$9,000 Reward Offered for Information on Shooting of Endangered Whooping Cranes in Acadia Parish

Release Date: 06/02/2016

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents are looking for leads regarding two endangered whooping cranes that appear to have been shot to death in Acadia Parish.

The cranes were found just south of Rayne off of Hwy. 35 on the morning of May 20.  The cranes were recovered and sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) forensics lab.

Up to $9,000 is being offered by various groups for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the illegal killing of these whooping cranes.  LDWF’s Operation Game Thief program and the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation are each offering a reward of up to $1,000; The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering up to $5,000.  LDWF also received a total of $2,000 from private donations.

Anyone with information regarding these illegal killings should call the Louisiana Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-442-2511 or use LDWF’s tip411 program.  To use the tip411 program, residents can text LADWF and their tip to 847411 or download the “LADWF Tips” app.  The hotline and the tip411 are monitored 24 hours a day.  Upon request, informants can remain anonymous.

LDWF has released 75 whooping cranes since 2011 and are currently tracking 38 whooping cranes.  The cranes in this case were released in December of 2015.

The re-introduced 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 re-introduced population marked the first presence of whooping cranes in the wild in Louisiana since 1950.

LDWF is working cooperatively with the USFWS, USGS, the International Crane Foundation 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 protected under state law, the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Whooping cranes, the most endangered of all of the world’s crane species, were first added to the federal status of an endangered species on March 11, 1967.

Historically, both resident and migratory populations of whooping cranes were present in Louisiana through the early 1940s. Whooping cranes inhabited the marshes and ridges of the state’s southwest Chenier Coastal Plain, as well as the uplands of prairie terrace habitat to the north. Within this area, whooping cranes used three major habitats: tall grass prairie, freshwater marsh, and brackish/salt marsh.  The Louisiana crane population was not able to withstand the pressure of human encroachment, primarily the conversion of nesting habitat to agricultural acreage, as well as hunting and specimen collection, which also occurred across North America. The last bird in southwest Louisiana was removed to a sanctuary in 1950.

Three Terrebonne Fishermen Cited For Oyster Violations

Release Date: 06/01/2016

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents cited two subjects for alleged oyster violations in Terrebonne Parish on May 31.

While on patrol near Bay Moncleus located in Terrebonne Parish agents found a vessel dredging for oysters from a private lease without the lease owner's permission.

Agents cited Jose Florentina Flores-Vega, 38, Jose Felix Flores-Vega, 27, and Jace Rodriguez Cervantes, 27, all from Houma for unlawfully taking oysters from a private lease and failure to have written permission.

Agents returned 15 sacks of oysters to the water and seized the vessel and dredges under an LDWF seizure order.

Unlawfully taking oysters from a private lease brings a $900 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail plus forfeiture of anything seized.  Failure to have written permission carries a $400 to $900 fine and up to 120 days in jail.

The men could also have their oyster harvester licenses revoked by the department for up to one year.  The violators could also be sentenced to perform 40 hours of community service and only be allowed to harvest oysters from a vessel with a vessel monitoring device for up to one year.

Agents involved in the case are Senior Agent Thomas Wolf and Senior Agent Mike Williams.

Louisiana Operation Game Thief, Inc. Issued $9,600 in Rewards At Meeting

Release Date: 05/26/2016

Louisiana Operation Game Thief, Inc. (LOGT), a Louisiana wildlife crime-stoppers program, awarded $9,600 to diligent citizens statewide at their quarterly meeting on May 21 in Woodworth.

The LOGT board reviewed a total of 20 cases that included public tips from informants.  A total of 30 subjects were apprehended and a total of 329 offenses were written in regards to the reviewed cases.

The cases reviewed and awarded money to the public for their assistance consisted of nine turkey cases, eight deer cases, two fish cases and one small game case.

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 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.

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.

