LDWF News Release

Juvenile Whooping Cranes Released Into the Marsh at White Lake WCA

Release Date: 12/30/2014

crane in flight
crane in marsh

Dec. 30, 2014 – Fourteen juvenile whooping cranes were released into the wild Monday at White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WCA) in Gueydan. The juvenile cranes join 26 adults that are part of an experimental population being monitored by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF).
The cranes were delivered to southwest Louisiana on Dec. 4 from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md.  LDWF is working cooperatively with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, USGS, the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and the International Crane Foundation to establish a non-migratory population in the state.
The whooping crane is protected under the federal Endangered Species and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts and by state law. Anyone encountering a whooping crane is advised to observe the bird from a distance.
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 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.  CitizenObserver, 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-cranes. For more information, contact Sara Zimorski at szimorski@wlf.la.gov or 337-536-9400, ext. 4.

$7,000 Reward Offered in Black Bear Death

Release Date: 12/23/2014

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Enforcement Division agents are seeking leads for an illegally killed black bear who was found in Avoyelles Parish.

A combined reward of $7,000 is being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the illegal killing of this bear. LDWF’s Operation Game Thief program and the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation are each offering a reward of $1,000 for a total of $2,000. Additionally, The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a reward up to $5,000.

A citizen alerted authorities on Dec. 5, 2014 about a dead black bear lying in the woods on Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge. The bear was collected by LDWF and USFWS agents.

A necropsy revealed that the bear was shot with a bullet that went through the abdomen and was likely dead for about 10 to 14 days before he was found. The length, weight and teeth wear of the bear suggest that the animal was a juvenile. The bear weighed approximately 70 pounds.

Anyone with information regarding this illegal killing should call the Louisiana Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-442-2511 or use LDWF’s tip411 program. Information can also be provided to USFWS Federal Wildlife Officers at the Central Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Complex by calling 318-253-4238.

To use the tip411 program, citizens can text LADWF and their tip to 847411 or download the “LADWF Tips” iPhone and Android app from the Apple App Store or Google Play free of charge.

The hotline and the tip411 are monitored 24 hours a day. Upon request, informants can remain anonymous.

The Louisiana black bear has been listed by the federal Endangered Species Act as a threatened species since 1992. Citizens are reminded that killing a Louisiana black bear is a violation of both State and Federal laws. Violators are subject to penalties up to $50,000 and six months in jail. In addition, a restitution fine of $10,000 for the bear may be imposed.

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

Montegut Man Cited for Spotted Sea Trout Fishing Violations

Release Date: 12/22/2014

A Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Southern Strikeforce agent cited a Montegut man for alleged spotted sea trout fishing violations on Dec. 17 in Terrebonne Parish.

Agent Lucas Hidalgo cited Mark J. Trahan, 42, for possession of 35 undersized spotted sea trout and possessing over the limit of spotted sea trout.

Agent Hidalgo stopped Trahan in Robinson Canal in Chauvin to conduct a boaters safety inspection.  During the inspection, Agent Hidalgo found Trahan in possession of 49 spotted sea trout of which 35 were undersized.  The daily limit for spotted sea trout is 25 per person and the minimum legal length is 12 inches.

Possessing over the limit of spotted sea trout and possessing undersized spotted sea trout each carries a $100 to $350 fine and up to 60 days in jail for each offense.  Trahan may also face a civil restitution charge of $1,013.95 for the 35 undersized spotted sea trout.

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

LDWF Offering Certification Course for Aquatic Education Instructors

Release Date: 12/22/2014

Dec. 22, 2014 -- The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is looking for volunteers who want to share their dedication to the sport of fishing.

A certification course for Aquatic Education Instructors is being offered on the weekend of January 23-25, 2015 at the department’s education facility located in Woodworth, south of Alexandria.  The course is provided at no cost to participants who will be given the information and tools to help them organize free fishing education programs in their communities.

LDWF’s education section is seeking outgoing and responsible adults who are interested in passing on their enthusiasm for fishing to children and novice adults, to serve as volunteer instructors. LDWF provides overnight accommodations on Friday and Saturday for course volunteers.  All Saturday meals and breakfast and a sack lunch on Sunday will be provided.  Check-in time is 6:30 p.m. on Friday and instruction begins at 7 p.m. The course will conclude at 11 a.m. on Sunday.  Class size is limited to 25 volunteers.

For more information, or to register, contact Theresa Cross at tcross@wlf.la.gov or ph. 337-491-2575, ext. 3009.


