Two Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) enforcement agents were honored at the March 3 Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting held in Alexandria.
Shikar-Safari Club International presented their 2015 Conservation Officer of the Year award for Louisiana to LDWF Sgt. Joey Melton, of Natchitoches. The Shikar-Safari award recognizes an agent from each state for outstanding efforts in conservation law enforcement.
Sgt. James Hagan, of Oak Grove, received the Louisiana Waterfowl Enforcement Officer of the Year award from the Mississippi Flyway Council. The Mississippi Flyway Council recognizes law enforcement officers from each state who make outstanding contributions to the protection of waterfowl.
Sgt. Melton has been an LDWF agent for eight years and mainly patrols Natchitoches Parish. Sgt. Melton also received the LDWF Enforcement Division’s “2015 Agent of the Year” award. Sgt. Melton was recognized for his high case load, being a team player and public outreach through boating and hunting safety.
Sgt. Hagan patrols Morehouse, East and West Carroll and Richland parishes and has been an agent since 2001. Sgt. Hagan was honored for his participation in numerous illegal waterfowl hunting investigations involving illegal hours shooting, taking over the limits of ducks, selling migratory game birds, and Lacey Act violations.
A Hessmer man was found guilty on March 2 in 12th Judicial District Court in Avoyelles Parish for his part in the cutting down of trees on the Spring Bayou Wildlife Management Area (WMA).
Judge William Bennett found Keith Savoy, 49, guilty of simple criminal damage to property with the value of damage being between $500 and $50,000. Savoy cut over 100 trees in the northeast corner of Spring Bayou WMA to block navigable access to an area known as the “fields” where he regularly hunted.
Avoyelles District Attorney Charles Riddle and Assistant D.A. Tony Salario prosecuted the case. Savoy will be sentenced on April 11.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents arrested Savoy on March 6, 2014 at his residence for criminal damage to state property after a four month investigation.
The trees Savoy cut down ranged from 10 inches to 30 inches in diameter and up to 50 foot tall including cypress, oak and willow trees.
Agents involved in the case are Lt. John Volentine, Sgts. Gabe Guidry, Chad Watts and Bear Fletcher, and Senior Agents Doug Anderson Jr., Jay Callegari, Heath Wood, Kurt Hatten, Dale Wheat, Kenny Robertson and John Hattaway. Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputy Matthew Smith and Detective Jeremiah Honea also assisted in the case.
East Baton Rouge
St. John the Baptist
West Baton Rouge
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited three men for alleged migratory bird hunting violations on Feb. 20 in Acadia Parish.
Agents cited Lane A. Williams, 28, of Iota, Richard A. Williams, 55, of Jennings, and Heath E. St. Germain, 38, of Welsh, for hunting ducks during a closed season, intentional concealment of illegally taken game and using leadshot in area designated as stealshot. Lane Williams was also cited for operating an unregistered motorboat. St. Germain was also cited for hunting ducks without a state duck license and without a federal duck stamp.
On Feb. 20 agents received a compliant about the three men hunting ducks on Bayou Nezpique. Agents set up surveillance on the bayou where they observed the three men in a vessel shooting at ducks on the bayou. The three men continued down the bayou then went to the bank where they placed a black trashbag.
Agents made contact with the three men after they got to the bank and to their vehicle. During the hunting compliance checks, agents found they all possessed lead shot and St. Germain did not possess a state duck license or a federal duck stamp.
Agents located the black trashbag containing 13 ducks, which included six mallards, three woodducks, three teal and one gadwall.
All three subjects admitted to shooting ducks and hiding them on the bank before returning to their vehicle. The vessel they were hunting out of didn’t have proper registration.
Intentional concealment of illegally taken game carries a $900 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail. Hunting ducks during a closed season, using leadshot in an area designated as stealshot and hunting ducks without a federal stamp each brings a $400 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail. Hunting ducks without a state duck license and operating an unregistered vessel each carries up to a $50 fine and 15 days in jail.
The three men may also face a total of $346 in civil resititution for the replacement value of the illegally taken ducks.
Agents involved in the case are Senior Agent Buddy Murray, Sgt. Wendel Vaughn, Lt. Jesse Savoie and Senior Agent Steve Vidrine.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited two men for alleged deer hunting violations on Feb. 27 in Avoyelles Parish.
Agents cited Ashton Rachal, 19, and Travis J. Bordelon, 19, both of Moreauville, for taking deer during illegal hours, possession of illegally taken deer, taking deer from a public road, hunting from a moving vehicle, discharging a firearm from a public road, and failing to comply with deer tagging requirements. Bordelon was also charged with taking over the daily limit of deer, taking over the antlered deer seasonal limit, and hunting without a big game license.
Agents started a two month long investigation beginning in early January after receiving numerous night hunting complaints on Rachal and Bordelon. During the investigation, agents learned that Bordelon harvested four bucks putting him one over the seasonal antlered limit including harvesting two bucks on the same night putting him one over the daily limit of antlered deer. Agents also learned that Rachal harvested two does.
All six deer harvested by Rachal and Bordelon were during illegal hours off of Bayou Natchitoches Road near Bordelonville along the Red River in January when the river was high.
When agents contacted Rachal and Bordelon on Feb. 27 they admitted to the illegal hunting activity. Agents seized a .270 caliber rifle and a set of eight point antlers.
Hunting deer during illegal hours brings a $900 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail. Possession of illegally taken deer carries a $400 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail. Hunting from a public road, failing to comply with deer tagging requirements and discharging a firearm from a public road each carries a $100 to $350 fine and up to 60 days in jail. Possessing over the seasonal limit and daily limit, and hunting from a moving vehicle each brings a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.
The two men may also face up to $10,156 in civil restitution for the replacement value of the illegally taken deer.
Agents involved in the case are Sgt. Gabe Guidry, Sgt. Chad Watts, Lt. John Volentine, Senior Agent Doug Anderson Jr., and Senior Agent Jay Callegari.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents participated in a joint enforcement patrol that resulted in two men pleading guilty to violations of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
Rick Nguyen, 37, of Buras, and Hung Anh Tiet, 29, of Dallas, Texas, pleaded guilty to shark violations involving illegal finning and over the limit of sharks. Shark “finning” is an illegal practice of removing the shark’s fins, which are the most profitable part of the shark, and then discarding the rest of the shark’s body overboard.
The pair were ordered to pay a fine to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) totaling $45,000. The men were also placed on two years of probation and during which they agreed to not transfer any of their federal shark directed permits. They also further agreed that if they are determined to be in violation of any provision of the Magnusson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act during this two-year period, they will surrender all of their federal shark directed permits for a period of nine months. Lastly the men had their Louisiana state shark permits and set line licenses revoked for life.
LDWF agents initially made contact with Nguyen and Tiet while responding to an anonymous complaint. Agents stopped the vessel “Lady Lyanna” in Tiger Pass located in Venice in April 2012.
Agents found 11 whole sharks located on the deck and a hidden compartment in the bow of the vessel that contained 12 large sacks of shark fins totaling 2,073 fins. The bodies of the fins found in the sacks were not found on the vessel.
The 2,073 individual fins represent a total of 518 sharks possessed by the two fishermen bringing the total number of sharks possessed to 529. The daily commercial limit for sharks in Louisiana is 33 per vessel placing the two men 496 sharks over their daily limit.
Agents participating in the case were LDWF Sgts. Adam Young and Villere Reggio and NOAA Special Agent Steve Campbell.