Florida Panther ID Tips

The Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) is considered of historical occurrence in Louisiana. The historic range included eastern Texas or western Louisiana and the east lower Mississippi River Valley through the southeastern states (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and parts of Tennessee and South Carolina). Even though numerous sighting reports continue to surface annually throughout its historic range, it is unlikely that viable populations of the Florida panther presently occur outside Florida. Each year the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program (LNHP) receives calls reporting puma sightings, most of these reports remain unconfirmed because of the lack of evidence.

If you believe you saw a cougar, check for the following:

  • Tracks (below you will find drawings of tracks of cougars and other carnivore species that will help you to identify cougar's tracks). If possible, take a picture and/or make a cast of the track, and/or draw the track on a hard clear plastic with a permanent marker.
  • Scats (collect the scats and keep them in a clean plastic bag)
  • And remember that black panthers are not native to North America.

For more information on cougars, go to the Eastern Cougar Network website.

Rare Animal Species

Any questions, concerns, information requests concerning LA rare animals are welcomed and should be directed to:

Louisiana Natural Heritage Program
Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries
P.O. Box 98000
Baton Rouge, LA 70898
(225) 765-2821

Rare Plant Species

Louisiana's Natural Heritage Program (LNHP), within the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, is the lead state program for the identification, ranking, and conservation of Louisiana's rare species and native natural communities. Since the LA Natural Heritage Program's inception in 1984, our staff botanists have compiled data for the list of rare plant species from various sources such as herbarium specimens, scientific literature, reports from expert and amateur botanists, and extensive surveys conducted by LNHP staff. While this database is quite extensive, there are still many natural areas in Louisiana that have not been surveyed. New plant records are continuously being added to the database, and current records are updated as new information becomes available. Over the past two decades, rare plant identification and mapping by LNHP has been instrumental in the creation of numerous conservation areas around Louisiana such as the Lake Ramsey and Tunica Hills Wildlife Management Areas, and the CC Road Savanna Preserve owned by The Nature Conservancy of Louisiana, to name just a few.

Our listing of the Rare Plant Species of Louisiana, identifies those native plant species that are currently considered among Louisiana's rarest and most in need of conservation efforts. The purpose of this report is to provide the public with a listing of the rare plant species in Louisiana and their current rarity status, to solicit further information and input concerning these species, and to promote conservation of these species.

The list is arranged alphabetically by scientific name with associated common name. The state and global rarity ranks are listed in the third and fourth columns, respectively, with the fifth column containing wetland code. Explanations of these rankings and codes may be found following the listing of species. The sixth column provides a listing of parishes where each plant species is currently found, and the final column describes the natural community types for each species.

The LA Natural Heritage Program welcomes and encourages input concerning the rare species lists. If you would like to take an active part in protecting Louisiana's rare plant species, please contact us (225-765-2821) with any of the following information:

  1. Mapped location information for any rare plant populations. Please fill out our rare species reporting form and mail it to the address listed on the form, or call or send an e-mail message to our staff.
  2. Any data indicating that a species should be either added or removed from our listing.
  3. Documentation of existing habitat pressures that threaten populations of rare plants.
  4. Literature citations, references or other information on the biology and ecology of our state's rare plant species.
  5. Any other information that might be helpful in supporting the conservation, protection and/or management of LA's rare plant species and their habitats.

Any questions, concerns, information requests concerning LA rare plants are welcomed and should be directed to:

Louisiana Natural Heritage Program
Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries
P.O. Box 98000
Baton Rouge, LA 70898
(225) 765-2821

Louisiana Natural Heritage Program

The Louisiana Natural Heritage Program (LNHP), within the LA Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), is part of the Natural Heritage Network. This network, originally developed by The Nature Conservancy and now coordinated by NatureServe, is designed to gather, organize and distribute standardized, detailed information on the biological diversity across all 50 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico, and also parts of Latin America.
The LNHP was founded in 1984 through a partnership with the state of Louisiana and The Nature Conservancy, and is now maintained by LDWF. LNHP was founded with the goal of developing and maintaining a database on rare, threatened and endangered (r/t/e) species of plants and animals and natural communities for Louisiana. In the process of working toward this goal, we have accumulated over 6,000 occurrences of r/t/e species, unique natural communities and other distinctive elements of natural diversity, and identified some 380 ecologically significant sites statewide. A detailed Element Occurrence Record (EOR), which includes precise locations, species population status, and habitat conditions and characteristics, is entered for each species occurrence in the LNHP Biological Conservation Database (BCD). Location for each element is mapped on USGS 7.5' topographic maps, and element locations may also be downloaded from the BCD and mapped in a Geographic Information System (GIS) format. Information for element occurrence records is generally gathered from LNHP staff field surveys, but is also obtained from survey contracts, state and federal government agencies, research studies, university contacts, herbaria, and Louisiana nature enthusiasts. While LNHP has created an extensive database documenting Louisiana's native biological diversity, there are many natural areas in the state that have not yet been surveyed. Records for new occurrences are continuously being added to the database, and current records are updated as new information becomes available. LNHP data is applied to land use decisions, environmental impact assessment, resource management, conservation planning, endangered species review, research and education.
LNHP's work has also expanded beyond inventory, to include research on threatened and endangered species, and involvement in diverse conservation issues concerning nongame wildlife species and plants. The job is not complete, and because habitats change, the nature of the task is dynamic.


