LDWF News Release

LDWF Officials Withdraw Participation from NOAA’s MRIP Survey Program

Release Date: 09/05/2013

NOAA Fisheries Once Again Grossly Miscalculates Red Snapper Quota for the Gulf
September 4, 2013 – In the seemingly endless battle over red snapper management, the Louisiana Department Wildlife and Fisheries took the boldest step to-date, by withdrawing from the NOAA Fisheries Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP), the program currently in place to estimate the recreational harvest of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico.  A recent review of MRIP data by LDWF biologists indicates NOAA Fisheries has once again seriously miscalculated the recreational red snapper harvest rate for the Gulf of Mexico which resulted in an overharvest of actual Gulf-wide recreational landings during the federal season recommended by the Gulf Council.  This mismanagement hinders the recovery of the stock and penalizes Louisiana anglers who now will likely not have an October federal red snapper season, even though they did not harvest over their allotted fish during the June season.
With support from the Commission, the Department will continue to move forward with its own Louisiana Recreational Creel Survey (LA Creel), a more precise data-gathering tool that will provide real-time quota monitoring to ensure the best management decisions are made.
“Data gathered through MRIP has once again provided such poor figures to make reasonable management decisions, our Department can no longer in good conscience participate in this program,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham.  “Thanks to the participation of anglers in our mission to collect the best, most real-time data through our LA Creel program, I can say with great confidence that the state of the red snapper fishery in Louisiana will be better than ever moving forward.”
The LA Creel has improved methods for precisely estimating recreational harvests and implementing management measures. In the survey’s inaugural year, LDWF biologists measured 23 times more fish and interviewed more than 49 times the vessel trips than the MRIP survey did, already providing a better foundation for sound management of this fishery.  With much more intense sampling, LA Creel will have much tighter confidence intervals and provide more reliable, timely data.
“The decision to move forward with the LA Creel and forgo the MRIP Survey was an easy one,” stated Assistant Secretary of Fisheries Randy Pausina.  “As a state we can no longer afford to sit by while our recreational anglers are penalized due to mediocre data.  It is our obligation as fisheries biologists working with Louisiana licensed anglers to provide the best information for responsibly managing our fisheries.”
For the sixth time in the last seven years, the Gulf of Mexico recreational harvest of red snapper has exceeded the annual catch limit (ACL), a direct result of catch allocations and fishing seasons set based on NOAA Fisheries’ uncertain data. The only year the limit was not exceeded in the last seven years was in 2010 when the recreational fishing season was shortened due to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Preliminary estimates indicate that actual catch was nearly 40 percent higher than the limit.  This estimate does not include the harvest from Texas, which will drive the overage even higher.
“MRIP numbers are all over the place and have been for years,” added Pausina.  “NOAA’s data collection method was never created to be a quota monitoring tool.  We saw a need for a program that could provide this real-time, more robust information, so we simply created one.”
NOAA Fisheries uses MRIP landings estimates from previous years to predict upcoming harvests and set future fishing seasons. There can be a large difference between what NOAA Fisheries predicts will be harvested and how much is actually harvested, resulting in miscalculations and harvest overages. When the uncertainty of the MRIP estimates is examined, it is clear that it is nearly impossible to use these numbers to reasonably forecast recreational harvests.
MRIP landings estimates are so uncertain that Louisiana’s most recent landings (May through June 2013) are somewhere within a range of a half million pounds, between a low of 124,965 pounds and a high of 681,055 pounds. Therefore, there is a major issue in using this data to accurately predict how much will be harvested and appropriately determine catch allocations and fishing seasons to not exceed limits. For this and other reasons, LDWF will no longer conduct the MRIP survey, as of January 1, 2014. 
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 (504) 430-2623 or lwooderson@wlf.la.gov.


Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission Moves Forward With 2014 Crab Trap Removal Program

Release Date: 09/05/2013

September 5, 2013- At today’s meeting, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission approved a Notice of Intent to continue the abandoned crab trap removal program for 2014. A winter crab trap closure and clean-up is planned for a portion of Terrebonne parish from February 15, 2014 through February 24, 2014.

Since 2004, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, together with individual volunteers and organizations, has successfully removed and disposed of over 23,200 abandoned and derelict crabs. The removal of these crab traps is especially important to boating safety and crab harvesting efforts. Last year, LDWF and Louisiana Sea Grant staff, volunteer organizations and individual volunteers including members of the Coastal Conservation Association and Louisiana Crab Task Force as well as volunteer students and faculty from LSU and Purdue University, NOAA Fisheries Service, and commercial crab and shrimp fishermen contributed to the removal of nearly 1,000 crab traps from coastal waters.

