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LDWF News Release

Agencies Continue Investigation of Fish Kill in Pearl River

Release Date: 08/17/2011

August 17, 2011 – State, local and federal agencies continue to respond to a fish kill in the Pearl River that originated near Bogalusa in Washington Parish. This fish kill was reported on Saturday and the slug of black water believed to have caused or contributed to the fish kills has moved south through St. Tammany Parish.

In response to the event, the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness has deployed its Mobile Command Unit to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Pearl River Wildlife Management Area to serve as unified command area to support local emergency management and other state agencies in this response effort.  GOHSEP has also activated its Crisis Action Team. LDWF and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) continue to monitor the water in Pearl River. Water sampling results for dissolved oxygen and pH show the river is returning to normal water quality.

Officials from DEQ worked with its counterparts in Mississippi to have the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District increase the discharge from the Ross Barnett Reservoir to increase the flow in the Pearl River, according to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. The increased flow in the river will increase the amount of fresh water in the river and help increase the low oxygen currently in the river.

LDWF fisheries biologists continue to survey the Pearl River, beginning in Pools Bluff Sill south to the Rigolets. On Tuesday, August 16, LDWF staff surveyed 36 miles of the West Pearl River from Holmes Bayou to the Rigolets.

The total number of dead fish and mussels is still being compiled; information from each day’s surveillance will be assembled for a total count at the end of the event. The final total estimates will include those from DEQ and Mississippi DEQ. To date, 24 species of fish have been identified as part of the fish kill, including paddlefish, American eels, catfish, bass, bluegill and shad. Two species of freshwater mussels have also been identified in the fish kill.

Also included in the kill are Gulf sturgeon -- a species listed as “threatened” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. As of August 16, 19 Gulf sturgeon were collected by LDWF. Specimens are being handed over to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as part of their investigation. LDWF fisheries biologists and enforcement agents are assisting USFWS in the investigation. 

The Department of Health and Hospitals recommends the following precautions, if you encounter or come into contact with (are exposed to) a fish kill:

• Stay out of the affected waters – If you were exposed to these waters, then bathe well with soap and water. Use antiseptics on any open cut or wound.
• Do not eat, handle, or collect any fish or shellfish from the affected waters.
• Do not let pets wade or swim in, drink, or eat fish from the affected waters.
• Seek medical advice if you experience illness that may be related to exposures to a fish kill, such as skin irritation or infection, upset stomach, sore throat, or breathing difficulty. 

The investigation into the cause of the fish kill continues.

The agencies involved have put together the following list of frequently asked questions to assist local officials and the public:


Pearl River
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q. Where do we call with complaints/information?
A.   The DEQ hotline number is 225-342-1234 or 1-888-763-5424. The DEQ Regional Office number is 504-736-7701.  The LDWF 24-hour hotline for reporting further fish kill impacts is 1-800-442-2511. If someone has questions about coming into contact with “black water,” the number for the Louisiana Poison Center, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is 1-800-222-1222. Media inquiries should go to 225-219-3964 or 225-329-9743.

Q. Is my drinking water safe?
A. Yes. No public water systems take water from the Pearl River, so there is no risk to drinking water from community water systems. Additionally, out of an abundance of caution, DHH sampled three public water systems along the Pearl River for volatile organic contaminants (VOCs) to confirm that the ground water supply was not impacted by the discharge incident. The samples showed no increase in VOCs and no VOCs above contaminant levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Q. What about private well water?
A. Private wells should be constructed in a way that does not take water from the river, so they should not be impacted. Additional testing of public water systems shows no VOCs above the level of concern in groundwater. People who are concerned should have their wells tested and/or treated.

Q.  Are there any human health risks from the substance that was discharged into the river?
A.  Fish kills occur for several reasons. The most common cause of death in a fish kill is a sudden shortage or absence of oxygen in the water. This does not pose a major human health risk. If a hazardous substance is involved, more caution will be required. Testing is currently underway by public safety officials. In the meantime, DHH recommends the following precautions, if you encounter or come in contact with (are exposed to) a fish kill:

• Stay out of the affected waters – If you went into these waters, then bathe well with soap and water. Use antiseptics on any open cut or wound.
• Do not eat, handle, or collect any fish or shellfish from the affected waters.
• Do not let pets wade or swim in, drink, or eat fish from the affected waters.
• Seek medical advice if you experience illness that may be related to contact with the water or dead fish and might include skin irritation or infection, GI upset, sore throat, or breathing difficulty. 

