LDWF News Release

L.D.W.F. Agents Rescue Boaters in Vermilion Bay

Release Date: 10/28/2010

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents rescued two boaters this morning, Oct. 28, from the rough waters of Vermilion Bay in St. Mary Parish.

Responding to a 911 call around 7:30 a.m., LDWF Senior Agents Jason Romero and David Ducote found Rocky Romero, 45, and Willie Reaux, 52, both of New Iberia, clinging to a wharf piling after their 17-foot vessel had capsized and sank.

Agents threw a personal flotation device (PFD) connected to a rope to one of the men and were able to pull the man to their 32-foot whaler. Assisting the agents was a shrimp boat and its crew as they were able to pull the other man to their boat. Both men were wearing their PFDs, which helped them keep afloat as help arrived.

"Our agents are highly trained and have the equipment necessary for search and rescue missions. These two agents with assistance from the public did a great job in responding as fast as possible and getting the two men out of the water and back to shore," said Col. Winton Vidrine, head of LDWF's Enforcement Division. "The men that were rescued should also be congratulated as they did the right thing by notifying 911 before it was too late and wearing their lifejackets."

Agents and the local shrimp boat transported the men to Cypremort Point where Emergency Medical Specialists were waiting. The men were treated for minor injuries and released. LDWF agents will conduct a boating incident investigation to determine why the vessel capsized and sank.

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


Agenda for November Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission Meeting

Release Date: 10/28/2010

The next regular Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission Meeting will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, November 4, 2010, in the Louisiana Room at the Wildlife and Fisheries Building, 2000 Quail Drive, Baton Rouge, LA.

The following items will be discussed:

  1. Roll Call
  2. Approval of Minutes of October 7, 2010
  3. Commission Special Announcements/Personal Privilege
  4. To receive and hear Presentation of Shikar-Safari Club International Wildlife Officer of the Year Award
  5. To receive and hear Enforcement & Aviation Reports/October
  6. To receive and Announce Winners of the Duck Stamp Competition
  7. To receive and hear Presentation of Thistlethwaite WMA Lease by Landowners
  8. To receive and hear Overview of Mississippi Alluvial Valley WMAs
  9. To receive and consider Declaration of Emergency and Notice of Intent on Fisheries Closures due to Oil Spill
  10. To receive and hear Request by Oyster Task Force to Discuss 2010 Oyster Season East of Mississippi River and Hackberry Bay
  11. Set March 2011 Meeting Date
  12. Receive Public Comments
  13. Adjournment


L.D.W.F. to Close Greater Amberjack Commercial Fishery at 12:01 a.m., October 28

Release Date: 10/27/2010

NOAA predicts quota will be met; fishery will reopen January 1, 2011.

Baton Rouge (October 27, 2010) - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will close the greater amberjack commercial fishery in state waters at 12:01 a.m., October 28. LDWF Secretary Robert Barham signed the closure, which coincides with the federal closure issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NOAA predicts that the 2010 commercial quota will be met by October 28, and, as a result, has requested that the state match the closure in federal waters.

After the closure, all commercial harvest, possession, purchase, barter, trade, sale or attempt to purchase, barter, trade or sell greater amberjack is prohibited until 12:01 a.m., January 1, 2011, the date set for the opening of the 2011 season. The prohibition on the sale or purchase of greater amberjack during the closure does not apply to those that were harvested, landed ashore and sold prior to the effective date of the closure and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor provided appropriate records in accordance with R.S. 56:306.5 and 56:306.6 are properly maintained.

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.


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.


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.


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.


Fort Polk W.M.A. Closed To Hunting From Oct. 30-31

Release Date: 10/20/2010

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is announcing that the Fort Polk Wildlife Management Area (WMA) will be closed to hunting from Oct. 30-31 due to military training operations.

This closing means that the LDWF scheduled either sex deer hunt on Oct. 30-31 on the WMA is cancelled. The Fort Polk WMA is scheduled to be re-opened for the bucks only season beginning on Nov. 1.

Please check the LDWF Web site at www.wlf.louisiana.gov for any possible future hunting closings and openings.

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


Pointe Coupee Men Cited for Hunting Violations

Release Date: 10/19/2010



Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents cited three Pointe Coupee Parish men on Oct. 14 for alleged hunting violations in Pointe Coupee Parish.

Agents cited Richard Plauche, 22, of Blanks, Robert Otremba, 21, of Livonia and Joseph Plauche, 17, of Blanks, for hunting wild quadrupeds during illegal hours and hunting from a moving vehicle.

Agents were working a complaint near Frisco when they heard a gun shot shortly after 10 p.m. After investigating the shot further, agents found a freshly killed rabbit in the bed of a pick up truck. After questioning the three men, the agents determined that the three men allegedly shot the rabbit from the moving pick up truck they were riding in.

