General

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Large Orange Mass in Gulf Algal Bloom, Not Oil, Conclude LSU Scientists

Release Date: 10/27/2010

Independent tests indicate orange mass off Tiger Pass not related to spill; final results still pending.

Tests conducted at the Louisiana State University (LSU) departments of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, and Environmental Sciences concluded today that a large mass of orange substance near Tiger Pass in the Mississippi Delta is an algal bloom, not oil. Scientists tested samples collected over the weekend by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) staff for any accumulation of oil among the phytoplankton.

According to analysis by Dr. Sibel Bargu, Assistant Professor at LSU’s Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences and a specialist in algae, and by the laboratory of Dr. Ed Overton, Professor Emeritus for the Department of Environmental Sciences, the large orange mass identified and sampled by LDWF biologists in the area near Tiger Pass is an algal bloom.

“Large algal blooms are common occurrences in the Gulf of Mexico when we experience warm weather, particularly from May to November,” said LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina. “This summer, we have all been acutely aware of possible impacts from the oil spill, which make us take a closer look at events like this one that might normally go unnoticed in our state waters. That is why we pursued testing the algal bloom to ensure that it was phytoplankton and not oil from the BP oil spill.”

Dr. Overton’s lab, which specializes in petroleum analysis, did conclude that there were some extremely low levels of hydrocarbons present in the samples – a finding that is consistent with normal water samples in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Hydrocarbons are common in samples taken at the surface, as the algal bloom samples were, and typically accumulate over time from natural oil seeps, waterway discharges, boat byproducts and various forms of industrial runoff.

Early reports about an orange substance in federal waters southwest of the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River were made to the U.S. Coast Guard last week, and they were the first to investigate the claims that the mass was oil. Once the substance was reported within state waters, LDWF biologists investigated the algal bloom and collected samples for independent testing at LSU. The conclusions from professors Overton and Bargu are consistent with the assumption made by the Coast Guard that the mass was a large algal bloom rather than oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Baton-Rouge-LA/Louisiana-Department-of-Wildlife-a... or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For more information, please contact Olivia Watkins at 225-610-8660 or owatkins@wlf.la.gov.

2010-295

FIVE NEW ORLEANS AREA MEN CITED FOR FEDERAL FISH VIOLATIONS

Release Date: 10/26/2010

2010-E62

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents cited five New Orleans area fishermen for allegedly failing to keep saltwater finfish intact on Oct. 22.

The LDWF agents were on a Joint Enforcement Agreement patrol for the National Marine Fisheries Service when they stopped the men, who were fishing off the coast of Plaquemines Parish in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico known as the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

During a fisheries compliance inspection, agents found Minh Chi Nguyen, 36, Dinh M. Trinh, 36, and Do Thanh Tran, 39, all of New Orleans, and Than Hung Tran, 46, and Quang Huy Nguyen, 43, of Gretna to be in joint possession of approximately nine and a half pounds of fresh fish fillets.

Louisiana law states that any saltwater finfish taken recreationally must be kept intact with head and caudal fin attached. Special exceptions apply to garfish, swordfish and tuna. For the purpose of consumption at sea, a person may possess no more than two pounds of fish fillets while on the water as long as their vessel is equipped to cook such finfish and that they do not exceed applicable bag limits.

The fish fillets were seized and are being sent to the National Marine Fisheries Laboratory for analysis and species identification.

Failing to keep saltwater finfish intact carries a fine between $250 and $500, or jail time up to 90 days, or both plus court costs.

The agents involved in the case were Sgt. Jason Russo, Senior Agent Tim Fox and Senior Agent Mike Garrity.

For more information, contact Capt. Stephen McManus at 504-284-2023 or smcmanus@wlf.la.gov.
 

L.D.W.F. INVESTIGATION LEADS TO ILLEGAL SELLING OF SEAFOOD AND DRUG VIOLATION ARREST

Release Date: 10/26/2010

2010-E61

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division Agents arrested a convicted felon for alleged firearm, seafood and drug violations on Oct. 19 in Vermilion Parish.

Agents arrested Ralph E. Tucker 48, of Kaplan, for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of illegal drugs with the intent to distribute and selling recreationally caught fish. Lester J. Suire, 59, of Kaplan was also cited for selling recreationally caught fish on Oct. 20 in connection with Tucker.

LDWF agents coordinated a 12-hour long investigation involving marked and unmarked units, uniformed and plainclothes agents from Calcasieu, Cameron, Vermilion and Acadia parishes.

Agents observed Tucker and Suire cast netting for shrimp on the Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge (SWR) in Cameron Parish. Agents then followed Tucker and Suire leaving the refuge with shrimp caught on the refuge and observed the men deheading and packaging the shrimp in plastic bags at a residence.

Agents observed Tucker and Suire loading the shrimp back in their vehicle where they attempted to sell the shrimp at various locations in Vermilion Parish.
Agents then followed the men to Acadia parish where they were observed selling the shrimp to an individual.

