LDWF News Release

LDWF Partners with Top Professional Anglers for Unique Stocking Event on Toledo Bend

Release Date: 05/16/2016

B.A.S.S. Elite Anglers picking up fingerlings
Florida largemouth bass fingerlings from LDWF's Booker Fowler Fish Hatchery
B.A.S.S. Elite Angler David Walker
B.A.S.S. Elite Angler Fabian Rodrigues

Over the weekend, twenty-two B.A.S.S. Elite Anglers teamed up with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to stock approximately 10,000 Florida largemouth bass fingerlings into the Toledo Bend Reservoir during their fifth stop on the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament trail. This innovative stocking is part of the department’s efforts to ensure consistent, quality fishing for Louisianans, now and in the future, with the hopes these fingerlings will grow to become the next generation of trophy bass.
Saturday’s stocking event tasked volunteer B.A.S.S. Elite Anglers to pick suitable, protective habitat and transport the fingerlings in their personal boats to appropriate sites throughout the reservoir.
“Typically, fingerlings stocked into areas of good habitat will have a better chance of survival,” explained LDWF Biologist Manager Kristi Butler. “Our goal with producing and stocking Florida largemouth bass is to increase anglers’ chances of catching larger than average bass and the Florida/Northern hybrid largemouth bass grow larger than Louisiana’s native Northern largemouth bass.”
Anglers met LDWF hatchery trucks at Cypress Bend Resort Boat Dock on Saturday morning to collect largemouth bass fingerlings bagged with water and oxygen. The fingerlings were produced at Booker Fowler Fish Hatchery in central Louisiana, and were roughly 2 to 2.5 inches in size.
“This inaugural stocking event not only directly improves the fishery, but gives the anglers ownership of the lake, which is frequently selected for competitive tournaments,” said Butler.  “In fact, in 2015, Toledo Bend Reservoir earned the top coveted spot on BASSMASTER Magazine’s ‘100 Best Bass Lakes in the Nation.’”
The success of the renowned fishery is due in great part to the agencies and organizations involved in the management of the fishery. Since 1990, LDWF, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Toledo Bend Lake Association, Sabine River Authority and the Sabine Parish Tourist Commission have worked together to release more than 28 million Florida-strain largemouth fingerlings into the massive reservoir. In 2016 alone, LDWF will produce and stock over 820,000 Florida largemouth bass fingerlings into Toledo Bend, helping to continue to rejuvenate the lake and increase catch rate.
The effectiveness of placing fast-growing Florida bass into the lake is evident by the numbers of double-digit fish entered into the Toledo Bend Lake Association’s Toledo Bend Lunker Program.  In 2015, the lake certified 81 bass weighing over 10 pounds. With only a few days left in the 2016 Lunker Program year, the program has certified a phenomenal 139 lunkers.
“That kind of success doesn’t happen by accident. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries “get it.” They know what they’re doing and understand the impact and value of the resource they have here,” explained B.A.S.S. Elite Angler Kevin VanDam. “Their stocking of Florida strain largemouth has really taken off and produced bigger bass here than ever before. As a result, the fishing is better, and Toledo Bend is a “hot” destination for anglers all over the country.”
The Bassmaster Elite Series is the highest level of professional bass fishing tournaments, with only the best anglers competing in nine tournaments plus a Classic bracket event. Toledo Bend was selected as a tournament stop due to its notoriety as prime bass fishing destination.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Reopens Russell Sage Wildlife Management Area

Release Date: 05/13/2016

May 13, 2016 - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has reopened Russell Sage Wildlife Management Area (WMA).
Water levels in associated river and drainage systems have receded enough to allow traffic on roads throughout the WMA. Interior access roads have been inspected and are safe for travel.
Russell Sage WMA is located in Morehouse, Ouachita, Richland, and Caldwell parishes and is approximately seven miles east of Monroe and ten miles west of Rayville.
For more information on this WMA, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wma/2777 or contact Lowrey Moak at 318-343-4044 or lmoak@wlf.la.gov.


Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Reopens Boeuf Wildlife Management Area

Release Date: 05/13/2016

May 13, 2016 - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has reopened Boeuf Wildlife Management Area (WMA).
Water levels in associated river and drainage systems have receded enough to allow traffic on roads throughout the WMA. Interior access roads have been inspected and are safe for travel.
Boeuf WMA is located in Catahoula and Caldwell parishes, north and south of La. Hwy. 4, approximately 10 miles southeast of Columbia.
For more information on this WMA, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wma/2777 or contact Lowrey Moak at 318-343-4044 or lmoak@wlf.la.gov.


Whooping Crane Chicks Hatched in Louisiana in April Reach One Month Mark This Week

Release Date: 05/13/2016


May 13, 2016 - The first whooping crane chicks hatched in Louisiana since 1939 continue to be reared by the mated pair that nested and conceived them one month after they hatched in Jefferson Davis Parish.

The initial hatch occurred April 11 with the second chick hatched two days later.

The hatchings, the first seen in Louisiana’s wild since 1939, represent another step forward in the program established in February of 2011 when the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) reintroduced whooping cranes back into the state at the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WLWCA) in Vermilion Parish.

“The family remains in the area where they nested and the chicks are growing fast,’’ said LDWF biologist Sara Zimorski, who leads the Louisiana whooping crane project. “We’re excited it has gone this well so far. The last month has been thrilling as our team has watched the process of the adults rearing the chicks.

“We’d like to thank our many partners who have helped with the project, especially the landowners and farmers in southwest Louisiana who have worked hand-in-hand with us as the birds nest on some of their property.’’

LDWF has partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Service and the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit to return the species to the state. Project funding comes from LDWF Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge funds, State Wildlife Grants Program, and private/corporate donations, which are facilitated by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation. Chevron has been a major corporate donor in the program. 


The adults paired earlier this winter and nested and produced eggs for the first time in mid-March. The female is 4 years old and the male just 3 years old.
Once abundant in Louisiana in the 1800s, the whooping cranes dwindled to two in 1945 and had disappeared by 1950 in the state.

Bob Love, a former LDWF Administrator of Coastal and Nongame Resources who initially secured approval for the whooping crane reintroduction project in 2010, said the hatchings represent a major milestone for the endeavor. It also shows, he said, that southwest Louisiana’s coastal prairie habitat coupled with the abundance of flooded crawfish and rice fields appears to be good breeding ground for whooping cranes.

“To have the successful reproduction at this early stage of the project is monumental,’’ said Love, who oversaw the project before retiring from LDWF in March. “It demonstrates how important the site-species relationship is for success. The critical habitat for the whooping crane to successfully reproduce is shallow water on that fertile prairie. In southwest Louisiana, we have that type habitat. It’s a massive habitat base that doesn’t exist in such quantities anywhere else in North America.’’

LDWF Secretary Charlie Melancon said the successful hatching is another example of Louisiana leading the way in helping imperiled species come back from the brink.

“This is not only significant for whooping crane reintroduction in Louisiana but for everywhere,’’ Melancon said. “We’re all working for the same goal and that is to restore a magnificent bird that was once plentiful. What our team has been able to demonstrate is a positive path to restore this species.’’


Whooping cranes in Louisiana are designated as a non-essential, experimental population (NEP) under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act. This designation and its implementing regulation were developed to be more compatible with routine human activities in the reintroduction area. The whooping crane is protected under the federal Endangered Species and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts and by Louisiana state law.

