Illinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
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Jeff Lampe
Jeff Lampe

Jeff Lampe has been outdoor writer at the Journal Star in Peoria for 12 duck seasons. He lives in Elmwood with his wife Monica, sons Henry, Victor and Walter, and Llewellin setter Hawkeye. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he is an avid fan of the Bills and still has mental scars from four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Outside of hunting and fishing, Lampe's main passion in Illinois was Class A boys basketball (which sadly no longer exists). Former publisher of the Class A Weekly newsletter, Lampe is a co-author of "100 Years of Madness" and "Classical Madness," both books focusing on prep basketball in Illinois.

Illinois Outdoors
 

Scattershooting

A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Scary precedent in Louisiana

May 27, 2009 at 02:47 PM

Now here’s a scary precedent being considered in Louisiana.

Let’s hope no Illinois legislators get a similar bill started.

Bill would let lawmakers oversee hunting seasons

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A bid to give lawmakers a say in the dates set each year for Louisiana’s hunting seasons received backing Wednesday from a House panel packed with legislators who had complaints about the commission that sets those seasons.

In a 9-3 vote, the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee approved the bill by Rep. James Armes that would let lawmakers review - and reject - the season dates and restrictions set each year for everything from ducks and deer to quail and turkey.
Armes, D-Leesville, said he didn’t want lawmakers to pick and choose hunting season dates, but said the Legislature should serve as a “check and balance.”

“This bill is just for us to be able to override if we have a problem. That’s all it is,” he said.

Currently, the authority to set seasons rests solely with the seven-member Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, in consultation with the state Department of Wildlife and
Fisheries. Lawmakers can’t stop the regulations and restrictions governing the seasons.

Committee members said the commission, which has appointees of the governor serving staggered terms, doesn’t reflect the interests of hunters around the state and instead skews toward south Louisiana. Only one member of the commission is currently from north Louisiana. No members are from central Louisiana.

Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham said the current system works well and keeps the state from political management of the state’s natural resources, noting that staggered terms ensure no single governor appoints the commission.

“There is a difference in the political environment and the regulation of wild creatures ... You don’t want to micromanage the biological assets of the state,” Barham said.

Barham said the commission makes its decisions on hunting season dates, bag limits and other restrictions after consulting with his department’s biologists and wildl ife experts, looking at federal requirements and determining how to best protect the state’s resources. He said if lawmakers reject a set of season dates, the dispute could disrupt hunting plans for hunters around the state.

The secretary said lawmakers already could weigh in on hunting season decisions, but several lawmakers said they didn’t get calls returned or couldn’t get enough information to explain commission decisions to their constituents.

“There is no reason we cannot have an oversight hearing to talk to these biologists, to give that information back to our communities,” said Rep. Karen St. Germain, D-Plaquemine.
“We’re not trying to take anything from your guys, nothing. We just want to be a little more informed.”

Armes’ bill heads next to the full House after several hours of debate in the committee.

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