LDWF News Release

Land Owned by Rice-Land Lumber Co. Serves as Safe Harbor for Woodpecker

Release Date: 10/15/2010

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has enrolled 49,712 acres of land owned by Rice-Land Lumber Co. in the Louisiana Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis) (RCW) Safe Harbor Program.

The Safe Harbor Management Agreement with Rice-Land Lumber, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rice University, established a baseline number of one RCW family group on the company's lands. Rice agreed to employ Larson & McGowin Inc. to manage the RCW on its land to contribute to the regional stability of the bird's populations in southwest Louisiana. 

"We welcome all private landowners who support the department's wildlife species preservation efforts and Rice-Land is to be commended for their commitment," said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham. 

Rice University has owned the lands enrolled, which includes acreage within Allen, Beauregard, Evangeline and Rapides parishes, for more than a century; timber harvest in the early 1900s funded development and construction of the university. This timberland has been managed by Larson & McGowin, Inc., for over a decade. "We are pleased to have the Safe Harbor Agreement in place which allows for continued forest management and promotes the recovery of the endangered RCW simultaneously," said Ron Long, interim vice president for investments and treasurer at Rice University. 

The RCW is a federally and state-listed endangered species that inhabits open pine forests greater than 60 years old. Rice-Land Lumber has agreed to intensively manage 219 acres in Beauregard Parish for nesting and foraging habitat and to perform prescribed burning. 

"The RCW Safe Harbor Program represents LDWF's commitment to work with private landowners who want to proactively manage for endangered species on their property," said Eric Baka, RCW Safe Harbor coordinator. "The Safe Harbor Program helps remove the perceived disincentives associated with endangered species management and rewards landowners for their actions."

LDWF received a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Section 10 permit, authorizing it to administer the RCW Safe Harbor Program in January 2005. Multiple partners helped shaped the final document, including nongovernmental organizations, private landowners, environmental consultants and state and federal agencies. The RCW Safe Harbor Program is designed to encourage landowners to actively and voluntarily manage pine timberlands for the benefit of the RCW while reducing the fear of having an endangered species on their property. Landowners agree to employ one or more of five voluntary habitat management strategies that have a net conservation benefit for the RCW. These strategies include forest management, hardwood midstory management, prescribed burning, RCW cavity management and RCW population management.

The Safe Harbor program allows landowners greater flexibility to manage their forest resources while benefiting the RCW through baseline shifts. Essentially the landowner increases its RCW population via the installation of recruitment clusters and reassigns baseline responsibilities with LDWF approval. This provision of the Safe Harbor Program allows for greater stability for RCW populations by aggregating previously demographically isolated groups. 

With the addition of the Rice lands, LDWF has 15 landowners enrolled in the RCW Safe Harbor Program, totaling 481,332 acres, with 101 baseline RCW groups and 2 above-baseline RCW groups. LDWF is currently working with numerous other landowners interested in enrolling in the Louisiana RCW Safe Harbor Program. 

Landowners interested in the Louisiana RCW Safe Harbor Program or information regarding RCW management can contact Eric Baka, RCW Safe Harbor coordinator, at ebaka@wlf.la.gov or 318-487-5890.

For more information, contact Eric Baka at 318-487-5890 or ebaka@wlf.la.gov.


L.D.W.F. Issues Advisory on Access to Soda Lake Wildlife Management Area

Release Date: 10/15/2010

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is alerting the public that access to Soda Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA) via Soda Lake Drive is no longer possible.

Primary access points into the WMA, located in Caddo Parish north of Shreveport, will remain LA Hwy. 169 on the northern end of the property and Dixie Blanchard Road on the southern end.

The cancellation of an access agreement by an adjacent private landowner has closed the Soda Lake Drive access point on the southwestern boundary of the WMA, as well as eliminating access to the trailhead for the ATV / UTV trail.

Until further notice, ATV use on Soda Lake WMA will be restricted to game retrieval purposes only. UTVs are not allowed. Consult WMA Regulations for details regarding ATV use for game retrieval.

For more information, contact Jeff Johnson at jjohnson@wlf.la.gov or 318-371-3050.