The initial cohort of birds received in 2011 marked the first presence of whooping cranes in the wild in Louisiana since 1950.
The WLWCA location in Vermilion Parish provides temporary shelter for the birds before their release into the wild. The cranes which make up the Louisiana population were raised at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md., and flown to Louisiana by the Windway Capital Corporation.
 Anyone encountering a whooping crane is advised to observe the bird from a distance and to report their sighting to LDWF (http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/webform/whooping-crane-reporting-form).
Whooping cranes are large-bodied, white birds similar to white ibis, white pelicans, and wood storks, all of which must be distinguished from legally-hunted snow geese. However, a red head and black facial markings along with a height of five feet and a wingspan of 7-8 feet make them very distinctive. In flight, Whooping cranes display black wing tips and fully extended neck and legs, which extend well beyond the tail.
Juvenile whooping cranes are primarily white with some cinnamon-brown feathers remaining on their body, primarily on their head and neck. Their wing tips are black like an adult, but they lack the red head.
Anyone witnessing suspicious activity involving harassment or shooting of whooping cranes is advised to report that information to LDWF’s Enforcement Division by calling 1-800-442-2511 or using the tip411 program, which may offer a cash reward for information leading to arrests or convictions. To use the tip411 program, citizens can text LADWF and their tip to 847411 or download the "LADWF Tips" iPhone app from the Apple iTunes store free of charge. Citizen Observer, the tip411 provider, uses technology that removes all identifying information before LDWF receives the text so that LDWF cannot identify the sender. 
Additional information on LDWF’s whooping crane project is available at http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/whooping. 


Louisiana Oyster Task Force to Meet

Release Date: 05/11/2016

John Tesvich, Chairman
Tuesday, May 17, 2016, at 1:00 p.m.
UNO Advanced Technology Center
2021 Lakeshore Dr., Room 210
New Orleans, Louisiana 70122
      I.         Roll call and introduction of guests
     II.         Approval of March 29, 2016, Meeting Minutes and May 17, 2016, Agenda
    III.         Treasury Report
                 A. Oyster tag sales
                 B. LOTF Financial Report
  IV.         Committee Reports
                A. Public and Private Oyster Grounds Committee (Mitch Jurisich)
                B. Enforcement (Captain Chad Hebert)
                C. Legislative (Jakov Jurisic)
                D. Research (Dr. Earl Melancon)
                E. Coastal Restoration (Dan Coulon)
                F. Marketing (LDWF)
                G. Health (Lance Broussard)
                H. Sustainability (LDWF)
                I. Professionalism (LDWF)
                J. Aquaculture
    V.         New Business
                A. Congresstional staff tour of LA oyster industry in early August (Al Sunseri)
                B. Legislative update (LDWF)
                C. Update from Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana on Oyster Shell 
                     Recycling Program (Corey Miller)
                D. Discussion of Industry Advancement Grants (Steve Beck)
                E. Public Oyster Seed Ground 2015/16 season summary (Steve Beck)
                F. Update on the Public Oyster Seed Ground Account (Steve Beck)
                G. Updates to the Public Oyster Seed Groud Areas (Steve Beck)
  VI.         Public Comment
 VII.         Set Next Meeting
VIII.         Adjourn
The meeting will be held in compliance with Louisiana’s Open Meetings Law as defined by Louisiana R.S. 42:11, et seq.  The public is invited to attend.  To listen in to the meeting via webinar register at:

LDWF Announces Lake Bistineau Public Meetings

Release Date: 05/11/2016

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will conduct two informational meetings concerning Lake Bistineau next week. 
Who:  LDWF fisheries staff
What:  Public information meeting on Lake Bistineau
When:  Tuesday, May 17 and Thursday, May 19 at 6:30 p.m.
Where:  LDWF Region 1 Office
             Jonathan Glasscock Memorial Classroom
              9961 Hwy. 80
              Minden, LA 71055
The May 17 meeting will include an update on the current status of the lake and will focus on the most frequently asked questions concerning the management of Lake Bistineau and giant salvinia. Attendees will have the opportunity to submit questions and have them answered during this meeting. 
During the May 19 meeting, LDWF staff will present information on the use of giant salvina weevils on the lake. Everyone interested in Lake Bistineau management is encouraged to attend. 
Space is limited to 100 people, so please come early. 
The current LDWF Lake Bistineau Management Plan is available at: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/fishing/waterbody-management-plans-inland
For additional information regarding the meetings, contact Jeff Sibley, LDWF Biologist Manager, at jsibley@wlf.la.gov or (318) 371-3066. 

