Enforcement

Up to $3,000 in Reward Money Offered for Information in Whooping Crane Shooting

Release Date: 05/17/2013

May 17, 2013 -- Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) officials are looking for leads regarding a whooping crane that was found shot to death in Red River Parish.

The whooping crane was found and recovered from the bank of the Red River about two miles northwest of Loggy Bayou on April 16.  After a necropsy of the crane, it was determined that the bird was shot with a 6.5mm/.264 caliber projectile.

Investigators believe the bird was shot between April 10 and 14.  The whooping crane was a part of LDWF's whooping crane reintroduction program and was fitted with a GPS tracking device.  The last tracking point of the crane moving was on April 10 near where she was eventually found dead on April 16.  The last tracking point received was on April 14 at the location she was found.

This whooping crane was released in Louisiana on March 14, 2011.

LDWF’s Operation Game Thief program, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation and the USFWS are each offering up to $1,000 in rewards for a total of up to $3,000 in rewards for any information about this illegal shooting that leads to an arrest.  To report any information regarding this whooping crane shooting, please call 1-800-442-2511.

“Anytime we lose one of these cranes it sets us back in our efforts to restore the whooping crane population back to its historic levels in Louisiana,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham.  “These were once native birds to Louisiana and the department would like to see these cranes thrive again in the future with a sustainable population.”

USFWS Office of Law Enforcement for the Southeast Region Special Agent in Charge Luis Santiago said, "The shooting of this whooping crane is an insult to all law abiding hunters.  We ask the public to please share any information that will lead us to the shooter.”

LDWF has released 40 whooping cranes since 2011 and currently have 25 whooping cranes they are tracking.  This is the third whooping crane that has been found shot with the previous two having been shot in Jefferson Davis Parish in October of 2011.

The re-introduced whooping cranes came from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md., and they were placed in the coastal marsh of Vermilion Parish within LDWF’s White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WCA).  This re-introduced population marked the first presence of whooping cranes in the wild in Louisiana since 1950.

LDWF is working cooperatively with the USFWS, USGS, the International Crane Foundation and the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit to bring the species back to the state.  This non-migratory flock of whooping cranes is designated as a non-essential, experimental population but is protected under state law, the Endangered Species Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Whooping cranes, the most endangered of all of the world’s crane species, were first added to the federal status of an endangered species on March 11, 1967.

Historically, both a resident and migratory population of whooping cranes were present in Louisiana through the early 1940s.  Whooping cranes inhabited the marshes and ridges of the state’s southwest Chenier Coastal Plain, as well as the uplands of prairie terrace habitat to the north.  Within this area, whooping cranes used three major habitats: tall grass prairie, freshwater marsh, and brackish/salt marsh.  The Louisiana crane population was not able to withstand the pressure of human encroachment, primarily the conversion of nesting habitat to agricultural acreage, as well as hunting and specimen collection, which also occurred across North America.  The last bird in southwest Louisiana was removed to a sanctuary in 1950.

The only self-sustaining wild population of whooping cranes migrates between Wood Buffalo National Park in the Northwest Territories of Canada and Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas.  Multiple efforts are underway to bring this bird further along its path to recovery.  This includes increasing populations in the wild, ongoing efforts to establish a migratory population in the eastern United States, and establishing a resident population in Louisiana.

There are about 600 whooping cranes left in the world with 421 of those cranes living in the wild.

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

Louisiana Safe Boating Week Set For May 18-24

Release Date: 05/16/2013

To view boating safety videos about proper personal flotation device (PFD) wear for youths and PFD regulations, please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/enforcement.

May 16, 2013 -- Louisiana is once again participating in the national "Safe Boating Week" that is scheduled for May 18-24 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 15 out of the 25 boating fatalities in 2012 officially listed drowning as the cause of death.  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.

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.  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.

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

LDWF Now Offering Android and iPhone Apps to Report Violations

Release Date: 05/01/2013

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is now offering LADWF Tips apps for both Android and iPhone users to report outdoor related violations to Enforcement Division agents through their tip411 program.

LDWF's tip411 program is a part of their Operation Game Thief program, which may offer a cash reward for information leading to arrests or convictions.

“We unveiled the LADWF Tips app for iPhones in 2011 and it has shown to be very useful and has helped make a number of cases that have led to arrests and convictions,” said LDWF Col. Winton Vidrine, head of the Enforcement Division.  “We are pleased to announce that we now have an Android app that will reach a larger percentage of people that can now report wildlife violations.”

Users can download the LADWF Tips iPhone and Android apps from iTunes or Google Play store free of charge.  Citizens can also send an anonymous tip to LDWF by texting LADWF and their tip to 847411.

