LDWF News

LDWF News Release

LDWF Schedules Drawdown for D’Arbonne Lake

Release Date: 05/22/2012

(May 22, 2012) – The water control structure on D’Arbonne Lake near Farmerville will be opened soon after Labor Day to conduct a lake drawdown.  The lake will be lowered five feet below pool stage and will remain lowered until December 15, 2012.

This action is taken in coordination with the Bayou D’Arbonne Lake Watershed District to allow for shoreline maintenance and to assist with the control of nuisance aquatic vegetation. 

D’Arbonne Lake will not be closed to fishing during the drawdown, but caution is advised of anglers as boat lanes will not provide normal clearance for underwater obstructions.

For further information regarding the drawdown, contact Ryan Daniel, LDWF Biologist Manager, at (318) 343-4044.

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

LDWF Agent Receives Boating Award

Release Date: 05/22/2012

Lt. Spencer Cole

A Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agent was decorated with the 2012 Southern Regional Boating Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award on May 15.

The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) acknowledged the work of LDWF Lt. Spencer Cole, 37, of Pineville, with the award for his “outstanding service to recreational boating.”  Lt. Cole will have a chance to win the 2012 Butch Potts Memorial Award for the National Boating Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award at the NASBLA Annual Conference in September.  The other two nominees for the national award are Master Conservation Officer Shawn Brown of Indiana for the Northern Region and Ranger Dawn Larsen of Utah for the Western Region.

“This is a great achievement and one that is very deserving,” said Col. Winton Vidrine, head of LDWF Enforcement Division.  “Lt. Cole has spearheaded many boating programs that have helped create standardized training for our agents that will in turn result in more efficient boating safety, maritime security and search and rescue missions.”

Lt. Cole headed up LDWF’s Boat Operations and Training (BOAT) program, which provides a true national standard for training and ensures maritime agencies can interact together.  He was instrumental in LDWF becoming the first agency in the United States to earn national accreditation for the NASBLA BOAT program in 2011.  Also in 2011, Lt. Cole worked to get LDWF's BOAT program accredited in Louisiana’s Peace Officer and Standardized Training (POST) council.  These accreditations made Louisiana the first state to officially adopt the BOAT program as a law enforcement standard for maritime boating safety enforcement and search and rescue training.

Through the BOAT program accreditation, Lt. Cole has planned for every LDWF agent to complete the NASBLA Level One Boating Accident Investigation Course in 2012.  Lt. Cole also worked with NASBLA to get two LDWF agents certified as instructors in the Level One Boat Accident Course.

"Receiving the BOAT program accreditations were significant achievements for the department as we work with the U.S. Coast Guard, State Police and local authorities daily in patrolling our local waterways," said LDWF Lt. Col. Jeff Mayne, the state's Boating Law Administrator.  "This training program allows every enforcement agency responsible for securing and providing safe passage on our waterways to train together and be on the same page during natural disasters and maritime security threats.”

Lt. Cole is the coordinator of the driving while intoxicated (DWI) enforcement agent training, which has led to increases in the efficiency, quality and quantity of DWI detection training LDWF agents receive annually.

Lt. Cole joined the LDWF Enforcement Division in 1999.  He has been active in recreational boating law enforcement and training throughout his career and became LDWF’s Director of Training in 2010.

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

Four Cited for Offshore Fishing Violations

Release Date: 05/21/2012

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents cited five men for alleged fishing violations on May 15.

At 4:30 p.m., agents boarded the offshore supply vessel, M/V Tristian Janice, that was tied to an offshore platform.  Agents found Terry L. Bell, 42, of Livingston, and Zachary J. Thomas, 30, Houston, Texas fishing from the vessel and where fish had been cleaned on the rear deck.

After further investigation, agents found that Bell caught four red snapper and Thomas one red snapper.  Bell and Thomas were both cited for possession of red snapper during a closed season.  Bell was also cited for over the limit of red snapper.

At 5:45 p.m., agents boarded the F/V Arc Angel, a commercial shrimping vessel.  Upon inspection of commercial licenses and permits, agents found that the vessel did not have the required federal shrimping permit to commercially shrimp in federal waters.  Agents cited Raymond A. Herrera, 48, of Grand Bay, Ala., for not possessing a federal shrimping permit.

At 6:42 p.m., agents boarded the F/V Manana, a commercial shrimping vessel.  Agents found the captain, John C. Aleman, 51, Laguna Vista, Texas, on board and in possession of six red snapper.  All of the red snapper on board measured less than the minimum size of 16 inches.  Agents cited Aleman for possession of undersized red snapper during a closed season.

