L.D.W.F. News

L.D.W.F. News Release

September Hearings Allow for Public Comment on Proposed Reintroduction of Non-migratory Whooping Cranes in Louisiana

Release Date: 09/07/2010

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will host two public hearings this month to determine if there are concerns on the proposal to re-establish a non-migratory flock of whooping cranes in the wetlands of southwestern Louisiana.

Public hearings will be held:

Sept. 15, 2010

Gueydan Civic Center, 901 Wilkinson St., Gueydan, LA 70542

Sept. 16, 2010

LDWF headquarters, 2000 Quail Drive Baton Rouge, LA 70808

Each public hearing will last from 7 - 9 p.m. Before each hearing, an open house from 6 to 7 p.m. will provide an additional opportunity for the public to gain information and ask questions about the proposed rule.

All comments received at a public hearing, both verbal and written, will be considered in making a final decision. If this proposal is approved, the reintroduction effort could begin during early 2011.

Additionally, the public can comment on the proposal on or before October 18. 2010 through any of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R4-ES-2010-0057; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.
E-mails or faxes will not be accepted. All comments will be posted on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that any personal information provided will be posted. 

 For more information, contact Carrie Salyers at 337-538-2276 or csalyers@wlf.la.gov or Bill Brooks at 904-731-3136 or Billy_Brooks@fws.gov.

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L.D.W.F. Advisory for Teal Hunters in Oil Spill Impacted Areas

Release Date: 09/03/2010

Teal season opens Saturday, Sept.11, and thousands of hunters will make their first waterfowl hunts in the coastal marshes since last winter. Although no areas in Louisiana are closed to hunting due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill impacts, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) advises hunters that they may encounter clean-up activities, boom protecting habitat, and possibly oiled habitat or birds. Additionally, some boat launch access points will be in use for continued clean-up activities.
Launch and Habitat Access
Boat launches serving the clean-up operation will be crowded with vehicles serving that mission. For example, launches in Hopedale, Cocodrie, Myrtle Grove and Venice are departure points for oil-spill workers, and the launch at the end of LA Hwy. 665 near Pointe-aux-Chenes Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is closed to public use. Once on the water, hunters should expect additional boat traffic in areas near oil impacts. Like fishermen, hunters are not allowed to cross protective boom and are required to stay at least 65 feet from boom and other clean-up equipment.
The U.S. Coast Guard and oil-spill response operations personnel have agreed to minimize wildlife habitat disturbance where individuals may be hunting. Air-boat activity on WMAs will be stopped, low-level aircraft flights and other operations will be delayed until later in the morning, and clean-up crews will be briefed about potential hunting activity during the Sept.11 – 26 teal season.
LDWF asks hunters to remain aware of clean-up crews along the coast and understand the significance of their continued efforts. Oil-spill responders will be in clusters of boats and wearing white Tyvek suits. Their presence puts added emphasis on standard gun-safety procedures. Oil impacts are generally on the exterior marshes and islands, open bays and barrier islands. Any questions or issues relating to teal season hunting in areas of oil impact or cleanup activities should be reported to the Louisiana Teal Season Hotline at (985) 647-0266.
Oiled Wildlife or Habitat
In the unlikely event that hunters harvest an oiled bird, it must be kept as part of the daily bag limit, but LDWF is advising hunters NOT to eat visibly oiled ducks. Hunters are asked to report any oiled bird harvested, and any other oiled birds observed in the field, to the Oiled Wildlife Hotline at (866) 557-1401 and also to the nearest LDWF Field Office. If possible, wrap the oiled bird in aluminum foil or paper, and deliver it to the nearest LDWF Field Office or active bag check station so the bird can be analyzed and become part of the oil-spill damage assessment.
Hunters are also encouraged to report oil impacted marsh habitat to the Environmental Hotline at (866) 448-5816.
As part of the wildlife recovery and rehabilitation process, a few game birds that were recovered have been cleaned and released back into the wild. These birds have been tagged with a standard silver federal band and a red auxiliary band that says “Oil Spill Bird.” Hunters should not eat these birds, but should call the phone numbers on the band to report them.
For more information please contact Larry Reynolds, LDWF Waterfowl Study Leader, at (225) 765-0456 or lreynolds@wlf.la.gov.
2010-263

L.W.F.C. Requiring New Permit for Deer Hunters Using Dogs in Kisatchie National Forest

Release Date: 09/03/2010

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, in consultation with Kisatchie National Forest (KNF), is requiring a permit for those deer hunters on KNF during the “with or without dogs” portion of the hunting season, Dec. 18 to 24 and Dec. 26, 2010.

