One day after Mississippi officials announced closures of three state-run Wildlife Management Areas in the South Delta, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it was delaying the turkey season at Panther Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
The season was to open April 1, but that opening has been delayed until at least April 15. With more rain in the forecast this week, the length of the closure could change as officials monitor the situation.
In a press release early Wednesday, the federal agency said that the closure was in cooperation with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, which on Tuesday issued an executive order to halt hunting at Lake George, Sunflower and Twin Oaks WMAs.
The decisions were based on high water levels from a very wet March that caused backwater flooding conditions that have impacted local wildlife, threatened infrastructure and created a risk to public safety.
As did the MDWFP, the USF&WS said it would be increasing its law enforcement presence in the affected area to “promote public safety and protect natural resources.
Signage and barricades have been placed at several access points throughout the refuge. Visitors are required to adhere to all signs and notifications as they may indicate impassable areas or areas of safety concern. Some areas such as the West Levee Road remain open.
Fishing is allowed during this period, but anglers are urged to use extreme caution due to high water levels.
The Theodore Roosevelt NWR Complex Headquarters office remains open and is located at the Big Twist Area on Panther Swamp NWR, east of the intersection of Hwy 149 and Hwy 16. For any questions regarding general information or closures call (662) 836-3004 or visit online at http://www.fws.gov/refuge/panther_swamp.