Wildlife

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Seeks Public Help in Monitoring Bat Colonies in Louisiana

Release Date: 06/17/2019

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Seeks Public Help in Monitoring Bat Colonies in Louisiana

June 17, 2019 – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is conducting bat colony monitoring in the state in an effort to survey for white-nose syndrome, a disease caused by a fungus that is responsible for more than 6 million bat deaths in the United States.
 
Neither the disease nor the fungus, which is not a threat to humans, has been detected in Louisiana, said LDWF Wildlife Disease Biologist Nikki Anderson, who is overseeing the monitoring program. She said that’s why it’s so important to observe bat colonies in the state.
 
In a citizen-science initiative, LDWF is encouraging state residents to help in the program. If you know the location of a roost or want to participate in bat monitoring please contact Anderson at nanderson@wlf.la.gov or 225-765-5030.
 
Bats are vital to America and Louisiana’s agriculture industry. In fact, bats can be a farmer or gardener’s best friends because of the many insects they devour. They are also key in seed dispersal and pollination world-wide.
 
“It’s estimated they save farmers billions annually in crop damage and reduced pesticide usage because of the insects they eat,’’ Anderson said. “They’re extremely beneficial. We don’t have any fruit bats or nectar feeding bats in Louisiana; all of our bat species consume insects.”
 
White-nose syndrome was discovered in New York state in 2006-07. The fungus that causes the disease, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, has spread rapidly. It has not been found in Louisiana or Florida, the only two states with that distinction in the eastern United States.
 
Louisiana is on the geographical leading edge of the disease spread. It was first detected in Arkansas and Mississippi in 2013-2014 and Texas in 2016-2017. Since those first detections, it has continued to spread closer to Louisiana boarders, increasing the potential for spread into the state.
 
The disease, named for the white fungus found on bats’ muzzles and wings, attacks hibernating bats.
 
Louisiana, which has 12 bat species, has four species of bats that have contracted white-nose syndrome in other parts of the country and four that have been found with the fungus but not the disease.
 
For more information on white-nose disease, go to www.whitenosesyndrome.org/.
 

Former LDWF Biologist Allan Ensminger Honored By Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission

Release Date: 06/11/2019

Marilyn Ensminger (front row, center) holds the resolution approved by the LWFC honoring her husband Allan Ensminger.
Allan Ensminger

June 11, 2019 – The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission adopted a resolution honoring former Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) biologist Allan Ensminger during its month meeting June 6. Ensminger, who served in several capacities at LDWF for 30 years, died in January.
 
Ensminger’s wife, Marilyn, was at the meeting along with other members of the family to accept the resolution.
 
Ensminger began his career at LDWF in 1954 and served until 1984 when he retired. He started at Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Cameron Parish performing wildlife research. During his career, he was part of LDWF’s effort to restore the American alligator, the brown pelican and the bald eagle among other species.
 
He also served as Chief of LDWF’s Fur and Refuge Division, supervising several coastal refuges and wildlife management areas.
 
Ensminger was known for being among the first scientists to document the status of Louisiana’s coastal marshes and recognizing that coastal land loss was occurring.
 
Following his retirement at LDWF, he formed a consulting business, Wetlands and Wildlife Management Company, that provided services to large wetland owners in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama.
 

Closure of Sherburne Wildlife Management Area Shooting Range Postponed, LDWF Announces

Release Date: 06/04/2019

June 4, 2019 – Closure of the Sherburne Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Shooting Range, which was scheduled for Wednesday (June 5) at sunset, has been postponed, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced.
 
The range will remain open until the opening of the Morganza Spillway by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is tentatively scheduled for Sunday (June 9).
 
The range will remain closed during the closure until waters recede from the area and necessary repairs made.
 
The range is located at 1132 Sherburne Road in Lottie, three miles south of U.S. Highway 190 on Louisiana Highway 975. For more information, call 337-735-8685.
 

June 6 Closure of Sherburne Wildlife Management Area Postponed, LDWF Announces

Release Date: 06/04/2019

June 4, 2019 – The Thursday (June 6) closure of Sherburne Wildlife Management Area (WMA) by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has been postponed. The WMA will remain open until the Morganza Spillway is opened by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is tentatively scheduled for Sunday (June 9).
 
Sherburne WMA will remain closed during the closure until further notice. The WMA will be reopened once flood water has receded, necessary repairs have been made and the area is deemed safe for public use.
 
Sherburne WMA is located in Pointe Coupee, St. Martin and Iberville parishes and within the Morganza Floodway system of the Atchafalaya Basin between the Atchafalaya River and the East Protection Guide Levee.
 
For more information, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wma/2763 or contact Tony Vidrine, tvidrine@wlf.la.gov 337-735-8682 or Steven David, sdavid@wlf.la.gov at 337-735-8683.
 

LDWF Accepting Bids for Alligator Hunting on WMAs, Refuges and USACE Properties for 2019-2021 Harvest Seasons until June 21

Release Date: 06/03/2019

June 3, 2019 - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is still accepting bids for alligator hunting on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) properties and state wildlife refuges for the 2019-2021 alligator harvest seasons. Applications will be accepted until bid opening at 10 a.m. on June 21 at the LDWF Lafayette Field Office, 200 Dulles Drive, Lafayette, LA 70506.
 
