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Questions for Jim LaCour of LDWF

Since we all know that “everything on the internet is true”, just like the “French model”, I won’t try to debunk all the stuff LDWF puts in the hog trough for public consumption, but I’ll do my best to provide the LDWF an opportunity to present facts and data to support their positions in an attempt to dispel some of the urban legends that are circulated at the agency’s campfires.

But before we get started with our quest for the facts, it appears that Jim LaCour of the LDWF needs to be taken to the online woodshed and taught something about Southern manners that he obviously missed growing up. Either Jim LaCour’s has never truly experienced having someone “in his face” or his description of having “people … in my face at the boat launch” is an obvious attempt to mischaracterize the people and events of that day.

If this was another intentional distortion of the facts it would clearly demonstrate the ethical depths to which LDWF is willing to sink to in order to discredit all those that dare to question their totalitarianism rule of Louisiana’s wildlife. But that’s another topic for another day.

Being one of the two conservationists present to witness the helicopter operation at the boat launch, I can honestly testify with absolute certainty, that all conservationists’ conversations with Jim LaCour were respectful, peaceful, and professional in nature. But don’t just take my word, let’s read how Jim LaCour described that encounter the day after the operation in an email to me, and I quote, “It was good to meet both you and Mr. (name withheld) yesterday. Our conversation was enlightening.”

So I say shame on you Jim LaCour for trying to vilify such a distinguished gentleman, and concerned conservationist, who is a well-liked and well-respected business leader of our community. As for this gentleman’s sport of catching and releasing hogs, where you said, “…they go in with their dogs and they release the majority of the hogs they catch. What good does that do? Nothing”, all I have to say is that he’s been doing that for many years, and has done this in partnership with a Federal Government program to collar, track, and study feral hogs. How many feral hogs have you collared, tracked and studied Jim?

With that housekeeping behind us I want to express my appreciative for the window of transparency being offered by the LDWF in the way of Jim LaCour providing the Louisiana Sportsman, a media outlet controlled by Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commissioner Ann Taylor, with a vague outline of the operational cost for shooting hogs with a helicopter, and the feral hog talking points of his agency. Considering the lack of financial and operational specifics being provided to the public it’s evident why Jim is a veterinarian and not an accountant, and perhaps is an indicator that Jim is heading into a new career in LDWF politics.

Along the line of this evolving transparency perhaps Jim LaCour will provide the information, and answer the questions, so many concerned conservationists have been requesting since before this “operation debacle” (as its being called locally) got off the ground. But before we submit our questions again we want to make it very clear to everyone that we’re confining our discussion to feral hogs on the Pearl River WMA, which is not to be confused with feral hogs in Texas, on private lands, or on agricultural properties, which is a completely different conversation.

With all that in mind Jim, and since I'm not afforded the privledge of having the LA Sportsman publish this as a feature artice for me, would you be so kind as to provide the following information to the public by way of responding to these requests for information and publishing them in the Louisiana Sportsman?

You were quoted as saying, “these are invasive non-native animals and they have been on the PRWMA for many, many years and they have an established population and we’re trying to reduce those numbers”…

1) Please describe the scientific method that was employed in determining just how many hogs there are on the PRWMA, and provide the dates these studies occurred, if in fact there were any.

2) What are the official estimated numbers of the feral hog population on the PRWMA by year for the past 10 years, and what are the numbers of harvested hogs by year for the past 10 years?

3) What is the established goal, or the number of feral hogs, that the LDWF believes is acceptable population for the PRWMA?

Referring to hunters harvesting hogs on the PRWAM, you were quoted saying “these efforts are not enough to cut down on the exploding population”, and “We’re not out to take away anyone’s sport,”…“If we can get more people out there killing more hogs, that’s fine with everyone in this department”, which brings up a few questions that have not been satisfactorily answered by the LDWF.

1) Did the LDWF have a specific number of feral hogs that needed to be harvested during this year’s hunting season to reduce the numbers to an acceptable level, and if so what was that number?

2) At what point in the last 5 years did the LDWF determine that the number of hogs being harvested on the PRWMA was not enough to keep the population to acceptable levels?

3) If at any point in the last 5 years LDWF had determined that the numbers of hogs being harvested was not enough why did the LDWF not use the standard, and most cost efficient method of reducing the hog population, which is either extending the season, or altering the method of taking hogs on the PRWMA?

