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Louisiana sets rules for Queen Bess Island, a wildlife refuge where pelicans nest

6 months 4 days 3 hours ago Friday, January 10 2020 Jan 10, 2020 January 10, 2020 5:17 AM January 10, 2020 in News
Source: Associated Press
Queen Bess Island Photo: Henry Cancienne/ Country Roads Magazine

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana is setting rules for a barrier island that's being restored to greatly increase the number of pelicans and other seabirds that can nest there.

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission made the island a wildlife refuge in November and approved rules for it on Thursday.

It's taking comments through March 2 on the rules, which include no hunting, nighttime activities or vehicles ever and no public access during nesting season, from February through September. During that season, fishing would be forbidden between the island and breakwaters built to protect it.

Nearly $10 million in BP oil spill money is restoring the island, which had dwindled to about 5 acres (2 hectares). Work increasing that to 37 acres (15 hectares), should be completed by mid-February, The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said Thursday.

Queen Bess Island was the first place brown pelicans were returned to Louisiana after the pesticide DDT wiped out Louisiana’s state bird in the 1960s.

Despite its small size, it's been Louisiana's fourth-largest brown pelican rookery, producing 15% to 20% of its nests, eggs and chicks, the department said.

About 10 species of colonial waterbirds, including tricolored herons, great egrets and royal terns, nest there. In all, wildlife officials say, the island has averaged about 4,400 nests a year.

Plans call for 30 acres (12 hectares) of pelican habitat and 7 acres (3 hectares) for terns and skimmers, smaller birds that nest on gravel. Contractors also are making walkways for youngsters that can swim but can’t yet fly back up to the island.

People who want to comment can either attend a commission meeting or calling, mailing, or emailing Tommy Tuma. His address is LDWF Wildlife Division, P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA. 70898-9000, his phone number is 225-765-2349 and his email is ttuma@wlf.la.gov.

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