Two Houma Men Cited for Oyster Violations in Terrebonne Parish

Release Date: 07/25/2018

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited two Houma men for alleged oyster violations in Terrebonne Parish on July 18.

Agents cited Israel Beiza-Lopez, 32, and Ruiz Alexis-Luan, 44, for taking oysters during a closed season on the Sister Lake Public Oyster Seed Reservation and taking oysters from unleased state water bottoms.

Agents were on patrol around 5 p.m. on July 18 when they observed a vessel in the Sister Lake Seed Reservation actively dredging for oysters.  Agents stopped the vessel and found the men in possession of four sacks of oysters.

Agents seized the vessel and oyster dredges on a department seizure order and returned the four sacks of oysters to the water.

Taking oysters during a closed season and from an unleased state water bottom each brings a $900 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail. The men could also face having their oyster harvester licenses revoked by LDWF for up to one year.  The violators could also be sentenced to perform 40 hours of community service and only be allowed to harvest oysters from a vessel that is equipped with a vessel monitoring device for up to one year.

Cadet Passes Away During Third Week of LDWF Training

Release Date: 07/20/2018

A Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) cadet passed away on July 19 in Baton Rouge.

Cadet Immanuel Washington, 38, of Youngsville, passed away at Ochsner Medical Center in Baton Rouge on July 19, a day after being rushed to the hospital.

“Our hearts are broken by this tragedy,” said Jack Montoucet, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. “The whole Wildlife and Fisheries family offer our prayers for his wife, his children, his family and friends. From the accounts I received, Mr. Washington was an excellent cadet and an even better person. This is a loss for Louisiana.”

Washington was in the third week of his training to become an LDWF Enforcement Division Agent at the LDWF Training Academy located off N. Flannery Road in Baton Rouge.  After completing a two-and-a-half mile run on the morning of July 18, the cadets were in the cool down period of their physical training when Washington collapsed to the ground.

Training agents immediately called for an ambulance and began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on Washington.  Agents continued CPR until the ambulance arrived to take him to Ochsner Medical Center.  Once at the hospital, Washington was placed on life support in the intensive care unit until his passing on the morning of July 19.

“All of our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Washington’s family at this point. This is a very sad time for his family, the agents and the cadets that came to know him during his training,” said Col. Sammy Martin, head of the enforcement division.  “From everything I’ve heard about this man his dream was to become a Wildlife and Fisheries agent.  We were very happy to hire him and believe he would have made a great agent.”

Washington’s body was turned over to the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office to determine an official cause of death. He is survived by his wife, a three-year-old-son and a one-year-old daughter.

LDWF Enforcement Division Recognized For Re-Accreditation Through NASBLA BOAT Program

Release Date: 07/10/2018

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division is being recognized for its achievement of re-accreditation with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators’ (NASBLA) Boat Operations and Training (BOAT) Program.  LDWF was the first law enforcement agency to receive this national accreditation in 2011. Since then the agency has been an exemplary role model for other agencies pursuing accreditation.

“The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries truly shares our mission for ensuring excellence in the training of our nation’s maritime first responders and readying them in the best way possible to ensure safety on our waterways,” says Dave Considine, NASBLA BOAT Program Director.  “We are excited to see that our first accredited agency continues to hold the bar high for other agencies to follow.”

LDWF’s instructor cadre has played an integral role, not only in the training of Louisiana’s maritime operators, but also as instructors for NASBLA’s direct delivery courses throughout the nation.  At the end of 2017, LDWF’s Enforcement Division had trained all of their agents in Boat Operations Search and Rescue (BOSAR), Boat Accident Investigations, and the Seated Battery of Field Sobriety Tests.

“We need all of our agents to be well-trained in all aspects of safe boating and search and rescue operations as those are two of our main missions,” said Col. Sammy Martin, head of the LDWF Enforcement Division.  “We are proud of this re-accreditation as it shows our dedication to effective safe boating patrols and search and rescue operations in Louisiana.”

An additional 68 agents were trained in Boat Crew Member (BCM), 53 in Officer Water Survival, and 34 in the Tactical Operator Course discipline. LDWF has also trained an additional 73 officers in BCM and 8 officers in BOSAR from other marine law enforcement agencies throughout the state.

“The BOAT program and all of its many courses available provide our agents with the opportunity to train to a known standard,” said Major Rachel Zechenelly, Louisiana’s state’s boating law administrator.  “This accreditation also means our agency can provide the same training to our agents and other law enforcement agencies to ensure we are all on the same page.”

Through the BOAT Program Accreditation process, an agency, division, department or unit and its maritime training policies, procedures, curricula, qualification process and documentation are assessed to ensure alignment with the National Standard. This process and subsequent Accreditation ensures interoperability with marine units across the country in specific applicable competencies. By accrediting agencies and departments throughout the country, NASBLA’s BOAT Program creates more trainers and qualifies more officers than any other program in the nation, truly enhancing the safety and security of America’s waterways. Agencies accredited are required to go through a re-accreditation process every three years.

