Enforcement

LDWF Agents Participating in Operation Dry Water this Weekend June 26-28

Release Date: 06/25/2015

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Law Enforcement Division (LDWF/LED) agents will take part in Operation Dry Water from June 26-28 with increased patrols for boaters operating or driving a boat while intoxicated (DWI) enforcement and boating safety.

During the Operation Dry Water weekend, LDWF agents will be out in force patrolling state waterways for boat operators whose blood alcohol content exceeds the state limit of .08 percent.

Alcohol can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.  It can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion.  Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion intensify the side effects of alcohol, drugs and some prescription medications.

“Alcohol use and operating a vessel don’t mix.  We want people to treat a boat the same way they would a vehicle when it comes to having a sober operator.” said LDWF Lt. Col. Sammy Martin, the state’s boating law administrator.  “We want people to have fun on the water, but we also want them to come home safely.”

Louisiana had 18 boating fatalities in 2014 with alcohol playing a role in six fatalities or 33 percent.  Nationwide, statistics from 2014 reveal that 21 percent of all boat incident fatalities listed alcohol as a contributing factor.

LDWF agents issued five DWI citations to boat operators during the 2014 Operation Dry Water weekend.

Impaired boaters caught this weekend can expect penalties to be severe.  In Louisiana, a DWI on the water carries the same penalties and fines as on the road and includes jail time, fines and loss of driving and boating operator privileges.

Anyone cited for a DWI on the water or on the road will lose his or her driver's license and boating privileges for the specified time ordered by the judge in the case.  Also, each offense of operating a vehicle or vessel while intoxicated counts toward the total number of DWI crimes whether they happened on the water or road.

In Louisiana a DWI can be issued to anyone operating a moving vessel or vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.  First offense DWI carries a $300 to $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

Operation Dry Water was started in 2009 and is a joint program involving the LDWF/LED, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and the U.S. Coast Guard.  More information is available at www.operationdrywater.org.

For more information, please contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Bowfishermen Guides Arrested For Deer and Alligator Violations In Plaquemines and Jefferson Parishes

Release Date: 06/18/2015

After a Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division investigation, three men turned themselves into authorities for alleged deer and alligator violations in Plaquemines and Jefferson parishes.

On June 16 Blake A. Mitchell, 29, of Gretna, turned himself in to Jefferson and Plaquemines parish authorities.  On June 17 Stephen Black, 19, of Slidell, and Neil Mitchell, 32, of Gretna turned themselves in to Jefferson Parish authorities.

The three men were arrested for failing to tag alligators, taking alligators from an unapproved area, taking alligators without a license, taking or possessing alligators during a closed season, and hunting or taking alligators at night.  Blake Mitchell and Black were also cited for failing to comply with deer tagging requirements.

The case stems from an investigation into illegal commercial taking and pursuing of alligators for profit on guided bow fishing trips with Louisiana Bowfishing Inc. from 2013 to 2014.  A search warrant was issued for Blake Mitchell’s cell phone in May of 2015 after agents received information from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) agents of the illegal activity.

The phone contained photographs of Black taken by Mitchell with numerous alligators in Jefferson Parish.  The photos included date stamps that were out of alligator season and GPS data from unapproved alligator hunting areas.

Through the investigation agents also found Neil Mitchell was involved in the illegal taking of alligators in Jefferson Parish and that Mitchell was conducting the same illegal alligator hunting practice in Plaquemines Parish.  Interviews with customers also indicated the three men commonly take alligators illegally to generate more money.

The phone included photographs of deer killed in Plaquemines and Jefferson parishes that were not reported through the LDWF Deer Tagging Program as required by law.

Each count of failing to tag alligator, taking alligators from an unapproved area, taking or possessing alligators during a closed season, hunting/taking alligators at night brings up to a $950 fine and 90 days in jail.  Hunting alligators without a license carries up to a $500 fine and 90 days in jail.  Not abiding with deer tagging requirements brings up to a $350 fine and 60 days in jail.

Agents participating in the case were Sgt. Adam Young, Senior Agent Joel Cromp and Agent Travis Bartlett along with USFWS Special Agents.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Authorities Rescue 113 People from Flooded Area in Grant Parish

Release Date: 06/16/2015

Authorities Rescue 113 People from Flooded Area in Grant Parish
Authorities Rescue 113 People from Flooded Area in Grant Parish

Search and rescue teams from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), Grant Parish Sheriff’s Office (GPSO) and the Louisiana Air National Guard (LANG) rescued 113 people from a flooded area in Grant Parish on June 14.