Louisiana Oyster Task Force Enforcement Committee to Meet October 19

Release Date: 10/15/2010

The Louisiana Oyster Task Force Enforcement Committee is scheduled to meet at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, October 19, prior to the 1 p.m. Oyster Task Force Meeting, at the UNO Advanced Technology Center located at 2021 Lakeshore Drive, Suite 210 in New Orleans.

Items for discussion include:

Possible legislation and current laws related to the enforcement of a standard sack measurement on board vessels and dockside.

For additional information, please contact Ashley Roth at (504) 286-8735 or aroth@wlf.la.gov.


Louisiana Oyster Task Force to Meet October 19

Release Date: 10/15/2010

The Louisiana Oyster Task Force is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, October 19 at the UNO Advanced Technology Center located at 2021 Lakeshore Drive, Suite 210 in New Orleans.
The agenda is as follows:

  1. Roll Call
  2. Approval of August 27, 2010 MINUTES
  3. Treasury Report
    1. Oyster Tag Sales
    2. LOTF Financial Report 
  4. Committee Reports
    1. Public and Private Oyster Grounds Committee – (Buddy Pausina)
    2. Enforcement - (Keith Lacaze)
    3. Legislative - (Jakov Jurisic)
    4. Research – (John Supan)
    5. Coastal Restoration – (Dan Coulon)
    6. Marketing - (Dana Brocato)
  5. Old Business
    1. Public Oyster Reef Evaluation – Patrick Banks
    2. BP Oil Spill Update
      1. Claims Process
      2. Public Reef Damages
      3. Oyster Lease Damages
  6. New Business
    1. Relocation of Oyster Leases – Byron Encalade
    2. Oyster Lease Moratorium Update - DWF
    3. Damages to Public Seed Grounds by Coastal Permitting – DWF
    4. Burlap Bags-Buddy Pausina
    5. Oyster Lease Moratorium-Buddy Pausina
  7. Set Next Meeting
  8. Adjourn

For additional information, please contact Ashley Roth at (504) 286-8735 or aroth@wlf.la.gov.


LDWF Announces Fishing to Resume in Portions of State Waters in the Barataria Basin

Release Date: 10/14/2010

Recreational Map
Commercial Map

Today, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, in coordination with the FDA and NOAA, has ordered an emergency reopening of all fishing in portions of state waters within the Barataria Basin previously closed due to the BP oil spill. Following today’s action, 96 percent of all saltwater areas of the state are open to recreational and commercial fishing.

Commercial fishing will reopen immediately today, October 14, to the harvest of finfish, crabs and shrimp in portions of state waters between Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River and Bayou Lafourche. The openings also include the recreational harvest of shrimp and crabs.

LDWF Secretary Robert Barham ordered these openings following the completion of comprehensive testing by the FDA. The FDA has advised that following extensive sensory testing and analytical chemistry results, the fish tissue samples tested from these previously closed areas are safe for consumption.

State inside and outside territorial waters will remain closed to commercial fishing until further notice in the following areas:

1) The Mississippi River delta south of the northern shore of Pass a Loutre and 29 degrees 12 minutes 40 seconds north latitude westward to the western shore of Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River

2) A portion of Barataria Bay north of Grand Isle east of the Barataria Waterway and west of 89 degrees 50 minutes 00 seconds west longitude between 29 degrees 30 minutes and 29 degrees 26 minutes north latitude

3) An area from near Quatre Bayou Pass westward including Grand Terre Island, to Barataria Pass as shown in the detail map will remain closed to commercial fishing until further notice.

While LDWF continues to work closely with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to ensure the safety of Louisiana’s seafood, these openings do not include the harvest of oysters, as this activity is regulated by DHH. 

For additional information, please contact Joey Shepard at (225) 765-2384 or jshepard@wlf.la.gov.