Louisiana Recreational Red Snapper Season to Close December 31, 2014

Release Date: 12/18/2014


Louisiana Recreational Red Snapper Season to Close December 31, 2014
(Dec. 18, 2014) – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced the state recreational red snapper season will remain open through the rest of December and will close at 11:59 pm on December 31, 2014. Using real-time data from LA Creel, our recreational landings monitoring program, we have determined that Louisiana anglers have not yet landed our state’s historic and projected share of the total Gulf of Mexico recreational red snapper harvest (14 percent, or 754,000 pounds). The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission previously opened a state waters season for red snapper to extend Louisiana’s season from the nine-day federal waters season originally proposed by NOAA. NOAA based this short season on imprecise estimates of recreational red snapper landings from their Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP); with LA Creel’s more precise estimates, Louisiana officials knew that nine days would not allow our anglers sufficient opportunity to catch their share.  
On January 1, 2014, the Department withdrew from MRIP and replaced it with LA Creel due to MRIP’s history of providing poor data and its inability to monitor landings in real-time. Had the Department accepted MRIP’s estimates and the subsequent nine-day season, Louisiana anglers would have only been able to land about 150,000 pounds of red snapper—far short of Louisiana’s historic landings. Through the extended state waters season, Louisiana anglers have landed about 605,000 pounds of red snapper to date, which is why the season can remain open through the rest of the year. Thanks to tremendous angler support of LA Creel and a recent saltwater license fee increase to continue to fund the program, the Department has the necessary tools to precisely monitor our recreational red snapper landings, flexibly manage the fishery, and maximize our anglers’ opportunities to fish red snapper.
The Department has continued negotiations with NOAA to recognize the validity of LA Creel and recently reached an agreement to “benchmark” LA Creel and officially establish it as a replacement for MRIP. Through the benchmarking process, the Department will run the MRIP survey side-by-side with LA Creel for the 2015 recreational fishing season. NOAA will compare the results from both surveys and adjust historic recreational landings estimates accordingly. Once LA Creel is benchmarked, Louisiana will no longer run MRIP, and officials hope that NOAA will support LA Creel and use its more precise results to conduct future stock assessments. This process paves the way for other Gulf states to adopt their own recreational angler survey programs, improves data collection, and helps move management of the recreational red snapper fishery forward.   
Beginning in January 2015, Louisiana anglers can expect to see an increased survey presence as Department personnel conduct both surveys statewide throughout the calendar year. “Our anglers have always been incredibly patient and helpful with our biologists, whether at the dock, over the phone, or via email,” said Department Secretary Robert Barham. “We ask for and greatly appreciate their continued cooperation as we take this important step in our quest towards regional management.” Secretary Barham recently testified on the benefits of Louisiana’s enhanced data collection in support of state management of red snapper during the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs hearing on H.R. 3099—the Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Conservation Act of 2013.
The Commission will determine Louisiana’s 2015 recreational red snapper season in their early 2015 meetings. For the latest updates on Commission meetings and actions, sign up for Department meeting alerts and/or news releases.
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.la.gov, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.
For press inquiries, contact Rene LeBreton at rlebreton@wlf.la.gov or (504) 286-8745.

Four Men Found Harvesting Oysters in Closed Area

Release Date: 12/18/2014

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents arrested four men for alleged oyster harvesting violations on Dec. 16 in Terrebonne Parish.

Agents arrested Alfredo De-Laoanaya, 21, of Houma, Francisco Maradingo-Ruiz, 34, of Houma, Esteban Morelos-Reyes, 60, of Houma, and Eliazar Martine-Macedo, 28, of Beaumont, Texas, for take oysters during a closed season on the Sister Lake Public Oyster Seed Reservation and taking oysters during illegal hours.  The captain of the vessel, De-Laoanaya, was also cited for violating the log book and vessel sanitation requirements sanitation codes, improper running lights, and improper boat numbers.

On Dec. 16, LDWF agents were notified about someone harvesting oysters during a closed season off of the Sister Lake Seed Reservation.  Agents setup surveillance and observed a vessel in the open water of Sister Lake dredging for oysters.

Agents stopped the vessel shortly before 6 p.m. and found the four men in possession of 60 sacks of oysters.  Agents seized the vessel, two oyster dredges and returned the oysters to the water.  The men were booked into the Terrebonne Parish Jail.

The Sister Lake Public Oyster Seed Reservation is closed for the 2014/15 season.

Agents participating in this care are Sgt. Bryan Marie, Senior Agent Stephen Rhodes, Agent Ryan Breaux and Agent Lucas Hidalgo.

Taking oysters during illegal hours carries a $900 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.  Taking oysters during a closed season brings a $900 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.  Having improper running lights and improper boat numbers carries up to a $50 fine and 15 days in jail for each offense.  Violating the logbook sanitation code and vessel sanitation requirements each carries up to a $25 fine and up to 10 days in jail for each offense.

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

Crab Trap Thief Sentenced in Plaquemines Parish

Release Date: 12/18/2014

On Dec. 16, a Marrero man pleaded guilty to commercial fishing violations committed in Plaquemines Parish.

Jessie Gainey, 45, pleaded guilty to his second offense of theft of crab traps in the 25th Judicial District Court of Plaquemines Parish.  Judge Michael Clement sentenced him to a fine of $250 plus court costs and a suspended jail term of six months.

Judge Clement also ordered Gainey to surrender his 2014 crab trap license.  Gainey is also prohibited of being on any commercial crab boat as a deckhand or captain and possessing a crab trap license until 2017.  He is also barred from selling crabs for the period of his license revocation.

