LDWF News Release

Hunting Heritage Program Needs Mentors for the 2013-14 Hunting Season

Release Date: 05/30/2013

LHHP apprentice hunter Pam Dufour (right) harvested a deer during the 2012-13 season with the guidance of mentor, Gypsy Hanks.

May 30, 2013 -- The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is seeking hunting mentors for its Louisiana Hunting Heritage Program (LHHP) for the 2013-14 hunting season.
The LHHP matches experienced hunters, or mentors, with persons who would like to learn about hunting, but lack someone to teach them. The mentors help new hunters, or apprentices, learn the skills necessary to become independent hunters.
“Serving as a mentor is a great way for an experienced hunter to pass along their knowledge and love of the outdoors to another person who has the desire to learn, but lacks the support structure a new hunter needs,” said John Sturgis, LDWF Education Program manager. “This is a great opportunity for an experienced hunter who wants to help perpetuate the sport, and may have special appeal to retirees who hunt or hunters whose children are grown,” Sturgis added.
Mentors will be provided with training and support from LDWF and will be covered by the department’s liability insurance while engaged in LHHP-related activities.  The mentor’s role is to help their apprentice gain the skills and confidence they need to hunt independently.  This may include time at the shooting range, learning how to scout and identify game, selecting equipment, cleaning game and actually hunting together.
Mentors will be assigned an apprentice hunter by LDWF after the apprentice has completed an application and undergone a background check.  Assignment of apprentices and mentors takes into consideration location, type of hunting each person is interested in and other factors that will help make the match successful.
The previous hunting season was the first year the LHHP was operational and several mentor/ apprentice matches were made.  Gene Thibodeaux, Sr., a mentor from Youngsville, hunted ducks with his apprentice and reported that he enjoyed working with his apprentice saying: “I would be honored to do this again next year.”  Robert Rackley, a mentor from Baton Rouge, commented: “Overall, excellent program and send me another person next year.”
LHHP mentor applications should be submitted by July 1, 2013 to allow time for processing and matching with apprentices.  Mentor-apprentice matches will be made by mid-August to allow time to prepare for the hunting season.
Persons interested in serving as hunting mentors can find applications and additional information on the LHHP at www.wlf.la.gov/louisiana-hunting-heritage-program or they can contact John Sturgis at 225-763-5448 or jsturgis@wlf.la.gov .



Louisiana Modifies 2013 Recreational Red Snapper Season

Release Date: 05/28/2013

May 31, 2013 – Today, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced a change in the recreational red snapper season and bag limits, to mirror the season set in federal waters by NOAA last week.
State Red Snapper Season
    •    The state recreational red snapper season first opened March 23, 2013, on weekends only, with a recreational bag limit of 3 fish per person per day at a 16-inch minimum
    •    Beginning June 1 through June 24, the state red snapper season will be open seven days a week, with a daily bag limit of two fish per person at a 16-inch minimum length 
    •    On June 25, the season will revert back to weekends only through September 30 

    •    A weekend is defined as Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with the exception of Memorial Day and Labor Day, when Monday will be classified as a weekend day as well

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission will discuss the red snapper season modifications at its June 2013 meeting.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana’s abundant 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 Laura Wooderson at lwooderson@wlf.la.gov or (504430-2623.  For season and bag limit information, contact Jason Adriance at jadriance@wlf.la.gov or (504) 284-2032for your review.


Diamondback Terrapin Research Underway

Release Date: 05/28/2013

"Adult female diamondback terrapin, Vermilion Parish, Louisiana."
"Diamondback terrapin nest cavity with eggs."
 "Researcher protecting a terrapin nest from predators."

May 28, 2013 -- The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is currently performing a multi-year evaluation (2012-14) of Diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) population distribution and abundance throughout coastal Louisiana.
The research effort represents the first coastwide evaluation of this S2 (species of special concern) designated species as identified within the State’s Wildlife Action Plan (see link http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/wildlife-action-plan-details).
Throughout its range, which stretches from Massachusetts to Texas, declines in terrapin populations have been documented in association with both environmental and / or human-induced factors.
The current study incorporates: (1) Trapping adult and sub-adult terrapin in small bayous and appropriate shoreline habitats and (2) Surveying and monitoring terrapin nesting efforts (including reproductive productivity) along coastal beaches. LDWF plans to utilize the information gathered to enhance existing resource management / conservation strategies for Diamondback terrapins within coastal Louisiana.
For more information on LDWF’s research involving threatened or endangered species, contact Carrie Salyers at 337-262-2080 or csalyers@wlf.la.gov.



