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Secretary Jewell, Governor Jindal Announce Proposal to Remove Louisiana Black Bear from Endangered Species List

Release Date: 05/20/2015

Secretary Jewell, Governor Jindal Announce Proposal to Remove Louisiana Black Bear from Endangered Species List

BATON ROUGE, La. (May 20, 2015)  – Thanks to a highly successful public-private partnership spanning more than two decades, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal announced today that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to remove the Louisiana black bear – the inspiration for the “Teddy Bear” – from the list of threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
 
“The Louisiana black bear symbolizes how the Endangered Species Act can be a remarkably effective tool to protect and recover threatened and endangered species when we work in close partnership with states and other stakeholders,” Jewell said. “Across Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, we have worked together with our partners to protect and restore habitat, reintroduce populations and reduce the threats to the bear. Today’s recovery of the bear is yet another success story of the Endangered Species Act.”
 
The Endangered Species Act has been a critical safety net for imperiled plants and wildlife for more than four decades, preventing more than 99 percent of the species listed from going extinct. In addition, the Act has helped to move many species from the brink of extinction to the path to recovery, including the American alligator, Florida panther, bald eagle, brown pelican and gray whale. The Obama Administration has removed from the endangered species list due to recovery more species than any prior administration.
 
“Today, after more than 20 years of collaborative research and recovery efforts, I’m proud to finally announce the recovery of the Louisiana black bear,” said Governor Jindal. “With today’s announcement, we will finally start the process of removing the Louisiana black bear from the United States Threatened and Endangered Species List. This great announcement highlights the vital steps we’ve taken to protect such an iconic symbol of our great state, and I’m proud of the work we’ve done together to get here.”
 
The Louisiana black bear is a subspecies of black bear unique to Louisiana, western Mississippi and eastern Texas. In 1902, it became part of American culture when, during a hunting trip near Onward, Mississippi, President Theodore Roosevelt spared one from his trophy collection. An editorial cartoon in The Washington Post relayed the story, sparking an idea from a Brooklyn candy store owner to create the “Teddy Bear.”
 
When the Louisiana black bear was listed under the ESA in 1992 due to habitat loss, reduced quality of remaining habitat and human-related mortality, the three known remaining breeding subpopulations were confined to the bottomland hardwood forests of Louisiana in the Tensas and Upper and Lower Atchafalaya River basins. Today, those subpopulations have all increased in number and have stable to increasing growth rates. Additional breeding subpopulations are forming in Louisiana and Mississippi, providing a healthy long-term outlook for the species.
 
For more than 20 years, the Service has partnered with the Louisi­ana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Natural Resources Conserva­tion Service, University of Tennessee, private landowners and others to address the threat of habitat loss in the bear’s range. This includes researching the status of the existing populations, establishing additional subpopulations, and protecting or restoring more than 750,000 acres of habitat. A large proportion of habitat supporting and connecting breeding subpopulations has been protected and restored voluntarily through private landowner restoration efforts.
 
“This announcement demonstrates once again that the protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act make a difference, giving the Service and its partners time to recover imperiled species,” said Service Deputy Director Steve Guertin, who announced the proposed delisting at an event hosted by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in Baton Rouge. “An America without the Louisiana black bear would be an America that has deprived its children of a key piece of their wildlife heritage.”
 
“The department has an established track record of successfully recovering species, including the American alligator, the Brown pelican and the Bald eagle,” said Robert Barham, Secretary, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. “We look forward to adding the Louisiana black bear to that distinguished list.”
 
“This event marks a successful effort mounted by a collection of conservation partners including the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Black Bear Conservation Coalition, to list a few,” said Theodore Roosevelt IV. “It is clear to me that when we work cooperatively, we can achieve great things. It is my sincere hope that we can replicate this type of collaboration in other parts of the country so that our nation’s wildlife resources can flourish. I particularly want to salute the local landowners who made changes in their land management practices to provide the necessary habitat for black bears.”
 
Long-term habitat protection is defined as having sufficient assurances that degradation is not likely to occur for at least 100 years. These assurances rest heavily on voluntary conservation agreements with private landowners and public conservation agencies in the Tensas and Atchafalaya River basins. The ESA stipulates delisted species require monitoring for a minimum of five years. The post-delisting monitoring plan unveiled by the Service will ensure the population continues to thrive into the future under state management.
 
