APSB may hire officers to check for hunting permits on 16th Section tracts


   Hunters and camp owners on 16th Section property may have to pass through a guarded gate before they are allowed to hunt on the tract, the Avoyelles School1 Board indicated at its Dec. 6 meeting.
   The School Board is considering hiring school resource officers to check to see if those entering the property have the proper permits.
  The checkpoint policy could go into effect as early as this weekend and be in effect through the rest of the hunting season. This would be considered an “extra detail” and would not take the officers away from their assigned school duties.
   School Board President Darrell Wiley raised the idea during discussion of the Section 16 hunting permits. District Attorney Charles Riddle agreed that the action is needed.
   “There are people hunting on 16th Section property who have not purchased a permit,” Wiley told board members. “We need to clean this up because they are driving around the gates and tearing up the property.”
   School resource officers are POST-certified law enforcement officers, allowed to carry firearms. The board contracts with the Sheriff’s Office to provide the officers at three parish high schools to provide extra security.
   The officers will be paid $15 an hour for the time they spend checking for permits. The amount paid the officers will come out of the fees paid for hunting permits.
   Only those hunting on the board’s property are required to have a permit. Those hiking, bird watching, picnicking or passing through the property are not required to have a permit. However, having a loaded gun in their possession will be considered proof of an intent to hunt and will result in a citation for violating the parish ordinance requiring a hunting permit to hunt on board property.
   “We feel the officers could be used on weekends when most people go hunting,” Maintenance Supervisor Steve Marcotte said. “The officers could be there before sunrise to check hunters going on the property. They may also be there in the afternoon when hunters make an evening hunt.”
    The board voted 7-2 in favor of hiring the officers. 
   Mike Lacombe voted against the measure because he believes APSO should provide the permit checks as an in-kind payment in exchange for the use of two board-owned buildings. Shelia Blackman-Dupas voted against the motion saying she needed more information.
Working with LDWF
   Riddle said he is upset with Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agents who have said they will not give tickets as a primary offense to people hunting without permits on 16th Section tracts. Agents have agreed to tack on a “no permit” charge if the hunter is charged with another game law violation.
Riddle told board members he has taken his complaint to the LDWF regional office and came away from that meeting with two options.
   In the short term, LDWF agents will write a report if they encounter someone on a 16th Section with no hunting permit.
In the long run, the issue will go before the LDWF Commission, which will decide whether to adopt the School Board’s policy into its guidelines. If the commission adopts the policy, violations will then be treated as a primary offense.
   Riddle said he doubts LDWF will adopt the policy at its January 2017 meeting, but it could be addressed at the following LDWF Commission meeting.
   If passed, the new policy would take affect for this spring and the fall 2017 hunting season.
  The board passed a resolution officially supporting the LDWF’s incorporation of the board policy into its guidelines by an 8-1 vote with  Blackman-Dupas voting no.