Slidell Father and Daughter Duo Take Home First Place Prize in 2013 LASS Trout Tournament in Mandeville

Release Date: 05/28/2013

The 2013 LASS Speckled Trout Tournament was held at Mandeville Public Launch and Wharf in Mandeville on Saturday, thanks to the efforts of the City of Mandeville and Keep Mandeville Beautiful.  The event rounded out a week long spring tagging event as a part of the Lake Pontchartrain Telemetry Tagging Project successfully releasing a total of 50 speckled trout implanted with acoustic transmitters as a part of the project including the efforts on Saturday.  The day started out calm, beautiful, and the LASS Team began the morning with teams blasting off towards hot spots in Lake Pontchartrain at sunrise on the hunt for the biggest catch to win the top prize. This catch and release format challenged anglers to catch a limit of two legal speckled trout using artificial lures only.

Weigh in started early at 8:00 am, but only one team made the trek back to weigh in a gorgeous trout weighing 4.36 pounds. Most teams returned during the last hour of weigh in, some stuck it out to the very last minute, in hopes of being number one.  The day started with beautiful weather and calm conditions, but winds steadily rose throughout the day in Lake Pontchartrain.  Despite the conditions most anglers weighed in their catch and some even returned with extra trout to earn entries for great prizes from our sponsors.  Family, friends and bystanders enjoying a day outdoors hung around to watch the weigh in and learn about the Telemetry Project allowing for one of our highest turn outs from the public for an LASS event since its inception.

Scott and Baylie Comeaux, a father and daughter team from Slidell, took home top prize for this event with a total weight of 5.37 pounds, winning not only the first place payout and an awesome trout trophy but also the incentive prize of $500 cash.  The team also brought in one extra fish for the day earning them a ticket in the extra fish prize winning them both LASS Shimano jerseys from our 2013 Sponsors: Shimano and Power Pro. The team of Shawn Alonso and Danny Carlos managed to bring in 10 extra fish, which was outstanding considering the conditions, allowing them 10 entries into the extra fish drawings.  Those high odds paid off with the duo taking home the tagging incentive prize of $250 cash as well as many prizes including Shimano tackle bags and a Frabill net from our generous sponsors.  Teams are allowed to bring in extra fish in addition to their weigh-in fish to be entered into drawings for special prizes, with the number of entries determined by the number of extra fish brought in to be tagged.  

“Both my daughter and I enjoyed fishing the tournament despite the wind. It was even more enjoyable winning, as it was the first time her and I have fished any tournament together. Also it was Baylie’s first tournament ever,” Scott Comeaux added.  Comeaux also participated in the season opening event of LASS earlier this year on March 2nd at The Dock/Dockside Bait and Tackle.  Due to his work schedule, this was only the second LASS event he was able to participate in even though he wishes he could fish more of them.

Chase Rau, youth angler, took home a trout trophy and an extra $250 as first place youth for this event by weighing in a 1.29 pound speckled trout. 

The top finishing teams, taking home over $2,600 in cash prizes, include: 1st place, Scott and Baylie Comeaux with 5.37 pounds, taking home $1,460 (which includes $500 incentive); 2nd place, Josh Hall and Ryan Schellhaas with 5.21 pounds, taking home $640. The other standings for this event are as follows: 3rd place, Shawn Alonso and Danny Carlos; 4th place, George Rau and Kevin Burns; 5th place, Jack and Vito Neal; 6th place, Stevie Nick and Sal Dasilva; 7th place, Justin Bowles and John Thomas; and 8th place, Don Barcelona and Steve Barre.

Throughout the weigh in and the afternoon everyone enjoyed chicken sandwiches provided by Chick-fil-A another one of our great sponsors for LASS.

