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LDWF Celebrates Bayou Platte Waterbird Rookery Restoration Project at Marsh Island Refuge

Release Date: 05/23/2016

Black skimmers and gull-billed terns gather at Bayou Platte Waterbird Rookery. (LDWF photo).

May 23, 2016 – Thanks to a grant from the Shell Marine Habitat Program through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has completed restoration of the Bayou Platte Waterbird Rookery at Marsh Island Refuge.
 
LDWF celebrated the accomplishment Monday by holding a small celebration at the colony on Marsh Island Refuge.
 
Located in Iberia Parish between Vermilion Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, Marsh Island is home to two island rookeries which make up the Bayou Platte Waterbird Colony. These two islands are the only colonial seabird rookeries in the Vermilion/Cote Blanche Bay complex.
 
This year marks the first nesting season since the restoration of the islands was completed, and the rookeries are already proving to be very productive. This season an estimated 2,000 nesting pairs of birds have taken up residence on the rookeries, which far exceeds the project goal of 500 nesting pairs.
 
“This project has created and restored the largest artificial nesting islands in coastal Louisiana and provides nesting opportunities for species of conservation need,’’ said Todd Baker, the director of LDWF’s Coastal and Nongame Resources Division who oversees coastal operations and habitat conservation. “Our surveys indicate many waterbird species utilize these rookeries, many of which are Species of Greatest Conservation Need as identified in the Louisiana Wildlife Action Plan.’’
 
The two rookeries were originally built in the early 1990s but by 2012 were in poor shape due to subsidence and erosion. The restoration project began in August of 2013 through May 2014 when bird nesting activities halted construction to avoid disturbing nesting birds. Construction resumed after nesting season in November of 2014 and was completed last year.
 
Bird surveys during and after construction indicated heavy use by black skimmers, gull-billed terns, Forster’s terns, least terns, laughing gulls among other waterbird species.
 
This summer marks the 26th anniversary of the creation of the nesting islands. This was the first nesting season after restoration was completed. Biologists estimate that within the last 10 years, more than 10,000 nesting birds utilized these islands. 
 
For more information, contact Tyson Crouch at 337-373-0032 or tcrouch@wlf.la.gov.

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Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Reopens All Roads at Dewey W. Wills WMA

Release Date: 05/23/2016

May 23, 2016 – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has reopened all roads in the Dewey W. Wills Wildlife Management Area (WMA).
 
Repairs have been made to roads in the WMA impacted by flood water and are safe for use.
 
Dewey W. Wills WMA is located in the southern portion of LaSalle and Catahoula parishes in central Louisiana approximately 20 miles northeast of Alexandria. For more information on the WMA, go to: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wma/2753 .
 
For more information, contact Cliff Dailey at 318-487-5885 or adailey@wlf.la.gov .
 

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Gov. John Bel Edwards Appoints Telley Madina to Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission

Release Date: 05/20/2016

New LWFC Commissioner Telley Savalas Madina

May 20, 2016 – Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has appointed Telley Savalas Madina of New Orleans to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC). Madina, who will represent the commercial fishing and fur industries, replaces Nathan Wall, who recently resigned from the commission.
 
His first appearance on the commission will come June 2 when the LWFC holds its monthly meeting.
 
Born and raised in New Orleans, Madina is the senior Gulf Coast policy officer for Oxfam America, an international non-governmental organization. He graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and is pursuing a master’s degree in public policy from UNO.
 
Among the boards on which he serves, Madina was the executive director of the Louisiana Oystermen Association in 2010-11 and is still a board member. He currently serves as CEO of Red & Blue Consulting, LLC of New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina, Madina worked as a business service representative and intergovernmental affairs liaison for New Orleans, focused on issues of small business recovery, contracting and policy equity within coastal Louisiana.
 
