L.D.W.F. News

L.D.W.F. News Release

Louisiana Officials Continue to Investigate Pearl River Fish Kill

Release Date: 08/26/2011

August 26, 2011 – Louisiana officials continue to investigate the impacts of the Temple-Inland discharge of “black liquor” on the Pearl River’s fisheries resources. Numerous levels of assessment are underway by the Louisiana departments of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), Health and Hospitals (DHH), and Environmental Quality (DEQ), including seafood safety testing, waterbody quality tests, testing of private water wells, evaluation of baseline species and efforts to determine the of effects on fish and other aquatic life as a result of the wastewater discharge that occurred on Tuesday, August 9, 2011. State officials continue to work together to assess the incident impact and long-term recovery plans.

Seafood Testing

Fisheries biologists with LDWF collected seafood samples throughout the Pearl River and at the mouth of the river in the Rigolets. DHH sanitarians also collected oyster samples from areas near the mouth of the river to be tested. All of the samples were sent to an independent laboratory in Metairie, La., contracted by DHH.

Eurofins Central Analytical Laboratory, the company which helped test Louisiana’s seafood during the Gulf oil spill, is testing samples from this incident for volatile and semi-volatile organic contaminants. These types of chemicals don’t typically build up in seafood tissue, however, state officials are having these tests conducted out of an abundance of caution.

Determining Fisheries Impacts and Restitution Claims

LDWF is also working with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS), Louisiana State University fisheries experts, and officials with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks to determine the loss of aquatic life, including fish and freshwater mussels.

Initially, more than 26 species of freshwater fish were identified in the fish kill.  They include Paddlefish, American eel, catfish, bass and bluegill. Species with similar characteristics were grouped together in some cases due to the massive volume of fish and the expansive range of the kill.   There are, for example, numerous specific species of darter fish in the Pearl River only distinguishable by variations on the dorsal fin, small color variations or other minute differences.  Experts with the Tulane University Natural History Museum are working with LDWF fisheries biologists to establish a baseline for species native to the Pearl River. That baseline will serve as the “before” picture for restitution claims.

A total restitution value for the fish kill will be compiled once the investigation is complete.  LDWF officials are working with USFWS in their investigation into the deaths of federally listed threatened and endangered species.   More than 26 threatened gulf sturgeons were involved in the incident.  Work is currently underway to determine its status of the inflated heelsplitter, a threatened freshwater mussel species.  In addition to state restitution values for fish and freshwater mussel deaths, Temple-Inland may be subject to civil or criminal fines for those species covered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Officials with LDWF are also developing a three-year monitoring plan to monitor the re-establishment of Pearl River aquatic resources.   Selected sampling gears, including electrofishing and nets will be employed under standardized protocol to ensure that results accurately represent the status of recovery.   LDWF plans to continue to pursue an agreement with Temple-Inland by which the responsible party would pay for the necessary fisheries resource monitoring.

Waterbody Safety, Monitoring and Ongoing Investigation

DEQ’s Incident Command post is still up and running at Temple-Inland and serves as a central point for DEQ staff to coordinate sampling events and record data. An overflight of the impacted area by DEQ occurred on Wednesday, August 24; during that overflight no dead fish were observed. Overflights will continue to determine if any additional fish remain. If additional fish are located, they will be cleaned up and disposed of by a team on standby for that purpose.

The compliance order and amended compliance order for Temple-Inland have been issued. This is the first step in the legal process for issuing penalties and for ensuring upgrades are in place to better treat and monitor discharges from the facility.

The company has been given permission to begin a limited discharge, which will commence today, August 26. Yesterday, DEQ staff was on site walking through the plan with the company in preparation for the discharge.

DEQ continues to collect water samples along various portions of the river.

The survey will gather water quality information that will be used to restore and protect the waterbody. Data gathered from the survey will be used to identify suspected pollutants in the waterbody that may cause or contribute to low oxygen levels in the water.

Citizens are asked not to tamper with the equipment that will be mounted on rebar, fence posts, white PVC poles or buoys. During the survey, a bright red, non-toxic dye will be injected into the water. Citizens who notice the red coloration of the water should not be alarmed. The water body will return to its normal state and color by the end of the day. The dye is used to determine flow and distribution patterns of the bayou. These patterns are used to establish sampling points for the survey.