LDWF will again partner with Louisiana Sea Grant for the 2014 crab trap removal efforts. As the 2014 removal weekends approach, Louisiana Sea Grant will help organize volunteers, provide educational outreach on marine debris, as well as establish a recycling effort for crab traps.

Terrebonne Crab Trap Removal

The use of crab traps will be prohibited in the following areas beginning at 6 a.m., February 15 through 6 a.m., February 24, 2013:

  • From a point originating at the intersection of the eastern shoreline of Bayou Dularge and the southern shoreline of Falgout Canal; thence westward along the southern shoreline of Falgout Canal to Lake Decade; thence westward and then southward along the southern and western shoreline of Lake Decade to the mouth of Bayou Decade; thence southwesterly along the southern shoreline of Bayou Decade to Lost Lake; thence westward and then southward along the northern shoreline of Lost Lake to the mouth of Rice Bayou; thence southward along the western shoreline of Rice Bayou to Blue Hammock Bayou; thence westward along the northern shore of Blue Hammock Bayou to Four League Bay; thence southward along the eastern shoreline of Four League Bay to the mouth of Oyster Bayou; thence southward along the eastern shoreline of Oyster Bayou to a point along the inside-outside shrimp line as defined in R.S. 56:495(A); thence eastward along the inside-outside shrimp line to the eastern shoreline of Bayou Grand Caillou; thence northward along the eastern shoreline of Bayou Grand Caillou to 29 degrees 15 minutes 00 seconds north latitude; thence westward across Bayou Grand Caillou to the northern shoreline of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline canal; thence westward along the northern shoreline of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline canal to the eastern shore of Bayou Dularge; thence northward along the eastern shoreline of Bayou Dularge and terminating at the intersection of the eastern shoreline of Bayou Dularge and the southern shoreline of Falgout Canal. 

All crab traps remaining in the closed area during the specified period will be considered abandoned.

In the weeks leading up to the closure, LDWF will mail notices to all licensed recreational and commercial crab trap license holders and crab buyers within Terrebonne and adjacent parishes.

These proposed trap removal regulations do not provide authorization for access to private property. Authorization to access private property can only be provided by individual landowners.

Crab traps may be removed only between one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. Anyone may remove these abandoned crab traps from within the closed area. Abandoned traps must be brought to LDWF designated disposal sites and may not be taken from the closed area.

Since its establishment in 1968, Louisiana Sea Grant has worked to promote stewardship of the state’s coastal resources through a combination of research, education and outreach programs critical to the cultural, economic and environmental health of Louisiana’s coastal zone. Louisiana Sea Grant, based at Louisiana State University, is part of the National Sea Grant Program, a network of 30 programs in each of the U.S. coastal and Great Lakes states and Puerto Rico/U.S. Virgin Islands.

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.

Interested persons may submit written comments relative to the proposed rule to Mr. Martin Bourgeois, Marine Fisheries Biologist DCL-B, Marine Fisheries Section, Box 189, Bourg, LA 70343, or via e-mail to:  mbourgeois@wlf.la.gov prior to October 11, 2013.

For press inquiries please contact Laura Wooderson at (504) 430-2623 or lwooderson@wlf.la.gov.





Release Date: 09/04/2013

A Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division investigation led to a Texas man pleading guilty to possessing a firearm by a convicted felon on Aug. 29 in U.S. Federal Western District Court in Shreveport.

Larry R. Baker, 50, of Maud, Texas, entered a guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Tom Stagg to possessing a firearm after being convicted and serving time for a murder in Texas and other felonies.

Baker faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.  A sentencing date of Dec. 5, 2013 was set.

LDWF agents arrested Baker for night hunting violations and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon on Jan. 11, 2013 in Caddo Parish.  Agents observed Baker west of Rodessa operating a motor vehicle traveling north on United Gas Road #1 near the Texas state line.  Baker stopped his vehicle and emerged with a flashlight and a gun.

Baker was then observed firing his weapon at what appeared to be a deer standing near the roadway in his headlights.  Upon further investigation, agents found that Baker had been recently released from prison after serving 20 years for a Texas murder conviction.

Baker was found guilty of murder on Aug. 5, 1993 in the 54th District Court of McLennan County, Texas.  Baker also has prior burglary and property theft convictions.  Baker bought the firearm from an individual who did not know Baker was a convicted felon.

LDWF and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tabaco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) conducted the investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert W. Gillespie Jr. and U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley prosecuted the case.

LDWF Agents participating in the case were Senior Agent Jay Thomas, Senior Agent Frank Reger and Lt. Roy Schufft.