The plea stems from an incident that occurred on July 9, 2014 when Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents arrested Gainey for removing the contents of crab traps that were not owned by him, failing to mark crab traps and theft of crab traps.

Agents set up surveillance on a line of crab traps in Grandpa Bayou in Port Sulphur.  Agents watched Gainey run a line of crab traps and empty the contents into his vessel.  Agents found the traps in Gainey’s boat untagged, tags cut and some with Gainey’s commercial fisherman’s tag on top of another fisherman’s tag.

Robert White with District Attorney Charles Ballay’s office prosecuted the case.  LDWF Investigating agents were Sgt. Adam Young and Agent Travis Bartlett.

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

Access Road to Hope Canal Boat Launch on Maurepas Swamp WMA Reopened

Release Date: 12/17/2014

Dec. 17, 2014 -- The access road to the Hope Canal boat launch on Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area in St. John the Baptist Parish has reopened.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries had closed the road Dec. 14 for bridge repairs.  Repairs to the bridge were completed by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

For more information, contact Christian Winslow at 985-543-4777 or cwinslow@wlf.la.gov.


LDWF Releases 2014 Managed Deer Hunt Results

Release Date: 12/17/2014

Dec. 17, 2014 -- Each year, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Wildlife Division schedules either-sex firearms deer hunts on many of the state Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs).

These opportunities are greatly anticipated by many hunters across the state and out-of-state as well. The hunts provide time when deer hunters and their families can enjoy the outdoors and have the opportunity to harvest deer of either-sex.
Good hunter participation and ample opportunity continue to result in good harvest rates and hunter success, and this year was no different. This year 26,469 hunter efforts were tallied during the 37 managed hunts that provided opportunities. Richard K. Yancey, Fort Polk, Dewey W. Wills, Sherburne and Boeuf WMAs attracted the greatest numbers of hunters with Richard K. Yancey drawing 5,264.
The total deer harvest for the 37 hunts was 2,600 which included 1,323 bucks and 1,215 does.
Wildlife Division personnel were able to collect valuable data during these hunts which help them manage each WMA’s deer herd.  WMA hunter efforts were consistent with past years while having a slightly higher success rate.  To view the full list of WMAs and data collected, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/hunting/deer/seasons and scroll down to the Documents section.
WMAs are distributed across the state and within a reasonable drive from any location.  WMA habitats for these hunts range from upland hardwood and pine sites to bottomland hardwoods. To view a complete list of state WMAs, visit http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wma .
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Wildlife Management Area Program is charged with providing necessary habitats to manage and protect both game and non-game wildlife, as well as to provide quality outdoor recreation for the public.
For more information: visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov, at www.facebook.com/ldwffb; on Twitter @LDWF; or by contacting Steve Smith at ssmith@wlf.la.gov or 225-765-2359.


EGCP Joint Venture Releases a Communications Strategy: "A Burning Issue: Prescribed Fire and Fire-adapted Habitats of the East Gulf Coastal Plain"

Release Date: 12/17/2014

Dec. 17, 2014 -- The East Gulf Coastal Plain Joint Venture has released its prescribed fire communications strategy, entitled "A Burning Issue: Prescribed Fire and Fire-adapted Habitats of the East Gulf Coastal Plain."
Developed with input from more than 45 prescribed fire/resource management experts throughout the East Gulf Coastal Plain, as well as guidance from the EGCPJV staff and board, the Strategy focuses on policy, outreach and education goals that address current impediments to the use of prescribed fire.  A total of 30 prescribed fire messages designed to achieve those goals provide background and detailed supporting information to serve as a flexible foundation for future communications and initiatives.
“Prescribed fire is a priority conservation issue for the East Gulf Coastal Plain Joint Venture,” said board member Amity Bass of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, who led the prescribed fire subcommittee. “We see the Prescribed Fire Strategy ("A Burning Issue") as an important tool in guiding efforts to educate others about how critical prescribed fire is to the health and continued existence of our natural heritage in the Southeast -- so much of which is fire dependent.”
The EGCPJV's role in promoting prescribed fire will highlight fire’s ecological benefits to wildlife, specifically birds, and provide wildlife-focused education and outreach materials to key audiences.  The EGCPJV plans to begin implementation of several communications projects in the summer of 2015, including the development of a pocket guide to birds of fire maintained habitats in the South and a PowerPoint presentation to share with agencies and interested groups for their use in promoting awareness of this issue.
Almost all Southeastern upland systems, as well as some types of wetlands, have been shaped and maintained by periodic fire.  Decades of fire suppression have degraded these systems and have changed the human perception of fire and its role on our landscape.  Prescribed fire serves as a crucial management tool to restore and maintain these habitats, and its use is a critically important issue in the Southeast.  
For an Executive Summary that provides additional details, go to -- http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/louisiana-natural-heritage-program.
For more information, contact Amity Bass, LDWF Natural Heritage Program, ph. 225-765-2975 or abass@wlf.la.gov .

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