Enforcement

Search Crews Looking for Potential Missing Boaters

Release Date: 08/01/2017

Search and rescue crews are currently searching for possible missing boaters in Lake Pontchartrain.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) enforcement agents recovered an overturned 12 foot flat boat with trolling motor, ice chest and various other debris related to a boating incident this morning, Aug. 1 near the Hwy. 11 bridge.

Search crews with the New Orleans Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard, Louisiana State Police and the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office are also participating in the search.
 

LDWF Agents Rescue Three People from Burning Trailers

Release Date: 08/01/2017

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents rescued three people and a dog from a fire inside a trailer park in St. Tammany Parish on July 29.

LDWF Sgt. Keith Francis and Corporal Richard Clark were on patrol when they observed a trailer on fire inside Bob’s Trailer Park off of Hwy. 190 on the eastern side of Slidell around 10:45 p.m.  Agents drove into the trailer park and notified the St. Tammany Parish Fire District 1.

The agents noticed that the burning trailer was padlocked from the outside and were informed that no one was inside the trailer, which was completely engulfed in flames.  Due to the heat and size of the fire, agents observed that both trailers adjacent to the fire were smoking, melting and beginning to catch fire.

Agents warned the occupants of the two adjacent trailers about the fire.  Agents rescued an elderly woman and a man and his dog from one of the trailers and an elderly man from the other trailer.

Agents advised all residents to move their vehicles away from the fire and park them in an area that would not block the fire department.  Firefighters responded quickly and put out the fire before additional property was damaged.  No one was injured in the incident.

The St. Tammany Parish Fire District 1 are investigating the cause of the fire.

Illegal Shrimping Investigation Leads to Flight from Officer and Illegal Purchasing of Fish Charges

Release Date: 07/28/2017

A Lafourche Parish man turned himself into authorities on July 27 a week after fleeing from Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents.

Mel Guidry, 37, of Montegut, turned himself into Lafourche and Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Offices on outstanding warrants for using butterfly nets during a closed season; taking commercial fish without a commercial license, commercial gear license and commercial vessel license; failing to tag butterfly nets while unattended; improper running lights; misrepresentation during issuance of a misdemeanor; flight from an officer; and failing to complete trip tickets by a fishermen.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) enforcement agents responded to a complaint of a subject using a butterfly net during the closed shrimp season in Lafourche Parish on July 20.  Agents observed Guidry around 8:30 p.m. that night place the net in the water to catch shrimp and leave the net unattended.  At approximately 11:30 p.m. agents observed Guidry approach the net with improper running lights and begin removing the net from the water.

Agents made contact with Guidry whom subsequently gave the agents a false name.  Guidry then jumped from the agents patrol vessel into the marsh and swam away.  The agents then seized the net and vessel that Guidry was using with approximately 30 pounds of shrimp.  During the investigation agents learned that Guidry was not licensed to fish the net and the net was not properly tagged to be left unattended.

Agents also learned that Guidry was selling his catch to Point Aux Chene Kayak Rentals in Terrebonne Parish owned by Lisa Mullen, 56, of Montegut.  Agents further found that Mullen was not keeping records of the catch and not reporting the proper paperwork to LDWF.  Mullen admitted to buying shrimp from Guidry to sell to her customers as bait shrimp.  Agents cited Mullen for buying commercial fish from an unlicensed fisherman, failing to maintain records and failing to report monthly fish data.

Guidry already had two outstanding warrants in Terrebonne Parish for failure to pay child support.  Agents contacted the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office (LPSO) and the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office (TPSO) and made them aware of Guidry's additional warrants.

On July 25, the LPSO made contact with Guidry and once again he fled and escaped.  On July 27, Guidry contacted the LPSO and a patrol unit picked him up and booked him into the Lafourche Parish Jail for his outstanding warrants.

Using butterfly nets in a closed season carries up to a $950 fine and 120 days in jail plus forfeiture of anything seized.  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.

Taking commercial fish without a commercial license, gear license and vessel license each brings a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.  Failing to tag nets left unattended and failing to complete trip tickets each carries a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.  Improper running lights brings up to a $50 fine and 15 days in jail.

Flight from an officer brings a $150 to $500 fine and up to six months in jail.  Misrepresentation during the issuance of a misdemeanor carries up to a $500 fine and six months in jail.

Buying commercial fish from an unlicensed fisherman brings a $350 to $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail.  Failing to report monthly fish data and maintain records each carries a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

LDWF agents involved in the case are Lt. Joseph Arnaud, Sgt. Richard Purvis, Sgt. Bryan Marie, Corporal Dean Aucoin and Senior Agent Michael Williams.