Project WILD

Check this site for upcoming workshops throughout the state.

Project WILD's primary audience is teachers of kindergarten through high school students. This does not limit the usefulness of the project to formal educational settings, however. Volunteers working with young people in pre-school and after-school programs; representatives of private conservation, industry and other community groups who are interested in providing instructional programs for young people or their teachers; and personnel involved in preparation of future teachers are all among those who effectively use the instructional resources of this program.

The goal of Project WILD (Wildlife In Learning Design) is to assist learners of any age in developing awareness, knowledge, skills, and commitment to result in informed decisions, responsible behavior, and constructive actions concerning wildlife and the environment upon which all life depends.

Project WILD:
is an award-winning interdisciplinary, conservation and environmental education program that emphasizes wildlife. The L-12 guide is full of various activities that empower participants to learn about wildlife and make conservation decisions.

How do you get WILD?
Project WILD activity guides are distributed free of charge to teachers who participate in a Project WILD workshop. During a six-hour workshop, teachers and youth leaders gain the skills and knowledge necessary to incorporate Project WILD into the classroom or nature area.

Workshop participants will:
participate in hands-on activities, indoors and out.
learn more about Louisiana wildlife and the environment.
expand their knowledge and teaching skills.
find out how WILD can enliven their curricula.
share ideas, information, and resources with other teachers.

Aquatic Project WILD
Activity Guides and workshops emphasize aquatic wildlife and aquatic ecosystems. The activity guides are distributed free of charge to teachers who participate in a follow-up three to six hour workshop.

For more information on Project WILD contact:
Kathleen Nichols - Assistant Coordinator
Environmental Education Division
(337) 340-2999

Workshop Scholarships

Liz Barthel Memorial Scholarship

Dr. Christine L. Thomas, founder of the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program, announces a scholarship endowment: the Liz Barthel Memorial Scholarship. Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Inc. has set an endowment fund to start things off. Interest from the endowment fund will provide a scholarship to each Louisiana BOW workshop. The BOW Coordinators raffle items each year at the coordinaotrs conference to raise additional funds so women in other states can benefit. I Contributions can be sent to BOW Inc, Barthel Fund, P.O. Box 1026, Stevens Point, WI 54481.

Low-income women who have children under age 18 will be eligible to receive the Liz Barthel Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship pays $125 of the $170 registration fee. The scholarship recipeint will be responsbile for a $45 fee. We hope Liz will live through other outdoor women in this way.
To apply for the Liz Barthel Memorial Scholarship:

  •  You may nominate an individual by submitting the following information or
  • You may submit the information about yourself

Please send a completed one page essay by with the following information. (Please include your name, phone number, address, amount of yearly income and ages of children.) Essays are being taken now.

  • Why I would like to attend a B.O.W. workshop.
  • What benefits I hope to achieve from the workshop.
  • I plan to pursue and develop my outdoor experiences through . . . .

Send completed essay to:
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
Liz Barthel Memorial Scholarship
ATTN: Bill Breed
368 CenturyTel Drive
Monroe, LA 71203

application/pdf icon Wildlife Insider Winter 2010

Nuisance Wildlife


The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries does NOT provide nuisance animal control or removal services. We do permit individuals (Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators) to provide these services for a fee.  The Department maintains a list of over 100 nuisance animal trappers located across the state at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/nwco  Contact the nuisance trapper closest to you for assistance with problem wildlife.

NWCO's are permitted to handle most species except deer, bears, migratory birds, and alligators. In many situations, however, calling in a professional is not entirely necessary. The following are steps an individual can take for getting rid of nuisance wildlife:

1. Make sure food for wildlife is not available around your home.
     A) NEVER feed wild animals.
     B) Make sure no pet food is left out at night.
     C) Secure trash can lids and compost heaps.
     D) Do not leave domestic animals that may be potential prey items loose or in shoddy or weak shelters.