4) Specifically, since there were only 47 days out of the 151 hunting days during the past year’s hunting season in which hunters were legally allowed to use firearms capable of reliably bringing down these magnificent game animals, why did LDWF not allow hunters to use firearms such as shotguns with slugs and buckshot, primitive firearms, and center-fire pistols to harvest hogs throughout the entire season, from the beginning of October to the end of February? Please don’t use the excuse that it would interfere with deer hunting, or hunters would poach deer, because most hunters know there are not enough deer in the PRWMA to justify the time and effort that required to hunt or poach on this WMA.

5) Please provide the public with the dates the helicopter operation was first discussed, planned, and scheduled for the PRWMA?
You were also quoted as saying, “feral hogs are ripping up marshes around Pearl River.”
1) Would you please provide the public with the all the photos, including aerial ones, and other evidence that led the LDWF to conclude that the PRWMA hogs were “ripping up the marsh around Pearl River”?

You said on the air, and I quote, “we have to do something now to get these feral hogs under control, the helicopter is the fastest, and believe it or not, is the most economical means to get a large number of hogs on the ground in a short period of time”.

1) Are you aware of the fact that a couple of high school boys with a few dogs are capable of harvesting more hogs in one day than your helicopter operation did, and that the high school boys don’t cost the state of Louisiana a dime?

You were also quoted as saying, “the non-native animals are destroying local wildlife…”, and “…they eat turtle eggs, shore bird eggs, in the woods they eat the acorn crop that usually sustains the deer through the winter time”.

1) Are you aware of the fact that deer are browsers and hogs are rooters?

2) Are you aware of the fact that although deer eat acorns when available that acorns are not the sole diet of the deer, and that deer can and do flourish without eating acorns?

3) Are you aware of the fact that raccoons and other such animals each more eggs than do hogs? But that’s probably due to the hogs having more than enough to eat because they stole all the deer’s acorns, right?

4) If the LDWF is so concerned with other wildlife on the PRWMA why do they not manage and provide the habitat for such game animals such as deer and turkey?

5) Recovering many miles of trails that have been abandoned over the past 20 years, keeping all trails bush hogged, conducting regular control burns, and planting food crops are all proven wildlife management methods that would work well on the PRWMA, so are these method not used by the LDWF in the PRWMA if they are so concerned for the other “local wildlife”?

You said, “I can guarantee you no one in this agency is wasteful-minded. And everyone was brought up to take what they kill, put it in their freezer and feed their family with it,”, “Nobody likes wasting things, but with the hogs we cannot in good faith send the carcass to a food bank where some unsuspecting cook is in there cutting up meat, then cuts himself and gets sick from it.”

1) Please, again in the spirit of transparency, enlighten all of us with the number of reported cases of hunters, or more accurately “cooks” getting sick from cleaning hogs this year and the number of hogs harvested across the state so that we can determine the odds of someone getting sick from cleaning hogs.

2) Since the LDWF “cannot in good faith send the carcass to a food bank” why not give it to any local hunter that would gladly take the meat to put in their freezer?
Don’t know what’s worse, that the LDWF didn’t have a budget for “operation debacle”, or clearly know the full cost incurred, or that they are embarrassed to reveal the entire cost to the public. Perhaps we can help the LDWF understand and reveal the entire cost to the public.

Let’s start with, what expense are you (LDWF) including in the cost of this operation? Was the LDWF charged the hourly rates from the time this helicopter left and returned to all these locations, and to and from home base? What was the total number of crew, and did that include the ground crew that tracked the flight path? What was the cost for all the LDWF staff, along with enforcement, equipment (trucks, boats, trailers, etc.), and any other expenses that are not directly related to the helicopter?

Lastly, although it’s not needed for the cost spreadsheet, what did “operation debacle”, and the attempt to discredit one of our beloved local business leaders cost the LDWF’s reputation in the Pearl River community? In my humble opinion the price the LDWF will pay for those mistakes is much higher than they can afford, and the cost are going up each day they refuse to work with us.

My suggestion for LDWF is simple, learn to play nicely, and try harder to become a productive member of the conservationist team in the Pearl River / Honey Island area.
Are u aware that hogs can transmit a variety of deadly diseases to livestock and humans? You think those hogs never stray onto private land costing the state millions of dollars in compensation each year for you to raise free meat on public land? You are beating a dead hog. The state has spent $10 million dollars to ERADICATE, not control feral hogs. You can squeal all you want, but feral hogs are history.
Dude, why are you so bent out of shape over this? Geez hoss, Simmah down before you stroke out.
LDWF needs to answer nothing you ask.
I was at a Big Buck Banquet and a biologist was there as a keynote speaker. He told us that everyone in his region experienced an awful season. Low numbers, few fawns, nonexistent rut and on and on. He said this was the first year on record where there were more reported hog harvests than deer...EVER. I hope they kill em all.
Dude... Your head might explode!!
First of all, they are doing the hunts on WMAs and other reserves, but it's not the LDWF that is funding or coordination these hunts. The Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services is the agency that is doing it. The helicopter used was acquired from another government agency after they retired it. There are costs associated with flying a helicopter, but it’s really minimal compared to other ways to try and reduce the population. I’ve been trapping and hunting hogs since September and been hitting it hard. I just got of 50. The helicopter can take that many in two days or less, flying 4 or 5 hours a day. How much would a trapper charge to get that many hogs??