After documenting the illegal activity, agents apprehended Tucker at his residence and found numerous assorted narcotic pills in his vehicle along with a firearm in the residence. Agents along with Kaplan Police officers arrested Tucker and transported him to the Kaplan Police Department.

Agents located Suire on Oct. 20 and issued him a citation for his illegal participation on Oct. 19.

Seized in connection with the violations were a 20-foot Cajun Mastercraft boat with trailer, an AR7 .22 caliber rifle and ammunition, numerous assorted narcotic pills, three castnets and nine quart sized plastic bags of shrimp tails. All evidence will be held and processed according to policy pending the court proceedings.

The penalty for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon carries imprisonment at hard labor between 10 and 15 years without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence and a fine between $1,000 and $5,000.

The penalty for possession with the intent to distribute schedule II narcotics brings imprisonment at hard labor between two and 30 years and up to $50,000 in fines. The penalty for possession with the intent to distribute schedule III narcotics carries imprisonment at hard labor for up to 10 years and up to $15,000 in fines. The penalty for possession with the intent to distribute schedule IV narcotics carries jail time between five to 30 years and up to $50,000 in fines.

Selling fish caught recreationally carries a fine between $400-$950, or jail time up to 90 days, or both plus court cost. Not abiding by rules and regulations on a WMA or Wildlife Refuge carries a fine from $100-$350, or jail time up to 60 days, or both plus court cost.

LDWF agents participating in the case were Capt. Jubal Marceaux, Sgt. Keith Delahoussaye, Senior Agents Justin Sonnier, Carl Pickett, Jonathan Verret, and Jason Stagg. Other law enforcement personnel who participated were Kelly Hardy with Louisiana Probation and Parole, and Lt. Barry Krawchuk, Sgt. Irvin Cates, and Patrolman Shawn Boneski with the Kaplan Police Department. United States Drug Enforcement Administration agents from the Lafayette Post of Duty also assisted LDWF agents.

For more information contact Captain Jubal Marceaux at 337-491-2580 or jmarceaux@wlf.la.gov. 

Peason Ridge W.M.A. Closed for Hunting While the Fort Polk W.M.A. May Have Limited Areas Open for Hunting on Oct. 30-31

Release Date: 10/25/2010

Due to military training exercises, the Peason Ridge Wildlife Management Area (WMA) will be closed for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) scheduled Oct. 30-31 either sex hunt. The Fort Polk WMA may be open in limited areas for the Oct. 30-31 either sex hunt.

LDWF previously announced that all of Fort Polk WMA would be closed for this upcoming weekend hunt, but has now received word from the U.S. Army that training may not take up the entire WMA and there may be limited areas open to either sex hunting.

Hunters will have to check with local officials or check station maps immediately prior to the hunt to determine what, if any areas are open for either sex hunting on the Fort Polk WMA. Hunters can also check the following link for Fort Polk hunting information at http://www.jrtc-polk.army.mil/hunt2/hunt/default.htm .

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

2010-294

NOAA, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Audubon Nature Institute Return Sea Turtles to Gulf Waters

Release Date: 10/21/2010

Scientists from NOAA, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Audubon Nature Institute joined with Coast Guard Rear Admiral Roy A. Nash today to return 32 sea turtles to Gulf of Mexico waters offshore of Louisiana. This is the first release of rehabilitated sea turtles to the waters near where they were rescued from oil more than three months ago-after extensive analysis to determine that the area is clean and a safe habitat for the turtles.
 
“Today’s release would not have been possible if all the partners had not worked tirelessly during the oil spill to search for, rescue and rehabilitate the sea turtles,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “We are able to release these turtles because they’re now healthy and we’re seeing recovery in the surface habitats of the Gulf of Mexico. They are being released within federal waters off the coast of Louisiana that earlier this month, NOAA reopened to fishing. This was another important sign of improvement in the health of the Gulf of Mexico.”
 
Scientists selected the release location, approximately 40 miles southwest of Grand Isle, La., after conducting thorough aerial and shipboard surveys earlier this week to locate clean sargassum algae habitat for the sea turtles. Young sea turtles, such as those released today, spend the early years of their lives swimming and feeding in large floating sargassum algae mats that form in convergence zones where currents meet. Sargassum mats provide protection for turtles from predators as well as a variety of prey for food, including small crabs, snails and other creatures.
 
“I am excited to see these turtles returned to the waters from which they had been rescued during the spill – they’re going home today,” said Rear Adm. Nash, deputy federal on-scene coordinator for the ongoing clean-up operations. “Today’s release is possible because of the efforts of many to rehabilitate the turtles, and to ensure the Gulf waters are ready for their return. This is an encouraging sign that the Gulf of Mexico is recovering.”
 
The 33 turtles released today included species of green, Kemp’s ridley, hawksbill and loggerhead sea turtles. Green, Kemp’s ridley and hawksbill sea turtles are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Loggerheads are currently listed as threatened.
 