A total of 25 speckled trout were brought in, and 1 speckled trout and 3 lagniappe flounder were tagged and released as part of the Louisiana Marine Sport Fish Tagging Program, where anglers become citizen scientists for the agency, collecting invaluable data.  The highlight of this event is that 11 speckled trout were surgically implanted with acoustic tags as a part of the Department’s telemetry tagging project on Lake Pontchartrain. The tournament followed a week-long spring tagging event, where LDWF and LSU staff surgically implanted acoustic tags in speckled trout provided by volunteer anglers before releasing them back into the Lake.  These fish brought in to the scales at the tournament will be used as part of this program and will be recorded on receivers (90) mounted throughout the Lake contributing valuable data towards better understanding fish movements.

Comeaux remarked, “I really like the format of the Saltwater Series tournaments.  I wish there were a couple more trout tournaments throughout the year.  I would like to thank the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for putting on these tournaments. Hopefully the Department  can continue to host these tournaments and gain some information on speckled trout in Lake Pontchartrain.”

The next LASS event is a redfish tournament  which is scheduled for Saturday, June 8th in Fourchon at Port  Fourchon Marina.  LASS will also be hosting a youth event at Grand Isle State Park to make the trip a family affair for the Free Fishing Weekend in Louisiana on June 8th as well.  For complete information, including rules, regulations and registration go to www.lasaltwaterseries.com.

The Louisiana Saltwater Series is hosted in conjunction with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation.  The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation was formed to provide a means for individuals and corporations to become partners with the Department and Commission in the challenge of conserving Louisiana's wildlife and fish resources.    

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.




State of Louisiana Makes Great Strides for Recreational Anglers

Release Date: 05/24/2013

May 24, 2013 – Yesterday, NOAA officials announced a change to Louisiana’s federal red snapper recreational fishing season, which was originally set to run a mere nine days, will now begin on June 1 and remain open through June 24, with a bag and possession limit of 2 fish per person at a 16-inch minimum total length. 

NOAA administrators came to the decision to extend Louisiana’s federal red snapper season based in large part on research conducted by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologists that proved Louisiana was landing less fish than previously accounted for by NOAA.

“The decision by our federal counterparts to extend the Louisiana federal red snapper season was no doubt based on a combination of good, sound science provided by our biologists and the pressure we have continued to put on them,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham.  “These actions only strengthen our case for regional management.  We will continue to show accountability and that we have the best intentions for the resource and our recreational anglers.”

“I am extremely proud of the team of biologists I work with.  Because of their dedication to the resource and our local fishermen, NOAA is now working with us, instead of against us,” said LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina.  “We still have significant steps to take toward our proposed state-by-state management method.”

Next week LDWF Secretary Robert Barham will officially modify Louisiana’s red snapper season to mirror the federal season.   There will also be discussion of the state snapper season at the next Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting set for Thursday, June 6.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana’s abundant 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 Laura Wooderson at lwooderson@wlf.la.gov or (504)430-2623.  For season and bag limit information, contact Jason Adriance at jadriance@wlf.la.gov or (504) 284-2032.



Louisiana Operation Game Thief, Inc. Issues $5,200 in Rewards

Release Date: 05/24/2013

Louisiana Operation Game Thief, Inc. (LOGT), a Louisiana wildlife crime-stoppers program, awarded $5,200 to diligent citizens statewide at their quarterly meeting on May 18 in Woodworth.

Louisiana Department Wildlife Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement LOGT Coordinator Lt. Will Roberts provided LOGT members with information on the 11 cases and a recommendation for reward amounts.

“We depend on Operation Game Thief and these public tips to help break a lot of cases that might have otherwise gone unsolved,” Roberts said.

The cases reviewed and awarded money to the public for their assistance consisted mostly of turkey, deer and alligator cases.

Anyone wishing to report wildlife or fisheries violations should anonymously call LDWF’s 24-hour toll free Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-442-2511 or utilize LDWF's new tip411 program.  To use the tip411 program, tipsters can text LADWF and their tip to 847411 or download the "LADWF Tips" iPhone and Android apps from the iTunes or Google Play store free of charge.  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.  CitizenObserver, the tip411 provider, uses technology that removes all identifying information before LDWF receives the text so that LDWF cannot identify the sender.

LOGT was instituted in 1984 and provides cash rewards for information leading to the arrest of violators of fish and wildlife regulations.  Funds are raised through private donations, court directed contributions and through contributions from cooperative endeavor agreements with organizations such as the National Wild Turkey Federation and Quality Deer Management Association.