“My experience as executive director of the Louisiana Oystermen Association and working in the recovery process after Katrina will be assets serving on the commission,’’ Madina said. “I visited Washington, D.C., 40 times as executive director of the LOA after the BP oil spill, advocating for minority fishing communities across the Gulf of Mexico within governmental agencies, Congressional and Senate offices. I look forward to the opportunity to work on the commission.’’
 
Madina’s term runs through Jan. 7, 2022.

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Three Louisiana Archers Named to National Archery in Schools Program All-Academic Team

Release Date: 05/20/2016

May 20, 2016 – Benton Middle School’s Aidan Haire and Abbie Rutledge and Northwood High School’s Shelby Stout have been named to the 2016 National Archery in Schools Program (NASP) Middle School Division All-Academic Team, NASP announced Thursday.
 
“These student archers not only excelled on the range but also were recognized by their school for proficiency in the classroom,’’ NASP said. “NASP is proud to recognize these top student archers as they provide an excellent scholastic example for all NASP participants in 47 states, eight Canadian provinces and nine other countries.’’
 
Haire and Rutledge, both eighth graders, helped lead Benton Middle School to the NASP Middle School Division National Team Championship on May 12-14.
 
Haire was the top male shooter from Louisiana with a score of 292. That put him 10th among middle school boys and 47th overall amongst males. Shelby Stout, a sixth grader from Northwood High School, tied for 17th among middle school boys and 75th overall amongst males with a score of 291.
 
Rutledge finished 15th in the girls middle school division and 48th overall amongst females with a score of 290.
 
 “NASP began the Academic Archer program this year to recognize students not just for their achievements on the range but also in the classroom,’’ said Robert Stroede, the Archery in Louisiana Schools (ALAS) state coordinator who oversees the program for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LWDF). “This is a great achievement for these students and I’m sure a proud moment for their parents, teachers and schools. We’d like to offer our congratulations.’’
 
All Louisiana students and schools who participated in the NASP National Tournament are part of the ALAS program, which is designed to teach students in grades 4-12 international target style archery.
 
The ALAS/NASP program is available to all schools in Louisiana and grants are available to assist with funding. For more information regarding the ALAS program, please contact NASP state coordinator Robert Stroede at rstroede@wlf.la.gov or 318-484-2276.

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Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to Reopen South End of Price Lake Road at Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge

Release Date: 05/19/2016

May 19, 2016 - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will reopen the south end of Price Lake Road on Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Grand Chenier on Friday (May 20) at official sunrise.
 
High water from heavy rain forced the closure of the road. Repairs have been made but visitors to the refuge are cautioned to stay away from high water near the road.
 
The north end of Price Lake Road remains open.
 
Other areas available for public access include the Joseph Harbor Canal and East End Locks Road, which are both located about three miles east of the refuge headquarters building.
 
Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, which consists of 71,500 acres, is located in eastern Cameron and western Vermilion parishes. It borders the Gulf of Mexico for 26.5 miles and extends inland toward the Grand Chenier ridge, a stranded beach ridge, six miles from the Gulf. For more information on the refuge, go to ttp://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/refuge/rockefeller-wildlife-refuge or visit: rwrefuge.com
 
For more information, contact Gabe Giffin at 337-491-2000 or ggiffin@wlf.la.gov.

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Benton Schools Claim National Championships in National Archery in Schools Program Tournaments

Release Date: 05/17/2016

Benton Middle School captured the NASP Middle School national championship during the national tournament.
Benton Elementary School won the NASP IBO 3-D national title.
Benton Elementary's Madeline Lowry was second overall in the NASP IBO 3-D National Championship elementary division.
Benton Elementary's Eden Old placed third overall in the NASP IBO 3-D National Championship elementary division.

May 17, 2016 – Benton Middle School earned the first-ever national championship for Louisiana in the 2016 National Archery in Schools Program (NASP) National Tournament held in Louisville, Ky., on May 12-14.  Benton Elementary also brought home a national title, finishing first in the NASP/IBO 3-D Challenge.
 
