At least three state-run wildlife management areas in Mississippi’s Delta will be included in hunting season closures expected later this week due to a rapidly rising Mississippi River.
Chad Dacus, wildlife bureau director for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Park, said Tuesday morning that Mahannah WMA, Shipland WMA and Great River Road WMA are inside the areas soon to be impacted by flooding.
On the Gulf Coast, the Pascagoula River WMA and neighboring Ward Bayou WMA have already closed due to flooding on the Pascagoula River.
Could more be added, including more inland areas along tributaries?
“Yes it is possible,” Dacus answered in a text message. “Particularly in the South Delta if we get any more rain.”
Under Mississippi law, the state wildlife agency has the power to close seasons to protect wildlife displaced or impacted by floodwaters. On Monday, the MDWFP announced that when the river reached flood stages at four gauge sites — Memphis, Tenn.; Helena, Ark.; Greenville; and Vicksburg — it would trigger closures in certain areas of eight counties.
Those counties include Desoto, Tunica, Coahoma, Bolivar, Washington, Issaquena, Sharkey and Warren.
The northern-most gauges — at Memphis, Tenn., and Helena, Ark. — are forecast to hit their triggering numbers by New Year’s Ev, while Greenville and Vicksburg are expected to follow on Friday or Saturday.
Dacus said Delta closures would require the relative gauges reach 2 feet below flood stage before seasons would reopen in impacted areas. River forecasters can only predict levels based on rainfall expected 48 hours out, meaning their predictions do not include any rain that falls more than two days from the forecast date.
More rain falling outside the 48-hour period could extend — and worsen — flooding.
The current predicted crest at Vicksburg is at 54 feet on Jan. 16.