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Authorities Find Body of Missing Boater in Vermilion Parish

Release Date: 06/16/2016

Search and rescue crews from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Coast Guard found the deceased body of a missing boater in Vermilion Parish today, June 16.

Search and rescue crews retrieved the body of Ernest Hebert, 79, of New Iberia around 5 p.m. about a half mile from the Oaks Canal in Vermilion Bay.

Search and rescue crews received a call around noon about the missing boater.  The crews learned that a boat had sunk in Vermilion Bay outside of Oaks Canal along the Northshore of Vermilion Parish earlier in the morning with two people on board.

One of the boaters was rescued by a Good Samaritan shortly before noon.  Once on board the Good Samaritan’s vessel, the rescued boater was able to relay information to authorities that Hebert was missing.

LDWF will be the lead investigative agency for this boating incident.  Hebert was found without a personal flotation device.  LDWF will continue to search for the sunken vessel, which is believed to be an aluminum flat bottom vessel.

Hebert’s body was turned over to the Vermilion Parish Coroner’s Office.

One Arrested for Drug Possession and Another Cited for Illegal Frogging Violations

Release Date: 06/16/2016

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) enforcement agents cited one subject for alleged amphibian violations and arrested another for alleged drug violations in Evangeline Parish on June 7.

Agents cited Kirk Reed, 41, and arrested Crystal Jones, 40, both from Baslie.  Reed was cited for collecting frogs without a basic fishing license and selling frogs without a reptile and amphibian collector’s license.  Jones was arrested for possession of marijuana, illegal possession of prescription pills, illegal possession of tramadol pills, and possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

Agents received a tip that Reed was selling frogs on a social media site and set up a meeting through a confidential informant.  Reed was attempting to sell the informant 20 cleaned frogs but had none of the required licenses.

Agents were in the process of seizing 40 frog legs from Reed’s truck when they smelled a strong odor of marijuana emitting from a purse that belonged to Jones sitting next to the container of frog legs.  After receiving permission to look in the purse, agents discovered Jones in possession of marijuana, methamphetamine, a number of pills without a prescription including tramadol and drug paraphernalia.

Selling frogs without a reptile and amphibian collector’s license brings a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.  Collecting frogs without a basic fishing license carries up to a $50 fine and 15 days in jail. Possession of methamphetamine carries up to a $5,000 fine and five years in jail.  Possession of marijuana brings up to a $500 fine and six months in jail. Illegal possession of the prescription pills each brings up to a $5,000 fine and five years in jail.  Illegal possession of tramadol pills carries up to a $25,000 fine and five years in jail.

Agents involved in the case are Sgt. Scot Fontenot, Senior Agent Steve Vidrine and Senior Agent Jake Hoover.

Man Cited for Illegally Taken Alligator

Release Date: 06/13/2016

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement division agents cited a Sunset man for allegedly killing an alligator during a closed season on June 10.

Agents cited Kenneth Arceneaux, 49, for taking or possessing an alligator during a closed season and intentional concealment of illegally taken wildlife.

Agents responded to an anonymous complaint against Arceneaux.  Agents showed up at Arceneaux’s residence on June 10 and learned that Arceneaux had harvested a six foot alligator in Cameron Parish earlier that morning.  Agents seized the meat.

Possessing an alligator during a closed season and intentional concealment of illegally taken wildlife each brings up to a $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail for each offense.  Arceneaux may also face a total of $375 in civil restitution for the illegally taken alligator.

The alligator season for Cameron Parish doesn’t open until the first Wednesday in September.

Agents participating in the case are Senior Agent Channing Duval and Sgt. Ryan Faul.

Two Cited For Oyster Theft in Terrebonne Parish

Release Date: 06/09/2016

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) enforcement agents cited two subjects for alleged oyster violations in Terrebonne Parish on June 8.

Agents cited Santiago Mendez-Luis, 50, and Joshua Manuel Gregoire, 19, both from Houma, for unlawfully taking oysters from a private lease and failure to have written permission.

While on patrol near Bay Sale, agents found the subjects harvesting oysters by hand.  The subjects did not have permission to harvest oysters on this private oyster lease.

Agents returned eight sacks of oysters to the water and seized the vessel 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 Lt. Joseph Arnaud and Sgt. Bryan Marie.

LDWF Enforcement Division Academy to Enroll Up to 23 Cadets for Training

Release Date: 06/07/2016

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ (LDWF) Law Enforcement Division will begin training up to 23 cadets in September of 2016 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 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 will be from June 6 to 30.