Hunting wild quadrupeds during illegal hours and hunting from a moving vehicle each carry fines between $250 and $500, or jail time up to 90 days, or both plus court costs.

Agents participating in the case were Sgt. Cliff Ortis, Senior Agents Allan Marbury and Seth Gauthier.

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


Four New Orleans Men Cited for Federal Fisheries Violations

Release Date: 10/19/2010

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents cited four New Orleans area residents for allegedly possessing over the legal daily bag limit of cobia on Oct. 15.

Agents found Toan Van Tran, 60, Thanh Van Tran, 28, and John Truong Vu, 28, all of New Orleans, and Anthony Anduc Nguyen, 45, of Gretna, fishing off the coast of Plaquemines Parish in federal waters, known as the Exclusive Economic Zone, or EEZ.

The LDWF Agents were on a Joint Enforcement Agreement patrol for the National Marine Fisheries Service when they observed the men fishing at a rig located in West Delta Block 44. During a fisheries compliance inspection, the men were found to be in joint possession of 13 cobias, as well as other species of offshore fish.

The daily bag limit for cobia is two fish per person with a minimum size limit of 33 inches.

The penalties for possessing over the limit of cobia is a fine between $100 and $350, or jail time up to 60 days, or both plus court costs. Agents seized the five cobia that were over the limit and donated them to the Ozanam Inn in New Orleans, an organization that feeds the area homeless.

The agents involved in the case were Sgt. Jason Russo and Agent Terrence Hicks.

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


Land Owned by Rice-Land Lumber Co. Serves as Safe Harbor for Woodpecker

Release Date: 10/15/2010

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has enrolled 49,712 acres of land owned by Rice-Land Lumber Co. in the Louisiana Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis) (RCW) Safe Harbor Program.

The Safe Harbor Management Agreement with Rice-Land Lumber, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rice University, established a baseline number of one RCW family group on the company's lands. Rice agreed to employ Larson & McGowin Inc. to manage the RCW on its land to contribute to the regional stability of the bird's populations in southwest Louisiana. 

"We welcome all private landowners who support the department's wildlife species preservation efforts and Rice-Land is to be commended for their commitment," said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham. 

Rice University has owned the lands enrolled, which includes acreage within Allen, Beauregard, Evangeline and Rapides parishes, for more than a century; timber harvest in the early 1900s funded development and construction of the university. This timberland has been managed by Larson & McGowin, Inc., for over a decade. "We are pleased to have the Safe Harbor Agreement in place which allows for continued forest management and promotes the recovery of the endangered RCW simultaneously," said Ron Long, interim vice president for investments and treasurer at Rice University. 

The RCW is a federally and state-listed endangered species that inhabits open pine forests greater than 60 years old. Rice-Land Lumber has agreed to intensively manage 219 acres in Beauregard Parish for nesting and foraging habitat and to perform prescribed burning. 

"The RCW Safe Harbor Program represents LDWF's commitment to work with private landowners who want to proactively manage for endangered species on their property," said Eric Baka, RCW Safe Harbor coordinator. "The Safe Harbor Program helps remove the perceived disincentives associated with endangered species management and rewards landowners for their actions."

LDWF received a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Section 10 permit, authorizing it to administer the RCW Safe Harbor Program in January 2005. Multiple partners helped shaped the final document, including nongovernmental organizations, private landowners, environmental consultants and state and federal agencies. The RCW Safe Harbor Program is designed to encourage landowners to actively and voluntarily manage pine timberlands for the benefit of the RCW while reducing the fear of having an endangered species on their property. Landowners agree to employ one or more of five voluntary habitat management strategies that have a net conservation benefit for the RCW. These strategies include forest management, hardwood midstory management, prescribed burning, RCW cavity management and RCW population management.

The Safe Harbor program allows landowners greater flexibility to manage their forest resources while benefiting the RCW through baseline shifts. Essentially the landowner increases its RCW population via the installation of recruitment clusters and reassigns baseline responsibilities with LDWF approval. This provision of the Safe Harbor Program allows for greater stability for RCW populations by aggregating previously demographically isolated groups. 

With the addition of the Rice lands, LDWF has 15 landowners enrolled in the RCW Safe Harbor Program, totaling 481,332 acres, with 101 baseline RCW groups and 2 above-baseline RCW groups. LDWF is currently working with numerous other landowners interested in enrolling in the Louisiana RCW Safe Harbor Program. 

Landowners interested in the Louisiana RCW Safe Harbor Program or information regarding RCW management can contact Eric Baka, RCW Safe Harbor coordinator, at ebaka@wlf.la.gov or 318-487-5890.

For more information, contact Eric Baka at 318-487-5890 or ebaka@wlf.la.gov.


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