Texting or downloading the apps enables the public to send anonymous tips to LDWF and lets LDWF respond back, creating a two-way anonymous “chat”.  Users of the app or texters can also send in photos to help support their claim and be used as evidence.

CitizenObserver, the tip411 provider, uses technology that removes all identifying information before LDWF receives the text.

"We’re proud to make this technology available to our citizens free of charge.  This tip411 program will help our citizens play an active role in helping us enforce current conservation rules and regulations," said Col. Vidrine.  "This program will engage younger folks in the process and it will save our agency time and resources."

LDWF will monitor the tip411 program for incoming tips 24 hours a day.

LDWF also offers their Operation Game Thief 24 hour toll free hotline.  Citizens can anonymously report tips by calling 1-800-442-2511 24 hours a day.

CitizenObserver was founded in 2000 and provides web based alerting tools to law enforcement, education and public safety agencies in over 40 states.

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

Two Louisiana Men Charged with Alligator Violations and Arrested

Release Date: 04/30/2013

A Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agent cited two Louisiana men for alleged alligator violations on April 29 in Ascension Parish.

The agent cited Jason T. Causey, 23, of Gonzales, and Shane H. Knapp, 23, of Baton Rouge, for taking alligators during a closed season, hunting alligators at night with a firearm, illegal possession of alligators, taking alligators without a license, unauthorized use of a moveable, violating frog regulations for possessing a firearm, taking a bullfrog during a closed season and fishing without a basic fishing license.

After receiving an anonymous complaint of illegal activity at Alligator Bayou Tours, LDWF Sgt. Dennis Bueche and Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office (APSO) deputies arrived on scene around 12:10 a.m. on April 29.  Once on scene they heard an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), gunshots and saw a spotlight inside the Alligator Bayou Tours property.

After a brief search, the deputies and LDWF agent were able to contact Causey and Knapp and found them in possession of an illegally harvested 10 foot alligator that had been shot in the head with a .45 caliber pistol that was also in their possession.  After further investigation, it was determined that the ATV belonged to Alligator Bayou Tours and that Knapp and Causey were using the ATV to attempt to drag the alligator back to their truck.

Knapp and Causey were also found with a dead bullfrog and allegedly admitted to fishing earlier in the evening without basic fishing licenses.

The APSO charged Knapp and Causey with trespassing, illegal use of a firearm and criminal damage to private property.  LDWF seized the .45 caliber pistol.  The APSO impounded their truck and booked Knapp and Causey into the Ascension Parish Jail.

Hunting alligators during a closed season, hunting alligators at night with a firearm and illegal possession of an alligator each brings up to a $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail for each offense.  Taking alligators without a license, violating frog regulations and taking a bullfrog during a closed season each carries up to a $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.  Fishing without a basic fishing license brings a $50 fine and up to 15 days in jail.

Unauthorized use of a moveable carries up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in jail.

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

Third Annual "Boating Education Lagniappe Day" Slated for May 11

Release Date: 04/18/2013

April 18, 2013 - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will be hosting the third annual "Boating Education Lagniappe Day" on May 11 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at eight different locations across the state.

During Boating Education Lagniappe Day, LDWF will provide instructors for the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) boating education course, NASBLA boating education certification, food and drinks, giveaways and door prizes all free of charge to the public.

Interested participants must register by visiting www.wlf.louisiana.gov/lagniappeday and calling the contact number listed for the chosen class.  LDWF urges the public to register quickly as most places have limited spaces available and registration is on a first come first serve basis.

LDWF has certified 493 boaters from the previous two Boating Education Lagniappe Days.

"Boating Education Lagniappe Day is the perfect opportunity for those in need of a boating education certification and those that want to learn about boating safety,” said LDWF Lt. Col. Jeff Mayne, the State's Boating Law Administrator.  “We want to make the day fun and educational at the same time and everything will be offered completely free."

Anybody born after Jan. 1, 1984 must complete a NASBLA approved boating education course and carry proof of completion to operate a motorboat in excess of 10 horsepower.

The course includes information on choosing a boat, classification, hulls, motors, legal requirements and equipment requirements.  The course also covers many navigation rules and charts, trailering, sailboats, canoeing, personal watercraft and more.  Completion of the course will result in the student being issued a vessel operators certification card.

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 50,000 boaters during that time.

"Boating education has been a proven method to reduce fatalities on the water over time," said Capt. Rachel Zechenelly, LDWF's Boating Safety Coordinator.  "Since more and more of the boating public will fall into the mandatory age for certification, we will eventually reach a point where everyone that wants to boat in this state will have their boating education certificate making the waterways more enjoyable and safer."