“We are looking for men and women who have a love for the outdoors, want to enforce conservation laws and can make it through a demanding six months of training,” said LDWF Col. Joey Broussard, head of the Law Enforcement Division.

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.

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.

For more information including a video about becoming an LDWF agent, please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/enforcement/becoming-agent.

LDWF is charged with managing, conserving, and promoting wise utilization of Louisiana's renewable fish and wildlife resources and their supporting habitats through replenishment, protection, enhancement, research, development, and education for the social and economic benefit of current and future generations; to provide opportunities for knowledge of and use and enjoyment of these resources; and to promote a safe and healthy environment for the users of the resources.

Gibson Man Cited for Black Bass Violation

Release Date: 06/07/2016

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited a Gibson man for allegedly possessing over the limit of black bass in Terrebonne Parish on June 5.

Agents cited Cody M. Smith, 32, after finding him in possession of 26 black bass, which put him 16 over the legal limit of 10 black bass per day.

Agents on patrol in the Antill Canal observed a vessel traveling south.  After stopping the vessel operated by Smith to perform a safety check, agents observed several fishing poles and a 48 quart ice chest containing 26 black bass in the vessel.

Possessing over the limit of black bass brings a $100 to $350 fine and up to 60 days in jail.  Smith also could face civil restitution for the illegally taken black bass totaling up to $215.  The fish were seized and donated to a local charity.

The daily limit for Black Bass is 10 per day.  Anglers staying at camps for three days on the water may have up to three times the daily limit of black bass below U.S. Hwy. 90 in coastal Louisiana providing the fish are kept whole gutted in separate bags for each daily take limit.  The bags must be marked with the date the fish were taken, the species and number of fish contained in the bag, and the name and recreational fishing license number of the person taking the fish.

Agents participating in the case are Sgt. Bryan Marie and Senior Agent Dean Aucoin.

Five Cited for Illegal Frogging in Rapides Parish

Release Date: 06/03/2016

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited five subjects for alleged frogging violations on May 31 in Rapides Parish.

Agents cited Mickey Burch, 48, of Boyce, Jarred B. Parker, 41, of Alexandria, Christopher N. Naalbandian, 27, of Alexandria, Stuart W. Morgan, 27, of Pineville, were cited for frogging during a closed season.

Agents received a complaint about Burch harvesting frogs and posting a photo to a social networking site.  After observing the photo, agents made contact with Burch.  Agents learned that Burch was frogging on the Red River on the night of May 30 and morning of May 31.  Agents seized a total of 31 frogs.

In a separate case agents found Parker, Naalbandian and Morgan frogging in a tributary off of Bayou Boeuf on the night of May 31.  Upon making contact with the men, agents found them in possession of 92 frogs.  Agents seized the frogs and returned them to the wild.

Frogging during a closed season brings a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.  Burch may also face up to $200 in civil restitution for the illegally taken frogs.  The statewide season for frogs is closed during the months of April and May.

Agents participating in these cases are Sgt. Byron Cammack, Senior Agent Hal bridges, Sgt. Gabe Guidry and Agent James Bruce.

Prairieville Man Cited for Charter Guide Violations

Release Date: 06/02/2016

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited a man for alleged charter guide license violations in Lafourche Parish on May 25.

Agents cited Austin J. Ourso, 21, of Prairieville, for failing to comply with charter boat regulations and failing to have a personal flotation device on an occupant 16 years of age and younger while underway in the vessel.

Agents on patrol in Bayou Lafourche observed a vessel underway with a juvenile subject onboard not wearing a personal floatation device.  After stopping the vessel, agents found that Ourso was operating the vessel and acting as a charter guide.

Agents then learned that Ourso did not purchase the required state charter fishing guide license and proof of liability insurance.

Charter boat fishing guides in Louisiana are required to have a state charter fishing guide license, a valid captain’s license issued by the U.S. Coast Guard, proof of liability insurance and a valid state recreational fishing license.  Any person acting as a saltwater fishing guide must have their required licenses and proof of liability in their possession while on the water.

Failing to comply with charter boat regulations fines are up to $950 or imprisonment for up to 120 days.  Failing to have a PFD on an occupant 16 year of age and younger while underway brings a $50 fine and up to 15 days in jail.

Agents participating in the case are Senior Agents Dale Wheat, Adam Tieben and Tyler Wheeler.

$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.

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