The search and rescue teams were alerted around 5 a.m. about stranded citizens following a private land levee breach on the Red River at Louisiana Mudfest just south of Colfax.  Louisiana Mudfest is a private company that hosts all-terrain vehicle mud rides.

The majority of the Louisiana Mudfest property was submerged with quickly rising water leaving over 100 people stranded on a portion of high ground.

LDWF supplied eight agents with seven vessels and LANG provided air support.  The GPSO assisted with coordinating the rescues and helping people onto boats.

A total of 113 people and three dogs were rescued by 10:30 a.m.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Louisiana Operation Game Thief, Inc. Issued $9,500 in Rewards At Meeting

Release Date: 05/27/2015

Louisiana Operation Game Thief, Inc. (LOGT), a Louisiana wildlife crime-stoppers program, awarded $9,500 to diligent citizens statewide at their quarterly meeting on May 23 in Woodworth.

The LOGT board reviewed a total of 21 cases that included public tips from 23 informants.  A total of 31 subjects were apprehended and a total of 236 offenses were written in regards to the reviewed cases.  The LOGT has paid out a total of $368,400 since inception in 1984.

The cases reviewed and awarded money to the public for their assistance consisted of 13 deer cases,  four turkey cases, and the illegal cutting of trees on the Spring Bayou Wildlife Management Area among a few others.

In the Spring Bayou WMA case agents used a public tip to arrest Rick K. Savoy, 48, of Hessmer, on March 6.

Anyone wishing to report wildlife or fisheries violations should anonymously call LDWF’s 24-hour toll free Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-442-2511 or utilize LDWF's new tip411 program.  To use the tip411 program, tipsters can text LADWF and their tip to 847411 or download the "LADWF Tips" iPhone and Android apps from the iTunes or Google Play store free of charge.  Texting or downloading the app enables the public to send anonymous tips to LDWF and lets LDWF respond back, creating a two-way anonymous “chat”.

Users of the app or texters can also send in photos to help support their claim and be used as evidence.  CitizenObserver, the tip411 provider, uses technology that removes all identifying information before LDWF receives the text so that LDWF cannot identify the sender.

LOGT was instituted in 1984 and provides cash rewards for information leading to the arrest of violators of fish and wildlife regulations.  Funds are raised through private donations, court directed contributions and through contributions from cooperative endeavor agreements with organizations such as the National Wild Turkey Federation and Quality Deer Management Association.

To make a donation to the LOGT that can be used for cash rewards, please contact Lt. Will Roberts at wroberts@wlf.la.gov.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at aeinck@wlf.la.gov or 225-765-2465.

LDWF Agent Shot While On Patrol; Listed In Serious Condition; Suspect Captured

Release Date: 05/21/2015

Sgt. Scott Bullitt

A Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agent was shot in the line of duty while on patrol on the Russell Sage Wildlife Management Area in Ouachita Parish.

Around 6:40 p.m. Sgt. Scott Bullitt, 32, of Jonesboro, along with another agent stopped a vehicle at the end of Buckley Hill Road near the Wham Break Boat Launch.  Sgt. Bullitt believed the occupants of the vehicle to be impaired and proceeded to go back to the LDWF patrol vehicle.

While walking back to his vehicle, Sgt. Bullitt was shot in the lower back by the passenger of the vehicle, later identified as Luke Jarrod Hust, 29, of Monroe.  The other agent returned fire.  Hust fled the scene into the woods.  It is unknown if Hust was hit.

The unwounded agent was able to call for help and apprehend the driver of the vehicle, whom authorities don’t believe fired any shots at this time.  The driver was subsequently brought in for questioning.

Around 7 p.m. the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived on the scene and were able to take Sgt. Bullitt to a local Monroe hospital where he is listed in serious condition.

The LDWF Enforcement Division, State Police, Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Monroe Police Dept., and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection set up a perimeter and searched the area for Hust.  At 11 p.m. authorities located and arrested Hust on Timber Lane Drive in Monroe.

“We are praying for the well-being of Sgt. Bullitt and his family,” said LDWF Sec. Robert Barham.  “Also want to give thanks to everyone that helped locate this fugitive so that justice can be served.”