Eligible alligator hunters are chosen through a bid system every three years on selected WMA/Refuge/USACE properties.
 
Bids for alligator hunting will be solicited for the following WMA/Refuge/USACE properties: Grassy Lake, Spring Bayou, and Pomme de Terre (Avoyelles Parish), Attakapas (Iberia, St. Martin and St. Mary parishes), Sherburne - USACE lands (Iberville, Pointe Coupee and St. Martin parishes), Dewey W. Wills (La Salle and Catahoula parishes), Manchac (St. John Parish), Pearl River - North of Interstate 10,  Pearl River - Between Interstate 10 and U.S. Hwy 90 and Pearl River - South of U.S. Hwy 90 (St. Tammany Parish), Joyce (Tangipahoa and Livingston parishes), Maurepas Swamp (St. John, St. James, Ascension, Livingston and St. Charles parishes), Indian Bayou - USACE property (St. Landry and St. Martin parishes), Atchafalaya Delta (St. Mary Parish), Pointe-aux-Chenes (Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes), Salvador (St. Charles Parish), Pass-a-Loutre (Plaquemines Parish) and St. Tammany Refuge (St. Tammany Parish).
 
A total of 33 alligator hunting opportunities are available for bid. The number of alligator tags that will be issued varies depending on the area awarded. For specific details on the number of alligator hunter opportunities and tags available by area, please see the bid application notification. 
 
Interested participants may review and print out the bid application notification and form from LDWF’s website at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/alligator-hunting or request by phone at the phone numbers below or request in writing from Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Attn: Leslie Campbell, 2019-2021 WMA Alligator Harvest Bids, P.O. Box 62250, Lafayette, LA  70596.
 
 
Applicants must meet the following criteria in order to submit a bid:
1)    Must be a Louisiana resident at least 18 years of age.
2)    Must have previous alligator hunting experience in Louisiana.
3)    Must be able to provide essential equipment for alligator hunting on the WMA/Refuge/USACE property on which they are bidding.
4)    Must be able to report to the WMA/Refuge/USACE property each morning until alligator tag quota is completed.
5)    Must follow specific instructions issued by LDWF personnel.
6)    Must maintain required records.
7)    Must be able to successfully pass a criminal background check. All applicants will be screened for past wildlife and criminal violations. Applicants with felony convictions, that pled guilty to a felony or that have pled guilty, paid a fine for, negotiated/agreed to a pretrial intervention (PTI)/diversion for or been convicted of Class Two or above wildlife, WMA/Refuge/USACE or littering violations within the last five years, as determined by the LDWF enforcement division, shall be disqualified.
 
For more information, please call the appropriate LDWF office (Lafayette 337-735-8667, Pineville 318-487-5885, Hammond 985-543-4777, or send e-mail to LAalligatorprogram@wlf.la.gov.
 

Greater White-Fronted Goose Journey From Gulf Coast to Arctic Provides Invaluable Data to LDWF Biologists

Release Date: 05/31/2019

Yellow line denotes goose's journey from Gulf Coast to Alaska's Arctic North Slope.

May 31, 2019 - That waterfowl migrate north in the spring is certainly no revelation.  But researching the migration patterns of geese and ducks is paramount for biologists to gain a better understanding of these species.
 
A female greater white-fronted goose, also known as a spec or speckle belly, tagged in southwest Louisiana by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) biologists in November of 2018 helped open the window into the incredible journey the birds make.
 
The goose trekked more than 5,470 miles over the course of eight weeks on her spring migration, starting near the Texas-Mexico border to Alaska’s Arctic North Slope region, said biologist Paul Link, LDWF’s North American Waterfowl Management Plan Coordinator.
 
“And that doesn’t account for all the daily foraging flights she made,’’ said Link, who captured and tagged the bird on Nov. 22, 2018.  “It’s crazy to think she racked up more than 11,000 miles on her annual migration. Amazing birds. Amazing technology unlocking their mysteries.’’
 
The tagged goose is part of an LDWF study in which the primary goal is to determine use of habitats by white-fronts in Louisiana then look at status and trends of those habitats over time. Link started the project in 2015 and is collaborating with other scientists to assess other aspects of the data.
 
White-fronts making this migration is nothing new. Band recovery data has documented this for decades and LDWF radio-marked birds have selected this area in previous years. What makes this individual bird’s trip so impressive is that it was tracked in near real time.
 
New cell towers being constructed in Arctic villages and research stations enabled two data transmissions on this bird’s spring migration. Normally that data wouldn’t be retrieved until the bird initiated fall migration and hit cell service somewhere in Prairie Canada.
 
The transmitters gather more data than just a spot on a map.
 
“The data these transmitters collect is just phenomenal,’’ Link said. “They collect everything from the air temperature and the percentage of cloud cover to the barometric pressure from the nearest weather station as well as accelerometer (how fast the bird flies) data. During flight we know she is heading 283 degrees at 117 kilometers per hour and is 2,083 meters in altitude. All that information can be pieced together to determine their energetic demands, or how much fuel they need to make those big moves.’’
 