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

L.D.W.F. Providing Public Dove Hunting Opportunities on Private Land Leases and Wildlife Management Areas on Sept. 7

Release Date: 09/03/2013

Sept. 3, 2013 -- The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will provide public dove hunting opportunities for the Sept. 7 season opening on leased private land and state wildlife management areas around the state.
The 2013-14 dove season opens Saturday, Sept. 7 in the north and south zones and hunters have multiple options available. LDWF has leased private land in the following parishes for Sept. 7 only, from noon to sunset:
Beauregard Parish, DeRidder-335 acres harvested corn and milo; 150 acres shredded corn.  Directions:  Take Hwy 190 West from DeRidder.  The field is approximately 5 miles West of DeRidder on the North side of Hwy 190 just past Hwy 3226.  Check in will be near the storage tanks. Contact Kori Legleu at 337-491-2575 x-3021 for more information.  Maps will be available at the Lake Charles Office.
Grant Parish -- 221 acres harvested milo with strips of sunflower.  Directions: Take Exit 99 (Boyce) off I-49 and travel East on Hwy 8.  Cross over the Red River and travel approximately ¼ mile and take left at “dove field” sign. Continue on levee road until you arrive at LDWF permit station.  No ATV’s allowed.  LDWF can assist handicapped hunters to/from their location in the field.  Contact LDWF Pineville Office if additional information is needed at 318-487-5885. EXACT CHANGE IS NEEDED FOR PERMITS.
Avoyelles Parish -- 90 acres harvested milo.  Directions: From Bunkie, take Hwy. 29 to Evergreen, then right on Hwy. 361.  Meet at barn located 1.5 miles south of the intersection of Hwys. 361 and 362. Contact Travis Dufour at 337-948-0255 for more information.
The following rules will apply to all leased fields:
1.  Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
2.  Shot larger than size 7 ½ is prohibited (size 7 ½ , 8, 9 are allowed)
3.  All trash - including shell hulls - must be picked-up.
4.  Only legal doves may be taken.
5.  All hunters must have a daily permit as well as appropriate hunting license with HIP certification; note, hunters under 16 years of age do not need HIP certification.  The daily permit is available at the field and will be issued on a first-come first-served basis.  HIP certifications are available from hunting license vendors.  If hunters have formed a line prior to the time permits are issued, permits will then be issued to those in line in order of arrival.
6.  There is a $10.00 fee per hunter, 16 years of age and older. Cash or check. Hunters under 16 will be admitted free, but they must check-in and have a permit.
7.  When a predetermined number of hunters are admitted, the field will be closed.  Additional hunters may be admitted when someone leaves the field and surrenders his/her permit.  Use of vehicles, including ATV’s, may be restricted and will vary from field to field.  Check with Department personnel about restrictions when you check-in.
8.  These leased fields are open to the public September 7th only.  Entrance at any other time is trespassing.
These leased fields have been made available through the cooperation of the landowners.  Future access to these fields and other private property is dependent on the conduct of the hunters using these fields.
Additionally, LDWF provides public dove hunting opportunities on state wildlife management areas including: Bayou Pierre WMA, northwest Red River Parish; Big Colewa WMA, West Carroll Parish; Boeuf WMA, Caldwell Parish; Camp Beauregard WMA, Rapides Parish; Clear Creek WMA, Vernon Parish; Elbow Slough WMA, Rapides Parish; Floy McElroy WMA, Richland Parish; Fort Polk WMA, Vernon Parish; Loggy Bayou WMA, Bossier Parish; Pointe-Aux-Chenes WMA, Lafourche Parish; Richard K. Yancey (formerly Red River/Three Rivers) WMA, Concordia Parish; Sandy Hollow WMA, Tangipahoa Parish; Sherburne WMA, Iberville/St. Martin Parishes; and West Bay WMA, Allen Parish.
Notice: Dove hunting on Sandy Hollow WMA is open Sept. 7 and 14, but closed Sept. 8 through 13 of the first split. Dove hunting on Elbow Slough WMA, in southeastern Rapides Parish, on Sept. 7 and 8 only, is restricted to lottery winners only.
All licensed hunters are reminded that the appropriate Louisiana hunting license with HIP certification is required to hunt doves on public and private land.  Those hunters who are ages 18 to 59 are also required to have a WMA Hunting Permit when hunting doves on WMAs.
For more information about public dove hunting opportunities, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/hunting/dove or contact Jeff Duguay at 225-765-2353 or jduguay@wlf.la.gov .