I’ve met Jim and other members of LDWF at another hog hunt on another WMA. They know their business, they are professional and it sounds to me like you have a personal beef with a very well respected, educated and dedicated man to wildlife!

I would have finished reading your article, but it was too long and rambled on too much about the same thing. Prozac is a wonderful drug and will help you get through the day with a lot less rage…… Just saying!!
Ramble On
Instead of posting your gripes on here, why don't you email LDWF or Jim. The only person that ever agrees with you is isuceazy. You seem like an intelligent person that should be able to figure out that. You remind me of a diehard Liberal.

People always ask why La lack the numbers and quality of deer that is present in Mississippi. Here is a perfect example of one of the reasons.
LOL...but still not facts
Perhaps most of you have been trained so well to accept whatever you're told to believe that it's just too late for you to begin thinking for yourself.

We all know the tactics of those that have no answers, they just repeat what some 'wildlife authority' said to them, call those that pose inteligent questions names, make rediculous comments, personal attacks, but never, and I do mean never, provide any answers, facts, or data to support the URBAN LEGENDS that they are so willing to spread round the LDWF campfires.

If getting along with the herd means we have to lock up our brains, and just accept what anyone in 'authority' tells us then I guess we'll never be one of the sheep.

Find it very telling that someone would take up for Jim and tell me how inteligent he is when I didn't say he wasn't inteligent, which I beleive he is. Yet Jim obviously misrepresented an encounter with a local business leader to make it appear the gentleman was out of line, and in his face and no one blinks.

Keep it up and there won't be anything left to hunt, then ya'll can spend all your time on the internet playing hunting games, and defending those that mismanaged the WMA's for decades to those that don't know any better.
hunting games?
A. Hunting games would be much cheaper for ALL of us.

B. For as much money as states waste on what I consider DUMB programs, I hope they manage to kill all hogs. I hate them. Period. They have my kids scared to walk to their deer stands, as we have had several encounters in the dark this past season.

C. Leave Mississippi out of this:) we have our own declining deer troubles. HAHA

D. Seriously, we'll hear your gripes, just calm down a little????
Operation Debacle
Batman, I wouldn't hold out any hope for getting your questions answered. But I do share your interest in hearing answers. Good questions. I do know the cost of a turbine helicopter is approx $1500 per hour rather than the $ 550 per hour they stated. Makes me wonder about all their other statements. Why did they give one weeks notice for this aerial shooting? How long has this been the plan?
Holy hell
This just keeps getting more and more entertaining. So let me get this straight. You guys rally up the troops, show up at the boat landing while this hunt is taking place. Confront this man, and expect us to believe it was done civilly? I'm doubtful, because you obviously display nothing remotely close to civility on here towards LDWF. But let's just say you are telling the truth. You display perfect southern manners, act professionally, and as a distinguished gentleman in person. Then you take to the internet, curse, kick and whine like a two year old, and take this same man to the 'woodshed'. What does that say about you?

If only getting 50 or so hogs in two days is such a shameful debacle, then you must really feel proud of the only 50 or so supporters you have on your 'save our WMA' Facebook debacle. All this after a week or so of griping and complaining on every newspaper, tv channel, website, and backyard campfire you could muster. Yet, you've accomplished nothing....and I mean nothing. Lol
LOL @ Nightlife Outfit
Again, no answers, just more attempts at demonizing and name that all you really have?

Might not have as many followers as you would like, but it seems we have you following every post we make. You either like us or you are what is referred to as a 'troll'. Which I believe is defined as a negative person that follows other peoples posts and and trys to make disruptive comments on said posts just because they are an angry person that seeks to cause trouble, and get attention.

Either way, you seem to be a devoted follower of my posts...
Honey Island Batman, you are getting a bit unbelievable here. Your gripes even went to CBS!

You are obviously very upset about the Honey Island rifle range and your anger has spilled over to everything LDWF does.

Don't bash people on a public forum, go and email or call Jim L. He clearly stated everything in the article on the front page.