The recreational season for red snapper opens June 1, 2012 during which time the limit is two per person.

Taking red snapper during a closed season, taking over the limit of red snapper and taking undersized red snapper each carries a fine up to $350 and up to 60 days in jail.  Violating federal shrimping regulations carries a civil fine determined by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

LDWF maintains a Joint Enforcement Agreement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s NMFS for assistance in patrolling federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  All three vessels boarded were approximately 50 miles offshore in federal waters.

Agents participating in these cases were Lt. Robert Buatt, Sgt. David Sanford, and Senior Agents Anthony Verret and Beau Robertson.

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

Three Men Cited for Red Snapper Violations

Release Date: 05/18/2012

 

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents cited three men for fishing violations on May 16 in federal waters.

LDWF Strike Force agents cited Vergice Bergeron, 41, of Cutoff, Chester Ellingson, 52, of Morgan City, and Jimmy Pitre, 32, of Galliano for possession of red snapper during a closed season, over limit of red snapper and failing to keep saltwater fish intact.

Agents seized 42 red snapper fillets that weighed approximately 21 pounds.  The civil restitution value of 21 red snappers totals $602.49.

Red snapper season in Gulf of Mexico waters opens on June 1 with a two fish per person per day limit.

While on a Joint Enforcement Agreement (JEA) patrol 40 miles into the Gulf of Mexico, agents observed an oil supply boat tied to a stationary rig.  Upon approaching the rig, agents observed several rods and reels on the deck of the vessel. Upon further investigation, agents discovered fillets of red snapper.

Taking red snapper during a closed season carries a fine up to $350 and up to 60 days in jail.  Taking over the limit of red snapper and failing to keep saltwater finfish intact brings a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail for each offense.
Agents participating in the case were Lt. Joseph Arnaud and Senior Agents Nick Guillory and Doug Danna.

LDWF maintains a JEA with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fishery Service for assistance in patrolling federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

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

Ben’s Creek W.M.A. Lease Will Not Be Renewed

Release Date: 05/18/2012

 

May 18, 2012  -- The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is alerting the public that property currently leased for public use as Ben’s Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) will no longer be part of LDWF’s WMA program as of June 30, 2012.

The property, located in Washington Parish and owned by the Weyerhaeuser Corporation, has been managed by LDWF since 1987.

“After a prolonged negotiation, LDWF has determined that renewal of the property lease is not financially feasible,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham.  “Beginning July 1, Weyerhaeuser will once again assume full management of the property.  While this loss of the WMA is regretful, we appreciate the past generosity of Weyerhaeuser in providing these lands for public use."

LDWF’s WMA program provides many quality outdoor recreation opportunities for the public on nearly 1.5 million acres around the state. These properties are owned by LDWF or leased to LDWF free of charge. Activities available include hunting and fishing, plus boating, camping, hiking, bird watching and nature photography. 

For more information, contact Kenny Ribbeck at 225-765-2942 or kribbeck@wlf.la.gov .

LDWF is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. Visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

 

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Elmer’s Island Beach Sweep Rescheduled for June 2

Release Date: 05/17/2012

(May 17, 2012) – Volunteers will get another chance to clean away the trash on Elmer’s Island beach.  Heavy rains last weekend forced the event to be canceled. 

The cleanup, hosted by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in conjunction with Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, has been rescheduled for 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, June 2.

The annual beach sweep is made possible by numerous partnerships including the Louisiana Wildlife Federation and The Nature Conservancy and through the sponsorship of Barefoot Wines. 

Anyone can participate – individuals, families, schools, youth groups, civic and conservation clubs or businesses.  Lunch and all necessary supplies will be provided.

Pre-registration is encouraged, but not required.  To register, contact Joe Dantin at (985) 449-4715.

Elmer’s Island Refuge is a barrier island located in Jefferson Parish southwest of Grand Isle, bordered by LA 1 and the Gulf of Mexico.  The island is well known for excellent fishing opportunities for many popular species such as speckled trout, white trout, flounder, redfish, kingfish, black drum, croaker, Spanish mackerel and many other species that frequent the state's coastal beaches and passes. It also provides non-consumptive outdoor opportunities to observe wading, shore and seabirds as well as coastal marine life.

The Louisiana 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.govon Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffbor follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

BTNEP is one of 28 National Estuary Programs throughout the United States and its territories.  The National Estuary Program was established by Congress through section 320 of the Clean Water Act or 1987.  The Barataria-Terrebonne estuarine complex became a National Estuary in 1990.

