Enforcement

Vessel Operator Arrested for DWI after Boating Crash Incident on Natalbany River that Severely Injured Six-Year-Old Girl

Release Date: 07/11/2013

July 11, 2013 -- Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents today, July 11, arrested a Vicksburg, Miss. man for his alleged role as an operator of a vessel during a boating crash incident that severely injured a six-year-old girl on the Natalbany River.

Agents arrested Anthony Domiono, 40, for operating or driving a vessel while intoxicated (DWI) with two children under 12 years of age, two counts of negligent injury, and reckless operation of a vessel and booked him into the Tangipahoa Parish Jail.

The boating crash incident occurred around 4:45 p.m. on June 9 when Domiono was operating a 22-foot-ski boat that had five passengers while towing a tube with two juveniles crashed into a tree along the bank of the Natalbany River in Tangipahoa Parish.  The incident happened about three miles upstream from where the river merges with the Tickfaw River.

After receiving a call from dispatch, LDWF agents arrived on scene and immediately called for a helicopter to transport a six-year-old girl.  The six-year-old-girl was in the boat at the time of the collision with the tree and suffered major head trauma and needed immediate attention.

The helicopter took the girl to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge where she was listed in critical condition.  The girl has since been discharged from the hospital and it is hopeful she can make a full recovery.

Domiono suffered a broken foot and the other five passengers were treated for minor injuries.

As standard procedure agents took blood from the operator to determine if the operator was impaired.  After receiving the blood test results, it was determined that Domiono had a blood alcohol content (BAC) higher than the legal limit of .08 BAC.

DWI brings a $300 to $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.  Negligent injury carries up to a $1,000 fine and six months of jail per each count.  Reckless operation brings a $200 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

Sgt. Randy Lanoux is the lead investigative agent for this boating crash incident.

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

Reward Increases to $15,000 for Shooting Death of Whooping Crane

Release Date: 06/27/2013

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) officials are still looking for leads regarding a whooping crane that was found shot to death in Red River Parish in April.

The Humane Society of the United States and the The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering $5,000, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation is offering $3,800, LDWF’s Operation Game Thief Program is offering $1,000, the USFWS is offering $1,000, the Whooping Crane Conservation Association is offering $1,000, John Perilloux is offering $1,000, anonymous donors are offering $1,250, the International Crane Foundation, through the restitution money from the South Dakota whooping crane shooting case, is offering $500, the Audubon Nature Institute is offering $250, and the Louisiana Ornithological Society is offering $200.

This brings the total in rewards to $15,000 for anybody that has any information that leads to an arrest and conviction.

LDWF Whooping Crane Biologist Sara Zimorski said, “We have a lot of people and organizations that are very serious about making sure the person that shot this crane is punished for his or her actions.  By increasing the reward amount, we are very hopeful that it will also increase the incentive for anybody with information regarding the shooting of this whooping crane to come forward.”

If any group or person wants to donate funds to increase the reward amount, please contact LDWF Biologist Sara Zimorski at szimorski@wlf.la.gov or 337-536-9400 ext. 4.

To report any information regarding this whooping crane shooting, please call 1-800-442-2511.

The whooping crane was found and recovered from the bank of the Red River about two miles northwest of Loggy Bayou on April 16.  After a necropsy of the crane, it was determined that the bird was shot with a 6.5mm/.264 caliber projectile.

Investigators believe the bird was shot between April 10 and 14.  The whooping crane was a part of LDWF's whooping crane reintroduction program and was fitted with a GPS tracking device.  The last tracking point of the crane moving was on April 10 near where she was eventually found dead on April 16.  The last tracking point received was on April 14 at the location she was found.

This whooping crane was released in Louisiana on March 14, 2011.

LDWF has released 40 whooping cranes since 2011 and currently have 25 whooping cranes they are tracking.  This is the third whooping crane that has been found shot with the previous two having been shot in Jefferson Davis Parish in October of 2011.

The reintroduced whooping cranes came from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, MD, and they were placed in the coastal marsh of Vermilion Parish within LDWF’s White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WCA).  This reintroduced population marked the first presence of whooping cranes in the wild in Louisiana since 1950.

LDWF is working cooperatively with the USFWS, USGS, and the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit to bring the species back to the state.  This non-migratory flock of whooping cranes is designated as a non-essential, experimental population but is still protected under state law, the Endangered Species Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

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

Three Texas Men Cited for Red Snapper Violations

Release Date: 06/27/2013

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) cited three Texas men for allegedly violating federal reef fish regulations on June 19 in the Gulf of Mexico.