Elbow Slough WMA Opening Weekend Dove Hunting Restricted to Lottery Winners Only

Release Date: 09/03/2013

Sept. 3, 2013 -- The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is reminding the public of changes to dove hunting on Elbow Slough Wildlife Management Area for the opening weekend of dove season, Sept. 7-8.
To better manage the hunter numbers seen on opening weekend in previous years, and prevent hunters from being turned away due to limited dove field space, a lottery drawing process was established.
The lottery dove hunt access to Elbow Slough WMA in Rapides Parish will provide 80 hunters the opportunity to hunt this Saturday and Sunday.
As with all WMA lottery hunts, applications for the Elbow Slough WMA opening weekend lottery dove hunts were made available on the LDWF website well in advance of dove season.  Applicants were given the choice of the traditional afternoon hunt on opening day or a morning hunt on the second day.  The deadline for applications to be submitted was Aug. 9. A drawing was then held, and 40 hunters were selected to participate each day. 
Only those selected through the lottery drawing will be allowed to attend the dove hunts at Elbow Slough WMA on opening weekend. For safety reasons, guests or other observers will not be allowed.  While this does limit the number of hunters that can be accommodated, it will alleviate the significant overcrowding problems that were resulting in hunters waiting all day for an opening on the field, and at times not having an opportunity to hunt at all on opening day.
Starting on Wednesday Sept. 11, Elbow Slough WMA will be open to all dove hunters, and will remain open for dove hunting by anyone on Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays ONLY, through Sunday, Sept. 22.  Elbow Slough WMA will again be open to anyone for dove hunting on Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays ONLY, Oct. 12 through Nov. 10.  Dove hunters are reminded that steel shot is required for all hunting on Elbow Slough.
For more information about public dove hunting opportunities, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/hunting/dove or contact Jeff Johnson at (318) 371-3050 or jjohnson@wlf.la.gov .



Louisiana Dove Season to Start Sept. 7 Statewide

Release Date: 08/30/2013

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) would like to remind hunters that the 2013-14 dove hunting season starts on Sept. 7 in both the north and south zones.

LDWF is issuing this reminder because the 2013-14 Louisiana dove season falls at a later date than past seasons.  Furthermore, the LDWF smart phone app may not be updated with the current hunting regulations in time for the start of the dove hunting season.

LDWF is currently working with the app provider to get it updated with hopes to have the update available shortly with the 2013-14 hunting regulations.  The current LDWF smart phone app still contains last year’s hunting regulations that had the 2012-13 dove hunting season starting on Sept. 1.

The 2013-14 dove hunting season for the south zone runs from Sept. 7-15, Oct. 19-Dec. 1 and Dec. 21-Jan.6.  The north zone runs from Sept. 7-22, Oct. 12-Nov. 10 and Dec. 14-Jan. 6.  The daily bag limit is 15 in the aggregate with a possession limit of 45 in the aggregate.

For more information on the north and south zone boundaries for the dove hunting season, please refer to the 2013-14 hunting regulations pamphlet found at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/regulations.

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

L.O.W.A. Honors Young Outdoor Writers, Photographers

Release Date: 08/30/2013

Clay Kershaw, Kenny Odinet III and Story Moller were big winners in the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association’s 2013 Youth Journalism Contest celebrated Aug. 10 during LOWA’s annual awards banquet in Lafayette.
Kershaw, a 13-year-old Catholic High-Baton Rouge student, earned first and second places in the Photography Division for his images of alligators in a south Louisiana swamp and a snowy egret perched on a cypress stump.
Odinet, a home-school with his three siblings in Lafayette, took first in Junior Essay (ages 7-13) for this story entitled “Trout on Soft Plastics,” in which he described his first speckled trout catch on an artificial lure.
Moller, 17, attends Cedar Creek School near his Ruston home and took first and third places in Senior Essay (ages 14-18). His winning entry, “Frosty Morning,” documented his first-ever flooded-tree duck hunt, while his third-place story entitled “Gift of a King” recounted memorable family elk hunts in Montana.
Ava Lemoine, an 8-year-old St. Aloysius Elementary student from Baton Rouge, placed this in photography with an image of the Louisiana at sunset.  Kershaw’s younger brother, Alex, 11, attends Parkview Baptist School, placed fourth in Photography for his shot of a lizard on the hunt.
The D’Arensbourg sisters, 13-year-old Kyla and 10-year-old Janae placed second and third, respectively, in Junior Essay. They recounted summer trips to the Louisiana coast, Kyla’s “Fishing on the Pier” and Janae’s “Crabbing on Grand Isle” brought awards to their home in Zachary. Kyla attends Zachary High. Janae is a Copper Mill Elementary student.
Frances Purgerson, a 9-year-old Our Lady of Mercy student, was fourth in Junior Essay for her story about how close she became to a family of chimney swifts living in her backyard.
Averi Young, 16 and a student at West Feliciana High, placed second in Senior Essay for her story, “A Sleepless Night; A Memorable Morning,” about her first-ever squirrel hunt with a dog.
There was a tie for Senior Essay’s fourth place. It was shared by 14-year-old Jesuit High student Jacob DeRamus from River Ridge and recent Baton Rouge High grad Jade Spears, 18. DeRamus recounted this year’s Mardi Gras Day when he and a fishing buddy went bass fishing in New Orleans’ City Park and witness the catch of a park-record largemouth in “Catch Me Something, Mister!”.
Spears’ entry, “The Eagle,” told of her several years trips to Old River in Pointe Coupee Parish on fishing trips with her father and her deepening relationship with a family of bald eagles living along that oxbow.
To view the winning photos and read the winning essays, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/hunting/lowa-outdoor-journalism-contest .
The Louisiana chapter of Safari Club International sponsors the Youth Journalism Contest.  For more information on the contest, contact Joe Macaluso at 225-388-0293 or jmacaluso@theadvocate.com .