Sgt. Bullitt has been an LDWF agent for over five years and is married with no kids.  He recently received the “Louisiana Highway Safety Commission DWI Award” presented on March 24.  He was selected among statewide agents to receive this award due to his dedication and hard work to make Louisiana waterways and roadways safer for the traveling public by removing impaired drivers.

“This is a sad day for all wildlife and fisheries agents in the country,” said Col. Broussard, head of the LDWF Enforcement Division.  “Our agents travel into remote areas patrolling public lands often and it can be a very dangerous task as we saw tonight.  My thoughts at this time are with Sgt. Bullitt and his family and also the brave men and women that contributed to catching the shooter.”

Louisiana State Police will be the lead investigative agency for this shooting incident.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Arnaudville Man Cited for Poisoning Animals

Release Date: 05/21/2015

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents cited an Arnaudville man on May 6 for allegedly illegally poisoning a coyote, eight vultures and three opossums in St. Martin Parish.

Agents cited Laurant W. Taylor, 71, for intentional concealment of wildlife, taking non-game birds illegally, taking non-game quadrupeds illegally and taking opossums illegally.

Agents began investigating Taylor when they received a complaint about dead birds that appeared to be poisoned along Mike LeBlanc Road.  Upon investigating the complaint agents noticed pig parts spread on the road and shoulder that had a white residue coating the surface.  Agents also located five dead vultures and two dead opossums a short distance from the pig parts.

After collecting the dead animals and pig parts for evidence, agents came into contact with Taylor who was driving his vehicle on the road.  Agents found out that Taylor farmed and hunted most of the surrounding areas.

On April 4 agents returned to the scene and found another three dead vultures, two dead opossums and another site of pig parts.  On April 7 agents learned that the chemical coating on the pig parts and dead animals was carbofuran.

On April 23 agents approached Taylor with the new found evidence of carbofuran.  Taylor admitted to lacing the pig parts with the chemical and spreading the parts out on the road to kill coyotes on March 29.  He said the area where he spread the pig parts was where he commonly hunted rabbits.  Taylor also admitted to finding and removing a dead coyote near the poisoned pig parts on April 1.

After obtaining all evidence, agents cited Taylor for the wildlife violations on May 6.

Intentional concealment of wildlife brings a $900 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.  Illegally taking non-game quadrupeds and non-game birds each brings a $400 to $950 fine and up to 120 days for each offense.  Illegally taking opossums brings a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

Taylor also faces a total of $139.28 in civil restitution for the illegally killed animals.

Agents participating in the case are Sgt. Ryan Faul, Sgt. Brian Theriot, Senior Agent Cullom Schexnyder, Senior Agent Jason Sanchez and Agent Andrew Arton.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Three Men Cited For Oyster Violations In Plaquemines Parish

Release Date: 05/20/2015

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents cited three men for alleged oyster violations in the Empire area of Plaquemines Parish on May 19.

Agents cited Diego Gonzalez, 21, of Bacliff, Texas, Jose Bocanegra, 45, of St. Bernard, and Khal Kim, 23, of Empire, for harvesting oysters from vessels in violation of the state’s oyster harvesting health code.

Agents found Gonzalez harvesting oysters from a vessel without the required tarp to protect oysters from sun and other adverse conditions.  Agents then found Bocanegra harvesting oysters from a vessel that was not following refrigeration requirements for oysters intended for raw consumption.  Finally Kim was caught harvesting oysters without the required Department of Health and Hospitals logbook.

Failing to follow refrigeration requirements for oysters brings a $400 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.  Harvesting oysters without the required logbook and tarp in adverse conditions each carries a $25 fine and up to 10 days in jail for each offense.

Agents seized a total of 161 sacks of oysters and returned them to the water.

Agents participating in case are Sgt. Adam Young, and Agents Travis Bartlett, and Blaine Wagner.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Five Subjects Cited For Illegal Oyster Harvest in Sister Lake

Release Date: 05/19/2015

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents cited five subjects for alleged oyster violations in Terrebonne Parish on May 7.

Agents cited Brent M. Leboeuf, 23; Amberlly C. Leboeuf, 28; and Armando Brunet, 28, all from Houma, Jose Duron, 20, and Tito Bermudez, 22, both from New Orleans, for taking oysters during a closed season.

While on patrol agents observed an oyster vessel enter Sister Lake near dusk.  Due to the numerous complaints of illegal activity on Sister Lake, agents set up surveillance and observed the vessel being used to harvest oysters on the closed seed ground.  The Sister Lake public grounds did not open for the 2014-2015 oyster season.