Q. Are any waterways closed as a result of this incident?
A. No. The Pearl River is a federally designated waterway; only the U.S. Coast Guard may issue a closure for this river and it has not done so at this time.

Q. What is the “Black Water” that is referred to in this incident?
A. We believe that the black water originated from an upset condition in the wastewater treatment system at the Temple Inland facility in Bogalusa.  However, we are in the middle of investigating the existing facts of the matter and are awaiting the results of analytical tests.  This material is what is commonly known in the paper industry as black liquor.  This material has a very high level of organic material that quickly reduces the available dissolved oxygen in the water.  Fish and other aquatic life actually suffocate when trapped in this water. 

Q. Who is responsible for this incident?
A. An investigation is ongoing by Louisiana, Mississippi and Federal officials to determine the cause or causes that lead to the fish kill. Again, we believe that the black water originated from an upset condition in the wastewater treatment system at the Temple Inland facility in Bogalusa.  However, the investigation continues as agencies continue to gather data.

Q. When the responsible party is found what happens to them?
A. The various agencies involved will each take the appropriate enforcement action based on the facts each uncovered during the investigation

Q. What are the terms DO and pH?
A. DO stands for dissolved oxygen.  It is a key factor in a healthy ecosystem and sufficient dissolved oxygen is necessary for fish to ‘breathe’. While the level of DO varies widely depending on the water body, a level of 5-7 parts per million would be normally expected in the upper reaches of the Pearl River. Additionally, pH is a chemical description for the acid/base condition of water.  It is based on a 0-14 scale with 6-8 considered generally to be normal.

Q. When will the river be back to normal?
A. The facility has been shut down since Saturday.  As such, there is no flow of effluent from the facility.  The material has flowed down the river to the Rigolets.  Subsequently, the water at the source of the discharge has already recovered.  DEQ has specialized personnel that will be on scene tomorrow that will examine the hydrology (movement, distribution, and quality of water) of the river.  After that examination we may better be able to determine when the water quality of the river will be back to normal. Water monitoring in the river shows the DO and pH levels are getting back to normal.

Q. Who is going to clean up the dead fish?
A. Temple Inland is hiring contractors and local fishermen to clean up the floating dead fish.  Citizens should leave the clean up to the contractors since federal and state law requires certain information be collected in these types and numbers of fish collected in these incidents. The estimated cleanup time if four to five days, but no timeframe is set because of the number of fish to be recovered may increase.

Q. Where will the dead fish go?
A. The fish will be disposed in a manner that meets local state, and federal laws.

Q. What kinds of fish are included in the fish kill?
A. As of now, LDWF biologists have identified 24 different species of fish in the fish kill. Some of those species are the paddlefish, the American eel, catfish, bluegill, bass and shad. Two species of freshwater mussels were also impacted by the fish kill.

Q. Were Gulf sturgeon, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, impacted by the fish kill?
A. Yes, 19 Gulf sturgeon (as of August 16) have been collected by LDWF officials and are in the custody of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for further investigation.

Q. Is the responsible party going to be shut down?
A. The facility suspected of the source of the discharge is currently not in operation.  They will not resume operations until we have assurance that they can do so safely.  Also, agencies are working with the company to assure that preventative measures are taken to prevent recurrence. 

Q. When did the fish start dying?
A. The investigation of the exact chain of events is still ongoing.  We were notified of the incident on Saturday, and the fish appeared at that time to have been dead for several days.

Q. How far did the pollution spread?
A. The investigation is ongoing; however DEQ believes the main mass of “Black Water” travelled down the West Pearl to the Rigolets.

 

For more information, contact Rodney Mallett at (225) 219-3964

2011 White Lake W.C.A. Youth Waterfowl Hunts Announced

Release Date: 08/16/2011

Aug. 16, 2011-- The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is accepting applications for the 2011 youth waterfowl lottery hunts on White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WCA) in Vermilion Parish.