Lesson Learned: Hog or Bear? Know Your Target

Release Date: 10/12/2010

Gary Kinsland is an experienced hunter who has hunted Red River Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Concordia Parish for 34 years since he moved to Louisiana from Oregon in 1977.  Kinsland, 63, of Sunset, typically harvests two deer per year from the WMA along with several feral hogs.
During one hunt last season, Kinsland harvested a 13-point non-typical deer from the Red River WMA. However, it was also during the 2009-10 hunting season that Kinsland faced his biggest hunting disappointment.
Sitting on a deer stand in his favorite tree on the WMA last November, and after having already seen a buck earlier in the day without getting a clear shot, Kinsland heard hogs squealing.
"I didn't head to my stand that morning to get a hog," said Kinsland.  "I was deer hunting and wanted a deer.  But, these hogs were there and I said to myself that if they pass a clearing I will go ahead and shoot at them."
Kinsland said that after a little while the sound of hogs moving and squealing went away.  However, later in the day he again heard some commotion and movement coming from the same area where he had heard hogs squealing earlier.
This time he saw what he thought were the hogs he had heard moving from the area of the noise and crossing at an angle in front of him at about 100 yards in light brush.  Kinsland guessed their path and picked out a clear spot in the brush that was about 75 yards from his deer stand and set his crosshairs on that mark in case one of the "hogs" passed through the clearing.
"The first one entered the clearing and I fired," said Kinsland.  "I then waited a little while longer for the second one to come through, which I knew was a little smaller. After getting tired of waiting, I went ahead and dismounted my stand and walked over to the downed animal.  When I got about 40 yards away I noticed the other one sniffing around and shot that 'hog' too.
"It wasn't until I got within about 20 yards of the smaller, second one that I realized what I had shot.  The first indication was seeing a round ear.  I then got close enough to the two animals to get confirmation of what I had done and I just stood there for a while in disbelief and in sadness for the two bears."
Kinsland had mistaken a Louisiana black bear and her cub for feral hogs.  He then contacted his longtime friend and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Red River WMA Supervisor Johnny Warren.  Warren quickly notified the LDWF Enforcement Division.
"I immediately knew I was in a tough bind, but I am glad that I turned myself in since I try to teach my two young daughters and family honesty.  By walking away from this incident I would be living a lie," said Kinsland.  "It was not a pretty picture that I was facing, but I had to deal with it."
Kinsland directed the LDWF agents to his stand and the bears by using his cell phone.  The agents issued Kinsland citations for two counts of taking bear in a closed season.
In August, Kinsland pled no contest and was sentenced to 120 days in jail (suspended), a $950 fine, 24 months of supervised probation and had to pay restitution of $5,000 with $3,000 of that going to LDWF and the other $2,000 going to the District Attorney.  He was also ordered to get his hunter education certification and to speak in 24 other LDWF approved hunter education courses to share his experience.
Kinsland has already attended a few LDWF approved hunter education courses and has offered his story in front of the classes during the wildlife identification part of the course.
"I'm really enjoying my time with the hunter education courses and plan on becoming a volunteer certified hunter education instructor even after my court ordered courses are finished," said Kinsland.  "I try to explain to the class that even the most experienced hunter can make the same mistake I did and that you have to be able to see the snout, head and ears and make a positive i.d. before shooting at a feral hog."  
With Louisiana black bear and feral hog populations on the rise in many areas in the state, hunters are reminded that positive target identification is the most important rule in hunter safety and a basic component of legal game harvest.
Black bears and feral hogs share similar body styles and appearance, so hunters must be especially careful when hog hunting in areas where bears may be found.  LDWF has posted signs at state WMAs to warn hunters about the similarities between the two species.
Since 2001, the Louisiana Black Bear Repatriation Project has moved 48 adult female black bears with 104 cubs from the dense black bear population in the Tensas River Basin to the area called the Red River Complex, totaling 179,604 acres, which includes Grassy Lake, Red River, Three Rivers and Spring Bayou Wildlife Management Areas and Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge.  The Repatriation Project was initiated to help rebuild the historic population of black bears in central Louisiana.
Since 1992, the Louisiana black bear has been protected because of its threatened status under the Endangered Species Act.  Restoration and conservation efforts of the LDWF, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Black Bear Conservation Coalition and many private landowners have led to increasing numbers of black bears.  LDWF is working aggressively toward the goal of removing the Louisiana black bear from the threatened species list and having sustainable populations that offer regulated hunting opportunities in the foreseeable future.
For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.


