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Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge re-opens after Hurricane Rita


October 17, 2005

Janet Ertel, 337-828-0092

The Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge re-opens to the public today, Monday, October 17. The Refuge lottery archery deer and small game seasons, originally scheduled to begin on October 1, also re-opens today.

The storm surge from Hurricane Rita had inundated the refuge with water. This water has now gone down and the Refuge access is returning to normal. Many of the waterways on the refuge still have increased salinity levels since the storm; however, the salt in the water is at levels that most wildlife can tolerate. Acting Refuge Manager Janet Ertel reminds the visiting public that although the immediate effects of the storm have passed caution is still important while on the refuge, as some roads are saturated and brush and trees may be down in some areas.

Permitted Refuge hunters are also reminded to pay close attention to hunt season changes instituted by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in response to Hurricane Rita. Area closures by the State wildlife agency automatically cause the same closure on the Refuge.

Established in 2001, Bayou Teche is 9,028 acres of bottomland hardwoods and cypress-tupelo forests. The refuge’s primary purpose is for the management of Louisiana black bears which are federally listed as threatened. Alligators, deer, wading birds, and bald eagles also populate the refuge.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices, and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

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