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LDWF News Release

Agenda for Commission Meeting

Release Date: 10/29/2012

***NOTE LOCATION CHANGE***

The next regular Commission Meeting will be held at 9:30 AM on Thursday, November 1, 2012, in the Grand Isle Marine Lab, 195 Ludwig Annex, Grand Isle, LA 70358.

The following items will be discussed:

1. Roll Call

2. Approval of Minutes of October 4, 2012

3. Commission Special Announcements/Personal Privilege

4. To hear Enforcement & Aviation Reports/September

5. Award Presentation

6. Presentation of the Louisiana Duck Stamp Contest Winner

7. To receive and consider a Notice of Intent for Rules Governing Alternative Oyster Culture Permits

8. Set March Commission Meeting Date

9. Receive Public Comments

10. Adjournment

 

LDWF Agents Arrest Pontchartrain Blue Crab Owner

Release Date: 10/29/2012

 

Oct. 29, 2012 -- Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents arrested Gary M. Bauer, owner of Pontchartrain Blue Crab, for filing false public records and injuring public records in accordance with an arrest warrant issued by East Baton Rouge Parish.

Agents conducted an inspection of purchase records of commercial fish by Ponchartrain Blue Crab from commercial fishermen.  During the inspection, agents determined that Pontchartrain Blue Crab failed to report to the LDWF, by way of the trip ticket system, the purchase of 170,215 pounds of blue crab, 104,489 pounds of shrimp, 8,564 soft shell crab, 2,122 pounds of sheepshead, 5 pounds of flounder, and 113 pounds of black drum from January 2010 through July 2011.

An arrest warrant was obtained by agents in East Baton Rouge Parish on Oct. 25 for the owner of Pontchartrain Blue Crab, Gary M. Bauer, 54, of Slidell for 18 counts of filing false public records and 18 counts of injuring public records.  Bauer was notified of the warrants and turned himself into agents on Oct. 26.

LDWF routinely reviews every trip ticket received from the commercial fishing industry to ensure that the most accurate data are collected and properly reflect the important role the state of Louisiana plays in the production of seafood and the management of the state's seafood resources.

Filing false public records and injuring public records each brings up to five years with or without hard labor or up to a $5,000 fine for each count.

Agents involved in the case are Senior Agents Robert Turner, Louis Burnett, and Edward Ridgel.  The investigation for this case is ongoing.

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

Two Men Charged With Numerous Night Hunting Violations

Release Date: 10/29/2012

Oct. 29, 2012 -- Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents cited two men for alleged night hunting violations and cruelty to animals on Oct. 27 in East Baton Rouge and East Feliciana parishes.

During the early morning hours of Oct. 27, agents received information of possible night hunting activity in the northern section of East Baton Rouge Parish.  Agents investigated the area and found Ryan Stogner, 20, of Denham Springs, and Nicholas Tarver, 21, of Zachary, involved in night hunting activities.

After further investigation, agents were able to track and locate a white tail doe deer the pair had shot and killed earlier in the night off of Pride/Port Hudson Road.  Agents also learned that the two men had shot and killed a personally owned malamute husky belonging to a couple in East Feliciana Parish along Hwy. 409 earlier in the night.

Agents cited the two men with two counts each for taking deer during illegal hours, taking deer from a public road, hunting from a moving vehicle, hunting without basic and big game licenses and violating deer tagging regulations in East Baton Rouge and East Feliciana parishes.  Stogner was also cited for discharging a firearm from a public road in both parishes.  Both men were also cited for aggravated cruelty to animals in East Feliciana Parish for killing the husky.

Agents seized one whitetail deer along with one malamute husky, a Remington .308 rifle with scope and a Q-beam spotlight.

Hunting or taking deer during illegal hours brings a $900 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail for each count.  Hunting or taking deer from a public road carries a $100 to $350 fine and up to 60 days in jail for each count.  Hunting from a moving vehicle brings a $250 to 500 and up to 90 days in jail for each count.  Hunting without basic and big game licenses carries a $50 fine and up to 15 days in jail for each count.  Violating deer tagging regulations brings a $100 to $300 fine and up to 60 days in jail for each count.  Discharging a firearm from a public road carries a $50 fine and up to 30 days in jail for each count.

Aggravated cruelty to animals brings a $5,000 to $25,000 fine and between one and 10 years in prison plus possible court ordered physiological evaluation.

In addition to the criminal penalties, both men are subject to pay restitution in the amount of $800 to $1,000 for the malamute husky back to the owners and $1,624.61 for the deer to the state.

Agents participating in this case were Sgt. Randy Lanoux and Lt. Will Roberts.  Deputies from the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office also assisted agents in this case.

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

Successful Search and Rescue Mission Results in Finding Two Overdue Boaters

Release Date: 10/27/2012

Search and rescue authorities found two missing boaters alive on Grand Lake this morning, Oct. 27 after a 12 hour search.