2. Eliminate areas that can possibly be used by wildlife as shelter.
     A) Seal any holes that may give wildlife access to your attic or the interior of your home. Some species of bats can fit through holes the size of a dime, so keeping your home well maintained is imperative for keeping nuisance animals out.
     B) Skirting installed under mobile homes can prevent animals from gaining access underneath. Chicken wire or lattice can be used under raised houses.
     C) Keep grass mowed to eliminate cover for wildlife.
     D) Eliminate piles of wood or debris that can be used as shelter.

3. Live trap the animal and release it.
     A) Title 76 outlines the rules for live trapping and releasing wildlife without a permit.
     B) *WARNING* It can be dangerous to handle trapped animals.
It is often easier to get an animal into a trap than to get one out. Heavy leather gloves should be worn and extreme caution must be used when releasing animals. Always stand behind the trap and point the open end towards a clear area when releasing, giving the animal a clear path out and away.
     C) Should a bite occur, DO NOT RELEASE THE ANIMAL if it hasn't already been released. Regardless of the animal species, contact your state public health veterinarian for instructions on having the animal tested for rabies and contact your doctor. If a bite occurs, and the animal has been released and cannot be immediately re-captured, contact your doctor and the state public health veterinarian. Animals that appear healthy may be sick. Certain mammal species including but not limited to bats and skunks may be infected with the rabies virus and transmit it to humans. The rabies virus is fatal to humans if not treated before symptoms develop.

     D) Trapped animals should be released a minimum of five miles from the trap site to prevent their return.

     E) Trapping in the spring and early summer should be avoided. These are the breeding seasons for most wildlife, and removing adult animals may result in young animals being orphaned. If these young are in an attic or under a house etc., it can result in them dying thereby causing a new problem as they decay.

     F) LDWF does not loan or rent traps. Traps are available from some parish animal control offices. Traps may be purchased at hardware stores and lawn and garden centers.

In cases where a bird or mammal has been injured and is in need of assistance, concerned citizens should contact a certified wildlife rehabilitator listed at http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/rehab . Wildlife rehabilitators have the training, skills, and facilities necessary to care for most injured animals, and are permitted by LDWF to rehabilitate injured wildlife in Louisiana.

Possessing wild animals without a permit is against state law. Furthermore, certatin species, such as migratory birds, are afforded additional protection under federal law.

There are two levels of rehabilitation permits, these include:

State permitted rehabilitators who may legally possess small mammal species and a few species of birds. These bird species include pigeons, starlings, house sparrows and domestic duck species. These species are not protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (http://www.fws.gov/forms/3-200-10b.pdf), therefore state permitted wildlife rehabilitators may legally house only these bird species.

Federally permitted rehabilitators may legally possess small mammal species as well as most birds listed in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act:

Should a rehabilitator not be available, the animals should be left in their natural habitat. Though this may sound like a cruel alternative, it is a natural process that helps regulate wildlife population levels.

Each year, well-intentioned people attempt to rescue small animals they thought were abandoned. However, many animals are taken from a completely normal situation. The mother of the small animal may be attempting to teach her offspring how to forage, walk or fly.

While it may appear that the small animal is left alone, a mother's watchful eye may not be far away. Adult animals frequently leave their young to forage for food, but rarely abandon them.

Wildlife parents attempt to conceal their young from humans and other animals. When humans handle or move young wildlife, it increases the chances that the parent may abandon the young or may not be able to find them. The best advice would be to leave young animals alone trying not to disturb them and let the parents care for them.

DO NOT CALL A WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR DIRECTLY FOR ANY SITUATION REGARDING A FAWN OR DEER. Rehabilitators are not permitted to take any deer/fawns without prior LDWF approval. ALL CALLS REGARDING DEER/FAWNS MUST BE HANDLED THROUGH YOUR LOCAL REGIONAL OFFICE. Louisiana deer typically fawn any time between the months of March through September, dependent upon the area of the state you live in. During the first few weeks of a fawn's life, it is most vulnerable to predators such as coyotes, black bears, bobcats, and feral dogs.  Fawns have very little scent, and their reddish to light brown coats dappled with white spots are perfect camouflage while lying in herbaceous or woody cover.  To avoid these predators, does select locations for their fawns to hide and to remain still.   Does will often leave the fawns alone, while walking off some distance to browse or observe the fawn's location.  This is another predator avoidance maneuver.  