Led by eighth grader Aidan Haire, who finished 10th in the boys middle school division, Benton Middle School won the middle school division of the NASP National Tournament with 3,404 points. Benton Middle edged runner-up Pulaski Northern Middle School of Kentucky by eight points for the title. A total of 205 middle schools competed in the division.
 
Benton Elementary captured the NASP/IBO 3-D Challenge national crown with 1,361 points. East Elementary from Alabama was second with 1,339 points.
 
Both Benton Middle and Benton Elementary claimed the world titles at last year’s NASP World Tournament.
 
Benton Elementary finished fifth in the elementary division of the NASP National Tournament with 3,207 points. Kingston Elementary of Bossier Parish was sixth, four points behind Benton Elementary.
 
A total of 198 Louisiana student archers from 14 Louisiana schools, who qualified during the Archery in Louisiana Schools (ALAS) State Tournament in March, competed in the national event. The NASP® National Tournament attracted nearly 13,000 students from across the nation.
 
Students and teams who qualified will be eligible to take part in the NASP World Tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C., June 24-26.
 
“These student archers spent countless hours honing their skills in preparation for the shoot and it paid off in a big way,’’ said NASP/ALAS state coordinator Robert Stroede. “We at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) would like to congratulate all Louisiana student archers and coaches who competed at the NASP National Tournament.’’
 
Haire was the top male shooter from Louisiana shooting a score of 292. That put him 10th among middle school boys and 47th overall amongst males. Shelby Stout, a sixth grader from Northwood High School, tied for 17th among middle school boys and 75th overall amongst males with a score of 291.
 
Abbie Rutledge of Benton Middle School, an eighth grader, finished 15th in the girls middle school division and 48th overall amongst females with a 290 score.
 
Madeline Lowry, a fourth grader from Benton Elementary, was second in the female elementary division of the IBO 3-D Challenge with a 282 score and teammate Eden Old, also in the fourth grade, was third in the female elementary division with a 278. A total of 392 female archers competed in that division.
 
Wayne Bearb of Acadiana High School was Louisiana’s top high school archer with a 291 score, which tied him for 43rd place nationally in the boys high school division.
 
Haughton Middle School finished 25th in the middle school division with a 3,283 score. It also received special recognition as a top three finalist for the NASP Community Service award.
 
To see all results for the NASP National, NASP/IBO 3-D Challenge, and the Centershot Nationals visit www.nasptournaments.org.
 
All students and schools who participated in the NASP National Tournament are part of the ALAS program, which is designed to teach students in grades 4-12 international target style archery.
 
The ALAS/NASP program is available to all schools in Louisiana and grants are available to assist with funding. For more information regarding the ALAS program, please contact NASP state coordinator Robert Stroede at rstroede@wlf.la.gov or 318-484-2276.

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LDWF Partners with Top Professional Anglers for Unique Stocking Event on Toledo Bend

Release Date: 05/16/2016

B.A.S.S. Elite Anglers picking up fingerlings
Florida largemouth bass fingerlings from LDWF's Booker Fowler Fish Hatchery
B.A.S.S. Elite Angler David Walker
B.A.S.S. Elite Angler Fabian Rodrigues

Over the weekend, twenty-two B.A.S.S. Elite Anglers teamed up with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to stock approximately 10,000 Florida largemouth bass fingerlings into the Toledo Bend Reservoir during their fifth stop on the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament trail. This innovative stocking is part of the department’s efforts to ensure consistent, quality fishing for Louisianans, now and in the future, with the hopes these fingerlings will grow to become the next generation of trophy bass.
 
Saturday’s stocking event tasked volunteer B.A.S.S. Elite Anglers to pick suitable, protective habitat and transport the fingerlings in their personal boats to appropriate sites throughout the reservoir.
 