She flew 636 miles non-stop to the Isabel, Kansas area on her first migration leg.  She then flew 415 miles on another leg and 325 miles to Peace River area in Alberta, Canada.
 
On May 4, she made a 770-mile non-stop flight from the Peace River to a frozen mountain lake 75 miles northeast of Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. The very next day she flew 1,038 miles to the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve off Alaska’s Bering Sea.
 
“That’s roughly the distance between Baton Rouge and Minneapolis,’’ Link said. “That is some rugged country without any food along the way. Everything is still frozen solid and snow covered up there right now.’’
 
The reason they want to get back so quickly is to secure prime Arctic breeding spots in the summer, Link said.
 
Finally, she flew another 360 miles coming close to Russia during the flight and to her last known location on Alaska’s North Slope.
 
“They’re an interesting species because they arrive down here (Louisiana Gulf Coast) really early,’’ Link said.  “Most white-fronts don’t wait to get pushed down here by weather like some other waterfowl species. They depart the north when there is a lot of open water and food. Conversely, in the spring they’re chasing the ice line trying to go back north. They’re trying to be the first one back to the Arctic, gambling on their fitness and when Arctic ice-out will occur.’’
 
Link said there is an advantage to the birds getting to the region early so they can defend their preferred spot.
 
“These birds have a nest bowl on the edge of a wetland,’’ Link said. “The male will chase other geese away from their chosen piece of real estate. Goslings are going to be flightless for 4-5 weeks after they hatch. They select nest sites where they can walk the young to prime grazing areas. If they don’t get a good spot, they may have a farther walk to get the goslings to a safe place.’’
 
The birds Link has captured span the entirety of the breeding range of white-fronts from east to west.
 
“It’s an enormous area spanning 2,300 miles from eastern Nunavut (in northern Canada) to the North Slope of Alaska,’’ Link said. “I capture the birds as independently as possible during the fall and winter and they branch out and go their own way. It’s great to see that we’re getting birds from the entirety of their range, not just a couple of breeding colonies. We’re learning but still have a lot of work to do.”
 
The tagged goose, which was harvested by a subsistence hunter on May 15 near the small Inuit village of Point Lay, made some long single-day flights as well, according to the data gathered.
 
Link, who was able to retrieve the transmitter from the goose, said the data gathered from the study, which will continue for at least two more years, has been invaluable.
 
For more information on the project and to learn how you can help, go to http://www.lawff.org/geese or contact Link at plink@wlf.la.gov.
 

Sherburne WMA Shooting Range Will Now Close on June 5 Due to Opening of Morganza Spillway

Release Date: 05/31/2019

May 31, 2019 – The Sherburne Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Shooting Range will close Wednesday (June 5) at sunset until further notice in anticipation of the opening of the Morganza Spillway on Thursday (June 6), the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced.
 
The previous planned closure on May 31 has been rescinded due to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers delayed opening of the spillway. The range will remain closed until waters recede from the area and necessary repairs made.
 
The range is located at 1132 Sherburne Road in Lottie, three miles south of U.S. Highway 190 on Louisiana Highway 975. For more information, call 337-566-2251.
 

Sherburne WMA Will Now Close on June 6 Due to Opening of Morganza Spillway

Release Date: 05/31/2019

May 31, 2019 – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will close Sherburne Wildlife Management Area (WMA) on Thursday (June 6) if the scheduled opening of the Morganza Spillway occurs as planned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on June 6.
 
The original closure date of Sunday (June 2) has been pushed back due to the delay of the spillway opening.
 
Sherburne WMA will remain closed from then until further notice. The WMA will be reopened once flood water has receded, necessary repairs have been made and the area is deemed safe for public use.
 
Sherburne WMA is located in Pointe Coupee, St. Martin and Iberville parishes and within the Morganza Floodway system of the Atchafalaya Basin between the Atchafalaya River and the East Protection Guide Levee.
 
For more information, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wma/2763 or contact Tony Vidrine, tvidrine@wlf.la.gov 337-735-8682 or Steven David, sdavid@wlf.la.gov at 337-735-8683.
 

LDWF to Close Sherburne WMA on June 1 Due to Opening of Morganza Spillway

Release Date: 05/29/2019

May 29, 2019 – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will close Sherburne Wildlife Management Area (WMA) on Saturday (June 1) at midnight due to the opening of the Morganza Spillway, which is scheduled to be opened Sunday (June 2).
 
Sherburne WMA will remain closed from then until further notice. The WMA will be reopened once flood water has receded, necessary repairs have been made and the area is deemed safe for public use.
 
Sherburne WMA is located in Pointe Coupee, St. Martin and Iberville parishes and in the Morganza Floodway system of the Atchafalaya Basin between the Atchafalaya River and the East Protection Guide Levee.
 
For more information, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wma/2763 or contact Tony Vidrine, tvidrine@wlf.la.gov 337-735-8682 or Steven David, sdavid@wlf.la.gov at 337-735-8683.
 

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