“For our staff, today has been long-awaited. Returning sea turtles to waters off the Louisiana coast is evidence of the incredible partnership between our biologists and enforcement agents, and our partnerships with local and federal agencies. Not only did our staff dedicate long days for months on end to the search, rescue and recovery of sea turtles and mammals, but they were committed even when the required tasks went above and beyond their jobs,” said Randy Pausina, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries assistant secretary for the state’s office of fisheries. “Returning this group of sea turtles to their home waters is more than a great achievement for all of our dedicated staff, it is a sign that Louisiana is on the path towards recovery.”
 
The turtles released today were rescued by teams from NOAA, LDWF, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Riverhead Foundation and the In-Water Research Group. The turtles received extensive treatment and care, including cleaning and de-oiling, at the Audubon Nature Institute outside New Orleans.
 
"Six months ago, it was nearly impossible to imagine this day would ever come," said Ron Forman, president and CEO of the Audubon Nature Institute. "Audubon is privileged to have played a key role in this remarkable recovery. Words can't begin to describe how proud I am of our team and their incredible effort in rehabilitating nearly 200 turtles."
 
More than 500 live turtles were rescued during the Gulf oil spill and about 400 heavily oiled turtles were placed in rehabilitation. Those not placed in rehabilitation were immediately released in healthy surface habitats because they were lightly oiled and did not require rehabilitation, Today’s release brings to 270 the number of rehabilitated turtles that have been returned to the Gulf of Mexico. The turtles remaining in rehabilitation facilities will be released as they are given clean bills of health.
 
NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us at http://www.noaa.gov or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/usnoaagov .

 

For more information, contact Olivia Watkins at or owatkins@wlf.la.gov.

2010-293

Wild Alligator Seasons and Zones

Alligator Zone Map

East Zone - Opens last Wednesday in August (season lasts 30 calendar days)
West Zone - Opens first Wednesday of September (season lasts 30 calendar days)

Parish Zone Description
ACADIA west entire parish
ALLEN west entire parish
ASCENSION east entire parish
ASSUMPTION east entire parish
AVOYELLES west entire parish
BEAUREGARD west entire parish
BIENVILLE west entire parish
BOSSIER west entire parish
CADDO west entire parish
CALCASIEU west entire parish
CALDWELL west entire parish
CAMERON west entire parish
CATAHOULA west entire parish
CLAIBORNE west entire parish
CONCORDIA west entire parish
DESOTO west entire parish
E BATON ROUGE east south of I-10 or south of I-12
E BATON ROUGE west north of I-10 or north of I-12
E CARROLL west entire parish
E FELICIANA west entire parish
EVANGELINE west entire parish
FRANKLIN west entire parish
GRANT west entire parish
IBERIA east east of the East Atchafalaya Basin Levee
IBERIA west west of the East Atchafalaya Basin Levee
IBERVILLE east south of I-10 and east of the East Atchafalaya Basin Levee
IBERVILLE west north of I-10 or south of I-10 and west of the East Atchafalaya Basin Levee
JACKSON west entire parish
JEFFERSON east entire parish
JEFFERSON DAVIS west entire parish
LAFAYETTE west entire parish
LAFOURCHE east entire parish
LASALLE west entire parish
LINCOLN west entire parish
LIVINGSTON east south of I-12
LIVINGSTON west north of I-12
MADISON west entire parish
MOREHOUSE west entire parish
NATCHITOCHES west entire parish
ORLEANS east entire parish
OUACHITA west entire parish
PLAQUEMINES east entire parish
POINTE COUPEE west entire parish
RAPIDES west entire parish
RED RIVER west entire parish
RICHLAND west entire parish
SABINE west entire parish
ST BERNARD east entire parish
ST CHARLES east entire parish
ST HELENA west entire parish
ST JAMES east entire parish
ST JOHN THE BAPTIST east entire parish
ST LANDRY west entire parish
ST MARTIN - LOWER east east of the East Atchafalaya Basin Levee
ST MARTIN - LOWER west west of the East Atchafalaya Basin Levee
ST MARTIN - UPPER west entire parish
ST MARY east east of the Atchafalaya River or east of the East Atchafalaya Basin Levee
ST MARY west west of the Atchafalaya River or west of the East Atchafalaya Basin Levee
ST MARY west includes all of Atchafalaya Delta WMA
ST TAMMANY east entire parish
TANGIPAHOA east south of I-12 or north of I-12 and east of I-55
TANGIPAHOA west north of I-12 and west of I-55
TENSAS west entire parish
TERREBONNE east entire parish
UNION west entire parish
VERMILION west entire parish
VERNON west entire parish
W BATON ROUGE east south of I-10
W BATON ROUGE west north of I-10
W CARROLL west entire parish
W FELICIANA west entire parish
WASHINGTON east entire parish
WEBSTER west entire parish
WINN west entire parish

Alligator Hunting Regulations Overview

Introduction

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) manages the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) as a commercial, renewable natural resource.  LDWF’s sustained use program is one of the world’s most recognizable examples of a wildlife conservation success story. Louisiana’s program has been used as a model for managing various crocodilian species throughout the world.  Since the inception of LDWF’s wild harvest program in 1972, over 850,000 wild alligators have been harvested and sold bringing in millions of dollars of revenue to landowners and trappers.  Conservative estimates have valued these resources at over $250,000,000, providing significant, direct economic benefit to Louisiana.