DEQ will also install electronic monitoring equipment in conjunction with a water sampling survey on Pearl River in Washington and St. Tammany parishes.

Water Safety Measures

DHH has tested 18 privately owned domestic water wells located near the Pearl River. Results showed that water from these wells is safe to drink under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s safe drinking water standards. DHH collected and tested samples from these private water wells chosen by St. Tammany and Washington parish officials and were within a quarter of a mile of the Pearl River. In Louisiana, the individual well owner is responsible for maintaining and testing their private well. However, in this instance, Temple-Inland is paying for the state’s testing.

Public Health Resources

The Louisiana Poison Center has received 13 calls in the past week regarding the Pearl River spill. Callers are generally requesting details on public health, consuming fish and swimming in affected water. Anyone with questions regarding potential health effects can call the Louisiana Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For press inquiries, Olivia Watkins at 225-610-8660 or owatkins@wlf.la.gov.

LDWF Biologists Continue to Investigate Crab Mortalities in Lake Borgne

Release Date: 08/26/2011

August 26, 2011 – Fisheries biologists with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) are investigating reports of crab mortalities by fishermen in Lake Borgne. The reports, which began on Sunday, August 21, were made by commercial fishermen pulling dead fish and crabs from traps through much of the lake. Initial reports indicate that areas of hypoxia, as a result of limited exchange of oxygen from the surface to the bottom layers of the water column, are the cause of these mortalities.

Hypoxic areas in the Gulf of Mexico, sometimes called “dead zones” can cause mortalities for those species unable to quickly relocate to areas where there is oxygen in the water for them to “breathe.” Hypoxic zones can be common along Louisiana’s coast in the summer months. Current hypoxic zones have been occurring in the northern Lake Borgne, the Mississippi Sound, Chandeleur Sound, Breton Sound, Black Bay and the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) for approximately the last month, as well as the more well-known areas offshore west of the Mississippi River. Some of these areas have been experiencing some levels of hypoxia for the last two to three months.

While the current series of crab mortalities from hypoxia are in the general region at the mouth of the Pearl River where a dramatic fish kill was reported on August 13, fisheries experts do not believe the two events to be linked.  However, out of an abundance of caution, LDWF fisheries biologists collected crab samples and sent them to the independent laboratory, Eurofins Central Analytical Laboratory, contracted by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals for both volatile and semi-volatile testing.  

LDWF fisheries biologists report that high levels of freshwater that have inundated Lake Borgne and other waterbodies near the mouth of the Mississippi River likely created hypoxic areas that crab fishermen have encountered.

Unusually large amounts of freshwater has reduced the ability of the water to mix from top to bottom in many areas, affecting dissolved oxygen levels in the lower part of the water column.  In addition,high water temperatures further reduce the amount of oxygen the water can hold. Also, the large input of nutrients has led to increased organic production whose decomposition in the bottom layers further reduces oxygen concentrations.

Fisheries biologists with the state will continue to investigate crab and fish mortalities as they are reported. Once results of the tests are made available with DHH, they will be made available for the public. Fish kills are common occurrences in coastal Louisiana during the summer months. LDWF cooperates with other state agencies in monitoring these occurrences on an ongoing basis.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For press inquiries, contact Olivia Watkins at 225-610-8660 or owatkins@wlf.la.gov.  

LDWF Reminds Anglers of Regulation Changes on Shared Waters With Texas

Release Date: 08/25/2011

Changes go into effect on September 1, 2011

(August 25, 2011) – For the first time, Louisiana and Texas will share consistent recreational fishing regulations governing their bordering waters.  The new regulations are scheduled to go into effect on September 1, 2011.  Biologists from the two states have agreed upon regulations that are biologically sound and consistent on both sides of the boundary.

The two states share waters along most of their common border, supporting excellent recreational fisheries and attracting thousands of anglers each year.  The line between the two states follows the Old Sabine River down through the middle of Toledo Bend, so anglers currently must abide by two sets of laws. 

The potential for error for even the most conscientious angler is extremely high.  For example, an angler with a legal fish in Louisiana can simply drift over the state line into Texas waters and be in violation of their regulations.  Unfortunately, many anglers have been cited because of the unnecessary confusion. 

The proposed compromise regulations for Toledo Bend affect channel, blue and flathead catfish and black and white crappie. Proposed regulations for Caddo Lake and the Sabine River deal with those species in addition to white, yellow, largemouth and spotted bass.