The permits will be available beginning Oct. 1, 2010 on the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) website or through one of LDWF’s or KNF’s field offices. The permitting process will enable KNF and LDWF to gather information necessary to proceed with future hunting opportunities on these properties. Every deer hunter in Kisatchie National Forest, except on the Caney Ranger District and the Vernon Unit of the Calcasieu Ranger District, during these dates, regardless of age, is required to have this permit. Deer hunters using dogs must register an identifying mark with LDWF. Each dog must wear a collar providing the owner’s name, address and phone number. To obtain a permit, the hunter must provide their name and address and the identifying mark used on all dogs engaged in the hunt.

For more information on how to obtain a permit, call Justin Rabalais at 225-765-2346 or the LDWF Pineville Field Office at 318-487-5885.
For more information on all other rules regarding hunting on the KNF, please visit: http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/kisatchie/hunting/index.html.
For more information, contact Justin Rabalais at 225-765-2346 or jrabalais@wlf.la.gov.

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Commission Modifies Rules on Commercial Harvest of Spotted Seatrout

Release Date: 09/02/2010

 

Today, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission modified the existing rules for the commercial harvest of spotted seatrout to extend the harvest season. This action was taken in an effort to remain consistent with legislation passed in the 2010 Regular Louisiana Legislative Session, which modified the season for the commercial harvest of spotted seatrout using a commercial rod and reel.  

The new rule states that the commercial season for the harvest of spotted seatrout shall remain open from the second day of January until the maximum annual quota, currently set at 1 million pounds, is reached, or on the date projected by the staff of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries that the quota will be reached, or until sunset on Friday, December 31 of each year, whichever comes first.  Over the last decade, spotted seatrout harvest averaged just under 20,000 pounds annually.

With today’s action, the commercial harvest of spotted sea trout is prohibited within Louisiana waters west of the Mermentau River.

Public comments on the Notice of Intent will be accepted prior to November 5, 2010.  Comments should be submitted to Harry Blanchet, Fisheries Division, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA  70898-9000 , or via e-mail to:  hblanchet@wlf.la.gov.

For more information, contact Ashley Wethey at (225) 765-5113 or awethey@wlf.la.gov

2010-259

L.D.W.F. Agent Receives Boating Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award

Release Date: 09/02/2010

L.D.W.F. Agent Receives Boating Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award

The National Association of Safe Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) honoredLouisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division Sgt. Joseph Ortis with the Louisiana Boating Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award.  Ortis received the award today, Sept. 2 at the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting in Baton Rouge.

Ortis, of Oscar, joined LDWF in 1990 and became an agent in 1997 and mainly patrols the False River during the boating season.  Ortis also previously earned the 2004 LDWF Agent of the Year award.

"Sgt. Ortis is a valuable asset to the department and patrols one of the most recreationally used bodies of water in Pointe Coupee, Lafayette, St. Landry and West Baton Rouge parishes," said Lt. Col. Jeff Mayne, LDWF's State Boating Law Administrator.  "This award is well deserved and reflects Sgt. Ortis' dedication to safe boating and waterway enforcement."

Ortis has attended both the Level One and Advanced Boating Accident Investigation Courses offered by NASBLA and has effectively utilized the knowledge and skills gained by his attendance in recent boating crash incidents.  Ortis also instructs boating safety classes and public boating safety forums.

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

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First Tour Du Teche Canoe Race to be Held Sept. 17-19

Release Date: 09/02/2010

 

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division hasapproved a marine event permit for the upcoming Tour du Teche canoe race from Sept. 17-19.

The 130-mile race on Bayou Techewill begin at Port Barre on Sept. 17 at 8 a.m. with a finish line at Patterson.  There will be a 60-hour cutoff to finish this inaugural race.

To register for the race and more information on fees, the mandatory meeting on Sept. 16 and rules, please visit www.techeproject.com/tour-du-teche.html.

The Tour du Teche is a part of the Teach Ecology, Culture and History Education (TECHE) Project that originated in Summer 2009 in St. Landry Parish.  The project aims to make Bayou Teche a healthier waterway for fishing, kayaking, canoeing, boating, tubing and swimming.

"The department was happy to issue a marine event permit for the inaugural Tour du Teche canoe race since it corresponds with the department's mission to conserve and protect the state's natural resources and met the permit approval guidelines," said Lt. Col. Jeff Mayne.  "We hope this canoe race really catches on and helps improve the recreational and aesthetic qualities of the Bayou Teche watershed in the future."