Four Cited for Recreational Shrimping Violations

Release Date: 05/23/2016

Louisiana Department Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited four people for alleged recreational shrimping violations on May 21 in Terrebonne Parish.

Agents cited Tony Bella, 28, of Bourg, Percy Michel, 28, of Thibodaux, Necole Hello, 32, of Thibodaux, and Courtney Boquet, 26, of Bourg, for possessing over the legal limit of shrimp and intentional concealment of fish.

After receiving complaints about potential over the limit of shrimping taking place in the Robinson Canal area, agents found the four subjects catching over their limit and removing the catch from the fishing grounds to a nearby residence.

Agents obtained information that Bella and Michel were casting netting for shrimp at Robinson Canal in lower Terrebonne Parish.  The agents also discovered that Hello and Boquet would remove shrimp from the fishing area for Bella and Michel and bring the shrimp to a nearby residence so they would not have over their allotted limit.

Agents made contact with the female subjects at the residence in Montegut and found they had 328 pounds of shrimp.  Agents with the assistance of the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office (TPSO) were able to stop Bella and Michel from cast netting at Robinson Canal.

The recreational limit for shrimp on May 21 was 50 pounds a day per vessel or vehicle.

Agents seized the shrimp and sold them for market value.  Possession of recreational over the limit of shrimp brings a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.  Intentional concealment of fish carries a $900 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.

Agents participating in the case are Senior Agent Dean Aucoin and Thomas Wolf along with the assistance from the TPSO.

Louisiana Safe Boating Week Set For May 21-27

Release Date: 05/20/2016

The state of Louisiana has issued a proclamation that recognizes May 21-27 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 one of the leading causes 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.

In 2015 Louisiana reported 22 boating fatalities.  In 2013 and 2014 Louisiana reported 15 and 18 fatalities, which were the lowest and second lowest boating fatalities ever recorded for Louisiana.  So far in 2016 Louisiana has reported six fatalities.

Four Cited For Shrimping Violations in Plaquemines Parish

Release Date: 05/13/2016

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) enforcement agents cited four subjects for alleged shrimping violations on May 10 in Plaquemines Parish.

Agents cited Eulice J. Ordoyne Jr, 67, of Buras, and Trebor Fabiano, 33, of Belle Chasse, for using skimmers during a closed shrimp season.  Ordoyne was also cited for using improper navigation lights.

Agents found the vessel “Captain Bean” actively shrimping in the Bayou Grand Liard area of Buras around 9 p.m.  Agents seized 60 pounds of shrimp.

Agents then cited Bradon Granger, 19, of Boothville, and Deiontae V. James, 19, of Venice, for also using skimmers during a closed shrimp season.  Granger was also cited for not using any of the required navigation lights.

Agents found these subjects in the Yellow Cotton Bay area of Venice around 9:30 p.m. actively shrimping.  Agents seized 68 pounds of shrimp.

The spring inshore shrimp season is currently closed and not set to open until May 23 at 6 a.m. statewide.

Using skimmers during a closed season carries a fine up to $950 and jail time up to 120 days.  Using Improper or no running lights carries a $50 fine and up to 15 days in jail.

In addition for the first conviction of shrimping during the closed season, the court may revoke or suspend the violator's trawl, skimmer, or butterfly gear licenses for one year from the date of the conviction.  During such revocation or suspension, the violator may be present on a vessel harvesting or possessing shrimp or possessing a trawl, skimmer, or butterfly net only if the vessel is equipped with and employs an operating vessel monitoring system which is accessible to LDWF.  The violator may also have to perform 40 hours of community service.

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

Single Boating Incident Leads to Fatality in Iberville Parish

Release Date: 05/12/2016

Search and rescue crews from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office (IPSO) recovered the body of a Carencro man today, May 12, in Iberville Parish.

The search crews located the missing deceased body of Justin Viator, 31, around 2:30 p.m. from the Whiskey Bay area.