LDWF Temporarily Opens Section of Muddy Bayou Road in Dewey W. Wills WMA

Release Date: 05/10/2016

May 10, 2016 – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has temporarily opened Muddy Bayou Road from Hunt Road to Nolan Bayou Road on Dewey W. Wills Wildlife Management Area (WMA) to passenger vehicle traffic only. Commercial vehicles remain prohibited at this time, and all users are cautioned to travel the area with care and at their own risk.
LDWF is opening the road so camp owners within the WMA can check on their property. LDWF is requesting that camp owners minimize their use of the road during this time. 
Sandy Bayou Road and the remainder of Muddy Bayou Road, from Nolan’s Bayou Road to Saline Bayou Bridge, remain closed until flood water recedes and repairs are made. 
Dewey W. Wills WMA is located in the southern portion of LaSalle and Catahoula parishes in central Louisiana approximately 20 miles northeast of Alexandria. For more information on the WMA, go to: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wma/2753 .
For more information, contact Cliff Dailey at 318-487-5885 or adailey@wlf.la.gov .


LDWF to Hold Research, Management and Education Symposium May 31 in Baton Rouge

Release Date: 05/09/2016

May 9, 2016 – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Office of Wildlife will host a research, management and education symposium May 31 from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at LDWF headquarters in Baton Rouge.
The symposium, which will be held in the Louisiana Room, will feature LDWF biologists from across the state presenting the latest information on wildlife management, research and education.  In addition, graduate students from across the state will present their compiled research in a poster session.
The event is free and open to the public and no preregistration is required. For more information, contact Jeff Duguay at 225-765-2353 or jduguay@wlf.la.gov.


LDWF Enforcement Division Agents Assist in DWI Case in Which Grand Isle Commercial Fisherman Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison

Release Date: 05/07/2016

May 7, 2016 – Rockey Burnham, a 44-year-old Grand Isle commercial fisherman, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday (May 6) after his sixth conviction for DWI, a case in which Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents Sgt. Ezekiel Talbert and Senior Agent Michael Marques assisted.
Burnham was accused by Jefferson Parish prosecutors of colliding his boat into several other watercraft and a shrimp dock in Grand Isle on April 28, 2015. Prosecutors said he was under the influence of diazepam, nordiazepam and methamphetamine. He was found guilty by a jury April 20 of fourth-offense or more DWI and sentenced May 6 by Judge Conn Regan of the 24th Judicial District Court.
Burnham will serve his sentence without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence, the Jefferson Parish district attorney's office stated.
LDWF Enforcement Division agents were notified by and assisted the U.S. Coast Guard after the incident in Grand Isle. Impairment was considered a possible contributing factor.
After performing poorly on a series of standardized field sobriety tests, Burnham was arrested by Talbert and Marques for DWI and transported to the Grand Isle Police Station. Further tests were administered and Burnham was later transported to Jefferson Parish Detention Center.


Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Free Recreational Fishing Days Set for June 11-12

Release Date: 05/06/2016

May 6, 2016 - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Free Recreational Fishing Days will be held June 11-12. Both Louisiana residents and non- residents will be allowed to fish without a license on any of the state’s public waters during that weekend.
Louisiana offers miles of shoreline and a myriad of freshwater lakes, marsh and bayous to take opportunity of during this annual event.
LDWF hopes the weekend will introduce newcomers, visitors and people who haven’t fished in a while to one of Louisiana’s most popular sports. If you already have a fishing license, consider taking a friend or family member who has never been fishing. 
Anglers are allowed to fish on all public bodies of waters without a license, but all fishing regulations still apply.
For press inquiries, contact Rene LeBreton at rlebreton@wlf.la.gov or 504-286-8745

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