The department issues marine event permits for any organized event held on the water that introduces extra or unusual safety hazards on navigable waterways.  Permit forms can be found at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/permits and must be turned in to the department at least 30 days prior to any event.

According to the Teche Project Web site, "One goal of the TECHE Project and Tour du Teche is to educate people about water quality and the need for nonpoint source pollution prevention and reduction.  Discovery can take place with an interactive, hands-on experience on and along Bayou Teche.  Tour du Teche will work with the National Park Service, parishes and towns to identify public access needs and help implement improvement activities.  Education kiosks will be built to provide self-directed education to boaters and paddlers about water quality, preventing non-point source pollution, native flora and birds, culture, history as well as boater safety information for children and adults."

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

2010-261

FDA and NOAA Agree with LDWF on Sampling in Closed Fishing Areas East of the Mississippi River

Release Date: 09/01/2010

 

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) concurred with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' (LDWF) request to begin the process to re-open state waters to commercial fishing currently closed east of the Mississippi Delta, including the Chandeleur Islands.  These areas were originally closed due to confirmed reports of oil suspected to be from the Deepwater Horizon incident.  This marks the first federal testing to take place on seafood in these waters since the state issued the emergency closures.  Once samples from these areas are determined to be safe of all hydrocarbons and dispersant substance, LDWF Secretary Robert Barham intends to order immediate openings to commercial fishing in these areas.  

 Currently, LDWF fisheries biologists are collecting thousands of specimens of crab, shrimp and finfish in these areas to submit to FDA and NOAA for sensory testing and chemical analysis.  Once these samples are processed, the FDA will render their decision on the reopening.  
 
"Once this opening is complete it will leave only eight percent of state waters closed to commercial fishing," said Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina.  "The state will not rest until all areas are open including federal waters off Louisiana's coast."  

LDWF guidelines for re-opening commercial fishing areas are as follows: 

Once visible signs of oil are no longer apparent in waters previously closed by LDWF to commercial fishing, LDWF will submit an 'intent to reopen' letter to NOAA and FDA.
 
LDWF biologists then conduct thorough sampling of finfish, crabs and shrimp in the proposed reopening area.

Following the collection of the samples, biologists will immediately transfer specimens to be tested by the FDA and NOAA for signs of chemical contamination.  
 
Once the analysis is complete FDA and NOAA will render an opinion regarding the proposed reopening. The entire process is expected to be completed in 14 days.

 For more information contact Marianne Burke at mburke@wlf.la.gov or 225-765-2917.

2010-258

17 Men Plead Guilty To Shrimp Violations On Sabine N.W.R.

Release Date: 08/31/2010

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division's Special Operations Unit in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) federally charged 17 individuals on May 6 for shrimp violations on the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Cameron Parish.

USFWS agents served notices to appear before the U.S. Magistrate in Lake Charles to Lee Allen Greene, 29, Jimmy Constance Jr., 48, Jimmy Constance III, 29, and Gary Fountaine Jr., 34, all of Hackberry; Dustin Craig Moore, 18, Joseph Harrison Mott Jr., 40, Joseph Eugene McManus, 38, Billy Joe Meche, 32, Kenneth Erick Meche, 39, Brandon Joseph Breaux, 29, James Michael Williams, 22, Clint Lee Mott, 26, Shannon Kyle Fuselier, 46, John Joseph McKay Jr., 42, Kenny Edward Kellum Jr., 30, and David Wayne Brooks, 57, all of Sulphur; and Steven Hollie, 50, of Starks.

LDWF undercover agents initiated the investigation in September, 2009 after receiving numerous complaints from commercial and recreational fishermen of individuals catching large amounts of shrimp with cast nets on the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge and selling the catch commercially. The Sabine NWR has a limit of one five-gallon bucket of shrimp per vehicle or vessel and the commercialization of the shrimp is prohibited.

LDWF undercover agents observed the suspects catching over the legal limit of shrimp and they were then able to conduct an operation designed to purchase the illegal shrimp from the suspects both on and off of the refuge. LDWF undercover agents purchased in excess of 550 pounds of shrimp from the suspects during the investigation.

The suspects were served with notices to appear before the U.S. Magistrate for illegal commercialization on a federal refuge, possessing over the limit of shrimp, failure to maintain custody of shrimp and trespassing.

