Enforcement

Two Whooping Cranes Found Dead in Jefferson Davis Parish

Release Date: 10/11/2011

LDWF Enforcement Division Identifies Two Juveniles as Suspects in Shooting

To request b-roll footage and photos of the whooping crane re-introduction, email aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Oct. 11, 2011 -- Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents have identified two juveniles for their alleged role in the illegal shooting of two whooping cranes in Jefferson Davis Parish.

According to an eyewitness account, two juveniles stopped on Lyons Road in between Mouton and Guidry roads south of Jennings at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 9.  The eyewitness said they shot from their truck and killed two whooping cranes.

LDWF agents and biologists were notified yesterday morning, Oct. 10, and retrieved the dead birds, which were a part of LDWF's whooping crane reintroduction program.  Agents were able to locate the suspected juveniles Monday night based on information from the eyewitness account.

"Losing two cranes, especially in such a thoughtless manner, is a huge setback in the department’s efforts to re-establish a whooping crane population in Louisiana,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham. “We take this careless crime very seriously.”

LDWF received 10 whooping cranes in February of this year from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Research Facility in Laurel, Md., and placed them in the coastal marsh of Vermilion Parish within LDWF’s White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WCA).  This re-introduced population, which will be annually supplemented with future cohorts, marked the first presence of whooping cranes in the wild in Louisiana since 1950.

LDWF is working cooperatively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (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 and is protected under state law and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

"This is a profound setback to the many people and organizations who have worked so hard to bring this magnificent bird back to Louisiana," said Cindy Dohner, Southeast Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

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.  The reintroduction at White Lake WCA is part of an ongoing recovery effort coordinated by the USFWS.

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.  Like those in the eastern migratory population, it remains vulnerable to extinction from continued loss of habitat or natural or man-made catastrophes.  Multiple efforts are underway to reduce this risk and 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 570 whooping cranes left in the world, only 400 in the wild. About 100 cranes are in the eastern migratory population.  For the 11th time in as many years, ultralight-led captive reared whooping cranes are learning their migration route to wintering sites in St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge.  Ten young whooping cranes began their journey on Oct. 9, 2011.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at aeinck@wlf.la.gov or 225-765-2465, or Bo Boehringer at bboehringer@wlf.la.gov or 225-765-5115.

LDWF Agent Found Dead in West Feliciana Parish

Release Date: 09/30/2011

 

A Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agent was found dead this morning, Sept. 30, in West Feliciana Parish.

The body of Sgt. Paul Stuckey, 47, of Zachary, was found by local fishermen at the old ferry landing near the banks of the Mississippi River just outside of St. Francisville at daybreak. 

West Feliciana Sheriff's Office (WFSO) deputies were the first on the scene and found Sgt. Stuckey with a shotgun wound to his chest next to his patrol vehicle.  The WFSO notified LDWF at 7 a.m.

"Our hearts go out to the Sgt. Stuckey family and his extended family of fellow agents will be there to help them through this tough time," said Col. Winton Vidrine, head of the LDWF Enforcement Division.

According to LDWF dispatch, Sgt. Stuckey's last known communication with the department was at 2:15 a.m. identifying that he was responding to a night hunting complaint.

Sgt. Stuckey had been with the LDWF Enforcement Division for 18 years.  The cause of his death is currently under investigation.  His body was turned over to the West Feliciana Coroners Office.

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

LDWF Launches tip411 and iPhone App

Release Date: 09/29/2011

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is now offering a new way to anonymously report outdoor related violations to Enforcement Division agents.  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. 

To use the tip411 program, citizens can text LADWF and their tip to 847411 or download the "LADWF Tips" iPhone app from the Apple iTunes store free of charge.  CitizenObserver, the tip411 provider, uses technology that removes all identifying information before LDWF receives the text so that LDWF cannot identify the sender. 

Texting or downloading the app 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.

"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 LDWF Col. Winton Vidrine, head of the Enforcement Division.  "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 aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Baton Rouge Man Arrested for Boating Violations

Release Date: 09/27/2011

 

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents arrested a Baton Rouge man on Sept. 26 for his alleged involvement in a boating crash incident on the Amite River Diversion Canal.

Agents arrested Jack Riffle, 41, on four counts of first-degree negligent injury, driving or operating a boat while intoxicated (DWI) and reckless operation of a moving vessel and booked him into the Livingston Parish Jail.  Riffle was the operator of a 19-foot vessel that struck and was lodged under a pier in the Diversion Canal in Livingston Parish on Aug. 27 that left all five occupants with moderate to serious injuries.