Three People Arrested for Illegal Drug Possession in Webster Parish

Release Date: 07/14/2017

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents made multiple arrests on July 8 for alleged drug possession charges in Webster Parish.

Agents arrested Kenneth Brewer, 32, of Minden, Pete Talton, 49, of Minden, and Joey Burton, 40, of Arcadia, for possessing suspected marijuana, methamphetamine and assorted drug paraphernalia.  Brewer was also cited for possession of suboxone.

Agents made contact with the three subjects at Peterson’s Landing in Leton.  Two of the subjects were outside of a vehicle at the launch while one sat inside the vehicle with the door open.

Agents made contact with all three subjects and noticed an odor of marijuana was emitting from inside the vehicle.  A background check showed that all three subjects had an extensive criminal history for prior drug charges.

An inspection of the suspects and the vehicle produced one bag of suspected marijuana, two bags of suspected methamphetamine, one partially smoked marijuana cigarette, one glass pipe used to smoke methamphetamine, one package of uboxone, one spoon used to heat up methamphetamine and one pill bottle containing suspected methamphetamine residue inside.

All three subjects were placed under arrest and booked into the Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center.

Possession of suboxone brings up to a $15,000 fine and 10 years in jail.  Possession of methamphetamine carries up to a $5,000 fine and five years in jail.  Possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia each brings up to a $500 fine and six months in jail.

Agents participating in the case are Sgt. Jared McIver, Lt. Kenneth Balkom, Senior Agent John Blalock and Agent Justin Greer.

Two Men Cited for Summer Time Night Hunting Deer Violations in St. Landry Parish

Release Date: 07/13/2017

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Agents cited two St. Landry men for alleged deer hunting violations in St. Landry Parish on July 12.

Agents cited Christian Cannatella, 21, and Lucas Leblanc, 21, for taking deer during a closed season, taking deer during illegal hours with aid of artificial light, hunting deer from a moving vehicle and hunting deer using illegal methods.

Agents were notified by an anonymous informant of illegal night hunting activity near Melville.  Upon investigating the tip, agents discovered that Cannatella and Leblanc allegedly harvested one antlerless deer the morning of July 12.

Agents learned the two men were out spotlighting deer on a Utility Task Vehicle and used a .17 caliber rifle to harvest an antlerless deer.

Agents seized the .17 caliber rifle and the cleaned deer meat.  The deer meat was later donated to a local charity.

Hunting deer during a closed season and during illegal hours with artificial light each carries a $900 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.  Hunting from a moving vehicle and taking deer using illegal methods each carries a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

Cannatella and Leblanc may also face civil restitution totaling $1624.61 for the replacement value of the illegally taken deer.

Agents involved in the case are Sgt. Ryan T. Faul and Senior Agent David Boudreaux.

Gueydan Man Pleaded Guilty for Illegal Shooting of Whooping Crane in Federal Court

Release Date: 07/11/2017

A Gueydan man pleaded guilty on July 7 in Federal Court in Lafayette for migratory bird violations that occurred in Vermilion Parish.

Judge Carol B. Whitehurst of the Western District Court accepted the guilty plea of Lane T. Thibodeaux, 21, for taking a whooping crane for which there is no season, taking migratory game birds out of season, from a moving vehicle and without a Louisiana hunting license, and wanton waste of migratory game birds.  Judge Whitehurst sentenced Thibodeaux to serve 45 days in Federal Prison for each of the five convictions to run concurrently and a $2,500 fine.  He must pay his fine in full within one year or he will have to serve 45 days in Federal Prison for each of the five convictions to run consecutively.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) enforcement agents began investigating a whooping crane that was found in a field just north of Gueydan off of Zaunbrecher Rd. with a gunshot wound in its left leg on Nov. 4, 2014.  The crane was transported to the LSU Veterinary School where it had to be euthanized because of its gunshot injury.

Through the course of the investigation agents were able to ascertain information from confidential informants that told them Thibodeaux was the person that shot the whooping crane.  Agents were able to obtain a search warrant for Thibodeaux’s phone and then collect videos and photos showing Thibodeaux shooting migratory game birds from a vehicle off of a public road near the area where the whooping crane was found.  The phone also contained information of Thibodeaux being involved in illegal narcotic activity, which was turned over to the Vermilion Parish Narcotics Task Force.

During the investigation agents also learned that Thibodeaux threatened the informants to not give any information to LDWF agents about the whooping crane he shot.  Agents arrested Thibodeaux on charges of felony witness intimidation on March 4, 2015 and those charges are still pending at this time.

The crane in this case had been released in January of 2014.  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.