There is no charge for the LDWF-sponsored hunts on Nov. 5 and 6, provided as a quality experience for young waterfowl hunters. The participants in the hunts will be determined by a lottery drawing.

Applications for the lottery should be submitted to LDWF before close of business on Sept. 15, 2011. One applicant will be selected based on the Office of Wildlife’s seven field office geographic coverage areas plus one participant selected from the state at large.

Applicants must be 15 years of age and younger.  Selected hunters must be accompanied in the blind by a parent or guardian, though the youth will be the only one permitted to possess a firearm.

Applications may be obtained by contacting any of LDWF's field offices or by visiting the LDWF website at http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/hunting/lottery-hunts .  Completed applications may be delivered in person to Room 458 of the LDWF Building in Baton Rouge, or by mail.  The mailing address is: Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Attention: White Lake Youth Waterfowl Hunt at P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA 70898.

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/ldwffbor follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For more information on White Lake WCA youth waterfowl hunts, contact Wayne Sweeney at 337-479-1894 or sweeneykw@bellsouth.net .

Louisiana Crab Task Force to Meeting

Release Date: 08/15/2011

August 15, 2011 - The next meeting of the Louisiana Crab Task Force will be on Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 4:30 p.m. in the Louisiana Room of the Wildlife and Fisheries Headquarters Building in Baton Rouge, LA. 

Agenda items will include:  2012 Abandoned Crab Trap Program recommendations; a presentation by Lee Buckner, “Returns above Specified Costs: A Case Study of Lake Pontchartrain Basin Crab Fishing Trips from 2008-2010”; “Louisiana Wild” seafood certification program; LSPMB Marketing Strategy questions for the Blue Crab Industry; Crab peelings to Crab pellets; 2011 Crab Education Day planning; Blue Crab Marketing and Promotion Efforts.

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/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For more information please contact Carl Britt at cbritt@wlf.la.gov or (985)882-0027.  For press inquiries please contact Laura Wooderson at lwooderson@wlf.la.gov or (225)610-2363.

Louisiana Shrimp Task Force to Meet in Baton Rouge

Release Date: 08/15/2011

Louisiana Shrimp Task Force to Meet in Baton Rouge

August 15, 2011 – On Thursday, August 18, at 10:00 a.m., the Louisiana Shrimp Task Force will meet in Baton Rouge at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Headquarters in the fourth floor conference room. 

The agenda for the meeting is as follows:

        I.         Call to Order

        II.      Roll Call

        III.     Approval of 5.10.11 Meeting Minutes

        IV.     Introduction of New Member, Matt O’Brien, Dock Processor

        V.      Review and Approve Letter to Congressional Delegates Regarding Feinberg Issue

        VI.    Response from Senator Landrieu’s Office on Letter Regarding RESTORE Act

       VII.    Update on TED Issue

      VIII.    Update on Marketing Strategy from LSPMB

        IX.    Discussion on Increasing Shrimp Industry Funds to LSPMB

         X.    Discussion of Inside/Outside Boundaries

         XI.   Sustainability Update

        XII.   LouisianaWild Caught Certification Program Update – Joey Shepard

       XIII.   Shrimp Management Update – Marty Bourgeois

       XIV.    Public Comment

        XV.    Set Next Meeting Date

       XVI.   Closing Remarks

      XVII.   Adjourn

The Louisiana Shrimp Task Force was created by Act 606 of the Louisiana Legislature to study and monitor the shrimp industry and to make recommendations to the state.

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/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

This meeting is open to the public.

For more information contact Laura Wooderson at lwooderson@wlf.la.gov or (225) 610-2363.

 

License Still Needed to Hunt Feral Hogs

Release Date: 08/15/2011

 

August 15, 2011-The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) wants to remind citizens that a valid Louisiana hunting license is still required to take outlaw quadrupeds including feral hogs with the new laws that went into effect today, Aug. 15.

Legislation passed during the 2011 Legislative Session, provides additional options for citizens to take outlaw quadrupeds (armadillos, coyotes, feral hogs) and nuisance animals (nutria and beaver).