Jim is far from a city slicker as you call him haha! He is probably wearing some wranglers to work right now ahahaha
Honey Island Swamp Batman
Honey Island Swamp Batman you need help.
For the record...
We (hunter and conservationist of the WMA’s) don’t have access to, or the privilege of, having feature articles written for us in the Louisiana Sportsman, which is controlled by Ann Taylor (a Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commissioner), on our behalf as does the LDWF. The only way we can possible hope to have our side of any debate with LDWF accurately portrayed is to reach out to you, the sportsman, in these “reports”. We apologize for the length of this post, as there is so much to cover, and we want to provide all the facts to the public.

Understandably, most hunters and conservationist have not had any in depth dealings with the LDWF, other than to occasionally speak with one of our outstanding LDWF Enforcement Agents, so most of this might seem odd, confusing at times, and difficult to understand. All we ask is for you to keep an open mind, and consider the facts, then make up your own mind.

Now we’re not naïve, we know there will still be some diehard “trolls” that will find fault with whatever we say or try to do, because they thrive on controversy, and feed off of negativity, as pathetic as that seems to most of us. “Trolls” offer no solutions, answers, or facts, as their modus operandi is to confuse issues, defect responsibility, call names, vilify those they see as their “opponents”, and generally be disruptive to intelligent communications. It is not them we bother writing to, this is for the intelligent hunters and conservationist that might not have had any experiences with dealing with the LDWF and don’t understand what’s really going on.

Save Our WMA is a newly formed organization that was established out of an obvious need to protect, preserve, and improve our WMA’s that have been on a steady decline for decades. The group is made up of dedicated hunters and conservationist just like most of you that would like to preserve the Louisiana heritage of hunting on public lands for future generations’ enjoyment.

Certainly we would be more than happy to have a pleasant working relationship with the LDWF, as we believe that much more could be accomplished by combining our efforts, and working together, instead of all this back and forth publicity that doesn’t appear to be very productive.

However, it takes two to make that sort of a beneficial relationship work, and for the most part the LDWF has not demonstrated they want to work with us, or anyone else for that matter, including national organizations that are well-respected by both hunters and conservationist.

This is not to say that we’ve never managed to work together with the LDWF to get a few things accomplished, because we have. The speed bumps at the entrance self-clearing station on Old Hwy 11 were added upon our recommendation to slow down those going to the range, and make this pedestrian area a safer place for hunters, especially our younger ones. Within a week of our notifying the LWFC, that the roads were horrible, and the trails were not being maintained, the LDWF patched the roads, and the trails were bush hogged. Although we were a little taken back that these things had not been done before the hunting season was underway, we’ll take what we can get, and expressed our gratitude to all those in the LDWF that listened and helped.

However, that is not the norm, and after numerous attempts by so many varied people, who’ve tried working with the LDWF on multitudes of different issues, most all having their respectful attempts to communicate with the LDWF turned into something negative, due to the actions of the LDWF, a definite pattern of behavior has been emerged and been recognized.

All indicators point to a LDWF that does not work well with others, especially those that question their management practices of the PRWMA. With regard to the PRWMA specifically, the LDWF has continually rejected and ignored sound advice from lifetime residents and hunters, refused to maintain habitat for wildlife, refused to provide the public with the basis (facts, data, science, evidence, etc.) for their decisions when asked nicely and professionally, and have repeatedly refused free assistance from qualified volunteers to clear and maintain trails when offered, trails necessary for wildlife habitat.

Why the LDWF takes such a combative position with Louisiana conservationist and hunter is anyone’s guess. Perhaps they simply don’t feel they need to answer to the people that pay their salaries, and believe that they aren’t accountable to the public. Maybe it’s as simple as they’re not doing what they are supposed to be doing and don’t want the public to find out. Your guess is as good as ours.

Whatever their rationalization is for such an antagonistic posture with those that provide the majority of funding for LDWF, collectively this uncooperative attitude toward the public is a huge indicator that there’s something really wrong inside the LDWF. For all of those that have convinced themselves that we have some sort of vendetta with the LDWF over any singular issue, rest assured we don’t, as our challenges with the LDWF are much more pervasive than just one issue, and stem from their numerous negative responses to our offers of assistance and inquires.

Furthermore, I’ll go in the record as saying that we would like nothing more than to be proven wrong in our assessments of the LDWF, and have them answer our legitimate questions, provide us with the public information we’ve requested, restore and maintain wildlife habitat, and work with us to rescue our WMA’s. After all, we’re not in this to match personalities, we’re in this to Save Our WMA’s, and we’re willing to work with anyone that wants to move this in a positive direction.