Agents cited Oscar Naranjo, 49, of Galveston, Texas, Eustacio Rangel, 51, of Port Isabelle, Texas, and Vincent Longoria, 47, of Palacios, Texas, for being in possession of 42 red snapper.

Agents were on a joint enforcement agreement patrol 50 miles south of Grand Isle in the Gulf of Mexico when they observed an 80 foot vessel trawling for shrimp.  Agents boarded the vessel and performed an inspection of the vessel.

During the inspection, agents located 42 frozen red snapper below the deck inside a large insulated holding box.  The men did not possess a commercial permit that is needed to harvest and sell reef fish under federal quotas and in excess of the bag limits.

Any vessel with shrimp trawls may not exceed the recreational reef fish bag limit, which is two per person with a minimum 16 inches in total length for red snapper.

Agents who are participating in the case are Lt. Joseph Arnaud and Senior Agent Michael Marques Jr.

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

LDWF Agents Participating in Operation Dry Water this Weekend June 28-30

Release Date: 06/26/2013

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Law Enforcement Division (LDWF/LED) agents will take part in Operation Dry Water from June 28-30 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 is always one of the largest contributing factors for boating fatalities in Louisiana and nationwide," said Capt. Rachel Zechenelly, LDWF’s state Boating Law Administrator.  "We want people to have fun on the water, but we also want them to have a sober operator of the vessel for the safety of those in the vessel and everybody else on the water.”

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.

Louisiana had 25 boating fatalities in 2012 with alcohol playing a role in six fatalities or 24 percent.  Nationwide, statistics from 2012 reveal that 17 percent of all boat incident fatalities listed alcohol as a contributing factor.

LDWF agents issued five DWI citations to boat operators during the 2012 Operation Dry Water weekend and 10 DWI citations over the same weekend in 2011.

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.  Second offense DWI brings a $750 to $1,000 fine and between 30 days and six months in jail.  Third offense DWI carries a $5,000 fine and between one and five years 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.

Agents Cite Four Subjects for Recreational Fishing Violations

Release Date: 06/25/2013

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents cited four subjects for numerous recreational fishing violations in Plaquemines Parish on June 23.

Agents cited Nghia Huu Hoang, 33, Loan Huynh, 32, both from Harvey, Thang Van Tran, 38, of Avondale, and Truong Nguyen, 33, of Kenner, for intentional concealment of illegal fish, and red snapper, shark and triggerfish violations.

While on a joint enforcement agreement patrol in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service, agents stopped the four subjects aboard their vessel in Empire.  During the stop, agents were shown a limit of red snapper.

After further investigation, agents discovered two hidden compartments in the bow of the vessel, which contained more red snapper and several sharks.  The subjects were in possession of a total of 40 red snapper, 18 of which were under the minimum size limit of 16 inches, three sharks that were also under the minimum size limit of 54 inches and during the currently closed recreational season, and three triggerfish also during the currently closed recreational season.

Intentional concealment of illegal fish carries up to a $950 fine.  Over limit of red snapper, possessing undersized red snapper, possession of shark and triggerfish during a closed season, and possessing undersized shark each brings up to a $350 fine and up to 60 days in jail for each offense.  In addition to the penalties in court they will also be assessed $983.84 in civil restitution for the illegally taken fish.

Agents participating in the case are Sgt. Adam Young and Senior Agent Jason Gernados.

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

Agents Arrest Six Oyster Fishermen in Terrebonne Parish

Release Date: 06/18/2013

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents arrested six Terrebonne Parish men for alleged oyster violations in Terrebonne Parish on June 14 and 15.

Agents arrested Hunter Daisy, 19, of Theriot, Darren Billiot, 48, of Theriot, and Rocky Rel, 34, of Houma, for unlawfully taking oysters during a closed season from the Sister Lake seed ground and booked them into the Terrebonne Parish Correctional Facility on June 14.  On June 15, agents arrested Santiago Martinez, 50, of Houma, Luis Carbajal, 22, of Chauvin, and Jose Catarino, 28, of Theriot, for taking oysters from an unapproved area in Bayou Sauveur and booked them into the Terrebonne Correctional Facility.