To make a donation to the LOGT that can be used for cash rewards, please contact Lt. Will Roberts at wroberts@wlf.la.gov.

LOGT meets quarterly throughout the year to review cases and dispense rewards.

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

Satisfy Your Springtime Speckled Trout Fever by Starting Your Holiday Weekend Off Right With a Day on the Water

Release Date: 05/23/2013

The Louisiana Saltwater Series, presented by Shimano and Power Pro, hosts Speckled Trout Tournament on Lake Pontchartrain.

(May 22, 2013) – When it comes to double-digit speckled trout, it’s not uncommon that one of the first places that comes to mind is Lake Pontchartrain.  The lake stands out as one of the state’s primary estuaries and is the largest inland body of water, potentially holding the next state record speck.  Perhaps the next record fish will be landed on Saturday, May 25 at the annual Louisiana Saltwater Series Speckled Trout Tournament, held at the Mandeville Public Boat Launch and Wharf.

The competition is two-fold and differs from standard LASS tournaments because it will also be part of the Department’s acoustic telemetry tagging project on the lake. The tournament follows a week-long spring tagging event, where LDWF and LSU staff will surgically implant acoustic tags in speckled trout provided by volunteer anglers before releasing them back into Lake Pontchartrain.  Some of the fish brought in to the scales at the tournament will be used as part of this program.

Participating teams in the Louisiana Saltwater Series Trout Tournament may consist of up to a total of four anglers, with only two adult anglers (16 years of age and older).  In addition to 100 percent payout, we are pleased to announce we will be offering additional prize money provided by our sponsors.

Teams are also allowed to bring in extra fish in addition to their weigh fish to be entered into drawings for special prizes, with the number of entries determined by the number of extra fish to be brought in to be tagged.  Extra raffle entries can also be earned for each Louisiana Marine Sport Fish Tagging Program data card presented.

Online registration at $150 per team is now open for the speckled trout tournament on www.lasaltwaterseries.com.  Online registration will remain open until Thursday, May 23, but interested anglers will still have the opportunity to register onsite for $200 per team.  Scales open at 8 a.m. and will remain open through 2 p.m.

Tournament sponsors include Shimano, PowerPro, Daybrook Fisheries, Plaquemines Parish, Mercury Marine, Academy Sports and Outdoors, Standard Mapping, Faux Pas Prints, Marsh & Bayou, Swamp Swatter, Frabill, Stick It Anchor Pins and YETI Coolers.  A special thanks also goes out to the city of Mandeville for all of their support and assistance. 

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 more information, contact Ashley Wethey at awethey@wlf.la.gov (225) 765-2396.



LDWF Schedules Drawdown for Wham Brake Impoundment on Russell Sage WMA

Release Date: 05/23/2013

May 23, 2013 -- The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has scheduled a drawdown for the recently acquired Wham Brake Impoundment, a part of Russell Sage Wildlife Management Area, near Monroe, La., beginning on June 1, 2013. The impoundment is approximately 4,900 acres and will be managed for waterfowl habitat and associated recreational use. 
The management focus of this impoundment will be development of waterfowl habitat and improvements to aid recreational use associated with the waterfowl resources on this portion of the WMA.  The current condition of multiple water control structures must be evaluated to insure that local managers have the appropriate ability to manipulate the water levels in a manner necessary to grow the annual natural vegetation associated with attracting and maintaining wintering waterfowl populations on the impoundment.
LDWF has already identified some maintenance needs on Wham Brake which need varying degrees of redevelopment work.  During the drawdown this year, survey work will be accomplished to evaluate the existing structures and potential for sub-impoundment development to improve native vegetation management ability.  A gradual reflooding of the impoundment should begin prior to the special September teal season on the WMA.
Wham Brake users are cautioned to exercise extreme caution when boating in the area due to the high prevalence of submerged objects throughout the impoundment. 
For more information, contact Jerald Owens, LDWF Biologist Manager at (318) 343-4044 or jowens@wlf.la.gov


