The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department plans to prohibit permanent duck blinds on the Caddo Lake Wildlife Management Area, effective during the 2015-16 waterfowl season to resolve what the agency has said are “public use conflicts” and “natural resource issues.”
A public meeting outlining the decision is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 2 at the Caddo Lake State Park Group Recreation Hall.
The agency will allow duck hunters to continue to use existing permanent duck blinds in area during the upcoming hunting season. Individuals claiming those blinds will have until March 15 to remove them after the season, according to a news release. After that, TPWD will do what it needs to remove them.
“The continued presence of duck blinds on the Caddo Lake WMA is perpetuating a situation that is not conducive to public safety or sustainable resource management,” said Clayton Wolf, TPWD Wildlife Division Director, in the release. “It is an inequitable allocation of public resources and creates conflicts between the traditional public lands waterfowl hunter and those individuals who lay claim to permanent blinds.”
When Caddo Lake WMA was acquired by the state more than 20 years ago, duck blinds that had been a part of the landscape for generations became part of a public resource managed by TPWD. Although no other WMA in Texas permits permanent duck blinds, TPWD recognized the long-standing hunting traditions in the area and allowed an exception at Caddo Lake. No new blind construction was authorized, and wildlife officials thought the situation would resolve itself through attrition. However, the situation has worsened as additional blinds were built, resulting in additional user conflicts.
Because the state owns the 8,128-acre Caddo Lake WMA, including the lake bottom, none of the duck blinds within its boundary can be claimed as private property. Yet, wildlife and law enforcement officials have documented instances in which individuals have bought, sold, traded and claimed inheritance to these permanent fixtures. This, coupled with user confusion about rights to duck blinds has created conflicts that TPWD is unable to amicably resolve.
Materials that are used in blind construction and repair become boating hazards. These include but are not limited to rebar and pipe, and metal and plastic drums. Additionally, items used to secure duck decoys and to construct vegetation exclusion floats are left throughout the year with little to no maintenance. They present hazards to boating and also become floating debris.
“This change will not reduce public hunting opportunities on the WMA,” Wolf said. “Rather, the area will be more available to all public hunters and will provide waterfowl hunting opportunities consistent with all other WMAs. Hunters can boat or walk in, but no one hunter or group of hunters will have preferential rights over others.”