Through the public comment period, which ends on July 20, 2015, the Service is seeking additional biological data and information regarding threats to the Louisiana black bear. The agency is seeking information on the extent of federal and state protection and management provided to the bear as a delisted species, and current or planned activities that may impact or benefit the bear.
 
The Service will hold public hearings on the proposed rule, and the public is encouraged to submit comments through http://www.regulations.gov. For more information about the proposed delisting of the Louisiana black bear, please visit the Service’s websites at http://www.fws.gov/lafayette or http://www.fws.gov/southeast/.
 
[Attached photo provided courtesy of John Flores]
Contacts for more information:
Jessica Kershaw (Interior), Interior_Press@ios.doi.gov
Tom MacKenzie (FWS), tom_mackenzie@fws.gov, 404-679-7291, M: 678-296-6400
Shannon Bates (Governor’s Office), shannon.bates@la.gov, 225-342-8006
Bo Boehringer (LADWF), bboehringer@wlf.la.gov, 225-765-5115
 
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Three Men Cited For Oyster Violations In Plaquemines Parish

Release Date: 05/20/2015

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents cited three men for alleged oyster violations in the Empire area of Plaquemines Parish on May 19.

Agents cited Diego Gonzalez, 21, of Bacliff, Texas, Jose Bocanegra, 45, of St. Bernard, and Khal Kim, 23, of Empire, for harvesting oysters from vessels in violation of the state’s oyster harvesting health code.

Agents found Gonzalez harvesting oysters from a vessel without the required tarp to protect oysters from sun and other adverse conditions.  Agents then found Bocanegra harvesting oysters from a vessel that was not following refrigeration requirements for oysters intended for raw consumption.  Finally Kim was caught harvesting oysters without the required Department of Health and Hospitals logbook.

Failing to follow refrigeration requirements for oysters brings a $400 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.  Harvesting oysters without the required logbook and tarp in adverse conditions each carries a $25 fine and up to 10 days in jail for each offense.

Agents seized a total of 161 sacks of oysters and returned them to the water.

Agents participating in case are Sgt. Adam Young, and Agents Travis Bartlett, and Blaine Wagner.

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

Five Subjects Cited For Illegal Oyster Harvest in Sister Lake

Release Date: 05/19/2015

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents cited five subjects for alleged oyster violations in Terrebonne Parish on May 7.

Agents cited Brent M. Leboeuf, 23; Amberlly C. Leboeuf, 28; and Armando Brunet, 28, all from Houma, Jose Duron, 20, and Tito Bermudez, 22, both from New Orleans, for taking oysters during a closed season.

While on patrol agents observed an oyster vessel enter Sister Lake near dusk.  Due to the numerous complaints of illegal activity on Sister Lake, agents set up surveillance and observed the vessel being used to harvest oysters on the closed seed ground.  The Sister Lake public grounds did not open for the 2014-2015 oyster season.

Agents returned 20 sacks of oysters to the water and seized two dredges and the vessel.

Taking oysters during a closed season brings a $900 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.  Any person convicted of this violation may only harvest oysters from a vessel that employs a vessel monitoring system monitored by LDWF for a period of one year.

Agents participating in the case are Sgts. Bryan Marie and Richard Purvis.

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

Three Men Convicted for Oyster Violations in Terrebonne Parish

Release Date: 05/19/2015

Three Houma men were found guilty of oyster violations in Terrebonne Parish Division E Court on May 18.

Judge Randy Bethancourt sentenced Samuel Dobson, 35, the captain of the oyster vessel, to pay $1,654.50 in fines, to forfeit his commercial fishing license for 10 years, 120 hours of community service in a litter abatement program and one year of supervised probation.  Judge Bethancourt ordered John Parker III, 25, to pay a $2,629.50 fine and Dylan Parker, 21, to pay a $2,679.50 fine.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents arrested the men for oyster harvesting violations on Dec. 18 in Terrebonne Parish.  Agents arrested the men for taking oysters during a closed season on the Sister Lake Public Oyster Seed Reservation, taking oysters from a polluted area, taking oysters during illegal hours, taking oysters without commercial gear and vessel licenses, and violating the sanitation code (log book).