For press inquiries, please contact Ashley Wethey at (225) 721-0489 or awethey@wlf.la.gov.

Louisiana Safe Boating Week Set For May 19-25

Release Date: 05/17/2012

Louisiana is once again participating in the national "Safe Boating Week" that is scheduled for May 19-25 and 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.

"Personal flotation devices are made to be worn and not sit in a vessel storage compartment.  Even if you consider yourself to be a strong swimmer, we (LDWF) still encourage everyone on a boat to wear a personal flotation device whenever the boat is in motion," said LDWF Boating Safety Officer Capt. Rachel Zechenelly.  “A personal flotation device on a boat should be treated the same as a seatbelt in a car, because they are both easy to use and are proven to save lives."

LDWF boating incident statistics indicate that 19 out of the 36 boating fatalities in 2011 were drownings that could have been prevented if the person was wearing a PFD.  LDWF regulations 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.

Agents issued 108 DWIs on the water last year to operators of vessels.  Alcohol consumption impairs a boater's judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.  Alcohol also increases fatigue and susceptibility to hypothermia.  Intensifying the effects of alcohol are sun, wind, noise, vibration and movement, which are all common to boating activities.

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.  Also, each offense of operating a vehicle or vessel while intoxicated counts toward the total number of DWI crimes whether they happened on the water or road.

In Louisiana a DWI can be issued to anyone operating a moving vessel or vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.  First offense DWI on the water or on the road carries a $300 to $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.  Second offense DWI brings a $750 to $1,000 fine and between 30 days and six months in jail.  Third offense DWI carries a $5,000 fine and between one and five years in jail.  Again, every DWI offense is also subject to a suspension of driving a vehicle and operating a boat privileges.

"One of the best parts of our job is to see people utilize Louisiana's waterways for recreation in accordance to the boating safety regulations and return home safely to loved ones.  However, the worst part of our job is to search for deceased bodies and notify family members of their loss," said LDWF Lt. Col. Jeff Mayne, the State Boating Law Administrator.  "The two ways to make boating safe, fun and a memorable experience is to have a sober operator and to have everyone wear a personal flotation device when the vessel is underway."

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.

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

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Louisiana Shrimpers Encouraged to Report Asian Tiger Prawn Catches

Release Date: 05/16/2012

 

May 16, 2012 – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is aware of and constantly monitoring the appearance of an increased number of Asian tiger prawns, a non-native species, in Louisiana waters.  LDWF officials are asking local shrimp harvesters to report catches of tiger prawns to the Department. 

While there is little known at this time about the impacts of tiger prawns on indigenous Louisiana shrimp, these reports are key in helping LDWF biologists monitor the distribution and relative abundance of these prawns and in determining the possible presence of spawning populations. 

To report catches of Asian tiger prawns please contact Robert Bourgeois at rbourgeois@wlf.la.gov or (225) 765-0765 or Marty Bourgeois at mbourgeois@wlf.la.gov or (225) 765-2401 with the date, location and size of capture. Pictures are encouraged.  Tiger prawns are easily identifiable by their large size, dark body color and white banding found along the head and between segments of the tail.  LDWF officials ask that harvesters retain the tiger prawns by freezing and contact the biologist listed above.

History of incidence in Gulf of Mexico

It is unknown when and how tiger prawns were first introduced into the Gulf of Mexico.  In 1988, a portion of a population of reared tiger prawns escaped from a facility on the east coast.  Approximately 1,000 adults were later recaptured as far south as Cape Canaveral, Florida. In September 2006, a single adult male was captured by a commercial shrimp fisherman in Mississippi Sound near Dauphin Island, Alabama and reports from Alabama and Mississippi have been increasing ever since.

LDWF first documented the occurrence of Asian tiger prawns in Louisiana in August 2007, when a single specimen was taken by a commercial shrimp fisherman in Vermilion Bay.  Prior to the 2011 fall inshore shrimp season, reported captures in Louisiana waters numbered fewer than 25 with none taken any farther westward than Vermilion Bay.  However, since the fall season began, reported captures have dramatically increased with approximately 80 new reports received.  One fisherman alone reported catching as many as 13 individuals over a three-day shrimping trip in Lake Pontchartrain.  A Dulac shrimp dock has reported fishermen capturing in excess of 100 tiger prawns following the 2011 fall season opening.  Most recently, there have also been incident reports west of Vermilion Bay. 

About the species

Asian tiger prawns are native to the Indo-Pacific rim and are both harvested in the wild and extensively farmed in a number of countries.