Historical Perspective

Alligators have been used commercially for their valuable leather since the 1800s.  This harvest was generally unregulated throughout the 1900s, until a gradual population decline resulted in severely reduced harvests in the early 1950s.  In 1962, the alligator season in Louisiana was closed, and research studies, focusing on basic life history factors, were undertaken which led to development of a biologically sound management harvest program.

The goals of LDWF’s wild alligator harvest program are to manage and conserve Louisiana’s alligators as part of the state’s wetland ecosystem, provide benefits to the species, its habitat and the other species of fish and wildlife associated with alligators.  The basic philosophy was to develop a sustained use management program which, through regulated harvest, would provide long term benefits to the survival of the species, maintain its habitats, and provide significant economic benefits to the citizens of the state.  Since Louisiana’s coastal alligator habitats are primarily privately owned (approximately 81%), our sustained use management program provides direct economic benefit and incentive to private landowners, and alligator hunters who lease land, to protect the alligator and to protect, maintain, and enhance the alligator’s wetland habitats.  One of the most critical components of the wild harvest program is to equitably distribute the harvest in relation to population levels.

Alligator populations quickly increased between 1962 and 1972 while alligators were totally protected.  In September 1972 LDWF initiated a closely regulated experimental commercial wild alligator harvest in Cameron Parish.  Additional parishes were included in subsequent years and became statewide in 1981.  Currently over 2,000 licensed alligator hunters harvest 30,000 to 35,000 wild alligators annually in Louisiana.

Alligator Hunting

General

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries issues alligator harvest tags for property containing sufficient wetland alligator habitat capable of sustaining an alligator harvest.  Wild alligator tags can only be issued to licensed alligator hunters and are nontransferable.  An alligator hunter must either own land or have permission to hunt alligators on land that qualifies for alligator harvest tags.  Alligator hunters apply for alligator tags prior to the season.

Licenses

Hunter1

An alligator hunter must possess on his person an alligator hunter’s license as well as one or more current alligator tags for the property on which he is hunting.  Tags are property specific and must be used on the property indicated on the hunter’s license.  Alligator hunters must have their alligator hunter’s license in possession to possess or sell wild alligators, their skins, or parts.  Resident alligator hunter licenses cost $25, nonresident landowner licenses cost $150 and there is no cost for alligator tags.

Helper (Residents Only)

Individuals other than the hunter harvesting alligators for the hunter must possess a helper license.  Licensed helpers can hunt independently of the alligator hunter.  Anyone assisting the hunter but not harvesting alligators does not need a helper license.  A helper license costs $25 and must bear the name and license number of the hunter(s) being assisted.

Sport (Residents and Nonresidents)

Individuals can harvest alligators as a sport while being guided by a hunter possessing tags.  Sport hunters must always be accompanied by a licensed hunter or helper.  A sport license costs $25 for Louisiana residents and $150 for nonresidents.

Seasons

Louisianais divided into east and west alligator hunting zones.  Each zone has specific opening and closing dates.  The east zone opens the last Wednesday of August and the west zone opens the first Wednesday of September.  Each zone remains open for 30 days from the opening date.  Baited hooks and lines may be set no more than 24 hours prior to the general open season and shall be removed no later than sunset of the last day of the open season. 

Hunting Hours

Alligators may be harvested between official sunrise and sunset only.  No nighttime harvest is allowed.

Limits and Size Restrictions

The daily and season quota is equal to the number of alligator tags that a licensed alligator hunter possesses.  There are no size restrictions on wild alligators taken during the general open season.

Legal Methods

Alligators may be harvested by hook and line, bow and arrow and firearms (except shotguns).  The possession of shotguns is prohibited while hunting or taking wild alligators.  The fishing (hook and line) method is the most common.1A nonresident landowner may be issued alligator tags on his own property in Louisiana provided that the property qualifies for alligator harvest tags and the proper applications have been submitted.  Any alligator hunter related information provided in this document or in current alligator regulations also applies to nonresident landowners.

