BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY) — The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will run out of money at the end of this fiscal year. Secretary Jack Montoucet is requesting that the Legislature commit general fund dollars and approve a new fee schedule for hunting and fishing licenses to help restore funding. How would we feel the effects if they don’t get some relief?
“Let’s be honest, it’s never a good time to raise prices, but … you don’t wait until your bankrupt to do something,” says Montoucet.
In 2018, Montoucet saw a funding problem coming, and reached out to legislators so the department could raise license fees, something that hasn’t happened since 2000.
Montoucet explains, “They said come back when you run out of money.”
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries manages four refuges, 53 wildlife management areas, and four fish hatcheries to stock ponds and lakes. Their agents do more than patrol and enforcement. They are first responders. They respond in critical situations like hurricanes and the recent ice storm. He says they performed over 800 missions last year.
His department is currently 22 agents short and faces an even greater shortage if they aren’t able to adjust fees and get a financial infusion.
“The only thing we’ve got left to cut is personnel… We’re talking about layoffs, a substantial amount of layoffs,” he says.
Layoffs that could mean an inability to help as needed in crises or for complaints.
Secretary Montoucet and his staff are working on the proposed fee schedule they will submit for consideration in the upcoming legislative session.