Wildlife agents checking boaters this weekend
MAUREPAS - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries was out in full force Saturday as the first big weekend of the boating season kicked off.
Wildlife agents monitored boat traffic on the Amite River while doing boat safety checks. It's part of the Louisiana safe boating week. Agents made sure boaters had the essentials onboard while out on the water.
"We're looking for a wearable life jacket for everybody on board and other safety equipment. We're also checking registrations, and we're also checking the operator of the vessel to make sure that they're not impaired or intoxicated," said agent Garrett Kimble.
Wildlife agents stressed the importance of life jackets to boaters. Anyone 16 years old or younger must wear a life jacket that fits. However, Wildlife and Fisheries encourages everyone to wear one just in case.
Wildlife and Fisheries says Louisiana had a record low of 15 fatalities last year in boating accidents, but four people have died so far in 2014. Agents feel life jacket checks, boating safety course requirements and DWI enforcement helped to lower boating accident deaths in the state.
"You know we take it very serious. We want everybody to have a good time, but at the same time we want everybody to be safe," said Kimble.
Anyone born after Jan. 1, 1984 must complete a boating education course to operate a motor boat over ten horsepower. Agents say states that have that requirement tend to have less boating related deaths. Wildlife agents plan to continue boat safety checks throughout the summer.