The confidential informants will split a reward for their information that led to the arrest and conviction of Thibodeaux.  The reward money consisted of $1,000 each from LDWF’s Operation Game Thief program and the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation; $5,000 from The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust; and $3,000 from anonymous donors.

The lead LDWF investigative agent for this case was Senior Agent Derek Logan with assistance from Lt. Beau Robertson and Sgt. David Sanford.  The Louisiana State Police Crime Lab and PC Recovery in Lafayette assisted with collecting the data from the seized cell phones.  The Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office also assisted with the execution of warrants.

Louisiana Shrimp Season to Close July 14 in the Majority of Inside Waters

Release Date: 07/10/2017

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced the 2017 spring inshore shrimp season will close at 6 p.m. on Friday, July 14 from the Louisiana/Mississippi state line westward to the eastern shore of the Mississippi River and from Freshwater Bayou canal westward to the Louisiana/Texas state line except for the following waters: Lake Pontchartrain, Chef Menteur and Rigolets Passes, Lake Borgne, the Louisiana portion of Mississippi Sound, and the open waters of Breton and Chandeleur Sounds.

For a map detailing these closures please click here.

All state outside waters seaward of the Inside/Outside Shrimp Line, as described in R.S. 56:495 will remain open to shrimping until further notice. 

Data collected in recent weeks by LDWF biologists indicate increased quantity, distribution and percentage of small, juvenile white shrimp within these waters. The decision to close these waters was made to protect these developing shrimp and provide opportunity for growth to larger and more marketable sizes. The areas that remain open will continue to be monitored and will close when the presence of smaller white shrimp make it biologically inappropriate to remain open.  

LDWF would also like to remind shrimpers there is a possession count on saltwater white shrimp taken in either inside or outside (offshore) waters of Louisiana of 100 count (whole shrimp per pound). This size restriction applies to the taking or possession of such shrimp aboard a vessel, EXCEPT from Oct. 15 through the third Monday in December, when there is no possession count on saltwater white shrimp taken or possessed. When more than 50 percent by weight of the saltwater shrimp taken or possessed is seabobs or brown shrimp, then the maximum allowable amount of undersized white shrimp taken or possessed should not exceed 10 percent by weight of the total saltwater shrimp taken or possessed.  If compliance issues develop, remaining open areas can be closed by the Secretary of the Department.

For more information, contact Jeff Marx at (337) 373-0032 or jmarx@wlf.la.gov .

Agents Cite Three Subjects for Shrimping Violations

Release Date: 07/07/2017

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) enforcement agents cited multiple people for alleged shrimping violations on July 7 in Yellow Cotton Bay in Plaquemines Parish.

Agents cited David Pitre Jr., 45, of Empire, Tommy Berthelot, 39, of Buras, and Jessica Frelich, 30, of Buras, for using skimmers during a closed shrimp season.

Agents found the subjects actively skimming for shrimp in Yellow Cotton Bay this morning, July 7.  During the stop agents seized 170 pounds of shrimp.

Using skimmers in a closed season carries up to a $950 fine and 120 days in jail plus forfeiture of anything seized.

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 involved in the case are Senior Agents Travis Bartlett and Agent Johnathan Boudreaux.

LDWF Agents Make Five DWI’s on the Water During Operation Dry Water Weekend

Release Date: 07/05/2017

In support of Operation Dry Water, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) arrested five boaters statewide for alleged driving or operating a vessel while intoxicated (DWI) from Friday, June 30 to Sunday, July 2.

On July 1 agents arrested Bryce Busby, 23, of Monroe, on the Ouachita River in Ouachita Parish; Timothy Leblanc Jr., 21, of Jarreau, on False River in Pointe Coupee Parish; Christopher Edmond, 42, of Maurepas, on the Amite River in Livingston Parish; and Christopher Ferachi, 21, of Baton Rouge, on the Tickfaw River in Livingston Parish all for DWI on the water.

Agents also arrested Paul Dehart, 47, of Morgan City, on Grassy Lake in St. Martin Parish on July 2 for DWI on the water.

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 while impaired.  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.

LDWF Agents Participating in Operation Dry Water This Weekend

Release Date: 06/29/2017

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Law Enforcement Division (LDWF/LED) agents will take part in Operation Dry Water from June 30 to July 2.

During the Operation Dry Water weekend, LDWF agents will be out in force patrolling state waterways for impaired boat operators.

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 24 boating fatalities in 2016, with alcohol playing a role in three fatalities or 12.5 percent.  Nationwide, statistics from 2016 reveal that 15 percent of all boat incident fatalities listed alcohol as a contributing factor.

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 while impaired.  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.

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