The new regulations can be found on LDWF’s website at http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/regulations and on Texas Parks and Wildlife’s website at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/regulations/changes12.phtml.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For press inquiries, contact Ashley Wethey at awethey@wlf.la.gov (225) 765-5113 or Steve Lightfoot at steve.lightfoot@tpwd.state.tx.us or (512) 389-4701.

 

Hunters Preparing For Upcoming Season Advised of Problems Associated with Use of Tainted Corn for Feed

Release Date: 08/25/2011

Aug. 25, 2011-- The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is advising anyone using corn to feed deer and turkeys that care should be taken to avoid tainted corn, especially corn with high aflatoxin levels. The best way to avoid tainted corn is to purchase packaged corn that has been tested and labeled aflatoxin free.

Aflatoxin is a toxin produced by a fungus that affects certain grain products, especially yellow corn, under conditions of high heat, drought, and high relative humidity. Consumption of aflatoxin by animals may cause liver disease, unthriftiness, abortion, poor reproduction, poor immune function and death.  The severity of disease is related to the dose of aflatoxin consumed and the time span over which it is consumed.

According to the LA Department of Agriculture, there are scattered areas of aflatoxin tainted corn in Louisiana this year.

Grains contaminated with aflatoxin in excess of levels allowed in animal feeds should not be fed to wildlife.  Due to the sensitivity of wild turkeys to aflatoxin, 20 ppb should be considered the maximum level for corn distributed in areas where turkeys are present.

Acute exposure to aflatoxin occurs when an animal ingests a large dose at high concentrations over a short period of time resulting in death. Birds such as wild turkeys, ducks and geese are more susceptible than mammals. However, chronic exposure is much more likely to occur with wildlife eating from a corn feeder.

The safest source of deer corn is retail stores selling corn certified as aflatoxin free.  Hunters seeking a cheap source of corn directly from the field may get a short-term bargain but a long-term loss of recreational opportunity if wildlife is exposed to corn contaminated with high levels of aflatoxin.

Hunters are reminded that conditions causing high aflatoxin levels in cornfields occur only rarely under a narrow set of conditions.  The most frequent source of aflatoxin is good corn that has been mishandled.  Clean corn that is transported or stored at high temperatures and high humidity can produce aflatoxin within 24 hours and biologically significant amounts in a few days.  Year in and year out, hunters should be vigilant about the proper transportation, storage, and feeding of corn to avoid the detrimental impacts of aflatoxicosis on all forms of wildlife.

                                                LDWF RECOMMENDATIONS

1.       Just say no to corn feeding.  This is the only way to be absolutely certain that aflatoxin and other mortality factors (predators) associated with supplemental feeding will be eliminated.

2.       Maintain a healthy well-balanced deer herdby proper application of either-sex harvest. Research on livestock indicates that stress-free well-fed animals are not as susceptible to aflatoxin related disorders as under-nourished animals with additional stress factors (parasites, etc.).

3.       Use only certified cornthat is below 20-ppb aflatoxin.

4.       Do not expose corn to rainfallduring transportation and store it in water, insect and rodent resistant containers placed in a cool location. Wildlife resources should be treated like prize livestock and fed only the best quality corn.

5.       Use feeders that protect corn from the weather and dispense small quantities.  Frequent filling of feeders with small hoppers will keep corn fresh.  Do not use wet or moldy corn. 

6.       Frequently move feedersto reduce the risk of wildlife exposure to secondary diseases and parasites that can contaminate the soil in an area of frequent use.

7.       Terminate your feeding program by February 15th each year.  

8.       Thoroughly clean storage containers and feeders annually.  Remove dirt, old corn and debris and wash with bleach and water at the end of the season.

For more information, contact Dr. Jim LaCour at 225-765-0823 or jlacour@wlf.la.gov .

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

 

Fishermen Cited In Federal Waters

Release Date: 08/25/2011

 

August 25, 2011-Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents cited four men on Aug. 15 and two men on Aug. 16 for alleged fisheries violations in federal waters.

On Aug. 15, agents cited Larry Minor III, 23, of Fairhope, Ala., Jeffery Copeland, 42, of Mobile, Ala., Wayne Guidry, 34, of Marrero, and Jason Chauvin, 41, of Baton Rouge, for failing to have saltwater finfish intact and possessing red snapper during a closed season.

