L.D.W.F. News

L.D.W.F. News Release

SIX MEN SENTENCED FOR ILLEGAL DEER HUNTING ON KISATCHIE NATIONAL FOREST

Release Date: 07/01/2010

Six men were sentenced on April 23 for hunting deer illegally on Kisatchie National Forest (KNF) by the 10th Judicial District Court in Natchitoches Parish.

Robert L. Belsha, 37, Jeremy C. Martin, 23, John D. Redden, 31, Michael L. Sanders Jr., 23, John H. Saucier III, 27, all of Leesville, each pled guilty to possession of an illegally taken deer.  George F. Sheppard, 45, also of Leesville, pled guilty to not abiding by commission rules and regulations.

The men were charged following an investigation into illegal deer being killed during the bucks only segment of deer season on KNF.  Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents began the investigation after receiving information that a doe deer had been killed on KNF during a deer hunt with dogs on Dec. 22, 2009. 

As a result of the investigation, agents were able to document six doe deer that were killed illegally by the men using deer dogs from Dec. 19 through Dec. 26, 2009, on KNF.  LDWF agents seized three illegal deer and an antlerless deer tag.

Judge Dee Hawthorne accepted the guilty pleas and issued a suspended sentence of six months in jail to each man.  Martin was fined $600 plus court costs, with each of the others fined $500 plus court costs.  Redden, Sanders, and Sheppard were each ordered to pay LDWF restitution in the amount of $524.54 for their illegal deer.  Belsha was ordered to pay LDWF restitution in the amount of $1049.08 for two illegal deer.

All six men were also placed on supervised probation for one year or until their fines and restitution are paid in full.  In addition, Judge Hawthorne suspended the hunting privileges of Martin, Sheppard, Redden, Sanders and Belsha for one year.

Lt. Bill Tyree, Sgt. Curt Belton, and Senior Agents Russell Brack, Scotty Delaney, and Eric Droddy participated in the case.

The case was prosecuted by Natchitoches Parish District Attorney's Office.

For more information, contact Capt. Peter Oliver at poliver@wlf.la.gov or 318-487-5634.

2010-E39

JOINT INVESTIGATION INTO POACHING RING ON MILITARY INSTALLATION LEADS TO GUILTY PLEAS

Release Date: 07/01/2010

On June 23, 2010, two U.S. Army soldiers pled guilty in U.S. Magistrate Court to illegal hunting activities on Peason Ridge Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in 2006 and 2007.

Sergeant First Class (SFC) William M. Hutt, 36, of Pitkin, and SFC Andres I. Medrano, 36, of DeRidder, both pled guilty to one count each of taking deer during a closed season and taking turkey during a closed season.  A third defendant, Roderick R. Lowers (U.S. Army retired), 42, of DeRidder, also reached an agreement with the U.S. Attorney?s Office in which his charges were dropped in exchange for his testimony against Hutt and Medrano.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division began the investigation in October 2007, after agents received information that soldiers were killing a large number of deer illegally on the Peason Ridge WMA during training exercises. 

Peason Ridge WMA is owned by the U.S. Army and is used for live fire training exercises by the military.  The 20,000-acre WMA is enclosed by a fence and all access points are locked during live fire training for security and safety concerns.  Hutt, Medrano and Lowers used their military positions to keep the WMA locked down after live fire training exercises in order to poach deer and turkey.

Federal Magistrate Kathleen Kay accepted the guilty pleas and ordered both Hutt and Medrano to each pay a fine and court cost in the amount of $1,920.  She also revoked their hunting privileges for five years and placed them on supervised probation for two years. 

Magistrate Kay also ordered the men to pay restitution to LDWF for the illegally taken deer and turkeys.  Hutt is responsible to pay restitution in the amount of $7,374.94 for 11 deer and two turkeys.  Medrano is responsible to pay restitution in the amount of $6,357.24 for six deer and four turkeys.

Lowers agreement includes a lifetime ban from hunting on government land and to pay restitution to LDWF in the amount of $524.54 for one deer.

Agents seized two 30-30 caliber rifles, a .223 caliber rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun, one skinning gambrel and hoist, one 9-point buck deer rack and cape, four turkey gobbler beards, and one turkey leg spur in connection with the case.

LDWF Lt. Bill Tyree initiated and led the investigation and was assisted by Sgt. Curt Belton, Sgt. Joe Dewil, Senior Agent Ronnie Robertson, Specialist Lynn Bennett, and Fort Polk Game Wardens J.E. Haymon and Elton Herring and Stanley Wellman assisted in the case.

For more information, contact Capt. Peter Oliver at 318-487-5634 or poliver@wlf.la.gov.

