Parts of Mississippi along the Mississippi River could see the deer season shortened — or at least interrupted — later this week if the Big Muddy keeps rising as quickly as forecast, the Missississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks announced today.
Under Mississippi’s Administrative Code Part 4, Rule 1.5, no person shall take, catch or kill, or attempt to take, catch or kill any wild bird or wild animal except waterfowl within specific areas along the Mississippi River during times of flooding, the agency said.
The rule includes automatic closures of certain areas based on nearby river gauges. Specific gauges, river stages when closures are enacted and areas closed at those levels are as follows (all river stage information provided by the National Weather Service’s riverwatch.noaa.gove website):
• Memphis, Tenn., gauge at 34 feet — Areas closed will be those parts of Desoto, Tunica and Coahoma counties west of U.S. Highway 61 and North of U.S. Highway 49.
Monday’s level was 25.1 feet and is forecast to reach 34 feet by Jan. 1, with a crest of 43.5 on Jan. 9.
• Helena, Ark., gauge at 41 feet — Areas closed will be Coahoma, Bolivar and Washington counties south of U.S. Highway 49, west of U.S. Highway 61 to the intersection of Highway 61 and Mississippi Highway 444, west of Mississippi Highway 1, and North of Highway 82. Monday’s level was 32.8 feet and is forecast to reach 41 feet by Jan. 2, with a crest of 52.5 on Jan. 11.
• Greenville gauge at 48 feet — Areas closed are Washington and Issaquena Counties south of U.S. Highway 82, west of Mississippi Highway 1 and north of Mississippi Highway 14. Monday’s level was 42.4 feet and is forecast to reach 48 feet on Jan. 2, with a crest of 60 feet on Jan. 14.
• Vicksburg gauge at 43 feet — Areas closed will be Issaquena, Sharkey and Warren counties south of Mississippi Highway 14, west of U.S. Highway 61, and north of the Big Black River. Monday’s level was 36.6 feet and is forecast to reach 43 feet on Jan. 3, with a crest of 54 feet on Jan. 16.
Maps of the approximate closure boundaries are at the bottom of this story.
The agency also pointed out that, as waters rise, deer and other wildlife also might be displaced from their normal habitats. As these animals move onto adjacent lands, this will place additional pressure on food sources, according to the MDWFP release.
Supplemental feeding is not recommended in areas that will be inundated with floodwater, the agency said.
Private landowners adjacent to areas inundated with floodwaters may utilize supplemental feeding as permitted by law, rule or regulation, but the MDWFP pointed out that it is illegal to pour, pile or place any supplemental feed directly on the ground.
“The MDWFP will increase its law enforcement presence in the affected areas to promote public safety for residents affected by the rising waters and to enforce the wildlife laws that protect game animals affected by flooding,” the agency stated in its release.
The agency said it will continue to monitor the situation to determine whether or not any seasons need to be suspended or closed, and to provide information to the public to promote safety until conditions improve.