Sponsors for the Boating Education Lagniappe Day are the Louisiana Wildlife Agents Association, Academy Sports and Outdoors, Pizza Hut, Cabela's, Songy’s Sporting Goods of Houma, South Louisiana Bank of Houma, Evergreen Cajun Center of Houma, St. Landry Lumber Company, Louisiana Waterway Safety Inc., Krispy Kreme of Metairie, Village Inn Restaurant, C&M Fuel/Team Lafitte Harbor, West Marine of Lakeview, Boat Stuff, Alario Bros. Marine Supply, Temento's Dive Shop and Puglia's Sporting Goods.

Below is the list of class locations and the registration contact information:

Bossier City
Academy Sports and Outdoors
2801 Beene Blvd.
Bossier City, LA 71111
Call the Minden Office at 318-371-3049 to register.

West Monroe
Academy Sports and Outdoors
111 Constitution Dr.
West Monroe, LA 71292
Call the Monroe Office at 318-362-3102 to register.

Alexandria
Academy Sports and Outdoors
3205 S. MacArthur Dr.
Alexandria, LA 71301
Call the Pineville Office at 318-487-5634 to register.

Opelousas
St. Landry Lumber Company
207 North Railroad Ave.
Opelousas, LA 70570
Call the Opelousas Office at 337-948-0257 to register.

Lake Charles
Lake Charles Civic Center - Contraband Room
900 Lakeshore Drive
Lake Charles, LA 70601
Call the Lake Charles Office at 337-491-2580 or 337-491-2588 to register.

Houma
Evergreen Cajun Center
4694 Main St.
Houma, LA 70360
Call the Thibodaux Office at 985-447-0821 to register.

Gonzales
Cabela's
2200 W. Cabela's Pkwy.
Gonzales, LA 70737
Call the Baton Rouge Office at 225-765-2999 to register.

Westwego
Bayou Segnette State Park Nature Center
7777 Westbank Expressway
Westwego, LA 70094
Call the New Orleans Office at 504-284-2023 to register.

For more information on boating education courses, please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating/courses.

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

Texas Man Arrested on Fraud and Theft Charges

Release Date: 04/16/2013

April 16, 2013 -- A Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agent arrested a Texas man on several alleged felony fraud and theft violations this morning, April 16.

LDWF Sgt. Louis Burnett arrested Trac T. Tran, 41, of Seadrift, Texas, on seven felony violations and booked him into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.  The seven felonies are for two counts of filing false documents, two counts of injuring public records and three counts of theft.

Sgt. Burnett began his investigation of Tran on March 18, 2013, after Tran was denied renewal of his Louisiana residential commercial fishing license, residential commercial vessel license and residential crab trap gear license.  Tran attempted to renew these licenses with a Texas driver’s license.

After completing his investigation, Sgt. Burnett determined that Tran was a Texas resident who also illegally obtained Louisiana residential commercial fishing, vessel and crab trap licenses in 2010 and 2011.  The difference in costs between the residential and non-residential commercial licenses was $525 for each of the three years, which makes the total theft from the state $1,575.

Filing false public records and injuring public records each brings up to five years with or without hard labor or up to a $5,000 fine for each count.  Theft of more than $1,500 carries up to a $3,000 fine and 10 years in jail for each count.

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

LDWF Agents Make Six Illegal Turkey Hunting Cases During Weekend

Release Date: 04/16/2013

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents made six illegal turkey hunting cases during the April 12-14 weekend.

On April 12, agents cited Michael A. Kowalski, 34, of Katy, Texas, in Webster Parish for obtaining a license by fraud, hunting turkey without non-resident basic and big game licenses, and hunting turkey without a non-resident turkey stamp.

Agents cited Stephen K. Breaux, 37, of Houma, in East Feliciana Parish on April 13 for hunting turkey over a baited area, with an electronic device and failing to comply with turkey tagging regulations.  Agents seized the electronic call.

Alton D. Cook, 44, of Denham Springs, and Shane M. Johnston, 19, of Walker, were cited in East Feliciana Parish on April 13 for hunting turkey over a baited area, possession of an illegally taken turkey and criminal trespassing.  Agents also cited Johnson for failing to comply with turkey tagging regulations.  Agents seized the shotgun Cook and Johnston used and the illegally harvested turkey.

On April 13, agents cited Ashtin J. Willis, 21 of Grosse Tete, for taking over the limit of turkeys with two gobblers in the same day and possession of an illegally taken turkey on the Sherburne Wildlife Management Area in Iberville Parish.

Agents cited Ryan E. Dowden, 22, of Deridder, for possessing a loaded gun in a vehicle and possession of a rifle during turkey season while on the Peason WMA on April 14.