2010-E38

TWO MEN ARRESTED FOR MULTIPLE CRAB TRAP VIOLATIONS

Release Date: 07/01/2010

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents apprehended two men for multiple counts of alleged crab trap violations in Lake Maruepas on June 24.

Acting upon a complaint from a commercial crab fisherman, agents observed Joseph Lamarca, 20, from Ponchatoula, crab fishing using allegedly stolen traps.  When confronted, Lamarca claimed to have purchased the stolen traps from Michael Shea King, 19, of Hammond.  

Agents confronted King whom admitted to have stolen the crab traps from a dock with the assistance of Lamarca.  Lamarca confessed and both subjects were arrested.  Also, while crabbing, Lamarca did not possess a vessel license, fire extinguisher and did not tag all crab traps per regulations.

If convicted of theft of crab traps (five counts each), Lamarca and King could face fines of $400 to $950, or jail time up to 120 days, or both plus court costs for each count.  

Lamarca was also cited with Illegal possession of stolen property (five counts), possessing commercial fish without a vessel license, no fire extinguisher and using crab traps without required markings (15 counts). 

If Lamarca is convicted of Illegal possession of stolen property, he faces a fine up to $3,000, imprisonment with or without hard labor for up to 10 years or both for each count.  The penalty for possessing commercial fish without a vessel license is punishable by a fine of $250 to $500, or jail time up to 90 days, or both plus court costs.  The penalty for failing to have a fire extinguisher is a fine of $50.  The penalty for using crab traps without required marking is a $250 to $500 fine, or up to 90 days in jail plus court costs.

Agents participating in the case were Sgt. Dane Thomas, Sgt. Guy Adams, Sr. Agent Clarence Marques and Sr. Agent Buck Hampton.

For more information, contact Capt. Len Yokum at 225-765-2999 or lyokum@wlf.la.gov.

2010-E40

AGENDA ANNOUNCED FOR LOUISIANA WILDLIFE & FISHERIES COMMISSION JULY MEETING

Release Date: 07/01/2010

The next regular public board meeting has been scheduled by the Commission for 9:30 A.M. on Thursday, July 8, 2010, at the Wildlife and Fisheries Building, 2000 Quail Drive, Baton Rouge, LA.
 
1.            Roll Call
 
2.            Approval of Minutes of June 3, 2010
 
3.            Commission Special Announcements/Personal Privilege
 
4.            To receive and hear Update on Oil Spill and Current Response Efforts
 
5.            To receive and hear Enforcement & Aviation Reports/June
 
6.            To receive an update on Dewey Wills WMA Resolution for purpose of Adding Land
 
7.            To receive and consider Notice of Intent on 2011 Turkey Hunting Areas, Seasons and Bag Limits
 
8.            To receive and consider Notice of Intent on 2011 General and WMA Turkey Hunting Regulations
 
9.            To receive and consider Department Recommendation on Waterfowl Breeding Grounds Projects Funding
 
10.            To receive and consider Early Migratory Bird Season Recommendations (Dove, Woodcock, Snipe, Rails, Gallinules and Teal)
 
11.            To receive and hear Presentation on the Louisiana Waterfowl Hunter Survey
 
12.            To receive and consider Declaration of Emergency and Notice of Intent on Fisheries Closures due to Oil Spill
 
13.            Set November 2010 Meeting Date
 
14.            Receive Public Comments
 
15.            Adjournment

2010-205

SHRIMP SEASON TO CLOSE IN ZONE 2

Release Date: 07/01/2010

The 2010 spring inshore shrimp season in Shrimp Management Zone 2 will close at 6:00 am Monday, July 5, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced today.  Zone 2 includes state waters from the eastern shore of South Pass of the Mississippi River to the western shore of Vermilion Bay and Southwest Pass at Marsh Island.

Zones 1 and 3 will remain open until further notice and state outside waters west of 91 degrees 07 minutes 48 seconds west longitude will also remain open to shrimping.

Zone 1 includes state waters from the Mississippi/Louisiana state line to the eastern shore of South Pass of the Mississippi River and Zone 3 includes state waters from the western shore of Vermilion Bay and Southwest Pass at Marsh Island to the Louisiana/Texas state line.

It is important to note this closure is based on biological recommendations made by LDWF Office of Fisheries biologists and is not related to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  The latest data gathered by LDWF biologists indicates the presence of an increased number of juvenile white shrimp.  This area is being closed in an effort to protect this developing crop.

For more information please contact Ashley Wethey at awethey@wlf.la.gov or 225.721.0489

2010-204

BOATING EDUCATION COURSE NOW MANDATORY FOR GREATER NUMBER OF YOUNG BOATERS IN LOUISIANA

Release Date: 06/30/2010

Beginning Thursday, July 1, anyone born after Jan. 1, 1984, will be required to successfully complete a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) boating education course to operate a motorboat over 10 horsepower in Louisiana. The state law previously required that anyone born after Jan. 1, 1988, had to complete a course. The 2009 Legislature approved the new age requirement with July 1, 2010 as the effective date.