On Dec. 18 around 8:30 p.m., LDWF agents were patrolling the Sister Lake Seed Reservation when they observed a vessel in the open water of Sister Lake dredging for oysters.  Agents stopped the vessel and found the three men in possession of two 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 were Sgt. Thomas Dewitt, Sgt. Brian Marie, Senior Agent Jamie Folse, Agent Richard Bean and Agent Lucas Hidalgo.  Assistant District Attorney Chris Erny prosecuted the case.

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

Louisiana Safe Boating Week Set For May 16-22

Release Date: 05/14/2015

Media: To schedule a safe boating patrol ride along for a story, please contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

The state of Louisiana has issued a proclamation that recognizes May 16-22 as “Safe Boating Week” in Louisiana, which signifies the beginning of the spring and summer boating season.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will again be reminding all boaters to be safe, responsible and knowledgeable while on the water during this safe boating week.  Safe Boating Week is a time for all boaters to inspect their vessels to ensure that all required safety equipment is on board and that vessels are in good working condition.

LDWF Enforcement Division agents will be out in full force as always during the week to perform boating safety checks and driving or operating a vessel while intoxicated (DWI) patrols.

Each vessel should have enough personal flotation devices (PFD) on board for all occupants and a sober operator.  LDWF regulations also state that anyone 16 years of age and younger must wear a PFD while underway in vessels less than 26 foot long.  For more boating and PFD regulations, please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating.

Alcohol use is another leading cause of boating crash incidents and fatalities on the water.  Alcohol consumption impairs a boater's judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.  The penalties for DWI on the water are the same as on the road.  Anyone cited for a DWI on the water or on the road will lose his or her driver's license and boating privileges for the specified time ordered by the judge in the case.

LDWF also wants to remind anybody born after Jan. 1, 1984 that they are required to successfully complete a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) boating education course to operate a motorboat over 10 horsepower.  LDWF offers these classes free of charge statewide.  For a list of courses, please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating/courses.

Studies have shown that states with a mandatory boating education program have fewer boating incidents that result in fatalities than states that have no boating education program.  States with a boating education program for more than 20 years had 3.67 fatalities per 100,000 registered boats, and states with no boating education program had 6.61 fatalities per 100,000 boats.

LDWF initiated the state's boating education program in 2003 and has certified over 75,000 boaters during that time.  Louisiana has lowered the number of fatalities per 100,000 registered boats from 12 in 2008 to 4.9 in 2013 and 5.9 in 2014.

In 2014 Louisiana reported 18 boating fatalities, which is the second lowest number ever recorded.  In 2013 Louisiana reported 15 fatalities, which was the record low for boating fatalities ever recorded.  So far in 2015 Louisiana has reported nine fatalities.

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

L.D.W.F. ANNOUNCES 2015 ALLIGATOR LOTTERY HUNTS

Release Date: 05/13/2015

May 13, 2015 – To provide the general public alligator harvest opportunities, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will select eligible alligator hunters through a lottery selection system featuring five Coastal and Nongame Resources (CNR) Division Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), 15 Wildlife Division WMAs, one U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) property and 25 public lakes for the 2015 alligator harvest season.
 
The CNR Division WMAs include: Atchafalaya Delta WMA, St. Mary Parish; Pass a Loutre WMA, Plaquemines Parish; Pointe aux Chenes WMA, Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes; Salvador/Timken WMAs, St. Charles Parish; and Lake Boeuf WMA, Lafourche Parish.
 
The Wildlife Division WMAs/USACOE property include: Big Lake WMA, Tensas Parish; Boeuf WMA, Caldwell Parish; Buckhorn WMA, Tensas Parish; Elm Hall WMA, Assumption Parish; Grassy Lake WMA, Avoyelles Parish; Joyce WMA, Tangipahoa Parish; Manchac WMA, St. John the Baptist Parish; Maurepas Swamp WMA, St. John the Baptist, St. James, Ascension, Livingston and Tangipahoa parishes; Sherburne WMA (state portion only), Pointe Coupee and St. Martin parishes; Spring Bayou WMA, Avoyelles Parish; Pearl River WMA, St. Tammany Parish; Richard K. Yancey WMA, Concordia Parish; Dewey  W. Wills WMA, LaSalle and Catahoula parishes; and Russell Sage WMA, Ouachita and Morehouse parishes.
 
The USACOE property includes Indian Bayou Area (USACOE), St. Landry and St. Martin parishes.
 
