Dec. 5, 2012 – Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) biologists received a third cohort of juvenile whooping cranes at White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WCA) in Gueydan on Nov. 29. The 14 young cranes add to the state’s resident population established through LDWF’s species restoration project in progress.
“The continued support from biologists on the research side, plus federal funding and individual and corporate donors who provide additional funding, will be key components as we move into year three of this multi-year project,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham.
The White Lake WCA location in Vermilion Parish provides temporary shelter for the birds prior to their release into the wild. The cranes were raised at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md., and flown to Louisiana by the Windway Capital Corporation. International Paper (IP) assisted with the delivery by designing and producing the transport boxes used during the cranes’ transfer. This month’s delivery increases the Louisiana whooping crane population to 28.
LDWF continues to work cooperatively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USGS, the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and the International Crane Foundation to bring the species back to the state. Project funding is derived from LDWF species restoration dedicated funds, federal funds and private/corporate donations which are facilitated by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation. Major corporate funding support to datehas been provided by Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Acadian Ambulance.
The whooping cranes Louisiana receives 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 initial cohort of birds received in 2011 marked the first presence of whooping cranes in the wild in Louisiana since 1950.
Hunters, fishermen and anyone who spends time in the marshes and rice fields of southwest Louisiana are reminded that whooping cranes in Louisiana are still protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and cannot be pursued, harassed, captured or killed.
Waterfowl hunters should be accustomed to seeing large-bodied, white birds with black wing-tips, such as white ibis, white pelicans, and wood storks, which must be distinguished from the legally-hunted snow geese. Mature whooping cranes are equally identifiable as they stand five feet tall and have a wingspan of 7 to 8 feet. Easily identifiable characteristics of whooping cranes in flight include black wing tips and fully extended neck and legs, which extend well beyond the tail. Standing whooping cranes also exhibit the bustle of rump feathers more pronounced than other large white birds.
Anyone witnessing suspicious activity involving whooping cranes is advised to report that information to LDWF’s Enforcement Division by calling 1-800-442-251 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. CitizenObserver, the tip411 provider, uses technology that removes all identifying information before LDWF receives the text so that LDWF cannot identify the sender.
Dec. 4, 2012 -- Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents cited three Jennings men for alleged hunting violations on Thistlethwaite Wildlife Management Area on Nov. 23.
Agents charged Samuel T. Herndon, 22, for taking a spotted fawn, intentional concealment of wildlife and failing to comply with deer tagging or harvest card requirements. Agents also cited Nicholas J. Demary, 22, and Michael J. Comeaux, 23, for intentional concealment of wildlife.
After the three made a morning hunt on the Thistlethwaite WMA, agents found them in possession of a freshly killed spotted fawn hidden behind the seat of their truck. During the investigation, agents allegedly learned that Herndon shot the fawn and that all three conspired to hide the deer behind the seat to sneak it out of the WMA.
Agents seized a 12-gauge shotgun and the spotted fawn, which was donated to charity.
Intentional concealment of wildlife carries a $900 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail. Taking a spotted fawn brings up to a $750 fine and up to 30 days in jail. Failing to comply with deer tagging and harvest card requirements carries a $100 to $350 fine and up to 60 days in jail. Agents also assessed Herndon with $1,624.61 in restitution for the replacement value of the deer.
Agents who are participating in the case are Sgt. Travis Huval, and Senior Agents Ryan Faul and Brandon Fontenot.
Nov. 29, 2012 -- On Nov. 29, 2012 two men pleaded guilty to commercial fishing violations in the 25th Judicial District of Plaquemines Parish.
Rick Nguyen, 37, of Buras, and Hung Anh Tiet, 29, of Dallas, Texas, both pleaded guilty to the intentional concealment of illegal fish.
Judge Kevin Conner ordered both men to pay a fine of $950 plus courts costs. In addition, both Nguyen and Tiet had there set line licenses and state shark permits revoked for life. Both men are also forbidden to involve themselves in any way in the shark industry for a period of two years.
This conviction was a result of a joint enforcement patrol with Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Law Enforcement on April 8, 2012.
LDWF agents made contact with Nguyen and Tiet while responding to an anonymous complaint from offshore recreational fishermen of over the commercial daily limit of sharks. Agents stopped the vessel “Lady Lyanna” in Tiger Pass located in Venice.
Upon immediate inspection of the vessel, agents found whole sharks located on the deck. After further investigation, agents found a hidden compartment in the bow of the vessel that contained 12 large sacks of shark fins. The bodies of the sharks belonging to the fins were not on the vessel.
Shark “finning” is an illegal practice of removing the shark’s fins, which are the most profitable part of the shark, and then discarding the rest of the shark’s body overboard.
The two men were in possession of 2,073 individual shark fins and 11 whole sharks. The 2,073 individual fins represent a total of 518 sharks bringing the total number of sharks possessed to 529. The daily commercial limit for sharks in Louisiana is 33 per vessel placing the two men 496 sharks over their daily limit.
Federal prosecution is still pending by the NOAA General Counsel Office for the over limit and shark finning allegations.
Assistant District Attorney Jerry Lobrano prosecuted the case.
Agents participating in the case and prosecution were Sgt. Adam Young and Senior Agent Villere Reggio.
A Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agent cited two New Orleans men for alleged red drum fishing violations on Nov. 24 in Plaquemines Parish.
Sgt. Adam Young cited Charles H. Stafford III, 22, and Percy I. Morgan Jr., 25, for taking over double the daily limit and undersized red drum after being found in possession of 50 red drum on the Shell Pipeline Canal located near Port Sulphur.
All of the red drum were under the legal size limit of 16 inches except for one. The daily limit on red drum is five fish per person, which put the men 40 red drum over the limit.
Possessing over the double the daily limit of red drum carries up to a $950 fine or up to 120 days in jail. Taking undersized red drum brings up to a $350 fine and up to 60 days in jail. Additionally, the men will be accessed $1,323.50 in restitution for the illegally taken fish.
Sgt. Young seized the red drum and donated them to a local charity.
November 28, 2012 - The Louisiana Crab Task Force will meet on Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. in the fourth floor conference room of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) building in Baton Rouge.
Agenda items will include: Introduction of New Members, Discussions of Serviceable Crab Trap Law, Nominees to the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, and Election of Chair and Vice -Chair.
The Crab Task Force is an industry advisory group comprised of fishermen, soft crab shedders, and crab dealers and processors, as well as state and university representatives. The task force, established by Act No. 57 of the 2001 regular legislative session, advises LDWF and the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission on matters pertaining to the management and development of the Louisiana crab industry.
The Public Oyster Seed Ground Vessel Permit Appeals Board will meet on Tuesday, December 4, 2012. The meeting will convene at 9:30 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 September 25, 2012 Meeting
2. Hearing of New Permit Appeals
a. Curtis Alfonso
b. German and Dodie Garcia
c. Paul McIntyre
d. Mark S. Tayamen
3. Set next meeting date
4. Receive Public Comments
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 those in Calcasieu Lake and Sabine Lake, must do so from a vessel holding a public oyster seed ground vessel permit issued by LDWF.