Hunting season affected by drought

Updated: Dec. 25, 2011 at 7:56 PM CST
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The lack of rain is continuing to cause problems all over southwest Louisiana.  Millions of dollars have been lost due to the drought and salt water intrusion. Crawfish and rice farmers are still feeling the affects of the drought, and now area duck hunters are noticing it as well.

The lack of fresh water from rainfall is causing the salinity in area marshes to increase. Brackish and intermediate marshes are becoming saltier as the drought continues, making it difficult for some vegetation to grow.

"The water we're hunting is very, very salty, high salinity levels," said duck hunter David Girola. "No vegetation in the water so birds don't want to be there too bad."

Early reports for this season showed the waterfowl hunting for southwest Louisiana as being successful. But, those reports did not include hunting areas that were actually dried up from the drought.

For areas that have water, the salinity levels are actually killing the submerged aquatic vegetation, which serves as a food supply for waterfowl. The vegetation is unable to adapt to the salinity changes.

Louisiana waterfowl biologist Larry Reynolds expects the area to recover, but only if the rainfall comes.

"When the growing season begins in the springs, we should see pretty rapid recovery, especially for the submerged aquatic vegetation," said Reynolds. "Now, the conversion of the emergent vegetation, that takes longer."

Reynolds also said that this season is "pretty much done" when it comes to vegetation growth, but that things should be better next year.

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