Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Law Enforcement Division (LDWF/LED) agents will take part in Operation Dry Water from June 27-29 with increased patrols for boaters operating or driving a boat while intoxicated (DWI) enforcement and boating safety.
During the Operation Dry Water weekend, LDWF agents will be out in force patrolling state waterways for boat operators whose blood alcohol content exceeds the state limit of .08 percent.
"Alcohol is always one of the largest contributing factors for boating fatalities in Louisiana and nationwide," said Capt. Rachel Zechenelly, LDWF’s state Boating Law Administrator. "We want people to have fun on the water, but we also want them to have a sober operator of the vessel for the safety of those in the vessel and everybody else on the water.”
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.
Louisiana had 15 boating fatalities in 2013 with alcohol playing a role in three fatalities or 20 percent. Nationwide, statistics from 2012 reveal that 17 percent of all boat incident fatalities listed alcohol as a contributing factor.
LDWF agents issued three DWI citations to boat operators during the 2013 Operation Dry Water weekend and 15 DWI citations over the same weekend the previous two years combined.
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 with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. First offense DWI 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.
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.
For more information, please contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham has been approved to serve on the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) Council and Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA) Advisory Group.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel and President Obama approved Barham’s nominations for the NAWCA Council and NMBCA Advisory Group today, June 20.
“I’m honored to be nominated and approved to serve on these important councils. I’m ready to get started to work with other council and advisory group members, government agencies and the public to improve the quality of our wetlands and migratory bird habitats,” said LDWF Secretary Barham.
NAWCA was established in 1989 to provide matching grants to organizations and individuals who have developed partnerships to carry out wetlands conservation projects in the United States, Canada, and Mexico for the benefit of wetlands-associated migratory birds and other wildlife as part of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.
The NAWCA Council meets three times each year to review and select Standard Grant proposals that they take before the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission (MBCC) for funding approval. The council also develops policy affecting the grant application and administration processes.
This NMBCA Advisory Group includes members of the North American Wetlands Conservation Council, as well as other bird conservation professionals. The Advisory Group meets at least once a year, in conjunction with a North American Wetlands Conservation Council meeting, to discuss the NMBCA and make recommendations to the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the direction of the program.
Barham, of Oak Ridge in Morehouse Parish, has served as LDWF Secretary since 2008. Barham also served as State Senator for Louisiana’s 33rd District representing Morehouse, Union, East Carroll, West Carroll, and parts of Claiborne and Ouachita parishes from 1994 to 2007.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents cited a Port Sulphur man for alleged oyster and boating safety violations on June 14 in Plaquemines Parish.
Agents were on patrol in the area of Grand Bayou when they came into contact with Joel Gonzales, 30, on a vessel with 194 sacks of oysters. Agents immediately noticed the vessel was not equipped with a tarp as per Department of Health and Hospitals regulations to protect the oysters from direct exposure to the sun and other adverse conditions.
Upon further investigation agents also determined Gonzales’ vessel did not have the required numbers for identification for the departments aircraft, the vessel was not registered by the department and was not licensed to transport seafood for sale. The vessel also did not meet LDWF regulations for an oyster cargo vessel, which requires installation of a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS).
For having a vessel with no boat numbers, operating an unregistered motorboat and failing to display proper number on vessel each carry a $50 fine and up to 15 days in jail. Violation of the state’s health code as it pertains to oysters carries a $450 fine and up to 10 days in jail. Violation of VMS regulations carries a max fine of $950 and up to 120 days in jail plus court cost and forfeiture of anything seized. Taking commercial fish without a vessel license carries up to a $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.
Agents seized and returned 194 sacks of oysters to the state’s water bottoms.
Agents participating in the case are Sgts. Adam Young and Villere Reggio, and Cadet Travis Bartlett.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents cited a New Orleans man for alleged commercial fishing violations on June 13 in Orleans Parish.
Agents cited Paul D. Haptonstall, 34, of New Orleans, for the illegal sale of fish. Haptonstall sold red drum and spotted sea trout at his residence to undercover LDWF agents.
Agents received complaints about Haptonstall actively selling red drum and advertising this on social media sites. The LDWF Special Investigations Unit purchased a total of 138 red drum, 11 black drum, two spotted sea trout, two blue catfish and three sheepshead after six transactions at Haptonstall’s residence.