Fishing Method (hook and line)

Baited hooks and lines are suspended above the water by some type of structure.  In most cases hunters will use poles, branches or trees to suspend baits as well as provide for a stationary object for securing the end of the line.  The most commonly used baits are chicken quarters and beef melt.  Approximately 30’ of line is tied off to the bottom of the structure while the baited hook end is suspended about 1-2’ above the water surface.  Line must be a minimum of 300 lb. test.  The baited end is suspended in such a manner to allow for easy line removal by an alligator.  Clothes pins are sometimes used to hold lines to facilitate easy line removal.  Excess line is rolled up near the base of the structure.  Alligators (feeding primarily at night) will take the bait.  Once alligator lines are set and baited, alligator hunters must inspect their hooks and lines and remove captured alligators daily.  Alligators should be dispatched immediately upon checking lines.  Shot placement should be centered directly behind the skull.  No person shall release any alligator from any taking device for any purpose without first dispatching the alligator, except in the event that an alligator is hooked and the hunter's quota has been reached, the hunter must immediately release the alligator in the most humane method possible.  All hooks and lines shall be removed when an alligator hunter's quota is reached. 

Bow and Arrow

Bow and arrow can be used to dispatch alligators while on hook and line (see Fishing Method above) or to capture alligators.  Barbed arrow must be used to capture alligators.  A minimum of 300 lb. test line must be securely attached to the head of the arrow in such a manner to prevent separation from the arrow head.  The other end of the line must be attached to a stationary or floating object capable of maintaining the line above water when an alligator is attached.  Bow and arrow use may not be permitted if hunting on public lands or public lakes.

Firearms

Firearms (except shotguns) may be used to dispatch alligators while on hook and line (see Fishing Method above) or to harvest free swimming alligators.  Harvesting free swimming alligators with firearms may increase chances of losing alligators.  Extreme caution should be used when harvesting free swimming alligators to ensure that alligators can be retrieved once harvested.  Alligator hunters should practice firearm safety at all times and pay close attention to ricochet hazards.  Harvesting free swimming alligators may not be permitted if hunting on public lands or public lakes.

Tagging

Alligators are to be tagged immediately upon harvest before moving from the capture location.  The tag should be placed about 6” from the end of the tail on the bottom side of the tail.  Once the tag is placed through the tail it must be locked using the tag’s locking device.  The tag must stay affixed to the alligator or alligator hide until the tanned hide is used for product manufacturing.  Be careful not to prematurely lock tags or catch tags on objects that may rip out or break tags.  Be careful not to lose or drop tags overboard.  Tags do not float and will not be replaced if lost.

Alligator Care

Alligators should be kept cool and covered with damp coverings (burlap sacks, blankets, etc.) and away from gasoline, oil or other contaminants.  Contaminants will cause hide damage which will substantially lower value or even make the alligator worthless.

Selling Alligators

Alligators/hides can only be sold to licensed fur buyers or fur dealers.  Most wild alligators are sold whole to fur buyers/dealers at processing facilities.  Make sure that arrangements have been made to sell alligators prior to setting lines or harvesting alligators.

Processing Alligators and Hides
Properly skinning alligators can be difficult. Minor knife cuts, holes or poor skin preparation can severely decrease alligator hide value. Alligators should be skinned by someone with prior alligator skinning experience whenever possible. If no experienced skinner is available and a hunter chooses to skin his own alligator(s) for personal use, the first step is to prepare for skinning with a table at a comfortable height, a sharp knife, a sharpener, a scraper and salt. Begin the skinning process (see Appendix I for detailed instructions and diagrams). Once skinning is complete all meat and fat must be removed from the alligator hide to prevent decay. The most common scraping method is to use dull tools such as blunt knives, paint scrapers or beveled pipes to scrape excess meat and fat from the underside of the skin. Once the skin has been scraped and cleaned it must be salted. Salt removes moisture and helps cure the alligator skin. A fine grain salt should be applied generously (1/2 to 1 inch thick) and rubbed into all parts of the skin. The skin should then be tightly rolled and stored in a cool and well ventilated area where it can drain. After three to five days, the old salt should be thrown away, the skin resalted, rolled and refrigerated if possible.

Alligator Parts
Alligator hunters may give alligator parts* to anyone for personal use. Any alligator parts or containers enclosing alligator parts must be tagged with the name, address, date, hide tag number, and the license number of the person donating the alligator part(s). This information must remain affixed until the part(s) has been stored at the domicile of the possessor. In addition an alligator transaction parts form must be submitted to LDWF by the end of the calendar year if any parts transaction has taken place. (* alligator part - any part of an alligator excluding the hide and includes the bony dorsum plates, if detached from the tagged alligator hide)

Storage, Tanning or Taxidermy
Alligators/alligator skins may be stored at any location provided that they are properly tagged and documented. An alligator hunter must have any alligators/alligator skins being shipped out of state or being tanned or used for taxidermy instate inspected by LDWF, pay the appropriate tag fee and severance tax and receive a shipping tag prior to shipping. A hunter needing an inspection should contact their local LDWF office, or the office that issued their license and tags, in advance to schedule the inspection.