House Bill 294, signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal as Act 95, makes it legal beginning today, to take outlaw quadrupeds, nutria and beaver at night from March through August on private property with any legal firearm.  Anyone taking part in these activities at night is required to notify the parish sheriff’s office 24 hours in advance of any such hunt.

Additionally, House Bill 169, signed into law by Governor Jindal as Act 29, allows the take of nuisance quadrupeds at night using sound suppressors on the firearm(s) utilized, beginning today.  Anyone using such a weapon must have in possession a valid permit issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  The use of sound suppressed weapons is restricted to the take of outlaw quadrupeds, including coyotes and feral hogs, from March through August on private property.

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/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Agencies Investigating Fish Kill in Pearl River

Release Date: 08/15/2011

August 15, 2011 – Fisheries biologists with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) received a report of a large fish kill in the Pearl River near Bogalusa on Saturday afternoon, August 13, 2011. Biologists immediately coordinated with emergency responders from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and began surveys and testing of water conditions in the affected areas.
 
LDWF personnel tested the water for potential causes of the fish kill, including pH and levels of dissolved oxygen -- some common factors in fish kills. Biologists surveyed 45 miles of the river from Richardson Landing to the entrance of the West Pearl River Navigation Canal. DEQ also sent an emergency responder and a water quality specialist to investigate the fish kill.
 
Several thousand aquatic species were observed dead or dying along the river, including surface, middle and bottom dwellers. Of the fish species included in the fish kill were Paddlefish, American eels, catfish, bass, bluegill and shad.
 
DEQ has taken samples of the river water. Those samples have been sent to a lab for analysis and should be back within four to five days. The agencies involved advise the public to be aware of and avoid foam on the river or any water that is discolored.  DEQ continues to investigate the cause of the fish kill.

Working together, DEQ, LDWF, the Department of Health and Hospitals, Governor’s Office of Homeland Security, as well as local and federal responders, determined that a slug of partially treated or untreated wastewater reached the river and may have caused or contributed to the fish kill.
 
According to DHH, there is no impact on drinking water from community water systems, none of which draw water from the river. DHH advises that people should not come in contact with discolored water in the Pearl River and never collect dead or floating fish to eat.
 
Crews with LDWF, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and DEQ continue to survey the river today, Monday, August 15..
 
On the Mississippi side, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality surveyed the river from Pools Bluff Sill to Walkai Bluff.

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

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

LDWF Offering Cash Reward for Vandals on Rockefeller Refuge

Release Date: 08/12/2011

 

August 12, 2011-The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division is seeking leads on a recent act of vandalism on the Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge (SWR) located in Cameron and Vermilion Parishes.

The Rockefeller SWR employees noticed the new Rockefeller SWR sign had seven bullet holes on Aug. 10.  Employees also found that some bullets had gone through the sign striking a dormitory building on the property.  This dormitory building houses a high volume of guests year round.

The Rockefeller SWR entrance sign is located off of Hwy. 82 directly in front of the property's headquarters building and was purchased and installed in March of this year.

Anyone with information regarding this act of vandalism on the Rockefeller SWR or any other wildlife crime should call the Louisiana Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-442-2511.  Cash rewards up to $1,000 are offered for information leading to the apprehension of vandals associated with this incident.  Callers will also remain anonymous.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

LDWF Seeks Volunteers to Participate in Elmer's Island Beach Sweep

Release Date: 08/12/2011

August 8, 2011 – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will host a beach clean-up at Elmer’s Island, located in Jefferson Parish, Thursday, August 18 beginning at 8 a.m.  Elmer’s Island Wildlife Refuge, located at the southwestern tip of Jefferson Parish, directly across from the Caminada Pass in Grand Isle, Louisiana, is historically known for its excellent fishing opportunities and public beach access that families and anglers alike enjoy.

LDWF, along with Louisiana State University AgCenter, is seeking volunteers, both individuals and organizations, to help pick up debris and help restore the beauty of Elmer’s Island.