Old Highway 11 on Pearl River WMA to Reopen Aug. 31

Release Date: 08/30/2013

Aug. 30, 2013 – Old Highway 11 on Pearl River Wildlife Management Area in southeastern St. Tammany Parish will reopen at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) had closed the road Aug. 22 for repairs. Repairs to the road have been completed by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. 
For more information, please contact Christian Winslow at 985-543-4777 or cwinslow@wlf.la.gov.



Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge Public Access to Be Temporarily Restricted Beginning Sept. 4

Release Date: 08/29/2013

Aug. 29, 2013 -- Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge will begin the annual nuisance alligator harvest on Wednesday, Sept. 4. During this period, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will not open the refuge to the public each day until 10 a.m.
Due to construction projects in progress, the public is advised that entry sign instructions must be followed even when refuge gates are open.  Failure to follow refuge closure instructions may result in enforcement citations.
After 10 a.m., the public will be allowed to enter the refuge and utilize recreational areas until official sunset each day. The delayed openings will be in effect for seven days or until all alligator trappers have utilized their tags for this controlled harvest. The public is also advised not to tamper with lines left in place by alligator trappers.
The refuge, spanning 26 miles of coastal Louisiana in Cameron and Vermilion parishes, provides recreational opportunities to fishermen seeking shrimp, redfish, speckled trout, black drum, and largemouth bass, among others.
Rockefeller SWR is one of the most biologically diverse wildlife areas in the nation and attracts over 100,000 visitors annually. Located at the terminus of the vast Mississippi Flyway, south Louisiana winters about four million waterfowl annually. The refuge provides high quality wetlands habitat for ducks, geese, shorebirds and wading birds.
For more information on Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge, visit the LDWF website at www.wlf.la.gov or contact Phillip Trosclair at 337-491-2593.



Agenda for Commission Meeting

Release Date: 08/29/2013

The next regular Commission Meeting will be held at 9:30 AM on Thursday, September 5, 2013, at the Wildlife and Fisheries Headquarters Building located at 2000 Quail Drive, Baton Rouge, LA

The following items will be discussed:

1.  Roll Call

2.  Approval of Minutes of August 1, 2013

3.  Commission Special Announcements/Personal Privilege

4.  To Hear Enforcement & Aviation Reports/August

5.  To Hear an Update on the 2013 Recreational Red Snapper Season

6.  To Consider a Notice of Intent for the Abandoned Crab Traps Removal Program        

7. To Consider a Notice of Intent to Repeal the Scuba Diving Game Fish Season on Toledo Bend

8.  To Consider a Notice of Intent to Remove the Special Permit for Commercial Fish Seining on Old River Lake, Concordia Parish

9.  To Consider a Notice of Intent to Remove the Special Permit for Commercial Fish Seining on Lake Louis, Catahoula Parish

10. To Consider a Notice of Intent to Remove the Special Permit for Commercial Fishing on Lake Bruin, Tensas Parish

11.  To Consider a Notice of Intent to modify Rules for the Domesticated Aquatic Organism License

12.  To Consider a Notice of Intent to Remove the Special Permit for the Harvest of Shad and Skipjack with Experimental Seine and Remove the Experimental Dip Net Permit

13.  To Hear a Presentation on Archery in Louisiana Schools (ALAS) Program

14.  Set January 2014 Meeting Date

15. Receive Public Comments

16. Adjournment



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