Research Alligators
Many alligators have been marked by LDWF biologists for research purposes. Some of these were caught in the wild, and some were released to the wild from commercial farms. These alligators have one or more notches cut out of the tail scutes and have had two metal tags placed in the webbing between the toes (usually on the back feet). These tag returns are like duck bands, and allow biologists to follow the movement, growth, and survival of alligators. Alligator hunters should report and submit any research alligator captured by recording the full web tag number (usually 6 digits), the length, tail notch(es) and sex of the alligator on forms provided by LDWF. Sometimes the web tag in the foot is lost as the alligator grows, but the information from the tail notch lets LDWF know what year the alligator was marked. It is very important that hunters report the information to LDWF if a marked alligator is captured, as it helps LDWF’s management programs for continued harvests.

Unused Alligator Tags
All unused alligator tags shall be returned within 15 days following the close of the season.

Lost or Stolen Alligator Tags
If alligator tags are lost or stolen the alligator hunter must complete an official lost tag form and submit it to LDWF within 15 days following the close of the season. Lost or stolen tags will not be replaced.

Hides Not Sold or Shipped Within 30 Days Following the Close of the Season
All alligators/alligator skins not sold to commercial buyers/dealers or shipped for tanning/ taxidermy within 30 days following the close of the season must be reported to LDWF. LDWF's official forms require specific information which includes tag number, location, intended use and length.

Reminders
Alligator hunters are responsible for disposition of all issued alligator tags. All alligator hunters should thoroughly review all current alligator regulations. Always follow all alligator regulations. Alligator hunters harvesting alligators on public areas should review and follow all regulations specific to that public area. For specific details check with the office responsible for that public area prior to commencing alligator harvest activities.

Questions
See www.lagatorprogram.com for more alligator hunting information as well as other alligator program information.
For specific questions not covered previously or by the alligator program's webpage contact the local LDWF office or e-mail the alligator program at LAalligatorprogram@wlf.louisiana.gov.

Disclaimer
This publication is not an official copy of the laws in effect and should not be utilized or relied upon as such. It does represent an attempt by the publisher to present as a public service, an overview of some of the laws and a set of regulations adopted by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission and being current at the time of this publication. Substantive changes to the state laws may very well occur following the printing of this publication. For these reasons, the accuracy of the information contained within this publication cannot be guaranteed and the reader is cautioned that it is his responsibility to apprise himself of the laws in effect at any given time. These regulations include those contained within the Louisiana Revised Statutes, particularly Title 56 and the official regulations of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission.

 

Alligator Hide Care

"Louisiana's Commitment to Quality"

HIDE CARE TIPS

This brochure is not a basic guide on how to skin an alligator, but we can offer a summary of skinning steps, tips on how to best care for alligator skins and explain why careful skinning and scraping is important. Most current quality problems with Louisiana alligator skins can be cured by simply using extra care with the skinning knife and extra effort with the hide scraper.

Start with a good place to skin an alligator and have the right tools to do the job. Obviously, you need a steady table at a comfortable height, a good light, a knife and a sharpener, a scraper and salt to get started. You also need to develop your own skinning routine. The best skinners say this comes with practice and experience, but learn to skin an alligator the same way each time instead cif changing from one way to another. That way you begin to develop your own system. You will develop a feel for each spot in the skin, and by doing it the same way each time, your moves and knife strokes almost become second nature. A standardized method of skinning, curing and handling alligator skins increases the value of the product and improves buyer confidence in a uniform lot of skins. Diagram 1 shows the standard opening cuts when skinning an alligator and the belly patterns of the skin.

SKINNING STEPS

  1. Outline the body where skinning will start.
  2. The cut along the sides is made between first and second row of sautes on the back.
  3. A straight cut is made from the back along the top of each leg (through the largest scales).
  4. Cut completely around each foot at the wrist or ankle.
  5. The outline cut on the tail is below the top row of tail sautes.
  6. When cuts reach the single row of tail scutes midway along tail, cut through base to end of tail (butterfly end of tail).
  7. Skin tail completely along the sides.
  8. Begin skinning body section with front legs and adjacent side skin.
  9. Slowly cut skin away from front legs and side of body.
  10. Some pulling can be done on upper leg portions.
  11. Skin hind legs and adjacent side skin same as front legs.
  12. The sides should be completely skinned and only the belly portion should be left unskinned now.
  13. After sides and legs are skinned, turn alligator on its side and make outline cuts along lower jawbone.
  14. Cut is made along the outer edge of the lower jaw skin.
  15. By pulling on the jaw muscle, the flesh can be tightened, allowing for easier skinning.
  16. After skin is cut from lower jaw and neck, the alligator is ready to be skinned down the belly.
  17. Skinning the under side of the alligator can be accomplished by both pulling and cutting.
  18. Pulling is easier on small alligators, with careful cutting required otherwise.
  19. Cut carefully around anal opening (vent) so this area won't tear if pulled.
  20. Both pull and cut skin from the remaining tail section.
  21. Meat and fat remaining on the skin must be removed.
  22. Scrape with dull objects (pipes, scrapers, spoons, etc.) taking care not to cut or tear skin.
  23. Once scraped, hide should be relatively free of flesh and white in appearance.
  24. Skin should be washed in clean, fresh water to remove blood and other fluids.
  25. Hang skin in shaded area and allow to drain.