On Aug. 16, agents cited Richard Britton, 48, of Pickens, S.C., and Brian Loupe, 30, of Morgan City for possessing red snapper during a closed season.

Agents seized 153 red snapper, shark and blue fish filets on the Aug. 15 case and for the Aug. 16 case seized 70 red snapper filets and a 17-inch red snapper.

Agents participating in the cases were Sgts. Travis Huval and Brian Theriot, Senior Agents Donnie Bozeman and David Boudreaux, and Agent Brandon Fontenot.

The penalties for taking red snapper during a closed season are fines between $100 and $350, or up to 60 days in jail, or both plus court costs.  Failing to have saltwater finfish intact are fines between $250 and $500, or up to 90 days in jail, or both plus court costs.

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

Agenda for September Commission Meeting

Release Date: 08/24/2011

The next regular Commission Meeting will be held at 9:30 AM on Thursday, September 1, 2011, in the Louisiana Room at the Wildlife and Fisheries Building, 2000 Quail Drive, Baton Rouge, LA.

 

The following items will be discussed:

 

 1.         Roll Call

 

 2.         Approval of Minutes of August 4, 2011 and August 17, 2011

 

3.         Commission Special Announcements/Personal Privilege

 

4.         To hear Enforcement & Aviation Reports/August

 

5.         Public comments on amended Notice of Intent on the Calcasieu Lake Oyster Harvester   Permit

 

6.         To receive and consider Notice of Intent on 2012 Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program

 

7.         To receive and consider Declaration of Emergency for 2011-2012 Oyster Season on Public Oyster Areas

 

8.         Pre-Moratorium Pending Oyster Lease Application Status

 

9.         Set January 2012 Meeting Date

 

10.       Receive Public Comments

 

11.        Adjournment

LDWF to Hold Public Meeting Regarding 2012 Turkey Season Regulations

Release Date: 08/22/2011

August 22, 2011 – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will hold a public meeting on August 30, 2011 at 6 p.m., at the Charles H. Garrett Community Center in Jonesboro, La., to discuss the dates and length of the 2012 turkey season. Members of the public interested in turkey hunting are encouraged to attend and provide input.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffbor follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For more information, Jimmy Stafford at 225-765-2361 or jstafford@wlf.la.gov. For press inquiries, please contact Bo Boehringer at 225-765-5115 or bboehringer@wlf.la.gov.

Louisiana Oyster Task Force Meeting Scheduled for August 23 in New Orleans

Release Date: 08/22/2011

When: Tuesday,  August 23, 2011 @ 1:00 PM

Where: UNO Advanced Technology Center, 2021 Lakeshore Drive, Suite 210

Agenda:

I.  Roll Call

II.  Approval of May 10, 2011 MINUTES,  Approval of August 3, 2011 MINUTES

III. Treasury Report

           A. Oyster Tag Sales

           B. LOTF Budget

IV.  Committee Reports

            A. Public and Private Oyster Grounds Committee - (Buddy Pausina)

            B.  Enforcement   - (Steve McManus)

            C.  Legislative - (Jakov Jurisic)

             D.  Research – (John Supan)

             E.  Coastal Restoration – (Dan Coulon)

            F.  Marketing - (Dana Brocato)

            G.  Health – (Glenn Cambre)

V.  Old Business

           A.  BP Oil Spill Remediation

                 1.  Claims Process

                  2.  Public Reef Remediation

                  3.  Oyster Lease Remediation

           B.   Oyster Lease Moratorium Update

           C.   Sabine Lake Oyster Reefs Update

           D.   Public Oyster Reef Evaluation & Shell Plants – Patrick Banks

VI.  New Business

           A.  2011 – 2012 Public Seed Ground Season Recommendations

           B.   “Louisiana Wild” Seafood Certification Program - Joey Shephard (WLF)

Temple-Inland Agrees to State Request to Support Sampling of Private Water Wells and Seafood

Release Date: 08/19/2011

LDWf Enforcement Mobile Command

August 19, 2011 — The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH), Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) are working with local officials in Washington and St. Tammany parishes to conduct a new round of precautionary testing of a sample of private water wells along the Pearl River. Temple Inland agreed to support the state’s request to begin precautionary testing earlier today.