According to the 2013 Turkey Regulations pamphlet, no person shall hunt or take turkeys by the aid of baiting or on or over a baited area.  Hunters are not allowed to place, expose, deposit or scatter corn, wheat or other grain, salt or other feed to lure turkeys to their hunting area.  Also, turkey hunters are required to possess basic hunting and big game licenses, Louisiana wild turkey permit and turkey tags.

Possession of an illegally taken turkey carries a $400 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.  Hunting turkeys over a baited area, taking over the legal limit, possession of rifle during turkey season, obtaining a license by fraud and hunting with an electronic device each brings a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail for each offense.  Criminal trespassing carries a $100 to $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail.

Failing to comply with turkey tagging regulations and hunting without non-resident basic hunting and big game licenses each carries a $100 to $350 fine and up to 60 days in jail for each offense.  Failing to possess a turkey stamp brings a $50 fine and up to 15 days in jail.

LDWF agents involved in these cases are Lt. Will Roberts, Senior Agent Garrett Kimble, Senior Agent Carl Armstrong, Senior Agent Clay Marques, Senior Agent Bryant Coburn, Lt. Kenny Balkom, Lt. Curt Belton and Senior Agent Thomas J. Ashley.

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

Plaquemines Parish Crabber Pleads Guilty To Harassment and Criminal Damage

Release Date: 04/11/2013

Today, April 11, a Boothville man pled guilty to one count of criminal damage under $500 and one count of harassing a person lawfully fishing in Plaquemines Parish.

Judge Kevin Conner of the 25th Judicial District of Plaquemines Parish accepted Nathan J. Creppel’s, 58, plea and sentenced him to pay a total of $650 in fines plus court costs.

Judge Conner also ordered Creppel to forfeit his 2013 commercial crab license and was barred from the commercial crab industry in any form for the remainder of 2013.  In addition, Creppel was also given a suspended six month prison sentence and placed on two years inactive probation with the stipulation that he commit no wildlife offenses.  Furthermore, he was ordered to pay $200 in restitution to the victim.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents conducted an investigation into Creppel after receiving a hidden game camera that took photos of Creppel cutting the corks of another crab fisherman’s traps in the Mississippi River below Venice.  Cutting the corks rendered the gear unusable and unsalvageable.

Agents confronted Creppel at his home with the photos and he was subsequently cited for the violations on Oct. 11, 2012.

Agents participating in the case were Sgt. Adam Young and Senior Agent Robert Cosse Jr.  Assistant District Attorney Jerry Lobrano prosecuted the case.

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

LDWF Agents Busy During Opening Weekend of Turkey Season

Release Date: 03/28/2013

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents made six turkey baiting cases during the opening weekend of the 2013 turkey hunting season.

The six cases were made in East Feliciana, St. Helena, and Livingston parishes from March 23-25.

Agents cited Jerry Harris, 42, of Zachary on March 23 in East Feliciana Parish for allegedly hunting turkey over a baited area, hunting with an unplugged shotgun, failing to comply with turkey tagging regulations and not possessing a turkey stamp.

Randall Foto, 46, and Edward Philippe, 45, both of Mandeville, were cited for allegedly hunting turkey over a baited area in Livingston Parish on March 23.

Bobby Valentene, 48, from Hammond, was cited for allegedly hunting turkey over a baited area in St. Helena Parish on March 23.

Agents also cited Warren Womack, 69, from Clinton, and Cory Edwards, from Jackson, in East Feliciana Parish for allegedly hunting turkey over a baited area on March 25.

According to the 2013 Turkey Regulations pamphlet, no person shall hunt or take turkeys by the aid of baiting or on or over a baited area.  Hunters are not allowed to place, expose, deposit or scatter corn, wheat or other grain, salt or other feed to lure turkeys to their hunting area.

Also, turkey hunters are required to possess Louisiana basic hunting and big game licenses, Louisiana wild turkey permit and turkey tags.  In addition, shotguns capable of holding over three shells must be plugged with a one piece filler.

Hunting turkeys over a baited area and hunting without an unplugged gun each bring a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail for each offense.  Failing to comply with turkey tagging regulations carries a $100 to $350 fine and up to 60 days in jail.  Not possessing a turkey stamp brings a $50 fine and up to 15 days in jail.

LDWF agents involved in these cases are Lt. Will Roberts, Sgt. Guy Adams, Sgt. Randy Lanoux, Sgt. Toby Miller, Senior Agent Clay Marques, Senior Agent Ronny Robbins, Senior Agent Garrett Kimble, Senior Agent Carl Armstrong, Senior Agent Brody Roberts and Senior Agent Terry Hicks.

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

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