It is very easy for people that are out hiking or working in deer habitat, to walk up on fawns lying still in the woods or old fields.  Every year Louisiana citizens call LDWF with reports of lost fawns, and often have "rescued" the fawn and brought it home.  Though well meaning, it is the wrong thing to do, and in fact is illegal.  Wild white-tailed deer may not be captured, including fawns.  If you find a fawn, back away from it and leave it alone.  The unseen doe likely is watching you, or will soon be back to nurse and check on the fawn.

Mission Statement for the WMA Forest Management Program

 To conserve, manage and enhance the Department’s forest land ecosystem so recreational, educational, research, and economic opportunities will be provided for the citizens of this state.



1. To conserve, manage and enhance the native flora and fauna on the forested lands of the Department’s WMA system.

2. To re-establish appropriate forest habitat and associated plant communities on the cleared agricultural lands contained in recently acquired WMAs.

3. To provide forest habitats with associated natural plant and animal communities for recreational use by the citizens of this state.

4. To integrate the Department’s forest habitat management strategies on WMAs with the socio-economic considerations of local communities through the sale of forest products.

5. To incorporate research and educational opportunities into the Department’s WMA forest management program.

Major aspects of the Forest Management Program



Many tools are used in the management or manipulation of the forest ecosystem in order to create and maintain desirable wildlife habitats. The basic means in which to have wildlife habitat is by managing the vegetation of the landscape. There are different ways to make a desirable plant community grow on the areas designated primarily for wildlife. Some methods include, planting trees in an old field that has become fallow, thinning a timber stand by removing trees with little or no wildlife value, or clearcutting a stand to completely create a new habitat. Of course before the ground work starts there needs to be a well thought out plan. Through sampling and evaluation of the existing forest managers can learn what is beneficial and what is lacking.

A detailed forest inventory is carried out to evaluate current habitat conditions for each WMA that the LDWF owns. The information gathered gives managers a closer look at many habitat components which allow them to make sound management decisions. The Forestry Section inventories approximately 50,000-70,000 acres, consisting of one to several entire WMAs, each year to assess habitat conditions on WMAs throughout the state. A forest inventory is a systematic sampling of the forest resources present within a landholding. Unlike a basic forest inventory, used primarily to appraise timber value, our forest inventories include data on both forest and wildlife habitat components. This additional data allow LDWF Wildlife Division personnel to make long-term management decisions as well as providing a better picture of the current wildlife and forest habitat conditions. During the inventory process tree measurements are recorded which include species, diameter, and height. With this information managers can calculate timber volume, diameter distribution, and species composition. Trees are also classed based on their crown position and overall condition. Additionally, the amount of sunlight penetrating the overstory, midstory and understory vegetation is recorded as well as the hydrologic-forest type. The understory and ground vegetation is sampled to determine the density and species composition of seedlings and saplings found on the area. Vine abundance, snag density, and other factors which have species specific value are also acquired.

Due to the extensive land base the Department owns not all of the acreage can be monitored and managed annually in great detail. Therefore, an entry schedule has been developed based on the complete inventory of each WMA. To ensure that no area is overlooked, WMAs are divided into management units called compartments. These units range in size from 500-2000 acres and are delineated using natural and man-made boundaries such as roads and waterways. All WMA compartments are scheduled for review on an entry schedule of 10-20 years depending on the number of compartments on a given WMA and the vegetative growth rate for that particular WMA. For most WMAs, at least one compartment is entered and evaluated each year. The order in which compartments are entered for management is based on the current forest and wildlife habitat conditions found during the forest inventory process. LDWF Forestry Section assesses approximately 15,000-20,000 acres annually and develops compartment prescriptions which detail the forest management practices that will be used to enhance wildlife habitat. Approximately 6,000-8,000 acres are managed through timber harvest annually to enhance wildlife habitat for both long and short-term benefit.

The restoration of bottomland hardwood sites is the primary function of the reforestation program. Since 1968 the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has reforested over 20,000 acres of old-fields purchased thru the Department's land acquisition program. These areas are generally adjacent to existing Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) and add to the land base available for public use.

The bulk of the acreage was planted during the last decade. Between 200,000 and 700,000 seedlings (500-2,000 acres) have been planted annually since the early 1990's.

Reforestation is an integral part of habitat restoration which involves watershed management, as well as, re-establishing the natural plant community. Careful attention is given to selecting tree and shrub species which would normally be found on the given site being planted. The flooding regime and soil characteristics are the primary factors which determine which type of trees will be planted.

LDWF is one of several agencies involved in a massive effort to reforest and restore tens of thousands of acres of bottomland hardwood sites in several states throughout the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley. Public and private lands are being "put back into trees" with a variety of funding sources including federal cost-share programs, and donations from both private industry and non-profit conservation organizations. LDWF only plants trees on its WMAs and uses all aforementioned funding sources as well as self-generated dollars and personnel time.

