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Body of Missing Boater Recovered from the Mermentau River

Release Date: 03/23/2018

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement agents, Acadia Parish Fire and Rescue personnel and Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies, Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies and Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies found the deceased body of a missing boater on the Mermentau River today, March 23.

The body of Bradford Ware, 35, of Crowley, was recovered around 11 a.m. this morning on the Mermentau River on the Acadia Parish and Jefferson Davis Parish border.

The search and rescue crews received notification of the missing boater around 4:30 p.m. on March 22.  According to the operator and the other four passengers in the 18 foot vessel, they were drifting in the river.

Once they drifted close to the point where the Mermentau River intersects with Hwy. 90, Ware leaned backwards and entered the water without a personal flotation device and never resurfaced.

Authorities were notified and arrived on scene around 5 p.m. and searched for Ware until 11 p.m. on March 22.  Authorities then started the search again at 7 a.m. this morning.

Ware’s body was found near where he was reported missing and has been turned over to the Acadia Parish Coroner’s Office.

LDWF will be the lead investigative agency for this fatal boating incident.

Boating Education Lagniappe Day Slated for April 21

Release Date: 03/22/2018

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will be hosting the eighth annual "Boating Education Lagniappe Day" on April 21 at eight different locations across the state.

During Boating Education Lagniappe Day, LDWF will provide instructors for the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) boating education course, NASBLA boating education certification, food and drinks, giveaways and door prizes all free of charge to the public.

LDWF urges the public to register quickly as most places have limited spaces available and registration is on a first come first serve basis.  To register please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating/courses and follow the links to register for one of the eight April 21 classes listed below.

Anybody born after Jan. 1, 1984 must complete a NASBLA approved boating education course and carry proof of completion to operate a motorboat in excess of 10 horsepower.

The course includes information on choosing a boat, classification, hulls, motors, legal requirements and equipment requirements.  The course also covers many navigation rules and charts, trailering, sailboats, canoeing, personal watercraft and more.  Completion of the course will result in the student being issued a vessel operators certification card.

Below is the list of lagniappe class locations:

Webster Parish
LDWF Region 1 Office
9961 Hwy. 80
Minden, LA 71055
Sponsors include Red River Waterway Commission, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bayou Bodcau Office, Bass Pro Shop of Bossier City, and The Boat Shop in Shreveport.

Ouachita Parish
Academy Sports and Outdoors
111 Constitution Dr.
West Monroe, LA 71292
Sponsors include Academy Sports and Outdoors and Johnny’s Pizza House.

Avoyelles Parish
Cottonport Bank Camp
1055 Old River Road
Mansura, LA 71350
Sponsors include Cottonport Bank, Anderson Seamless Gutters and the Louisiana Wildlife Agent’s Association (LWAA)

Iberia Parish
LDWF New Iberia Field Office
2415 Darnall Rd.
New Iberia, LA 70560
Sponsors include Raising Cane’s and LWAA

Calcasieu Parish
LSU AgCenter
7101 Gulf Hwy.
Lake Charles, LA 70607
Sponsors include Beauregard Chapter of Whitetails Unlimited

Lafourche Parish
St. John Volunteer Fire Department
2429 Parish Rd.
Thibodaux, LA 70301
Sponsors include Renovations Hardware of Galliano and LWAA

Tangipahoa Parish
Manchac Fire Department
30221 Hwy. 51
Akers, LA 70421
Sponsors include LWAA and Manchac Fire Department

St. Tammany Parish
St. Tammany Parish Library Madisonville Branch
1123 Main Street
Madisonville, LA 70447
Sponsors include Raising Cane’s and the LWAA

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Three Men Sentenced for Migratory Game Bird Violations

Release Date: 03/08/2018

Three men pleaded guilty to migratory game bird violations and were sentenced in the Eastern District Court in New Orleans on March 3.

Cody Cefalu, 27, of Metairie, Mitchell Messina, 24, of Metairie, and Christopher Littlejohn, 23, of Kenner, were each sentenced to pay a $1,500 fine for violations of the migratory game bird treaty act.

Cefalu, Messina and Littlejohn were also placed on one year of probation during which time they will not be allowed to hunt or enter any National Wildlife Refuge or State Wildlife Management Area anywhere in the United States.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited the three men for migratory game bird violations during the 2016-17 hunting season.

On an enforcement patrol in January of 2017, agents heard multiple shotgun blasts on Oak Island in New Orleans east.  Agents set up surveillance and observed the three subjects actively hunting migratory game birds.

After the hunt, agents identified themselves and made contact with the hunters and found the men in possession of 48 ducks, which is more than twice the daily limit.

Two Men Arrested For Oyster Theft in St. Bernard Parish

Release Date: 03/07/2018

Louisiana Department Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents arrested two St. Bernard men for alleged oyster violations on March 5, 2018 in St. Bernard Parish.

Agents arrested Nicholas Russell, 21, and Dalton Kieff, 21, for unlawfully taking oysters from a private lease and failing to have written permission.