Passengers on the boat were Elizabeth Riffle, 44, wife of Jack Riffle, their 15-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son, and Chico Garcia, 29, all of Baton Rouge.

LDWF agents responded to a report of a boating crash incident at 7 p.m.  Agents immediately summoned emergency medical responders and began removing debris in order to access and provide basic first-aid to the injured until the advanced medical responders were able to arrive.

Jack Riffle submitted to a blood sample following the boating crash incident, which allegedly showed that he was over the .08 blood alcohol concentration legal limit.

First-degree negligent injury brings up to a $2,000 fine and up to five years in jail for each offense.  First offense DWI carries a $300 to $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.  Reckless operation of a moving vessel brings up to a $200 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

Agents involved in the response and investigation were Sgt. Todd Lewis, Sgt. Randy Lanoux, Sgt. Ezekiel Talbert, Agent Terry Hicks and Agent Dale Wheat.

For more information contact Adam Einck at aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

LDWF Enforcement Division First Agency to Earn BOAT Accreditation

Release Date: 09/22/2011

(From left to right: NASBLA Executive Director John Johnson, NASBLA President James Graybeal, LDWF Lt. Col. Jeff Mayne, LDWF Lt.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division is the first agency in the United States to earn national accreditation in the Boat Operations and Training (BOAT) program administered by the National Association of Safe Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA).

During a ceremony in Milwaukee, Wis. at NASBLA’s Annual Conference, NASBLA’s President Jim Graybeal presented LDWF’s Lt. Col. Jeff Mayne and Lt. Spencer Cole with the formal Accreditation Certificate.

According to NASBLA.org, the BOAT program establishes a national standard for the training and qualification of maritime law enforcement and rescue personnel.  Adoption and implementation of the BOAT program provides a true national standard for the purpose of maritime interoperability at the federal, state and local levels.  Standardization ensures maritime agencies can interact together and will bolster their ability to act as force multipliers nationwide.

"Agencies who choose to adopt this national standard of training can assure their ability to conduct missions on our nation’s waterways safely and effectively and operate seamlessly with their federal, state and local partners on the water," said John Fetterman, NASBLA's Director of Law Enforcement.  "Congratulations go to Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries for being the first accredited state agency in our BOAT program, which other states will use as a model of success."

The LDWF Enforcement Division is the first agency to implement the BOAT standard in all aspects of operations and training including cadet training at the academy level and training of partners throughout the state across all jurisdictions.  The BOAT program will enhance LDWF's training plans in the areas of basic crewmember, boat operator for search and rescue and tactical operations.

"This is a significant achievement 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."

The LDWF Enforcement Division is an active participant in Louisiana's Homeland Security Plan and represents the state in waterborne emergencies.  Through the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, LDWF is the lead agency for search and rescue operations during natural disasters and maritime security of Louisiana's vital business and government interests along the coast and major rivers.

As members of the Governor's Homeland Security Advisory Council, the Area Maritime Security Executive Steering Committee and all major port security committees within the state, LDWF Law Enforcement Division agents frequently respond to requests to deploy LDWF marine resources for security concerns.

The LDWF Enforcement Division's specialized training and equipment and its ability to operate throughout the state's vast maze of waterways and wild areas has complemented Louisiana's ability to respond to emergencies on the water.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

West Monroe Man Pleads Guilty to Killing Bald Eagle

Release Date: 09/20/2011

 

A West Monroe Man pled guilty for violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act in the Federal Western District Court of Louisiana in Monroe on Sept. 19.

Jeffrey M. Miles, 22, entered his guilty plea to U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Hayes for shooting a mature bald eagle in Franklin Parish on April 4, 2011.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents initiated the investigation on April 4 after finding a dead bald eagle in a drainage ditch along Camphouse Road.

After a thorough investigation and receiving tips from the public through the department's Operation Game Thief hotline, agents were able to cite Miles on April 22 for violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

"Getting a guilty plea in federal court proves that the investigative work our agents did was factual and sound," said Col. Winton Vidrine, head of the LDWF Law Enforcement Division.  "Utilizing the public tips, gathering crucial evidence and interviewing suspects or people with information about this case all led to a successful conviction."

Hayes ordered a pre-sentencing investigation to be completed by federal investigators.  A sentencing date has been set for Jan. 3, 2012 in Monroe.  Violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act brings up to a $100,000 fine and up to 12 months in jail.