The shaded area between the neck and vent in Diagram 2 is the part of the belly skin that is graded. Holes or cuts in this part of the skin make it difficult or impossible to cut full belly patterns for purses, briefcases or larger leather articles. Enough holes or cuts in the flanks can even make cutting shoe vamps or snaller leather-goods difficult. The one row of scutes along the sides of the alligator are left so the tanner has same extra skin to tack to when the skin is stretched and dried during the tanning process. Special care should be taken not to cut or put holes in the belly pattern of the skin (particularly around the legs and flanks where the thin skin is easy to nick with a knife).

The proper care of alligator skins begins as soon as the animal is harvested. Here are some more helpful tips:

  1. Skinning should take place as soon after the harvest as practical.
  2. Avoid direct sun or heat on the carcass or skin whenever possible.
  3. Keep skin away from blood, entrails, or other contact with dirty surfaces where more bacteria can get into the hide.
  4. Always skin carefully and particularly avoid holes or cuts in the belly pattern.
  5. Scrape excess meat and fat from the underside of the skin with blunt knives, paint scrapers, beveled pipes or other dull tools.

Removing meat and fat from the skin is very important because of the time necessary to store and ship alligator skins overseas for tanning. This often takes several months and the excess meat simply helps bacteria get started and can lead to "red heat" or "slipping" skins. If excess fat is not removed it can prevent salt from properly penetrating the skin. Also, if the fat heats up, it can actually penetrate the skin and leave grease spots on the finished leather.

The purpose of curing alligator hides is simply to remove moisture from the skin so it can be better preserved before tanning. A fine grain mixing salt works best and should be applied generously (1/2 to 1 inch thick) and rubbed into all parts of the skin. Salt should be rubbed thoroughly into the skin, making sure enough salt gets into the creases, flaps, tail and similar places where bacteria can get a start. Salt helps slow bacterial growth. Tightly roll the skins and stack in a well-ventilated place where they can drain. After three to five days in a cool or shaded place, the skins should be resalted for best curing. Don't use rock salt and don't freeze hides (freezer burned hides won't tan properly).

Lesson Learned: Hog or Bear? Know Your Target

Release Date: 10/12/2010

Gary Kinsland is an experienced hunter who has hunted Red River Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Concordia Parish for 34 years since he moved to Louisiana from Oregon in 1977.  Kinsland, 63, of Sunset, typically harvests two deer per year from the WMA along with several feral hogs.
 
During one hunt last season, Kinsland harvested a 13-point non-typical deer from the Red River WMA. However, it was also during the 2009-10 hunting season that Kinsland faced his biggest hunting disappointment.
 
Sitting on a deer stand in his favorite tree on the WMA last November, and after having already seen a buck earlier in the day without getting a clear shot, Kinsland heard hogs squealing.
 
"I didn't head to my stand that morning to get a hog," said Kinsland.  "I was deer hunting and wanted a deer.  But, these hogs were there and I said to myself that if they pass a clearing I will go ahead and shoot at them."
 
Kinsland said that after a little while the sound of hogs moving and squealing went away.  However, later in the day he again heard some commotion and movement coming from the same area where he had heard hogs squealing earlier.
 
This time he saw what he thought were the hogs he had heard moving from the area of the noise and crossing at an angle in front of him at about 100 yards in light brush.  Kinsland guessed their path and picked out a clear spot in the brush that was about 75 yards from his deer stand and set his crosshairs on that mark in case one of the "hogs" passed through the clearing.
 
"The first one entered the clearing and I fired," said Kinsland.  "I then waited a little while longer for the second one to come through, which I knew was a little smaller. After getting tired of waiting, I went ahead and dismounted my stand and walked over to the downed animal.  When I got about 40 yards away I noticed the other one sniffing around and shot that 'hog' too.
 
"It wasn't until I got within about 20 yards of the smaller, second one that I realized what I had shot.  The first indication was seeing a round ear.  I then got close enough to the two animals to get confirmation of what I had done and I just stood there for a while in disbelief and in sadness for the two bears."
 
Kinsland had mistaken a Louisiana black bear and her cub for feral hogs.  He then contacted his longtime friend and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Red River WMA Supervisor Johnny Warren.  Warren quickly notified the LDWF Enforcement Division.
 
"I immediately knew I was in a tough bind, but I am glad that I turned myself in since I try to teach my two young daughters and family honesty.  By walking away from this incident I would be living a lie," said Kinsland.  "It was not a pretty picture that I was facing, but I had to deal with it."
 
Kinsland directed the LDWF agents to his stand and the bears by using his cell phone.  The agents issued Kinsland citations for two counts of taking bear in a closed season.
 