Anglers Aren't the Only Big Winners at the Louisiana Saltwater Series Championship

Release Date: 10/11/2010

The Louisiana Saltwater Series, hosted by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, closed this weekend at Delta Marina in Empire with some monster catches at its championship tournament.  The 2010 fishing season was a banner year for the series, to promote the conservation of Louisiana’s saltwater sport fish resources through six tag and release redfish tournaments. 

Overall weight determined the grand prize winner going to the team of Bobby Abruscato and Scott Ritter, with a winning total weight of 34.11 pounds, and their largest fish weighing 9.2 pounds.   With the win, the duo was awarded a cash prize of over $2,700.

However, this tournament series serves a much larger purpose than hashing our prize money for trophy catches.  The department hopes the tournaments will create awareness and participation in their tag and release program. 

In its inaugural year, LDWF safely tagged and released 368 redfish caught throughout the series.  The results of the tagging will aid conservation efforts for redfish in the future, helping to ensure healthy populations and a successful recreational fishing industry.

“It’s not just the tournament itself, but being able to provide fish for LDWF to tag and hopefully track,” explained participating angler Christopher Bush.  “It’s definitely a win-win situation.”

Turnout for the series was excellent, with participation averaging over 30 teams for each tournament and 22 teams qualifying for the championship.  These two-angler teams qualified for the no-entry-fee championship by fishing a minimum of three Saltwater Series tournaments.     

“In light of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, we were very pleased with overall participation,” said LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina.  “We hope that these events will again create enthusiasm for fishing in Louisiana and will unite anglers and their families in this recreational pastime.”

The 2011 Louisiana Saltwater Series hopes to continue to draw redfish anglers from the Gulf Coast, offering two –angler teams the opportunity to compete in six different tournaments, including a championship.  With low entry fees, these tournaments allow anglers to fish close to home and compete for cash prizes while simultaneously giving back to the resource through tag and release fishing.

“With the oil spill behind us, we’re excited about the possibilities for next year and anticipate the tournaments to be even larger and more successful,” said Pausina.   

Participating anglers can expect a significant increase in cash and prize payouts.  The department also plans to add a few changes to the tournament format that should make it even more exciting, including a youth division. 

The department urges interested anglers to sign up for the Louisiana Cooperative Marine Sport Fish Tagging Program. Through this program, volunteer anglers provide information that is difficult, often impossible, and expensive to obtain by other means.   The target species for LDWF’s tagging program are red drum “redfish” and spotted seatrout “speckled trout.”  For additional information, interested anglers can contact fishtagging@ccalouisiana.com.

Information about the 2011 Louisiana Saltwater Series will soon be available at lasaltwaterseries.com.

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

*Photos and footageavailable upon request.    


Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board to Meet Oct. 13

Release Date: 10/11/2010

The Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board will meet at 9 a.m. on Oct. 13 in Suite 210 of the University of New Orleans Advanced Technology Center located at 2021 Lakeshore Drive in New Orleans.

The agenda is as follows:

  1. Call to order
  2. Roll call
  3. Approval of minutes from July 21, 2010
  4. Reports
    1. Guest Presentations
      1. Trumpet Marketing
      2. NOAA-Larry Simpson and John Oliver
    2. Executive Directors Report
    3. Treasurers Report
  5. New Business
    1. Foundations Funds
    2. Social Media
    3. Research
    4. Friends of Fishermen
    5. Ready for Takeoff Coalition
    6. Oyster Task Force Budget shortfall/ interim crossover funding for administrative costs
  6. Set Next Meeting
  7. Adjourn

For more information, contact Ashley Roth at 504-286-8735 or aroth@wlf.la.gov.

Hunter Tips: Sharing Habitat with Bears in the Fall

Release Date: 10/08/2010

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) reminds hunters that bears are actively foraging at this time of year in preparation for the winter. Louisiana black bear populations throughout the state are growing and their ranges are expanding, as noted in record numbers of trail camera photos capturing activity at deer feeders.

Hunters can still enjoy a safe hunting experience and have success harvesting game species by following a few, simple recommendations.


