CAMERON PARISH, LA (KPLC) - The following is a news release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
A large portion of Sabine National Wildlife Refuge will be closed for safety purposes during Feral Hog Management Operations being conducted Friday and Saturday, June 13 and 14.
The refuge will be closed to the public, including all boat access, from Highway 27, from the north boundary to the south boundary, westward all the way to Sabine Lake.
The public is asked not to enter the refuge from any adjacent lands or waterways into this designated area of Sabine refuge during this closed period. The boat launches with access into the closed area will be locked to prevent launching. Law Enforcement officers along with staff will be located at remote waterway entry sites to inform the public to remain safely outside the operation area.
Although the Service prefers not to implement these operations into the weekend, it was necessary at this time due to the limited availability of the contractor and their helicopter.
Although boat access and cast netting for shrimp will not be permitted west of highway 27 during the operation period; all recreation areas along Highway 27 that are accessible by vehicle, will remain open, as well as boat launches with access to the east, toward Calcasieu Lake.
For additional information on fishing, crabbing and cast netting for shrimp on the refuge, obtain a copy of The Southwest Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Complex Fishing Regulations brochure from the refuge or online at www.fws.gov/swlarefugecomplex under the fishing regulations link.
The purpose of the Feral Hog Management Operation is to protect 125,790 acres of fresh, intermediate and brackish refuge marshes from feral hog (Sus scrofa) induced erosion, migratory bird habitat destruction and migratory bird nesting mortality.
The rapidly expanding distribution of feral hogs in the United States has caused great concern for many land and resource managers. The ecologically-rich marshes of Sabine National Wildlife Refuge have not been immune to the invasion of these exotic species. Cursory observations suggest accelerated increases over the last few years. Feral hogs are omnivores devouring flora and fauna alike. Marsh habitat, throughout Sabine National Wildlife Refuge, has been compromised because of extensive rooting (foraging for food) by feral hogs.
Since 1990, feral hog sightings have been primarily reported on the western side of Sabine National Wildlife Refuge known as Marceaux Island. Marceaux Island is an area of concern, as it has been designated as "Marceaux Island Prairie Natural Area" by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries as well as the Louisiana Natural Heritage Foundation, based on the existence of remnant prairie habitat.
Since, Sabine National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1937: "…for use as an inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management purpose, for migratory birds…" (16 U.S.C. 715d (Migratory Bird Conservation Act)) and "…as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife…" (16 U.S.C. 715e (Migratory Bird Conservation Act)), controlling the feral hog population in this sensitive area and throughout the Refuge is a priority. Authority to control wildlife populations for management is governed by title 50 CFR, Part 31, Section 14:
(a) Animal species which are surplus or detrimental to the management program of a wildlife area may be taken in accordance with federal and state laws and regulations by federal or state personnel or by permit issued to private individuals.
(b) Animal species which damage or destroy federal property within a wildlife refuge area may be taken or destroyed by federal personnel.
Title 50 CFR, Part 30, Section 11 (a) states that feral animals, including horses, burros, cattle, swine, sheep, goats, reindeer, dogs, and cats, without ownership that have reverted to the wild from a domestic state may be taken by authorized federal or state personnel or by private persons operating under permit in accordance with applicable provisions of federal or state law or regulation.