The public lakes include: Lake Bistineau, Webster, Bossier and Bienville parishes; Lake Wallace, Caddo Parish; Black/Cypress Lake and Ivan Lake, Bossier Parish; Cross Lake, Caddo Parish; Kepler Lake, Bienville Parish; Bayou Desiard North, Ouachita Parish; Caney Lake, Jackson Parish; Bartholomew Lake, Ouachita and Morehouse parishes; Kincaid Lake, Rapides Parish; Indian Creek, Rapides Parish; Cotile Lake, Rapides Parish; Nantachie Lake, Grant Parish; Saline Lake, Winn Parish; Toledo Bend, Desoto and Sabine parishes; Lake Bruin, Tensas Parish; Lake Concordia, Concordia Parish; Lake St. John, Tensas Parish; Lake St. Joseph, Tensas Parish; Anacoco Lake and Vernon Lake, Vernon Parish; Caddo Lake, Caddo Parish; Black Lake, Natchitoches Parish; Bundicks Lake, Beauregard Parish; and Lake D’Arbonne, Union Parish.
 
Interested participants may print out an application from LDWF’s website at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/hunting/lottery-hunts or request an application by phone for CNR Division WMAs at 337-373-0032 or Wildlife Division WMAs and public lakes at 225-765-2346.
 
To assist applicants in selecting specific WMAs/public lakes, LDWF has posted the percentage of lottery alligator harvest applicants selected in 2014 by WMA or public lake on its website at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/lottery-alligator-harvest-program.
 
Applications and non-refundable application fees ($5) must be submitted to the address indicated on corresponding applications and be postmarked by July 5, 2015.  Only one of the three available lottery alligator harvest applications (CNR Division WMA, Wildlife Division WMA or Wildlife Division Public Lakes) may be submitted per applicant.  Additional applications will result in voiding all applications submitted by the applicant.
 
The lottery alligator harvests will be conducted between Aug. 26 and Oct. 1, 2015.  Exact harvest dates will vary by WMA/public lake and will be specified at the time selected hunters are notified.  Selected hunters may be assigned specific areas to conduct alligator harvest activities on certain WMAs/public lakes.
 
Applicants must be a legal Louisiana resident and 16 years of age or older.  All successful applicants will be required to purchase an alligator hunting license ($25).  Successful applicants for WMAs will be required to submit payments ($40) for each alligator tag allocated.
 
All applicants meeting the application requirements will be entered into a randomized computer drawing, which will take place by August 2015.  Selected hunters will be notified by mail.
 
For more information concerning CNR Division WMAs, contact Jeb Linscombe at 337-373-0032 or jlinscombe@wlf.la.gov  For more information concerning Wildlife Division WMAs or public lakes, contact Steve Smith at 225-765-2346 or ssmith@wlf.la.gov.

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Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Reminds Shrimpers of Turtle Excluder Device Requirements and Tow Time Restrictions

Release Date: 05/12/2015

 
May 12, 2015 – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) reminds shrimpers that Turtle Excluder Devices (TED) and tow time restrictions are required in Louisiana waters.  Federal regulations, which are enforced by U.S. Coast Guard and NOAA Fisheries, require any shrimp trawler in the Atlantic Area or Gulf Area to have an approved TED installed in each net that is rigged for fishing. However, certain exemptions to these requirements may apply (e.g. vessels without power or mechanical means of net retrieval, test trawls, skimmer and butterfly nets in compliance with tow time restrictions). A net is rigged for fishing if it is in the water, or if it is shackled, tied, or otherwise connected to any trawl door or board, or to any tow rope, cable, pole or extension, either on board or attached in any manner to the shrimp trawler.
 
Skimmer and butterfly nets are exempt from TED use; however, federal regulations require skimmer and butterfly net fishermen to limit tow times if they do not use TEDs.  The tow time is measured from the time the cod-end of the net enters the water until it is removed from the water.  Maximum tow times are 55 minutes from April 1 – October 31 and increase to 75 minutes from November 1 – March 31.
 
The 2015 Louisiana inshore shrimp season will open statewide at 6:00 a.m. Monday, May 18. For more information about the season and a map detailing the areas currently open to shrimping visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/fishing/shrimp-seasons.
 
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 Jeffrey Marx (337) 373-0032 or jmarx@wlf.la.gov. For press inquiries, contact Ashley Roth at aroth@wlf.la.gov or (504) 286 -4162.