In August, Kinsland pled no contest and was sentenced to 120 days in jail (suspended), a $950 fine, 24 months of supervised probation and had to pay restitution of $5,000 with $3,000 of that going to LDWF and the other $2,000 going to the District Attorney.  He was also ordered to get his hunter education certification and to speak in 24 other LDWF approved hunter education courses to share his experience.
 
Kinsland has already attended a few LDWF approved hunter education courses and has offered his story in front of the classes during the wildlife identification part of the course.
 
"I'm really enjoying my time with the hunter education courses and plan on becoming a volunteer certified hunter education instructor even after my court ordered courses are finished," said Kinsland.  "I try to explain to the class that even the most experienced hunter can make the same mistake I did and that you have to be able to see the snout, head and ears and make a positive i.d. before shooting at a feral hog."  
 
With Louisiana black bear and feral hog populations on the rise in many areas in the state, hunters are reminded that positive target identification is the most important rule in hunter safety and a basic component of legal game harvest.
 
Black bears and feral hogs share similar body styles and appearance, so hunters must be especially careful when hog hunting in areas where bears may be found.  LDWF has posted signs at state WMAs to warn hunters about the similarities between the two species.
 
Since 2001, the Louisiana Black Bear Repatriation Project has moved 48 adult female black bears with 104 cubs from the dense black bear population in the Tensas River Basin to the area called the Red River Complex, totaling 179,604 acres, which includes Grassy Lake, Red River, Three Rivers and Spring Bayou Wildlife Management Areas and Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge.  The Repatriation Project was initiated to help rebuild the historic population of black bears in central Louisiana.
 
Since 1992, the Louisiana black bear has been protected because of its threatened status under the Endangered Species Act.  Restoration and conservation efforts of the LDWF, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Black Bear Conservation Coalition and many private landowners have led to increasing numbers of black bears.  LDWF is working aggressively toward the goal of removing the Louisiana black bear from the threatened species list and having sustainable populations that offer regulated hunting opportunities in the foreseeable future.
 
For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

2010-287

Anglers Aren't the Only Big Winners at the Louisiana Saltwater Series Championship

Release Date: 10/11/2010

The Louisiana Saltwater Series, hosted by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, closed this weekend at Delta Marina in Empire with some monster catches at its championship tournament.  The 2010 fishing season was a banner year for the series, to promote the conservation of Louisiana’s saltwater sport fish resources through six tag and release redfish tournaments. 

Overall weight determined the grand prize winner going to the team of Bobby Abruscato and Scott Ritter, with a winning total weight of 34.11 pounds, and their largest fish weighing 9.2 pounds.   With the win, the duo was awarded a cash prize of over $2,700.

However, this tournament series serves a much larger purpose than hashing our prize money for trophy catches.  The department hopes the tournaments will create awareness and participation in their tag and release program. 

In its inaugural year, LDWF safely tagged and released 368 redfish caught throughout the series.  The results of the tagging will aid conservation efforts for redfish in the future, helping to ensure healthy populations and a successful recreational fishing industry.

“It’s not just the tournament itself, but being able to provide fish for LDWF to tag and hopefully track,” explained participating angler Christopher Bush.  “It’s definitely a win-win situation.”

Turnout for the series was excellent, with participation averaging over 30 teams for each tournament and 22 teams qualifying for the championship.  These two-angler teams qualified for the no-entry-fee championship by fishing a minimum of three Saltwater Series tournaments.     

“In light of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, we were very pleased with overall participation,” said LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina.  “We hope that these events will again create enthusiasm for fishing in Louisiana and will unite anglers and their families in this recreational pastime.”

The 2011 Louisiana Saltwater Series hopes to continue to draw redfish anglers from the Gulf Coast, offering two –angler teams the opportunity to compete in six different tournaments, including a championship.  With low entry fees, these tournaments allow anglers to fish close to home and compete for cash prizes while simultaneously giving back to the resource through tag and release fishing.

“With the oil spill behind us, we’re excited about the possibilities for next year and anticipate the tournaments to be even larger and more successful,” said Pausina.   

Participating anglers can expect a significant increase in cash and prize payouts.  The department also plans to add a few changes to the tournament format that should make it even more exciting, including a youth division. 

The department urges interested anglers to sign up for the Louisiana Cooperative Marine Sport Fish Tagging Program. Through this program, volunteer anglers provide information that is difficult, often impossible, and expensive to obtain by other means.   The target species for LDWF’s tagging program are red drum “redfish” and spotted seatrout “speckled trout.”  For additional information, interested anglers can contact fishtagging@ccalouisiana.com.

Information about the 2011 Louisiana Saltwater Series will soon be available at lasaltwaterseries.com.

For more information, contact Ashley Wethey at 225-765-5113 or awethey@wlf.la.gov.

*Photos and footageavailable upon request.    

 

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