Agents were on patrol south of the MRGO channel when they observed Russell in a vessel actively dredging for oysters in an area not leased to him around 10:30 a.m.

Agents seized a half sack of oysters and returned them to the water.  Agents also seized one oyster dredge and placed a forfeiture order on Russell's vessel.

Agents also found that after talking to the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office that both men had active warrants for their arrests.  Agents then booked the men into the St. Bernard Parish Jail.

Unlawfully taking oysters off of a private lease and failing to have written permission both carry up to a $950 fine and 120 days in jail.

The men could also face having their oyster harvester licenses revoked by LDWF 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 that is equipped with a vessel monitoring device for up to one year.

Four Men Sentenced for Migratory Game Bird Violations

Release Date: 03/07/2018

Four men pleaded guilty to migratory game bird violations and were sentenced in the Eastern District Court in New Orleans on March 3.

Ty Scott, 44, of Belle Chasse, Alan Yedor II, 50, of Port Sulphur, Alfred McDonald II, 42, of Bay Minette, Ala., and Kevin Simmons, 40, of Grand Bay, Ala., were each sentenced to pay a $2,752 fine for violations of the migratory game bird treaty act.

Scott, McDonald, and Simmons were also placed on three years of probation with Yedor receiving four years.  All probation periods contained provisions of no hunting, no migratory bird hunting, and no entering a National Wildlife Refuge anywhere in the United States.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agents cited the four men for migratory game birds violations during the 2016-17 hunting season.

Agents found that the men harvested over 90 ducks and were in excess of the daily limit after hunting in the Venice area.  The men also concealed their actions by creating harvest tags with false information in order to deceive law enforcement officers.

LDWF Enforcement Division Academy to Enroll Up to 24 Cadets for Training

Release Date: 03/06/2018

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ (LDWF) Law Enforcement Division will begin training up to 24 cadets in July of 2018 to bolster the ranks of agents in the field.

The cadets will train at the department’s training facility housed within the Waddill Outdoor Education Center in Baton Rouge.  Successful completion of approximately six months of intensive physical and academic training is required to graduate.

The opening dates that applications will be accepted for the “Wildlife Enforcement Cadet” position are from March 5 to 25.

Interested applicants can apply online through the Department of Civil Service website and must complete the LEAPS 9500 test to qualify for consideration. Please visit the civil service website at http://www.civilservice.louisiana.gov/ for “Wildlife Enforcement Cadet” position and LEAPS 9500 testing application information.

“We are looking for men and women that have a strong work ethic, enjoy the outdoors and have an interest in law enforcement,” said Col. Sammy Martin, head of the Law Enforcement Division.  “Getting the chance to work in the outdoors while upholding conservation laws as well as our other duties makes for a very rewarding experience and career field.”

At the academy, cadets train to enforce the state's recreational boating laws, the state and federal wildlife and fisheries laws, and general law enforcement work on the state's many wildlife management areas.  The academy also covers general law enforcement training required for all state law enforcement officers.

Agents are additionally trained for search and rescue and serve as the lead responders in search and rescue coordination under the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

This class of graduating agents will fill field office vacancies around the state.  Each cadet is assigned to a parish and must reside in that parish upon completion of the academy.

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Monroe Woman Sentenced For Shooting of LDWF Agent

Release Date: 03/02/2018

A Monroe woman convicted of attempted first degree murder on a Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agent was sentenced today, March 2 in District Court in Morehouse Parish.

Amethyst Baird Rathore, 32, of Monroe, was sentenced by Judge Carl V. Sharp of the 4th Judicial District Court to 60 years in prison without the possibility for parole for attempted first degree murder of a police officer for shooting LDWF Senior Agent Tyler Wheeler.  Rathore also received 40 years for obstruction of justice, 10 years for illegal possession of a stolen vehicle and 10 years for illegal possession of a stolen firearm all of which will run concurrently.

“This sentencing will hopefully give Tyler and his family some kind of closure as they continue to work on getting their lives back to normal,” said LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet.  “Tyler has had a long road to recovery from the bullet wounds he suffered and we feel that justice has been served. More than anything, though, I am glad that Tyler is back on the job doing something that he loves.”

Senior Agent Wheeler, 25, was shot four times including once in the head and once in the back by Rathore around 2 a.m. on Jan. 7 on Hwy. 165 between Sterlington and Bastrop in Morehouse Parish.

After numerous surgeries and countless hours of physical therapy, Wheeler was cleared to return to full time duty in late July.

“I would like to personally thank the investigators, prosecutors and judges for bringing justice to Tyler and his family.  We are very happy that the shooter of one of our agents will most likely spend the rest of her life in prison,” said Col. Sammy Martin, head of the LDWF Enforcement Division. “Tyler and his family went through a lot after he was shot and we are beyond thankful to have him back in uniform and continuing his career as an agent.”

District Attorney Steve Tew was the lead prosecutor for the state.

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