“Typically, fingerlings stocked into areas of good habitat will have a better chance of survival,” explained LDWF Biologist Manager Kristi Butler. “Our goal with producing and stocking Florida largemouth bass is to increase anglers’ chances of catching larger than average bass and the Florida/Northern hybrid largemouth bass grow larger than Louisiana’s native Northern largemouth bass.”
 
Anglers met LDWF hatchery trucks at Cypress Bend Resort Boat Dock on Saturday morning to collect largemouth bass fingerlings bagged with water and oxygen. The fingerlings were produced at Booker Fowler Fish Hatchery in central Louisiana, and were roughly 2 to 2.5 inches in size.
 
“This inaugural stocking event not only directly improves the fishery, but gives the anglers ownership of the lake, which is frequently selected for competitive tournaments,” said Butler.  “In fact, in 2015, Toledo Bend Reservoir earned the top coveted spot on BASSMASTER Magazine’s ‘100 Best Bass Lakes in the Nation.’”
 
The success of the renowned fishery is due in great part to the agencies and organizations involved in the management of the fishery. Since 1990, LDWF, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Toledo Bend Lake Association, Sabine River Authority and the Sabine Parish Tourist Commission have worked together to release more than 28 million Florida-strain largemouth fingerlings into the massive reservoir. In 2016 alone, LDWF will produce and stock over 820,000 Florida largemouth bass fingerlings into Toledo Bend, helping to continue to rejuvenate the lake and increase catch rate.
 
The effectiveness of placing fast-growing Florida bass into the lake is evident by the numbers of double-digit fish entered into the Toledo Bend Lake Association’s Toledo Bend Lunker Program.  In 2015, the lake certified 81 bass weighing over 10 pounds. With only a few days left in the 2016 Lunker Program year, the program has certified a phenomenal 139 lunkers.
 
“That kind of success doesn’t happen by accident. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries “get it.” They know what they’re doing and understand the impact and value of the resource they have here,” explained B.A.S.S. Elite Angler Kevin VanDam. “Their stocking of Florida strain largemouth has really taken off and produced bigger bass here than ever before. As a result, the fishing is better, and Toledo Bend is a “hot” destination for anglers all over the country.”
 
The Bassmaster Elite Series is the highest level of professional bass fishing tournaments, with only the best anglers competing in nine tournaments plus a Classic bracket event. Toledo Bend was selected as a tournament stop due to its notoriety as prime bass fishing destination.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Reopens Russell Sage Wildlife Management Area

Release Date: 05/13/2016

May 13, 2016 - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has reopened Russell Sage Wildlife Management Area (WMA).
 
Water levels in associated river and drainage systems have receded enough to allow traffic on roads throughout the WMA. Interior access roads have been inspected and are safe for travel.
 
Russell Sage WMA is located in Morehouse, Ouachita, Richland, and Caldwell parishes and is approximately seven miles east of Monroe and ten miles west of Rayville.
 
For more information on this WMA, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wma/2777 or contact Lowrey Moak at 318-343-4044 or lmoak@wlf.la.gov.
 

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Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Reopens Boeuf Wildlife Management Area

Release Date: 05/13/2016

May 13, 2016 - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has reopened Boeuf Wildlife Management Area (WMA).
 
Water levels in associated river and drainage systems have receded enough to allow traffic on roads throughout the WMA. Interior access roads have been inspected and are safe for travel.
 
Boeuf WMA is located in Catahoula and Caldwell parishes, north and south of La. Hwy. 4, approximately 10 miles southeast of Columbia.
 
For more information on this WMA, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wma/2777 or contact Lowrey Moak at 318-343-4044 or lmoak@wlf.la.gov.
 

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Whooping Crane Chicks Hatched in Louisiana in April Reach One Month Mark This Week

Release Date: 05/13/2016

 

May 13, 2016 - The first whooping crane chicks hatched in Louisiana since 1939 continue to be reared by the mated pair that nested and conceived them one month after they hatched in Jefferson Davis Parish.

The initial hatch occurred April 11 with the second chick hatched two days later.