For anyone in need of boating safety certification, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is offering numerous safe boating course opportunities this summer.

The LDWF-offered, NASBLA-approved boating courses are free and available across the state to assist boaters, fishermen and hunters in meeting boating education requirements.  Anyone interested in attending a free course can view a schedule of courses on the LDWF Web site at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating/courses.  An online NASBLA approved course is also available for a small fee.

"Studies show that boating education is an important factor in reducing boating crashes and fatalities.  Even experienced boaters can benefit from taking a boating education course," said LDWF Capt. Rachel Zechenelly.

A person may operate a motorboat over 10 horsepower in Louisiana without proof of course completion, if accompanied by someone over 18 years of age who, if required, has completed the course.   LDWF reminds boaters to follow the rules of the road, wear a personal flotation device and designate a sober vessel operator to keep Louisiana?s waterways safe for all boaters.  For more information on regulations or boating safety, please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating.

For more information, contact Capt. Rachel Zechenelly at 225-765-2984 or rzechenelly@wlf.la.gov.

2010-202

BLACK BEAR KILLED IN WALKER FOLLOWING AUTO INCIDENT

Release Date: 06/30/2010

A Louisiana black bear was killed Tuesday night after being hit by an automobile and then shot by a Walker Police officer following a close encounter at the accident scene.

A Walker Police Department officer arrived on the scene at Burgess Ave. near Tiffany St. around 11 p.m. to investigate the auto incident and determine what kind of animal the vehicle had struck. The driver was not able to identify the animal before it moved into a wooded area near the accident site. While searching the wooded area for the animal that was struck, the officer came upon the black bear, startling the injured bear and forcing the officer to react in self defense.

Dr. Jim LaCour, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) veterinarian, determined the bear had moderate to severe internal injuries from the vehicle accident, but could not determine if the bear would have survived those injuries.

The bear was an adult male weighing between 350 and 400 pounds. LDWF records indicate the bear was previously captured in 2008 in Patterson, but had not been reported as a nuisance bear since.  Nuisance bears are captured, tagged and released using aversive conditioning in an effort to dissuade them from returning to residential areas.

"The breeding season is June and July for black bears in Louisiana, so we are right in the middle of their peak activity," said Maria Davidson, LDWF large carnivore program manager.  "Male bears will travel miles daily to look for possible mates and will cross roadways in the process."

Homeowners are reminded that bears are naturally shy and usually avoid contact with people.  Anyone seeing a bear in their neighborhood should retreat to a safe area and call the LDWF 24-hour hotline: 1-800-442-2511.

For more information, contact Maria Davidson at mdavidson@wlf.la.gov or 225-931-3061.

2010-201

Black Bear Killed on Hwy. 70 Near Belle River

Release Date: 06/29/2010

A Louisiana black bear was killed Sunday when struck accidentally by an automobile while crossing LA Hwy. 70 near Belle River on the St. Martin-Assumption Parish line.

The bear had been reported in the Oaks at Belle River subdivision around dusk and was struck by a passing motorist after sunset, as it accessed the highway by swimming across Belle River.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) records indicate the bear was previously captured in the Patterson area in the summer of 2008 and subjected to aversive conditioning on site. Nuisance bears are captured, tagged and released using aversive conditioning in an effort to dissuade them from returning to residential areas.

"It's the breeding season for the Louisiana black bear," according to Maria Davidson, LDWF large carnivore program manager. "Male bears are traveling long distances in search of mates and consequently are crossing roadways in the process. This bear was a young adult male weighing approximately 250 pounds."

Homeowners are reminded that bears are naturally shy and usually avoid contact with people.  If a person sees a bear in their neighborhood they should retreat to a safe area and call the LDWF 24 hour hotline: 1-800-442-2511.

The St. Martin Parish Sheriff?s Office, Assumption Parish Sheriff?s Office and LDWF Enforcement and Wildlife Division personnel were all part of the weekend response effort. 

For more information, contact Maria Davidson at mdavidson@wlf.la.gov or 225-931-3061.

2010-201

L.D.W.F. RECRUITING ENFORCEMENT CADETS FOR NEXT ACADEMY

Release Date: 06/29/2010

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division is currently seeking interested candidates who want to become LDWF enforcement agents for the next LDWF Cadet Academy Training Program, which is scheduled to begin on Sept. 1, 2010.