Tiger prawns belong to the same family (Penaeidae) as our native brown, white and pink shrimp but are non-indigenous to our waters. The life history of tiger prawns is also similar to that of brown and white shrimp with spawning and mating occurring in nearshore oceanic waters. One notable difference in tiger prawns and Louisiana shrimp is size as the research suggests tiger prawns may reach a maximum length of 14 inches and weigh as much as 23 ounces.

At this time, there is no evidence that tiger prawns feed on native Louisiana shrimp.  Any potential impacts over competition for food and resources remain unknown.  Tiger prawns as well as our native brown and white shrimp adopt different diets as they grow and mature and may become more predatory as body size increases.

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

Seaway Marina in Lafitte Hosts the Louisiana Saltwater Series This Weekend

Release Date: 05/15/2012

(May 15, 2012) –There’s still more excitement to come as the Louisiana Saltwater Series Fishing Tournament moves on to its next destination at Seaway Marina in Lafitte on May 19, 2012.  The series is dedicated to catch-and-release saltwater angling through a series of agency-sponsored fishing tournaments. 

Nearly $20,000 in cash and prizes has already been awarded, and there are lots of new promotions and prizes up for grabs this year. 

Teams may consist of one, two, three or four members.  For teams consisting of three or more members, only two of the members may be 16 or older.  There is a $200 entry fee per team for each event.  There is a 90 percent payout for the first six events with 10 percent retained for the championship. Payout is determined separately for each event based upon the total number of boats entered. 

A youth division is also available for no additional cost to introduce our young anglers to the sport of fishing and to teach the catch-and-release approach to conservation.  Youth division participants compete against one another for trophy catch.  All anglers in this division will be recognized. 

The remaining 2012 redfish tournament schedule is as follows:

June 23 Delacroix, Sweetwater Marina;

July 14 Slidell, Rigolets Marina;

August 25 Cocodrie, Boudreaux’s Marina

Championship October 5 and 6 Venice, Venice Marina.

For complete information, including rules, regulations and registration go to www.lasaltwaterseries.comor visit our Facebook page www.facebook.com/#!/louisiana.series.   Online registration for the Lafitte tournament will close on Thursday at noon, but those interested in participating can register at SeaWay Marina from 4 to 5:30 a.m., the morning of the event.    A $20 fee for all onsite tournament registrants will be incurred per team.   Only cash and checks will be accepted for onsite registrants. 

Tournament sponsors include the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, Academy Sports and Outdoors, Category 5 Outdoors, Daybrook, Omega Protein, Plaquemines Parish, Dockside Marine, Skinny Water Products, Slayer, Blackfin Skeg, Faux Pas Prints, Frabill, Marsh and Bayou Magazine, Power-Pole, Pro-Drive Shallow Water Outboards, Sea tow, Stick It Anchor Pins, Cabela’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Swamp Swatter, Whole Foods Market, Shakespeare/Berkley, Bollinger Shipyards, Chik-fil-A, Jus Grab it Glove, To Fish Charters, Tony Spell Insurance Agency, Southern Eagle and Standard Mapping. 

The Louisiana 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.govon Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffbor follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For more information, contact Ashley Wethey at awethey@wlf.la.gov(225) 765-2396.

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St. Amant Man Arrested for DWI Following Collision With LDWF Patrol Boat

Release Date: 05/15/2012

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents arrested a St. Amant man for allegedly driving or operating a personal watercraft while intoxicated (DWI) on May 11.

Agents arrested Gary Miller, 43, for third offense DWI, reckless operation of a vessel and operating a watercraft while under a driver’s license suspension.

According to witnesses, on May 6 at about 7:40 p.m. Miller was travelling downstream at a high rate of speed on the Amite River near French Settlement when he collided with an LDWF patrol vessel.

Miller required medical treatment and was released later that same night.  The LDWF agent, Sgt. Randy Lanoux, suffered no injuries.  Miller’s personal watercraft was badly damaged, while the patrol boat suffered minor damage.

On May 11, after LDWF agents received the results of Miller’s blood test that allegedly showed him over the legal alcohol limit, a warrant was obtained for his arrest.

Third offense DWI brings up to a $2,000 and one to five years in jail.  Reckless operation of a vessel carries up to a $200 fine and up to 90 days in jail.  Operating a watercraft while under suspension brings an additional one year suspension of his driving privileges.

Agents participating in the investigation were Lt. Will Roberts, Sgt. Todd Lewis, Sgt. Dennis Bueche, Senior Agent Clay Marquez and Senior Agent Hal Bridges.

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

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