Agents returned 20 sacks of oysters to the water and seized two dredges and the vessel.

Taking oysters during a closed season brings a $900 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.  Any person convicted of this violation may only harvest oysters from a vessel that employs a vessel monitoring system monitored by LDWF for a period of one year.

Agents participating in the case are Sgts. Bryan Marie and Richard Purvis.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Three Men Convicted for Oyster Violations in Terrebonne Parish

Release Date: 05/19/2015

Three Houma men were found guilty of oyster violations in Terrebonne Parish Division E Court on May 18.

Judge Randy Bethancourt sentenced Samuel Dobson, 35, the captain of the oyster vessel, to pay $1,654.50 in fines, to forfeit his commercial fishing license for 10 years, 120 hours of community service in a litter abatement program and one year of supervised probation.  Judge Bethancourt ordered John Parker III, 25, to pay a $2,629.50 fine and Dylan Parker, 21, to pay a $2,679.50 fine.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents arrested the men for oyster harvesting violations on Dec. 18 in Terrebonne Parish.  Agents arrested the men for taking oysters during a closed season on the Sister Lake Public Oyster Seed Reservation, taking oysters from a polluted area, taking oysters during illegal hours, taking oysters without commercial gear and vessel licenses, and violating the sanitation code (log book).

On Dec. 18 around 8:30 p.m., LDWF agents were patrolling the Sister Lake Seed Reservation when they observed a vessel in the open water of Sister Lake dredging for oysters.  Agents stopped the vessel and found the three men in possession of two sacks of oysters.

Agents seized the vessel, two oyster dredges and returned the oysters to the water.  The men were booked into the Terrebonne Parish Jail.

The Sister Lake Public Oyster Seed Reservation is closed for the 2014/15 season.

Agents participating in this care were Sgt. Thomas Dewitt, Sgt. Brian Marie, Senior Agent Jamie Folse, Agent Richard Bean and Agent Lucas Hidalgo.  Assistant District Attorney Chris Erny prosecuted the case.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Louisiana Safe Boating Week Set For May 16-22

Release Date: 05/14/2015

Media: To schedule a safe boating patrol ride along for a story, please contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

The state of Louisiana has issued a proclamation that recognizes May 16-22 as “Safe Boating Week” in Louisiana, which signifies the beginning of the spring and summer boating season.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will again be reminding all boaters to be safe, responsible and knowledgeable while on the water during this safe boating week.  Safe Boating Week is a time for all boaters to inspect their vessels to ensure that all required safety equipment is on board and that vessels are in good working condition.

LDWF Enforcement Division agents will be out in full force as always during the week to perform boating safety checks and driving or operating a vessel while intoxicated (DWI) patrols.

Each vessel should have enough personal flotation devices (PFD) on board for all occupants and a sober operator.  LDWF regulations also state that anyone 16 years of age and younger must wear a PFD while underway in vessels less than 26 foot long.  For more boating and PFD regulations, please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating.

Alcohol use is another leading cause of boating crash incidents and fatalities on the water.  Alcohol consumption impairs a boater's judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.  The penalties for DWI on the water are the same as on the road.  Anyone cited for a DWI on the water or on the road will lose his or her driver's license and boating privileges for the specified time ordered by the judge in the case.

LDWF also wants to remind anybody born after Jan. 1, 1984 that they are required to successfully complete a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) boating education course to operate a motorboat over 10 horsepower.  LDWF offers these classes free of charge statewide.  For a list of courses, please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating/courses.

Studies have shown that states with a mandatory boating education program have fewer boating incidents that result in fatalities than states that have no boating education program.  States with a boating education program for more than 20 years had 3.67 fatalities per 100,000 registered boats, and states with no boating education program had 6.61 fatalities per 100,000 boats.

LDWF initiated the state's boating education program in 2003 and has certified over 75,000 boaters during that time.  Louisiana has lowered the number of fatalities per 100,000 registered boats from 12 in 2008 to 4.9 in 2013 and 5.9 in 2014.

In 2014 Louisiana reported 18 boating fatalities, which is the second lowest number ever recorded.  In 2013 Louisiana reported 15 fatalities, which was the record low for boating fatalities ever recorded.  So far in 2015 Louisiana has reported nine fatalities.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at aeinck@wlf.la.gov or 225-765-2465.

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