What:  Elmer’s Island Beach Sweep

When:  Thursday, August 18, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Who:  LDWF biologists, Grand Isle officials and LSU AgCenter representatives

To sign-up to volunteer please contact:  Julia Lightner at jlightner@wlf.la.gov or (504) 913-7849 or Caitlin Reilly at creilly@agcenter.lsu.edu or (504) 495-8763. 

Volunteers are reminded to take the proper precautions against the summer conditions by wearing a hat and sunscreen.  LDWF will provide drinks, but there will be minimal shade available. 

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/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For press inquiries please contact Laura Wooderson at lwooderson@wlf.la.gov or (225)610-2363.

Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission Calls Special Meeting for August 17

Release Date: 08/11/2011

The Wildlife and Fisheries Commission has scheduled a special meeting for 9:30 AM on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 in the Louisiana Room of the Wildlife and Fisheries Headquarters Building, 2000 Quail Drive, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

 

            1.  Roll Call

 

            2.  To consider Declaration of Emergency to amend the 2011-2012 hunting season to allow hunting deer with dogs on Kisatchie National Forest

 

            3.  Public Comments

 

            4.  Adjourn

 

L.O.W.A. Honors Members for Excellence in Outdoor Communications

Release Date: 08/11/2011

Aug. 11, 2011– The Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association (LOWA) honored members during the group’s 66th annual conference, Aug. 5-6 in Houma. The honorees were selected for awards in the association’s 2011 Excellence in Craft (EIC) competition.

The EIC contest, which recognizes excellence within eight categories of outdoor-related communications, has been held continuously since 1945. Member entries for the 2011 competition were judged by members of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association.

LOWA membership includes newspaper and magazine writers, editors, columnists, photographers, radio and television broadcast journalists, wildlife artists, internet journalists, book authors, videographers and public relations specialists.

For more detailed information about the competition or LOWA, visit www.laoutdoorwriters.com. The winners and sponsors of the 2011 EIC competition by category:

 

Magazine Short Feature (less than 1000 words)

1st  John Flores: The Blind View

2nd James Guice: The Young Hunter

3rd Deborah Burst: Flight of the Egret

Co-Sponsors: LA Forestry Association and LA Association of Professional Biologists

 

Magazine Regular Feature (more than 1,000 words)

1st Jerald Horst: Fish Under Our Noses

2nd Jerald Horst: Hidden Talons

3rd John Flores: The Majestic Whooping Crane

Co-Sponsors: LA Charter Boat Association and Houma Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

 

Newspaper Article

1st Glynn Harris: I Can’t – Not in Dyer’s Vocabulary

2nd John Flores: Where the Wind Blows

3rd John Flores: Nighttime Operations

Sponsor: LA Sportsman Magazine

 

Broadcast (radio or television)

1st Glynn Harris: Clay Dyer No Quitter

2nd Joe Macaluso and Gary Rispone: Trinity Outdoors-Disabled Hunt

3rd Glynn Harris: Black and Blue Friday

Sponsor: National Wild Turkey Federation – LA Chapter

 

Electronic Media

1st Deborah Burst: Paying Tribute to the Atchafalaya Basin

2nd Lyle Johnson: The Camp

3rd David Moreland: Outdoor Roots

Sponsor: CCA Louisiana

 

Black and White Still Photograph
1st John Flores: Pond-ering Around

2nd John Flores: Upland Pass

3rd Jerald Horst: Parasitic isopod on redfish

Sponsor: Bass Anglers Sportsman Society

 

Color Still Photograph
1st Jerald Horst: How the yellowfin tuna got its name

2nd John Flores: A Job Well Done

3rd Paula Ouder: Christopher Green

 

Sponsor: LA Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation

 

Topical Article on Coastal Wetland Protection/Restoration (more than 750 words)

1st Lyle Johnson: Coastal Restoration – Is There Hope?

2nd Lyle Johnson: This Used To Be Paradise

3rd Wendy Billiot: Coastal Restoration – Beating a Dead Horse?

Sponsor: Coastal Wetland Planning, Protection and Restoration Act Outreach Committee

 

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/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

 

For more information, contact Chris Holmes at 504-495-8189 or cholmes@att.net, or Bo Boehringer at 225-765-5115 or bboehringer@wlf.la.gov .

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