Agents cited Haptonstall for selling commercial fish without a commercial license, taking commercial fish without a commercial gear license, taking spotted sea trout without a permit, selling spotted sea trout during a closed season and six counts of selling game fish illegally.
Selling commercial fish without a commercial license or gear license each carry a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail. Each count of selling game fish illegally carries a $350 to $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail. Taking spotted sea trout without a permit and selling spotted sea trout during a closed season each carry a $900 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.
He is also facing a total of $3,710.80 in civil restitution for the illegally taken and possessed fish.
Agents participating in the case are LDWF’s Special Investigations Unit, and Sgt. Kris Bourgeois and Cadet Jeff Farmer.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Law Enforcement Academy today, June 10, graduated its 27th class of cadets into the ranks of LDWF Enforcement Division agents at a ceremony in Baton Rouge.
After six months of intensive physical and academic training at the academy, 13 newly commissioned agents are ready to begin enforcing hunting, fishing and boating regulations that govern the use of the state's natural resources.
LDWF Secretary Robert Barham, the keynote speaker at the ceremony, said, “You have a tremendous responsibility to protect Louisiana’s rich natural resources and those who enjoy those resources, whether in the field or on the water. Congratulations on your achievement which we celebrate today.” Barham further noted that, “These 13 cadets are very much needed to help bolster the ranks of agents in the state as this is our first graduation in over three years.”
Col. Joey Broussard, head of the LDWF Enforcement Division, presented certificates and recited the Oath of Office making the cadets’ transition to commissioned agents official. “We welcome these cadets into the Enforcement Division ranks. They are well trained and will be required to hit the ground running when they get to their local regions.”
The 13 new agents are:
Todd Abshire, 25, of Lake Charles, assigned to Cameron Parish
William Bartlett, 28, of Slidell, assigned to Plaquemines Parish
Richard Bean, 27, of Marrero, assigned to Lafourche Parish
Jeffrey Farmer, 26, of New Orleans, assigned to Jefferson Parish
Lance Fox, 26, of Pineville, assigned to Southern Strike Force
Joshua Harris, 24, of Farmerville, assigned to Northern Strike Force
John Hattaway, 23, of Bastrop, assigned to Northern Strike Force
Lucas Hidalgo, 26, of Franklin, assigned to Southern Strike Force
Jake Hoover, 24, of Albany, assigned to Beauregard Parish
Kyle Wagner, 24, of Destrehan, assigned to St. Charles Parish
Derek Ware, 24, of Sieper, assigned to Sabine Parish
Tyler Wheeler, 22, of Monroe, assigned to Northern Strike Force
Max Wilkinson, 24, of Marksville, assigned to West Feliciana Parish
During the graduation ceremony, Farmer received the firearms award given for the best marksman in the class and the physical training award for being the most fit. Fox received the academic award for having the highest grades. Farmer also won the overall award, which is a cumulative score from the firearms, academic and physical training categories.
At the academy, cadets train to enforce the state's recreational boating laws, the state and federal wildlife and fisheries laws and general law enforcement work on the state's many wildlife management areas. The academy also covers general law enforcement training equal to that of other state law enforcement officers.
The graduating agents fill vacancies in LDWF’s Enforcement Division and will be assigned to a field-training officer for their first six months of duty. Now part of the agency’s commissioned officer staff, the agents will join the ranks of those patrolling land and water to primarily detect game, fish and boating law violations. These duties require travel into Louisiana's forests, swamps, fields, streams, bayous, lakes, marshlands, the Gulf of Mexico and on the state roadway system.
Photo: First Row from Left to Right: Lance Fox, Jeffrey Farmer, Todd Abshire, John Hattaway, William Bartlett, Richard Bean, and Derek Ware. Back Row from Left to Right: Col. Joey Broussard, Joshua Harris, Tyler Wheeler, Jake Hoover, Kyle Wagner, Max Wilkinson, Lucas Hidalgo, and Major Spencer Cole.
BACKGROUND: The graduation will add 13 new agents to the LDWF Enforcement Division following six months of training. The event will include the presentation of colors by the LDWF Enforcement Color Guard, presentation of awards and the Oath of Office ceremony.
LDWF agents enforce hunting, fishing and boating regulations that govern the use of the state's natural resources. Their duties include checking hunters, fishers, dealers, restaurants, breeders, farmers and transporters for compliance with regulations governing limits, quotas, licenses, sizes, registrations, legal documents and accepted behavior. Agents are also trained for search and rescue and maritime security missions.