Interested applicants must submit an application for employment online at www.civilservice.la.gov by July 18, 2010.  Paper applications may also be submitted via fax, mail or hand delivery LDWF.  If mailed, the envelope must be postmarked on or before the closing date of the vacancy announcement.

Applicants must have an active or converted score of 70 or above on the Civil Service Law Enforcement and Protective Services (LEAPS) exam.  Preference may be given to applicants with a score of 77 or higher.  Applicants may apply to take the test by accessing the Civil Service Web site at http://www.civilservice.la.gov/info/LEAPS/Applying%20for%20the%20LEAPS%20Test.pdf.

All Enforcement Cadets receive full state benefits and pay from the first day of training.  The starting pay is $31,500 a year.  Training will last 22 weeks and mostly be held in Baton Rouge Monday through Friday.  Cadets will be allowed to go home on the weekends and holidays. 

"This is one of the greatest jobs in the world if you enjoy law enforcement work and have a love for the outdoors," LDWF Enforcement Division's Lt. Col. Keith LaCaze said.  "An agent?s life is never boring because it is seasonal in nature.  The job changes according to the time of year with hunting regulations enforcement in the fall and winter and boating and fishing in the spring and summer."

Cadets receive six months of intensive physical and academic training at the academy.  At the academy, cadets train to enforce the state's recreational boating laws, the state and federal wildlife and fisheries laws and general law enforcement work on the state's many wildlife management areas.  The academy also covers general law enforcement training equal to that of other state law enforcement officers.  Cadets are also trained for search and rescue and are charged as the lead agency in search and rescue coordination under the Governor?s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

For more information about testing and application information, please visit www.civilservice.la.gov or call the LDWF?s Human Resources Office at 225-765-2850.

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

2010-200

LDWF Announces Fishing Openings in Portions of Terrebonne, Lafourche, Jeffserson and Plaquemines and a Closure in St. Bernard

Release Date: 06/25/2010

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Secretary Robert Barham announced the following openings to recreational and commercial fishing in portions of Terrebonne, Lafourche, Jefferson and Plaquemines Parishes and a closure of recreational and commercial fishing in a portion of St. Bernard Parish effective immediately today, June 25.

Fishing Openings

Terrebonne Parish

The portion of inside waters near Bay Blanc north of 29 degrees 07 minutes 19 seconds north latitude and south of 29 degrees 09 minutes 04 seconds north latitude from 90 degrees 42 minutes 46 seconds west longitude westward to 90 degrees 44 minutes 47 seconds west longitude.

Lafourche Parish

The portion of state inside waters north of 29 degrees 12 minutes 50 seconds north latitude near the southern shoreline of Little Lake west of Leeville and south of 29 degrees 21 minutes 42 seconds north latitude from the eastern shoreline of Bayou Lafourche westward to 90 degrees 17 minutes 50 seconds west longitude and the western shoreline of Grand Bayou Blue.

Jefferson and Lafourche Parish

The portion of state inside waters north of  29 degrees 18 minutes 30 seconds north latitude near Bay Des Ilettes and south of 29 degrees 35 minutes 00 seconds north latitude from the eastern shoreline of the Barataria Waterway westward to 90 degrees 07 minutes 00 seconds west longitude.

The portion of Caminada Bay and adjacent waters north of 29 degrees 16 minutes 00 seconds north latitude and south of 29 degrees 18 minutes 30 seconds north latitude from 90 degrees 00 minutes 00 seconds west longitude westward to 90 degrees 07 minutes 00 seconds west longitude

Plaquemines Parish

The portion of state inside waters north of the inside/outside shrimp line west of the Mississippi River from 89 degrees 30 minutes 12 seconds west longitude to the western shoreline of Grand Bayou.

Fishing Closure

St. Bernard Parish Fishing Closure

The portion of state inside and outside waters north of 29 degrees 57 minutes 29.6 seconds north latitude to the Louisiana/Mississippi territorial sea boundary from 89 degrees 15 minutes 30 seconds west longitude eastward to the Louisiana territorial sea boundary. 

Precautionary closures of recreational and commercial fishing have been implemented based on the best information the Secretary of the department receives from field biologists, staff and trajectory models from NOAA.

Once reports of oil are received, LDWF initiates a field survey and immediate seafood testing in the suspected areas. Closures are subsequently made with the intent to be as safe as possible, while not closing any fishing areas unnecessarily. As test results come back clearing the area, effected waters are then reopened.

LDWF continues to work closely with DHH in an effort to assess all opportunities to resume normal fishing activities on Louisiana's coast and guarantee the safety of Louisiana's seafood.

For more information related to the oil spill, visit http://www.emergency.louisiana.gov. Connect with us on www.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 contact Marianne Burke, 225-765-2917 or mburke@wlf.la.gov.

2010-199

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