Initial testing of drinking water from public water systems by DHH and of the river water impacted by the discharge by DEQ showed non-detect levels of volatile organic contaminants, as well as acceptable levels for other types of potential contaminants. The new testing is being done out of an abundance of caution.

For private well sampling, DHH is working with local officials and engineers in Washington and St. Tammany parishes to identify a sample of 10 registered private water wells in each parish to test. Those samples are being collected today and tomorrow and will be analyzed over the weekend by DHH’s lab in Metairie, which also analyzed the public water system samples taken earlier this week. Results are expected back by Monday and Tuesday.

More information about private water well safety and testing can be found at www.privatewaterandsewage.dhh.la.gov.

Seafood testing also set to begin

DHH and LDWF will also begin testing seafood from areas that could have been or will be impacted by the “Black Liquor” that was formed after the Temple-Island discharge. Temple Inland agreed to support DHH’s water testing efforts earlier today.

LDWF began pulling live samples of crab, shrimp and finfish following a protocol similar to the one used during last year’s BP oil spill, and will provide those samples to DHH to be tested. LDWF fisheries biologists are sampling at multiple locations, including in the upper, middle and lower Pearl River, two control sites, and sites in the Rigolets at the mouth of the Pearl River and in Mud Lake.

Because of the nature of potential contaminants from the mill, DHH will conduct more complex testing that requires specialized equipment and specially trained personnel. Results are expected by the middle to end of next week.

DHH, which oversees safety of the state’s oyster areas, has been monitoring Oyster Areas 1, 2 and 3, which could get water from the Pearl River for signs of the “Black Liquor.” Samples already pulled from those areas routinely will be used to conduct baseline testing so that if the discharge material gets to the area, DHH will be able to do additional testing to ensure the safety of the oysters in those areas.

Temple-Inland, which has admitted responsibility for the incident that led to a large fish kill, agreed to the state’s request to pay for the precautionary random testing of private water wells and seafood.

Incident Command Centers in St. Tammany and Washington Parishes

Incident command centers for LDWF and DEQ have been set up in Washington and St. Tammany parishes to assist in the response. LDWF Mobile Command is located in Washington Parish just south of Bogalusa at Pools Bluff off of Hwy 21 in Washington Parish on the Pearl River. This is a high-profile location from where cleanup vessels and other vessels are launching. DEQ is sending a command post to this same location as water sampling along the Pearl River continues. The Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and DEQ have command posts set up in St. Tammany Parish at the Crawford Landing boat ramp.

Water quality back to normal in some areas

Water samples throughout the Pearl River from the discharge point at Temple-Inland Bogalusa Mill to below Pools Bluff show the water quality is back to normal. These are areas that are above the plume. Information from a DEQ over-flight today shows a dramatic improvement in water quality since yesterday. As the plume dissipates it gets harder to identify. Preliminary in-depth water quality samples taken on Aug. 14 at the discharge point returned from the lab today and show there were no chemicals of concern released from the Inland-Temple Mill outfall. Dozens of daily samples have been taken in the Pearl River since August 13. Recent assessments show water quality levels in Pearl River, from Washington Parish to the end of the river, are not lethal to fish.

Further Information Available

People with questions about the incident can call the DEQ hotline number is 225-342-1234 or 1-888-763-5424. The DEQ Regional Office number is 504-736-7701. The LDWF 24-hour hotline for reporting further fish kill impacts is 1-800-442-2511. For health questions people can call the Louisiana Poison Center, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 1-800-222-1222. Media inquiries should go to 225-219-3964 or 225-329-9743.

Sherburne W.M.A. Again Accessible from US Hwy. 190

Release Date: 08/18/2011

Aug. 18, 2011 -- Sherburne Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is again accessible via US Hwy. 190 now that LA 975 has been reopened.

LA 975 had been closed due to flood impacts from spring floodwater. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development recently completed necessary repairs and determined the road safe for vehicular traffic.

Big Alabama Road, within the WMA, is the only remaining interior roadway closed.  LDWF will provide notification once repairs to Big Alabama Road have been completed.  Sherburne WMA includes acreage in St. Martin, Pointe Coupee and Iberville Parishes.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffbor follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For more information, contact Johnathan Bordelon at jbordelon@wlf.la.gov or Tony Vidrine at tvidrine@wlf.la.gov or call LDWF’s Opelousas field office at 337-948-0255.

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