week of one of the best starts to duck hunting season in decades.

"In fact it was the highest since November of 1995. We estimated about 3.1 million ducks in the state," Larry Reynolds, chief waterfowl biologist for the LA Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said.

Reynolds said there were three times as many ducks in the state for opening week as there were during the same time last year.

However, they may not be around for long.

"These birds are going to wise up pretty quick," Reynolds said. "It's not going to be super easy just because we got a bunch of ducks in the state."

Reynolds said the big spike in ducks now means fewer coming down the flyaway later in the season.

Meanwhile, Cajun Fishing Adventures Owner Ryan Lambert was more concerned about another scenario.

"We don't have enough habitat to keep them like we did in yesteryear," Lambert explained while showing Fox 8 pictures of habitat loss in Buras. "You come and look at this boat row in 2010, 2011 time frame, and then you come and look after they shut the diversion. Boom, killed everything."

Lambert said saltwater killed the plants the ducks winter in, which affects the bugs they eat.

"When you take and lose 10,000 square miles of habitat, you can't winter those ducks. There's not enough food to maintain them for the winter. So they leave. They go up north again," Lambert said.

He said that means hunters should prepare for a great but short season. Lambert could only hope the many ducks in the region stick around longer than they did last year.

"It was so cold up north, the ducks you would think they had to come here. They came, they saw, they left," Lambert said.

Even with the lucky season and millions of birds, Lambert said keeping the vegetation is the only way Louisiana can maintain the Sportsman's Paradise that so many people appreciate.

"Louisiana is the duck hunting mecca of our country, and it's a heritage in which we all grow up in," Lambert said.

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