The hatchings, the first seen in Louisiana’s wild since 1939, represent another step forward in the program established in February of 2011 when the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) reintroduced whooping cranes back into the state at the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WLWCA) in Vermilion Parish.

“The family remains in the area where they nested and the chicks are growing fast,’’ said LDWF biologist Sara Zimorski, who leads the Louisiana whooping crane project. “We’re excited it has gone this well so far. The last month has been thrilling as our team has watched the process of the adults rearing the chicks.

“We’d like to thank our many partners who have helped with the project, especially the landowners and farmers in southwest Louisiana who have worked hand-in-hand with us as the birds nest on some of their property.’’

LDWF has partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Service and the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit to return the species to the state. Project funding comes from LDWF Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge funds, State Wildlife Grants Program, and private/corporate donations, which are facilitated by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation. Chevron has been a major corporate donor in the program. 

 

The adults paired earlier this winter and nested and produced eggs for the first time in mid-March. The female is 4 years old and the male just 3 years old.
 
Once abundant in Louisiana in the 1800s, the whooping cranes dwindled to two in 1945 and had disappeared by 1950 in the state.

Bob Love, a former LDWF Administrator of Coastal and Nongame Resources who initially secured approval for the whooping crane reintroduction project in 2010, said the hatchings represent a major milestone for the endeavor. It also shows, he said, that southwest Louisiana’s coastal prairie habitat coupled with the abundance of flooded crawfish and rice fields appears to be good breeding ground for whooping cranes.

“To have the successful reproduction at this early stage of the project is monumental,’’ said Love, who oversaw the project before retiring from LDWF in March. “It demonstrates how important the site-species relationship is for success. The critical habitat for the whooping crane to successfully reproduce is shallow water on that fertile prairie. In southwest Louisiana, we have that type habitat. It’s a massive habitat base that doesn’t exist in such quantities anywhere else in North America.’’

LDWF Secretary Charlie Melancon said the successful hatching is another example of Louisiana leading the way in helping imperiled species come back from the brink.

“This is not only significant for whooping crane reintroduction in Louisiana but for everywhere,’’ Melancon said. “We’re all working for the same goal and that is to restore a magnificent bird that was once plentiful. What our team has been able to demonstrate is a positive path to restore this species.’’

 

Whooping cranes in Louisiana are designated as a non-essential, experimental population (NEP) under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act. This designation and its implementing regulation were developed to be more compatible with routine human activities in the reintroduction area. The whooping crane is protected under the federal Endangered Species and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts and by Louisiana state law.

The initial cohort of birds received in 2011 marked the first presence of whooping cranes in the wild in Louisiana since 1950.
 
The WLWCA location in Vermilion Parish provides temporary shelter for the birds before their release into the wild. The cranes which make up the Louisiana population were raised at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md., and flown to Louisiana by the Windway Capital Corporation.
 
 Anyone encountering a whooping crane is advised to observe the bird from a distance and to report their sighting to LDWF (http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/webform/whooping-crane-reporting-form).
 
Whooping cranes are large-bodied, white birds similar to white ibis, white pelicans, and wood storks, all of which must be distinguished from legally-hunted snow geese. However, a red head and black facial markings along with a height of five feet and a wingspan of 7-8 feet make them very distinctive. In flight, Whooping cranes display black wing tips and fully extended neck and legs, which extend well beyond the tail.
 
Juvenile whooping cranes are primarily white with some cinnamon-brown feathers remaining on their body, primarily on their head and neck. Their wing tips are black like an adult, but they lack the red head.
 
Anyone witnessing suspicious activity involving harassment or shooting of whooping cranes is advised to report that information to LDWF’s Enforcement Division by calling 1-800-442-2511 or using the tip411 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. Citizen Observer, the tip411 provider, uses technology that removes all identifying information before LDWF receives the text so that LDWF cannot identify the sender. 
 
Additional information on LDWF’s whooping crane project is available at http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/whooping. 

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