The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) is a national nonprofit association that represents the recreational boating authorities of all 50 states and the U.S. territories. NASBLA’s Boat Operations and Training (BOAT) Program was established in 2009 through the efforts of multi-organization “Council of Partners,” to ensure the readiness of state, local, and federal law enforcement and emergency response boat crews throughout the country, and in order to conduct missions on our nation’s waterways safely and effectively. The BOAT Program is recognized as the national standard of training, typing and credentialing by the United States Coast Guard, and by the boating authorities of all 50 States and six territories. Learn more about the NASBLA BOAT Program at www.nasblsa.org/boat.

New Iberia Father and Son Found Guilty in 2015 Killing of Louisiana Black Bear

Release Date: 06/28/2018

A New Iberia man and his juvenile son were found guilty in 16th Judicial District court in Iberia Parish for the 2015 killing of a Louisiana black bear near Weeks Island.

Judge Gregory Aucoin sentenced Elie Dupre, 60, of New Iberia, to pay $2,500 in civil restitution for delinquency of a juvenile for his role in his son’s illegal taking of a Louisiana black bear.

The juvenile son of Elie Dupre was found guilty for taking a bear during a closed season after he fatally shot a Louisiana black bear back in November of 2015.  Judge Aucoin sentenced the juvenile to serve 100 hours of community service, suspended his hunting privileges for one year, and ordered him to retake a hunter’s education course.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited Dupre and his son on June 23, 2017 for their roles in the illegal shooting of a Louisiana black bear.

The nine year old, 250 pound female black bear was part of a long term monitoring program and wore a tracking collar.  Over the eight years the bear wore the tracking collar it provided researchers with valuable information on black bear populations, productivity and population viability in the state of Louisiana.

Assistant District Attorney Angelique Narcisse prosecuted the case for the state.

LDWF Agents Participating in Operation Dry Water This Weekend

Release Date: 06/28/2018

LDWF Agents Participating in Operation Dry Water This Weekend

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Law Enforcement Division (LDWF/LED) agents will take part in Operation Dry Water from June 29 to July 1.

During the Operation Dry Water weekend, LDWF agents will be out in force patrolling state waterways for impaired boat operators.

“We are always on the lookout for impaired boat operators, but this weekend it will be more of a focused effort.  We are in full support of this national campaign and will do our part in removing impaired operators from the waterways this weekend,” said Major Rachel Zechenelly, the state’s boating law administrator.  “We know this will be a busy weekend and we want people to have fun on the waterways.  However, we please ask everybody on the water to wear a personal flotation device and have a sober operator.”

Alcohol can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.  It can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion.  Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion intensify the side effects of alcohol, drugs and some prescription medications.

Alcohol is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating incidents.  Louisiana had 19 boating fatalities in 2017, with alcohol playing a role in three fatalities or 16 percent.  Nationwide, statistics from 2017 reveal that 19 percent of all boat incident fatalities listed alcohol as a contributing factor.

Impaired boaters caught this weekend can expect penalties to be severe.  In Louisiana, a DWI on the water carries the same penalties and fines as on the road and includes jail time, fines and loss of driving and boating operator privileges.

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 while impaired.  First offense DWI carries a $300 to $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

Operation Dry Water was started in 2009 and is a joint program involving the LDWF/LED, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and the U.S. Coast Guard.  More information is available at www.operationdrywater.org.

Three Men Arrested for Oyster Theft in St. Bernard Parish

Release Date: 06/12/2018

A Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agent arrested three St. Bernard men for alleged commercial fishing violations on June 8 in St. Bernard Parish.

The LDWF agent with assistance from the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office arrested Lorenzo Nicosia, 25, of Violet, Bronson Dunnam, 47, of St. Bernard, and Garrett Ledet, 28, of New Orleans, for unlawfully taking oysters off a private lease and failure to have written permission.

An LDWF agent was on patrol south of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet channel when he observed a vessel actively dredging for oysters in Lake Coquille around 9:15 a.m. The agent determined the vessel was dredging on a lease not owned by Nicosia nor did any occupant have permission to dredge in the area.

The agent seized 17 sacks of oysters and returned them to the water.  The agent also seized two oyster dredges and placed a forfeiture order for Nicosia's vessel.  The men were booked into the St. Bernard Parish Jail.

Unlawfully taking oysters off of a private lease and failing to have written permission both carry up to a $950 fine and 120 days in jail.