 

LDWF Agents Assist with Saving Three Year Old Boy’s Life

Release Date: 05/12/2015

Authorities saved a three year old boy from drowning in a swimming pool at a residence on the Amite River Diversion Canal in Livingston Parish on May 10.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents Lt. Louis Burnett and Senior Agent Michael Marques Jr. were on vessel patrol around 5 p.m. on the Diversion Canal when they were flagged down by a woman from a dock near her residence on Home Port Road.  The woman told them that a three year old boy was found face down in her pool a few minutes ago.

Senior Agent Marques Jr. raced to the pool about 25 yards from the dock and found the child lying on the ground next to the pool not breathing.  Marques Jr. put his hand on the child’s chest and felt the heart beating.  He then cleared the airway of the child by performing the head-tilt, chin-lift maneuver.  The child then let out a gasp of air that prompted Marques Jr. to lay the child on his side to promote more breathing.

While Marques Jr. was performing first responder aid to the child, Lt. Burnett was radioing for paramedics to the scene and securing the vessel.

Marques Jr. and Lt. Burnett were able to keep the child breathing until some volunteers from the Fifth Ward Fire Department showed up with oxygen for the child.  The LDWF agents and Fire Department personnel were able to keep the child breathing on oxygen until Acadian Ambulance paramedics arrived shortly thereafter.  The child was then airlifted to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge.  The child was admitted into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and is expected to make a full recovery.

“Everybody involved did a great job to keep this child alive,” said Col. Joey Broussard, head of the LDWF Enforcement Division.  “Senior Agent Marques’ efforts were heroic and the fact he acted so quickly probably saved the child’s life.”

All LDWF agents are trained and certified in first responder training which includes cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) every year.

According to an adult male, he turned his back on the child briefly while gathering some fishing poles.  When he was finished he then found the child face down in the swimming pool and immediately retrieved the boy’s body.  He then attempted CPR before Marques Jr. arrived on the scene.

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

Road Access Update on Dewey W. Wills WMA

Release Date: 05/12/2015

May 12, 2015 – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is informing Dewey W. Wills Wildlife Management Area users that the half mile portion of Hunt Road north of the Diversion Canal has been reopened to vehicle traffic.  Hunt Road will remain closed to traffic north of Mound Bayou Road due to construction.
 
Dewey W. Wills WMA is located in the southern portion of LaSalle and Catahoula parishes in central Louisiana approximately 20 miles northeast of Alexandria. For more information on the WMA, go to: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wma/2753.
 
For more information, contact Cliff Dailey at 318-487-5885 or adailey@wlf.la.gov .
 

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Husband and Wife Sentenced for Fishing License Fraud

Release Date: 05/11/2015

A couple from New Orleans pleaded guilty in Orleans Parish District Court for recreational fishing license fraud on May 11.

Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier sentenced Derwin Hill, 60, and Diana Hill, 60, to each pay a $1,500 fine, two years of jail suspended and two years of probation.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents arrested the couple on Feb. 27 for filing false public records for their roles in forging a recreational fishing license in order to falsely make a claim after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The LDWF Licensing Section notified agents of the Hill’s attempt to forge a recreational license.  During the investigation, agents learned that Diana allegedly forged a 2011-12 fishing license purchased by Derwin to reflect a 2010-11 recreational fishing license so that they could make a claim with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility and Deepwater Horizon Settlement Program.

Agents were able to gather the Hill’s claim information from the National Center for Disaster Fraud.  Agents leaned that the Hill’s made two separate claims with the altered fishing license.  The claim with Gulf Coast Claims Facility was filed on Oct. 31, 2011 for lost earnings in the fishing industry.  Derwin stated the lost total earnings totaled $19,500 in the two claims.

Derwin also filed a subsistence claim with Deepwater Horizon Settlement Program on Oct 24, 2012 for not being able to fish due to the oil spill.

On Jan. 8, 2013, agents met with the Hill’s to interview them about the fraudulently altered fishing license and claim.  During the interview, Diana stated that she changed the dates on the fishing license.

The Hill’s did not receive any money from the claims due to the fraudulent nature of the fishing license used for the claim.

Agents participating in the case were Sgt. Edward Ridgel and Senior Agent Ronnie Engelhard.  Assistant District Attorney Jeff Hall prosecuted the case.

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

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