The search and rescue crews responded to a single boating incident around 1 p.m.  Justin Viator was a passenger in a 15 foot aluminum boat being operated by his father.  The vessel struck an Interstate 10 piling between the Ramah and Whiskey Bay Exits sending both men into the water.

The father was picked up shortly after the incident by a passing boater and was transported to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Lafayette.  His injuries are not suspected to be life threatening at this time.

LDWF will be the lead investigative agency for this boating crash incident.  Neither men was wearing a personal flotation device.  LDWF does not suspect alcohol as a contributing factor at this time.

The body of Justin Viator was turned over to the Iberville Parish Coroner’s Office to determine an official cause of death.

Man Cited For Crab Trap Theft in Plaquemines Parish

Release Date: 05/12/2016

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) enforcement agents cited a Slidell man for alleged crab trap theft in Plaquemines Parish on May 11.

Agents cited Broward Barwick, 26, of Slidell, for removing the contents of crab traps that were not owned by him, failing to mark crab traps and theft of crab traps.

Agents set up surveillance on a line of crab traps near Pointe Fienne in Plaquemines Parish and watched Barwick run the line of crab traps and emptied the contents onto his vessel.  The agents inspected this line of traps and found that several were untagged or tagged by different commercial fishermen.

The penalty for removing contents of crab traps, using crab traps without required markings and theft of crab traps carries a up to a $950 fine and 120 days in jail for each offense.

Agents seized multiple crab traps that will be returned to their owners and returned five boxes of crabs to the water.

Agents participating in the case are Senior Agent Gary Pierce and Agent Kyle Haydel.

Agents Arrest Six People for DWI on the Water in Livingston Parish

Release Date: 05/12/2016

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) enforcement agents arrested six boaters for operating a vessel while intoxicated (DWI) on the water in Livingston Parish from May 6 to 8.

The arrests took place on the Maurepas Basin waterway system which consists mainly of the Blind, Amite and Tickfaw rivers.

Agents arrested David Melendez, 48, of Gonzales; Glynn Painter, 63, from French Settlement; Jamie Fuentes, 43, from Denham Springs; Logan Collins, 25, from Winnfield; Justin Pfister, 20, from Destrehan; and Gary Mooney, 33, from Baton Rouge.

A DWI on the water carries the same penalites as a DWI on the road and brings a $300 to $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail for the first offense.  A DWI on the water also includes loss of driving and boating privileges.

The LDWF Enforcement Division is charged with the public's safety of the states waterways and has a zero tolerance for vessel operators operating their vessel while impaired.  As always agents will be out in force on the various waterways throughout the state enforcing boating safety regulations this spring and summer.

LDWF highly recommends a designated operator of a vessel if alcohol will be consumed while boating.

Agents participating in these DWI arrests are Sgt. Randy Lanoux, Sgt. Terry Hicks, Lt. Louis Burnett, Sgt. Todd Lavliolette, Sgt. Carl Armstrong, Senior Agent Dale Wheat, Agent Hunter Pearson, Agent Josh Cooper and Agent Trey Coats.

Two Men Cited for Illegally Taken Alligator in St. Landry Parish

Release Date: 05/04/2016

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents cited two men for alleged alligator hunting violations on the evening of May 2.

Agents cited Todd Rivoire Jr., 20, of Youngsville, and Colt Cahanin, 22, of Breaux Bridge, for taking an alligator during a closed season and intentional concealment of illegally taken wildlife.

Investigating an anonymous tip, agents suspected that Rivoire and Cahanin possessed an alligator taken near Henderson.  Agents were able to make contact with the two men at the residence of Rivoire’s father in Breaux Bridge where agents found a deceased 8-foot alligator hidden in the woods.

The open season for this area generally opens the first Wednesday of September and runs for 30 days.

Taking an alligator during a closed season brings a $400 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.  Intentional concealment of illegally taken wildlife brings a $900 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.

Agents participating in the case are Senior Agent Allan Marbury and Sgt. Cliff Ortis.

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