The men could also face having their oyster harvester licenses revoked by LDWF for up to 10 years.  The violators could also be sentenced to perform 40 to 120 hours of community service and only be allowed to harvest oysters from a vessel that is equipped with a vessel monitoring device for up to one year for first offense or ordered to cease commercial oyster harvest during license revocation upon second and third offenses.

LDWF Investigating Fatal Boating Incident in St. Martin Parish

Release Date: 06/08/2018

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents are investigating a single vessel fatality in St. Martin Parish on June 7.

LDWF agents recovered the body of Robert L. Julien Jr., 46, of Opelousas, from the water near the Butte La Rose boat launch near Interstate 10 around 5:30 p.m. on June 7.

Agents received a call about a missing boater around 5 p.m. on June 7.  According to a witness, Julien Jr. was attempting to load his personal watercraft onto a trailer when he fell into the water and never resurfaced.

LDWF will be the lead investigative agency for this boating incident.  Julien Jr.’s body was turned over to the St. Martin Parish Coroner’s Office to determine an official cause of death.  His body was found without a personal flotation device.

Farmerville Man Arrested for Battery and Harrassment of Fishermen

Release Date: 06/08/2018

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents arrested a Farmerville man for alleged battery and harassment charges on June 5 in Union Parish.

Agents arrested Vincent Ditta, 64, for simple battery and harassment of fishermen.

Agents received a complaint on May 31 about Ditta throwing gas on three people while they were fishing.  Agents investigated the complaint and found that three people were legally fishing in front of Ditta’s property and dock on Lake D’Arbonne.  Ditta confronted the anglers and in an effort to run them off poured gasoline from a handheld gasoline tank on the men and in the water.

After getting a positive identification on Ditta from the fishermen, the agents arrested Ditta and booked him into the Union Parish Detention Center.

Simple battery brings up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.  Harassment of people lawfully fishing carries a $100 to $350 fine and up to 60 days in jail.

LDWF Agents Make Black Bear Case in St. Mary Parish

Release Date: 06/07/2018

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited two Louisiana men for alleged Louisiana Black Bear violations in St. Mary Parish.

Agents cited Cody J. Charpentier, 31, of Glencoe, and Bailey Rogers, 21, of Youngsville, for taking and/or possessing a black bear during a closed season and intentional concealment of wildlife.

Agents received a tip that Charpentier had shot and killed a Louisiana black bear on Nov. 12, 2017 in St. Mary Parish.  Charpentier and Rogers then moved the bear from the kill site six miles to a field off of Hwy. 83 near Glencoe that night.

On April 30, agents acquired a search warrant for Charpentier’s residence, handheld global positioning system (GPS) and cell phone.  Agents were able to use the cell phone and GPS to track where Charpentier was on the night of Nov. 12.

Agents used the GPS and cell phone to track Charpentier’s location from the kill site to the location of a black bear skeleton and claws in the mitigation field.

Agents seized Charpentier’s 7 mm rifle in connection with the case.

Taking or possessing a black bear during a closed season and intentional concealment of wildlife each brings a $900 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.  The men may also face up to $10,000 in civil restitution for the replacement value of the illegally taken bear.

The bear in this case is not tied to the other two illegally killed black bears that were found earlier this year in St. Mary Parish.  Agents are still looking for leads for the killing of two black bears that were discovered on Feb. 14 off of Humble Canal 10 miles south of Franklin.  If anyone has information about these two bears, please call the Louisiana Operation Game Thief Hotline at 1-800-442-2511 to qualify for up to a $5,500 reward.

Louisiana Operation Game Thief, Inc. Issued Close to $7,000 in Rewards At Meeting

Release Date: 06/04/2018

Louisiana Operation Game Thief, Inc. (LOGT), a Louisiana wildlife crime-stoppers program, awarded $6,950 to diligent citizens statewide at their quarterly meeting on May 26 in Woodworth.

The LOGT board reviewed 18 cases that included public tips from informants.  A total of 49 subjects were apprehended and a total of 203 offenses were written in regards to the reviewed cases.

The cases reviewed and awarded money to the public for their assistance consisted of nine deer cases, four fishing cases, three turkey cases and two migratory waterfowl cases.

Anyone wishing to report wildlife or fisheries violations should anonymously call LDWF’s 24-hour toll free Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-442-2511 or utilize LDWF's tip411 program.  To use the tip411 program, tipsters can text LADWF and their tip to 847411 or download the "LADWF Tips" iPhone and Android apps.

LOGT was instituted in 1984 and provides cash rewards for information leading to the arrest of violators of fish and wildlife regulations.  Funds are raised through private donations, court directed contributions and through contributions from cooperative endeavor agreements with organizations such as the National Wild Turkey Federation and Quality Deer Management Association.

To make a donation to the LOGT that can be used for cash rewards, please contact Lt. Will Roberts at wroberts@wlf.la.gov.

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