Due to the large demand for seedlings, long-term planning is necessary to secure enough seedlings to complete annual planting jobs. This is accomplished by keeping a sufficient supply of seed in cold storage to grow the number of seedlings projected to be used over the next two planting seasons.

As many as 10 WMAs may receive some degree of reforestation each year. Though individual fields are planted with 4 to 12 species of trees and shrubs, as many as 30 species are used annually to restore the variety of sites found in the state-wide WMA system.

(Associated Terms and Information Relevant to Reforestation)
Seed production age: on good sites, planted trees can begin seed production at a relatively young age. The following observations have been made on various WMAs. Acorns were produced on water oak and Nuttall oak at age 12; white oak, overcup oak, willow oak, obtusa oak and burr oak at age 14; sweet pecans produced fruit after 15 years; black cherry, crabapple and mayhaw produced fruit at 5 years post planting.

Planting density: spacing is dictated by the harshness of the site; where above average mortality is anticipated seedlings are planted 10x10 (435 per ac). If excellent survival is expected only 12'x12' spacing (300 per ac) is used. For enrichment planting (adding a new species to an area with nearly sufficient stocking already) only 200 trees are planted per acre.

Growth rate: the oldest plantation (planted from 1968-1972) is also on one of the best sites. In 1998 cherrybark oak, water oak, and willow oak were 12-20 inches in diameter with some individuals reaching 26 inches. These trees are over 100 feet tall and have been producing acorns for over 15 years.

The following Wildlife Management Areas have had some degree of tree planting conducted over the past 10 to 15 years:
Atchafalaya Delta, Attakapas Island, Bayou Macon, Bayou Pierre, Big Colewa Bayou, Boeuf, Buckhorn, Elbow Slough, Grassy Lake, Hutchinson Creek, Loggy Bayou, Marsh Bayou, Ouachita, Point Au Chein, Pomme de Terre, Red River, Russell Sage, Sandy Hollow, Sherburne, Spring Bayou, Three Rivers, Union, Waddill Refuge, Walnut Hill.

The information gained from the forest inventory allows the forester to make the best decision on how a stand can be managed to benefit wildlife and meet the desired objectives. Cutting and removing trees from a forest is one of the major forest management tools used by foresters and wildlife biologists. A commercial timber harvest is a feasible way to manage for wildlife where there would not be other incentives. This manipulation of the forest makes it possible for desirable wildlife habitat to be created. The primary objective of timber harvests conducted by the LDWF is to create favorable wildlife habitat; a second benefit comes from the revenue generated from the sale of the timber. The money earned from timber sales goes back into wildlife management. Depending on the management objectives and the forest condition of a compartment unit, the wildlife forester will decide if a timber harvest will be needed to create, improve, or maintain desired wildlife habitat.

Depending on the management needs of the compartment LDWF foresters will use one, or a combination of harvesting methods. The main harvesting methods include: single tree select thinning, group select thinning, seed-tree, shelterwood and clearcut. Much of what is removed includes dying, unhealthy or diseased trees that have minimal longterm wildlife or timber value.

Timber sales are awarded to the highest bidder among a list of individual timber companies and logging contractors. The timber company enters into a contract with LDWF detailing how the logging operation will be conducted. LDWF personnel monitor the logging operation and will shut down the logging if any violations are made.

The prescription is our compartment management document. As with a doctor's prescription for medication when you have an ailment, the compartment Rx details what the technical staff recommends as appropriate to address maintaining or enhancing habitat components within the compartment. The prescription contains information on the present condition of the forested habitat, soils within the compartment, any unique or natural areas within the compartment, and particular concerns that have been addressed relative to that particular compartment or WMA. The Rx addresses the forested habitat for the short and long term, with prescribed practices drawn out for the current entry period, and any necessary references for future entries so noted.

Research is an important part of our habitat management program on the WMAs. Just as continuing education is important to maintaining employees’ skills and knowledge of new technology in any job, research provides managers insight into new management practices or techniques that can be applied on the job, thus insuring optimal benefits of the WMA forest/wildlife resources.

Research projects are not only geared at learning about the growth characteristics and management techniques used on the WMA forests, but also at the interrelationships of the forests with certain wildlife species of concern, including white-tailed deer, squirrels, Wild Turkey, migratory birds and even insects and small mammals. We work jointly with the State Universities, Federal and State Government agencies, and private corporations to attempt to unravel some of the questions we have regarding the best methods to sustain suitable wildlife habitat components in our forested systems for the long-term, while providing short and long-term recreational benefits to the WMA users.

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