Range and Herd Evaluations

The LDWF manages about 1.4 million acres of Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and Refuges throughout the state. These public lands consist of a wide variety of habitat types. LDWF goals for these lands are to:

  1. provide quality examples of Louisiana habitats
  2. insure viability of these lands' wildlife populations
  3. provide the opportunity for quality outdoor recreational (and commercial when compatible) experience.

Each WMA has a federal-aid management plan developed by Region biologists and deer are important features of most of these plans. Managed deer hunts are held each year to allow the harvest of surplus deer and prevent habitat damage resulting from overbrowsing. Biological data collected from harvested deer provide a basis for assessment of population health. Seasons are generally shorter on public lands than on private lands because WMAs receive higher hunter use over a shorter period of time than private lands. The Forestry Section of the Wildlife Division has developed a forest management plan for each WMA to insure proper management of the forested habitat. These plans in combination with deer browse surveys are used to assess current and predict future deer habitat conditions.

The LDWF also provides assistance to both the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with deer management on their lands. These agencies have different goals and objectives for their lands, but they also conduct managed deer hunts and collect some physical data from harvested deer. These data are submitted to the Deer Program personnel for review. Region and Program biologists conduct habitat surveys on both the Kisatchie National Forest and various federal refuges. Recommendations are made to these two agencies concerning deer habitat, hunting season dates, etc. on an annual basis.

Range and herd evaluations also are done on private lands that are not enrolled in DMAP. The same general activities are conducted on these properties except those evaluations and deer harvest reports may not contain as much detail as the DMAP reports.