LDWF Announces 2014 Duck Stamp Contest

Release Date: 05/23/2013

May 23, 2013 -- The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has announced the rules and timeframe for the 2014 Louisiana Waterfowl Conservation Stamp, or Louisiana Duck Stamp competition.
“Since our competition returned to a featured waterfowl species selected by the artist for the 2010 stamp, the quality of the entries and eventual winner has been outstanding,” said Larry Reynolds, LDWF Waterfowl Study leader. “The pair of mallards that will grace the 2013 Louisiana Duck Stamp is another excellent example.”
Because of the high quality of the artwork submitted during the past four contests, LDWF is once again allowing artists to choose the species for this year's entries, except Northern pintails, Wood ducks, American wigeon, or Mallard.  This will be the final year of open contests.  Any species of waterfowl known to winter in Louisiana, EXCEPT Northern pintail, Wood duck, American wigeon or Mallard may be submitted to this year’s contest for the 2014 stamp.  Artists are reminded of the requirement for associated habitat.
“The primary objective of this program is to provide revenue to create, enhance, and maintain habitat for waterfowl and associated wetland wildlife,” said Reynolds. “So a habitat component is required in each entry and is one of the five judging criteria,” said Reynolds. 
To enter, an artist must submit an original, unpublished work of art, along with a signed and notarized artist's agreement and a $50 entry fee.  Entries should be addressed to:
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
Attn: Louisiana Waterfowl Conservation Stamp Program
2000 Quail Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70808
Entries will be accepted from Monday, October 14 through Tuesday, October 22, 2013 with the contest to be held in the Louisiana Room at the LDWF Headquarters building starting at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, October 23, 2013.  The public is invited to attend.
Please visit this link to obtain the 2014 Louisiana Waterfowl Conservation Stamp competition artist agreement and see the full list of rules: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/hunting/2014-louisiana-duck-stamp-contest
The Louisiana Legislature authorized the Louisiana Waterfowl Conservation Stamp program in 1988.  The program was created to generate revenues for conservation and enhancement of waterfowl populations and habitats in Louisiana.  During the last 24 years, over $11 million has been generated for wetland conservation with approximately $5 million spent on land acquisition.  In addition, revenues have supported wetland development projects on Wildlife Management Areas and the Louisiana Waterfowl Project, a cooperative endeavor between LDWF, Ducks Unlimited and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to provide habitat for waterfowl and other wetland birds on private lands.
Judging for the art competition will be based on the following criteria:
1. Accuracy of form, size, proportion, color and posture.
2. Level and accuracy of detail in all aspects of the waterfowl.
3. Appropriateness, accuracy and detail in depiction of the habitat.
4. Attractiveness and creativity in composition, subject, background and lighting.
5. Suitability for reproduction as stamps and prints.
A panel of judges with experience in waterfowl biology and/or artistic method will select the winning design. The competition is open to all artists 18 years of age and older.  Employees of LDWF and members of their immediate families are ineligible.
For more information, contact Larry Reynolds at 225-765-0456 or lreynolds@wlf.la.gov.



Gretna Fishermen Ordered to Pay Over $60,000

Release Date: 05/23/2013

The Office of the General Counsel Enforcement Section within the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a civil monetary penalty in the amount of $62,500 to a Gretna fishing boat captain on May 14.

The civil monetary penalty stems from a joint investigation between the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and NOAA that resulted in Nam Nguyen, 52, captain of The Blue Fin, receiving citations for allegedly violating highly migratory species (HMS) regulations.

Nguyen and The Blue Fin were jointly charged to pay the $62,500 penalty for using pelagic longline gear for Atlantic HMS in federal waters with live bait and for possessing “J” hooks while possessing an HMS permit.

Agents received a complaint from NOAA Fisheries that the USCG discovered The Blue Fin fishing in federal waters with live bait while also using pelagic longline gear on March 18.  LDWF agents boarded the vessel when it returned to Dulac on March 19 and found J-hooks, pelagic longline gear and three places to hold live bait.

It is illegal to fish for HMS in the Gulf of Mexico with live bait and J-hooks when using pelagic longline gear.  Circle hooks and either artificial lures or dead bait can be used with a highly migratory species permit when using pelagic longline gear.

Agents seized 2,861 pounds of yellowfin tuna and a total of 623 pounds of swordfish, wahoo and escolar, pelagic longline gear and two buoys.

LDWF Agents participating in the case are Sgt. Louis Burnett, Senior Agents Dean Aucoin and Norman Deroche and Sgt. Ted Dewitt.  NOAA Fisheries Special Agent Steve Campbell and USCG Ensign Zack Bowman also assisted in the case.

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

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