Agents were working a complaint of subjects taking oysters from the Sister Lake seed ground and observed a vessel actively dredging in the closed area.  Agents made contact with the three men in the vessel and were able to seize and return eight sacks of oysters to the water.

While working complaints of subjects taking oysters from a polluted area in Bayou Sauveur, agents observed a vessel actively taking oysters from an unapproved area.  Agents made contact with the three men in the vessel and were able to seize and return four sacks of oysters to the water.

Taking oysters from an unapproved area carries a fine between $400 and $950 and up to 120 days in jail.  Taking oysters during a closed season carries a fine between $100 and $350 and up to 60 days in jail.

Any person convicted of these violations may for one year after the date of such conviction only harvest oysters from a vessel that employs a vessel monitoring system.  Access to the monitoring system shall be granted to LDWF.

Agents involved in the cases were Senior Agents Stephen Rhodes and Dean Aucoin, and Sgt. Bryan Marie.

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

Ferriday Man Arrested for Illegal Alligator and Drug Possession

Release Date: 06/11/2013

(June 11, 2013) - Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents arrested a Ferriday man on June 10 in Concordia Parish for illegal alligator and drug possession.

Agents arrested Michael P. Smith, 37, on four counts of possession of an alligator during a closed season, possession of crystal meth, possession of drug paraphernalia and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  Smith was booked into the Concordia Parish Jail.

Agents were patrolling the Old River levee in Ferriday and found Smith and his juvenile son walking up the levee.  After checking Smith, agents found an alligator head in a trash bag.  Agents then found a decapitated 10 foot alligator on the bank not far from where Smith and his son were located.

Agents and Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) deputies were able to secure a search warrant to search Smith’s vehicle and residence.  Agents found one fresh alligator head in his vehicle and two fresh alligator heads in his residence.  During the search, agents also found crystal meth and drug paraphernalia in Smith’s house.

Possession of an alligator during a closed season brings up to a $400 to $950 fine and 120 days in jail for the first offense, up to a $750 to $950 fine and 180 days in jail for the second offense and between $1,000 to $5,000 in fines and 180 days to two years in jail for each subsequent offense.

Contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile carries up to a $500 fine and six months of jail.  Possession of crystal meth brings up to a $5,000 fine and five years in jail.  Possession of drug paraphernalia carries up to a $500 fine and six months in jail.

Participating in the case were LDWF Senior Agents Joseph Merrill and Robert Mayo and two CCSO deputies.

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

Six Year Old Girl in Critical Condition after Boating Incident on Natalbany River

Release Date: 06/10/2013

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents are investigating a boating incident that took place on the Natalbany River in Tangipahoa Parish on June 9.

Around 4:45 p.m. a 22 foot ski boat that had five passengers while towing a tube with two juveniles crashed into a tree along the bank of the Natalbany River.  The incident happened about three miles upstream from where the river merges with the Tickfaw River.

After receiving a call from dispatch, LDWF agents arrived on scene and immediately called for a helicopter to transport a six year old girl.  The six year old girl was in the boat at the time of the collision with the tree and suffered major head trauma and needed immediate attention.  The helicopter took the girl to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge where she is still listed in critical condition.

The operator of the vessel suffered a broken foot and the other five passengers were treated for minor injuries.

LDWF will be the lead investigative agency for this boating crash incident.  As standard procedure agents took blood from the operator to determine if the operator was impaired.  It takes up to four weeks to receive the blood test results from the lab.

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

LDWF Names New Chief of Enforcement Division

Release Date: 06/06/2013

LDWF Names New Chief of Enforcement Division

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) promoted Jeff Mayne to colonel, which is the highest ranking position in the Enforcement Division.  Col. Mayne takes over for the recently retired Col. Winton Vidrine, who served the department for 43 years of which the last 25 years were as colonel.

Col. Mayne, 42, of Baton Rouge, graduated from the LDWF cadet academy in 1991 and has been an agent for 22 years.  In 2008, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and has served as an assistant chief since that time.  Col. Mayne served as the department’s legislative liaison from 1999 to 2011 and the state’s boating law administrator since 2008.

“The department’s law enforcement division will be in good hands with Col. Mayne at the helm.  He is a seasoned veteran who has a lot of experience to take over such an important position,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham.  “He has served time as an agent patrolling the outdoors and waterways upholding conservation laws.  He has also served as legislative liaison for the department and has worked during traumatic events such as hurricanes and the oil spill in the gulf.”