At an arraignment in Lake Charles Federal District Court on May 27, 2010, the following pled guilty to shrimp violations and were given the following penalties: Joseph McManus was fined $1,180 and banned from the refuge for two years; Dustin Moore was fined $520; Kenneth Meche was fined $520; Kenny Kellum Jr. $360; Lee Allen Greene was sentenced to 10 days in the Cameron Parish Jail; James Williams was fined $560; David Brooks was fined $575; Jimmy Constance lll was fined $1,805 and banned from entering any NWR for three years; Joseph Mott ll was fined $1,370 and banned from entering any NWR for five years; Gary Fountain Jr. was fined $670 and banned from entering any NWR for five years; Shanon Fuselier was fined $2,775, banned from entering any NWR for five years and placed on supervised probation for one year; and Jimmy Constance Jr. was fined $1,170.

Due to pre-sentencing investigations, sentencing and trial were held in Lake Charles Federal District Court on Aug. 19. The following pled guilty to shrimp violations and were given the following penalties: John McCay Jr. was sentenced to five years unsupervised probation at which time he is banned from entering any NWR or participating in any hunting or fishing activities and fined $870; Billy Joe Meche was sentenced to five years unsupervised probation at which time he is prohibited from entering any NWR or participating in any hunting or fishing activities and fined $895; Steven Hollie was fined $2,420 and placed on unsupervised probation for one year, during which time he is prohibited from entering any NWR or participating in any hunting or fishing activities; Clint Mott was fined $3,730 and placed on unsupervised probation for 13 months, during which time he is prohibited from entering any NWR or participating in any hunting or fishing activities.

Brandon “BJ” Breaux will be sentenced on Oct. 21, 2010.

In addition to the undercover LDWF agents the following federal refuge agents participated in the case, John Branum, Brad Rabalais, Scotty Boudreaux and Sidney Charbonnet.

For more information, contact Capt. Cliff Comeaux of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries at 225-765-2980 or cjcomeaux@wlf.la.gov.

2010-E50

Birds Saved from Deepwater Horizon Oil Impacts Released at Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area

Release Date: 08/27/2010

State and federal biologists today released another 79 birds rehabilitated after rescue from oil impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill along the Louisiana coast.

Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in St. Mary Parish was selected by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as the release site due to its location and high quality habitat for the species involved.

"LDWF's coastal wildlife refuges and management areas provide thousands of acres of habitat not affected by the oil spill," said Robert Barham, LDWF secretary. "It is an encouraging sign for the wildlife recovery process to see more birds released each week."

The birds released today, which were treated at the Hammond Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, included gulls, herons, rails, roseate spoonbills and terns. To date, 978 birds have been treated and released in Louisiana as part of the massive wildlife rescue and recovery effort.

Atchafalaya Delta WMA in coastal St. Mary Parish includes 137,695 acres at the mouths of the Atchafalaya River and the Wax Lake Outlet. The WMA is managed by LDWF's Coastal and Non-game Resources Division.

To report oiled wildlife, call 1-866-557-1401 with date, time and location information. For a complete report on wildlife rescue and recovery numbers along the Gulf Coast during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response, go tohttp://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/doctype/2931/55963.

For more information related to the oil spill, visithttp://www.emergency.louisiana.gov. Connect with us onwww.facebook.com/GOHSEP and on Twitter as @GOHSEP. View photos from the state's response efforts at http://www.flickr.com/photos/lagohsep.

For more information, please contact Bo Boehringer at 225-765-5115 orbboehringer@wlf.la.gov.

2010-257

Public Oyster Seed Ground Vessel Permit Appeals Board to Meet

Release Date: 08/26/2010

The Public Oyster Seed Ground Vessel Permit Appeals Board will meet on Friday, August 27, 2010. The meeting will convene at 10:30 a.m. in Suite 200 of the University of New Orleans Advanced Technology Center located at 2021 Lakeshore Drive in New Orleans.

Agenda items for the meeting of the Public Oyster Seed Ground

Vessel Permit Appeals Board are as follows:
1. Approval of Minutes From July 27, 2010 Meeting
2. Hearing of Previously-Deferred Appeals
 a. Donald Joost
 b. Tonci Gabre
 c. Lawrence Peterson
3. Set next meeting date
4. Adjourn

This Board was established by Act 922 of the 2008 Regular Legislative Session for the purpose of hearing appeals of vessel permit denials by LDWF. Act 922 requires that anyone commercially harvesting oysters on the public oyster seed grounds and reservations, except Calcasieu Lake and Sabine Lake, must do so from a vessel holding a public oyster seed ground vessel permit issued by LDWF and no new applications for such vessel permits shall be accepted after December 31, 2009.

For more information, please contact Ty Lindsey at 225-765-2387 or tlindsey@wlf.la.gov.

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