LDWF urging boaters to practice safety during hunting season

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

With the fall and winter outdoor season underway in Louisiana, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division is reminding hunters about boating safety during the hunting season.

Hunting season for many people in Louisiana means utilizing boats to get to remote hunting blinds, stands or other areas.

The fall and winter boating season for Louisiana is a lot different than the spring and summer boating season for various reasons. Most hunters are operating vessels during low visibility times usually before dawn and after dusk. Also, most hunters are operating vessels in remote areas navigating smaller water tributaries.

The hunting season also usually means colder months and thus hunters are wearing and bringing more gear and the water temperature is colder. If a hunter does go overboard, they will probably have the weight of their warmer hunting clothes and the colder water temperature making survival that much more difficult.

"Boating in the fall and winter months during the hunting season is much different than in the spring and summer boating season," said Major Rachel Zechenelly, the state's boating law administrator. "We want to remind all boaters during the hunting season to follow some simple safe boating practices to ensure a good hunt and a safe trip."

LDWF would like all boaters to wear a personal flotation device while in a vessel, have a sober operator and also let friends and family know of their whereabouts and what time they intend on going hunting and coming back. It is also a good idea to keep a cell phone device in some kind of waterproof container on your person.

Checking to make sure your vessel is equipped to run at night and in colder temperature is also important for safe boating practices. LDWF is reminding boat operators to make sure all lights are operational and that the engine has no trouble starting and running.

LDWF reported a total of 22 boating fatalities the last three hunting seasons. To date, Louisiana has reported 15 boating fatalities for 2019. Louisiana had 19 boating fatalities in both 2018 and 2017.

As always LDWF offers free boating education classes year round. Those interested can take either an online or classroom safe boating course. The safe boating course is required for anybody born after Jan. 1, 1984 and operating a vessel over 10 horsepower. For a list of boating classes please visit www.wlf.la.gov/boating.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.la.gov. To receive email alerts, signup at http://www.wlf.la.gov/signup.

Contributed by LDWF