Agents participating in the case were Capt. Alan Bankston, Lt. Scott Watson, Senior Agent Albert Tarver and Senior Agent Johnny Wilson.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Belle Chasse Man Cited for Filing False Boat Registration

Release Date: 09/19/2011

 

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division Strike Force and undercover agents cited a Belle Chasse man for alleged boat registration violations on Sept. 18.

Agents cited Benjamin Vodopija, 24, for possessing a motorboat with an altered hull identification number in Plaquemines Parish.  Vodopija was also cited for injuring public records and filing false public records in East Baton Rouge Parish in his attempt to illegally register a boat.

Undercover agents answered an Internet classified ad in reference to a subject wanting to purchase a Louisiana boat registration for a vessel that he was unable to obtain a registration for legally.  Undercover agents made contact with Vodopija and sold him a false registration for $200.  Vodopija allegedly registered the vessel in his name with the false registration.

For filing false public records and injuring public records, Vodopija faces up to five years in jail, or up to $5,000 in fines or both for each offense.  Agents seized the vessel along with a Yamaha outboard motor and boat trailer.

Agents involved in the case were Lt. Joseph Arnaud, Sgt. Todd Laviolette, Agents Charles Talbert, Justin Lowry, Ronnie Engelhard and LDWF undercover agents.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Union Parish Man Arrested For Fifth DWI

Release Date: 09/09/2011

 

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents arrested a Union Parish man for allegedly his fifth driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense on Sept. 6 on the Russell Sage Wildlife Management Area (WMA).

Agents arrested Jerry R. McAdams, 51, of Downsville, for his fifth DWI offense and also cited him for driving without a valid license and violating WMA rules and regulations.

Agents stopped McAdams in his vehicle to inquire about his self-clearing permit when they noticed that McAdams appeared to be intoxicated.  Agents then discovered that McAdams did not possess a current driver’s license, or check in to use the WMA and was on probation for his fourth DWI offense.

Agents arrested and transported McAdams to the Ouachita Parish Correctional Center where he submitted a breath sample.  The results showed McAdams to have a blood alcohol content above the legal limit of .08.

A fourth DWI offense or any subsequent conviction is a felony punishable by imprisonment between 10 and 30 years and up to a $5,000 fine.  Failing to abide by WMA rules and regulations brings a fine up to $350, or up to 60 days in jail, or both plus court cost.  Operating a vehicle without a valid driver’s license is a fine up to $175, and up to 30 days in jail, or both plus court cost.

Agents involved in the case are Senior Agent Scott Jeansonne and Lt. Rick Owens.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Two Acadia Parish Men Cited For Hunting Violations

Release Date: 09/08/2011

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents cited two men for allegedly hunting squirrels during a closed season on Sept. 1 northwest of Iota.

Agents heard shots and observed two subjects walking in the wooded area near Bayou Des Canes shooting squirrels.  Agents made contact with the two subjects and found a total of six squirrels between the two men.

Agents cited Joseph Gary, 48, and David Leckelt, 54, both from Iota, for hunting squirrels during a closed season.  Leckelt was also cited for hunting without a resident hunting license.

Hunting squirrels during a closed season brings a fine between $250 and $500, or up to 90 days in jail, or both plus court cost.  Hunting without a resident license brings a fine of $50 or up to 15 days in jail.

The fall squirrel season in Louisiana runs from Oct. 1 to Feb. 29.

Agents involved in the case were Senior Agents Buddy Murray and Jason Stagg.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Commercial Alligator Hunter Cited for Alligator Violations

Release Date: 09/07/2011

 

September  7, 2011-Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents cited a commercial alligator hunter for alleged alligator violations on Sept. 2 in Ascension Parish.

While patrolling the McElroy Swamp area, agents came into contact with Arnold Villeneurve, 65, of Sorrento.  Agents found Villeneurve with two untagged alligators in his possession.  After further investigation, agents revealed Villeneurve had seven more untagged previously caught alligators stored in a cooler located at his residence.

Agents issued Villeneurve citations for nine counts of failing to tag alligators upon harvest.  Violation of this statue carries a fine of $450 to $950, up to 120 days in jail, or both plus court costs for each count and forfeiture of anything seized.

The nine alligators were seized along with 25 unused alligator tags that were assigned to Villeneurve.  In addition to fines and penalties, Villeneurve may be subject to pay restitution for each of the alligators seized and the loss of future hunting privileges.

Agents involved in the case were Senior Agent Hal Bridges and Sgt. Todd Laviolette.

For more information contact Adam Einck at aeinck@wlf.louisiana.gov.

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