In 1997, Col. Mayne was honored as LDWF’s Outstanding Agent of the Year.  He also received the LDWF Chief’s Award in 2001 and a state civil service Charles Dunbar award in 2011 for his civil service career.

Col. Mayne earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Louisiana State University (LSU) in 2003 and his Masters of Public Administration in 2011 also from LSU.

“I’m very honored to be promoted to such a prestigious position and will continue to advance the Enforcement Division as we take on new challenges and missions in the future,” said Col. Mayne.  “We will continue to uphold conservation game laws as well as perform search and rescue missions after hurricanes, maritime security protecting our vital ports and continue to put an emphasis on boating safety.”

Col. Mayne serves on the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Law Enforcement Committee, Joint Terrorism Task Force Executive Board for the U.S. Dept. of Justice, Louisiana State Analytical and Fusion Exchange Executive Steering Committee, National Marine Fisheries Service Joint Enforcement Advisory Committee, Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council’s Law Enforcement Advisory Panel, Keep Louisiana Beautiful Advisory Board, Louisiana Seafood Industry Advisory Board, Louisiana Crab Task Force, Saltwater Recreational Fishing Task Force, Louisiana Seafood Certification Steering Committee, National Association of Boating Law Administrators, and the National Safe Boating Council.

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

Chief of LDWF’s Enforcement Division Retiring

Release Date: 06/05/2013

Chief of LDWF’s Enforcement Division Retiring

After more than 43 years of service to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division, Col. Winton Vidrine, 69, of Washington, has announced his retirement and will be leaving the department effective June 7, 2013.

In January of 1970, Vidrine was hired as an LDWF Enforcement Division agent.  Vidrine reached the highest rank of colonel in 1988 and served the last 25 years as the division’s chief of enforcement at the Baton Rouge headquarters office.

“We wish the best to Col. Vidrine in his retirement years.  He has certainly deserved his retirement for all of the years he has served the state of Louisiana.  I’m proud to say that I was able to work with him these past years,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham.  “He was instrumental in many programs and initiatives that improved the enforcement division over the years that have also benefitted conservation of our outdoor resources.”

When Vidrine started there was no formal training for LDWF agents and he was put out in the field on his first day in civilian clothes, driving his own truck and carrying his personal pistol.  He received his Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certification in the fall of 1970.  Vidrine worked out of the Opelousas office mostly working boating, night hunting and fish shocking cases.

In 1972, Vidrine was instrumental in creating the Louisiana Wildlife Agents Association to help organize agents statewide into a collective unit.  Vidrine was awarded as the LDWF “Outstanding Agent of the Year” in 1975.

After his hiring, Vidrine quickly rose through the ranks achieving captain of the Opelousas office in 1976 and then being promoted to major in 1978 overseeing the Baton Rouge and Opelousas offices.  In 1980, Vidrine was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and worked out of the New Orleans office.

“I’ve had a great career that I wouldn’t have traded for anything,” said Col. Vidrine.  “Just becoming a game warden was satisfying by itself as I was an avid hunter and fisherman and got the chance to uphold rules and regulations that conserved our outdoor resources for my grandkids and their grandkids to enjoy.”

After becoming Colonel in 1988, Vidrine's top priority for the enforcement division was training.  Beginning in 1990, he implemented a more tailored training program for LDWF Wildlife Cadets that included classes on the laws for fisheries and wildlife management, driving while intoxicated detection, migratory game bird and fish identification, boating, and search and rescue training.  These changes increased the training a cadet receives from 12 weeks to over 20 weeks.  In 2001, LDWF initiated their first fully accredited and POST certified Cadet Academy that was completely taught and ran by LDWF agents.

Vidrine also oversaw every agent being issued a pistol beginning in the 1990s, initiation of the Maritime Search and Rescue course in the 2000s, the Maritime Special Response Team in 2010, and the first state to be accredited in the National Association of Safe Boating Law Administrator's Boat Operation and Training program in 2011.

“I’ve seen a lot of changes to the enforcement division in my 43 years of service,” said Vidrine.  “Thankfully, I was able to be in a position to make a lot of changes over the years that made us a more professional, efficient and improved law enforcement agency.”

Vidrine will be retiring back to his farm in Washington with his wife of 50 years, one child, two grandkids and two great-grandkids.

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

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