  • Plant food plots instead of distributing feeding corn, a favorite bear food item. For those hunters who prefer to use feed, it is advisable to switch to soybeans. The switch from corn to soybeans may be enough to drastically decrease the number of bears returning to a site.
  • Hang your feeder out of reach of bears. A feeder should be at least 8 feet off of the ground and 4 feet away from the tree or pole used to suspend the feeder.
  • Bears are less likely to forage for one grain at a time, as dispersed on the ground from a timed feeder. A corn pile or trough type feeder is more likely to attract bears for repeat feedings.


It is important for hunters to educate themselves about bears and bear behavior, take the proper precautions and remain aware while in the woods. Younger hunters should be coached on how to respond to a bear’s presence and provided with bear spray and taught how to use it.

  • Black bears are extremely inquisitive and will sometimes follow a hunter’s track to the deer stand. It is not uncommon for a black bear to place his front feet on the ladder and peer up into the stand in an attempt to discover what’s there. This situation can usually be resolved by standing and moving about on the stand and speaking to the bear to allow him to see and hear you. Once their curiosity is satisfied, bears will usually move on.
  • A hunter moving through thick brush will occasionally come upon a black bear nest. Females readily nest on the ground and produce cubs. This occurs during the den season (late December through April). Ground nests are most often located in slash piles, felled tree tops, blackberry thickets and thick palmetto. This type of encounter will usually cause the female to run away from her nest. The cubs will bawl loudly in protest at being abandoned, but this vocalization will bring the female back quickly as soon as you leave the area.
  • If you encounter a black bear in the woods, detour around the bear. If necessary, go back the way you came and access your intended destination from another direction.
  • If you encounter a black bear at close range, raise your hands above your head to appear larger than you are, speak in a normal voice to allow the bear to identify you as human, and back away until it is safe to turn and walk away -- DO NOT RUN.
  • The best tip for insuring hunter safety and peace of mind is to carry bear spray. It is available at some retail outlets selling camping and hunting merchandise, and via the Internet. Be sure to buy a product labeled “bear spray”; most come with a convenient belt holster.
  • If a black bear attacks, DO NOT PLAY DEAD; that is a technique used for grizzly bears. Fight back with anything available, as black bear attacks have often times been stopped when the person fought back violently.

Hunters are also reminded that feral hogs and black bears can look very similar, especially in low light conditions. It is critical to know your target before pulling the trigger. Killing a Louisiana black bear can result in fines and/or jail time, as well as hindering LDWF’s progress toward delisting the black bear.

The goal of LDWF’s black bear program is to restore bear numbers to a sustainable level that will allow a regulated legal harvest of bears in the future.

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

LDWF Advisory on Limited Access Areas in Select Wildlife Management Areas

Release Date: 10/08/2010

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) reminds anyone using coastal wildlife management areas (WMA) with designated limited access areas (LAAs) that operation of boats with internal combustion engines, within those LAAs, is restricted throughout the 2010-11 fall and winter waterfowl hunting season.

Limited access areas were created within Atchafalaya Delta WMA, Pass a Loutre WMA, Pointe aux Chenes WMA and Salvador WMA to provide a more primitive hunting experience for waterfowl hunters.  Restrictions on the use of internal combustion engines provide for reduced noise in an effort to minimize disturbance of waterfowl within the LAA and improve hunter harvest success between September and January.

LAAs are posted with signage at access points around the perimeter. Any vessel with a movable outdrive system may enter a LAA as long as the boat’s internal combustion engine is trimmed up out of the water in an inoperable position. Vessels with fixed props must adhere to the no operation rule. Trolling motors may be used to access and navigate within a LAA while hunting or fishing.

WMA Acres LAA (acres) LAA% of Total WMA
Atchafalaya Delta 137,695 3,250 2.4
Pass a Loutre 110,491 1,945 1.8
Pointe aux Chenes 35,226 4,689 13.3
Salvador 33,046 3,000 9.1

To view and download a map of any WMA with a LAA, go to:  http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wma

Anyone with questions on vessel operation within a LAA can call LDWF’s Enforcement Division Region 8 in New Orleans at 504-284-2023 or Region 6 in Thibodaux at 985-447-0821 during weekday business hours, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. To report violation of LAA rules, call 1-800-442-2511 toll free at any time.

For more information, contact Bo Boehringer at 225-765-5115 or bboehringer@wlf.la.gov or Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.


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