Tyler Smith, 24, of Iota, and Gus Atkinson, 28, of Gueydan, were found by search and rescue personnel at 9 a.m. this morning at Cypress Island in the northern section of Grand Lake.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents were notified at 9 p.m. on Oct. 26 about two overdue boaters in the Grand Lake and Lake Arthur areas.  LDWF agents immediately coordinated a search effort throughout the night with the U.S. Coast Guard, Cameron Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Smith and Atkinson launched their 14 foot aluminum flat bottom boat from the Hwy. 14 boat launch on Lake Arthur.  By 1:30 p.m. they were fishing at the “Catfish Locks” on Grand Lake.  At 5 p.m. family members notified the two fishermen of a storm kicking up in the area. 

The men started to make their way back to the Hwy. 14 launch, but ran into heavy winds and waves that swamped their boat.  They were able to walk their boat to the shore area and bail out the water and get back underway.  However, shortly thereafter the 25 horsepower motor quit working and they were unable to get it started again.  The men lost communications and decided to drag the boat to the shore area at Cypress Island and wait until help arrived.  Family members notified authorities at 9 p.m. who searched until they found them this morning at 9 a.m.

“These men did a lot of right things to survive this ordeal.  The most important thing they did was that they had a float plan by notifying family beforehand where they would be fishing and the family knew about what time they should be back,” said Capt. Robert Buatt, who coordinated the search.  “This float plan allowed the family to make a decision early on that they were missing and needed help.  The men also were able to get the boat to an area that was less turbulent and safe once they knew they were not going to make it back to the launch.”

LDWF will be the lead investigative agency for this boating incident.

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

New Hog Trapping, Hunting Regulations In Effect

Release Date: 10/26/2012

Oct. 26, 2012-- Regulations regarding the trapping and hunting of hogs that were adopted by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC) are now in effect.  The regulations are authorized by a change in state law that allows year-round trapping of hogs under rules recommended by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and promulgated by the LWFC. 

Under the new rules, feral hogs may be trapped year-round.  Persons who use snares to capture feral hogs must have a valid Louisiana trapping license.  Persons who use cage or corral traps must have a valid Louisiana hunting license.  It is required that all cage or corral traps have an opening in the top that measures 22 inches by 22 inches or larger or 25 inches in diameter or larger.

The required opening in the top of hog traps will allow black bears that are inadvertently captured in a hog trap to escape.  Persons setting hog traps without the required opening are subject to citation and seizure of the trap.

Although not required by the regulations, the department advises trappers not to use snares in areas where bears are present.  Several bears have been captured in snares intended for feral hog or coyotes.  Trappers are advised instead to use foot-hold traps for coyotes and cage or corral traps for hogs in these areas.  If snares are used, it is strongly recommended that trappers use snares with a relaxing lock and breakaway device rated for 350 lbs. or less. For more information on using snares in areas occupied by bears, visit http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/document/36018-bear-snare/bear_snare.pdf .

For questions concerning trapping hogs, contact any private lands biologist at an LDWF field office. For questions about the hog trapping regulations, contact Fred Kimmel at 225-765-2355 or fkimmel@wlf.la.gov.

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Hemorrhagic Disease Outbreak in Louisiana White-tailed Deer

Release Date: 10/26/2012

Oct. 26, 2012 -- The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has received numerous reports of dead and dying white-tailed deer this fall.  The reports have come primarily from the parishes that border the Mississippi River in south Louisiana but scattered reports have come in from all over the state.  Many of these deaths can be attributed to hemorrhagic disease.

Hemorrhagic disease (HD) is a viral disease syndrome caused by either epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV) or bluetongue virus (BTV).  These Orbiviruses are related but are genetically different.  They are spread by biting gnats of the genus Culicoides, resulting in seasonal occurrence of HD.  Typically, factors that favor the vectors are a rainy spring followed by a dry June.  Events such as flooding which congregate deer also seem to worsen disease outbreaks.  HD is not contagious to people and consumption of meat from HD-infected animals poses no threat to humans.

Some deer are protected by local immunity and may exhibit very mild or no disease. These affected deer may recover and develop antibodies to the disease.  Many if not most Louisiana deer will likely be exposed to HD at some point in their lives.

Clinical HD in deer presents itself in three ways:

1)    Peracute form:  These deer may exhibit no signs and simply be found dead or may be lethargic with swelling of the tongue, head or neck.

2)    Acute form:  Typically these deer live somewhat longer than those with the peracute form and may exhibit the same swelling as listed above as well as some erosions or ulcers in the mouth.  They may also exhibit hemorrhages in the eyes and internal organs.

3)    Chronic form:  Deer which survive the original viral insult will often exhibit hoof-sloughing and weight loss.  Some deer may survive this stage. The original infection kills the lining of the rumen (first stomach chamber) and these deer are unable to gain nutrients from the food that they consume.  They typically become progressively more emaciated throughout the fall and severely affected deer succumb to the elements during the winter.

In the worst cases, mortality ranging from 25 to 50 percent of a deer herd can occur from HD.  It is possible that some areas in the state may experience this level of mortality this year.

Many of the sick or dead deer reports are coming from areas flooded during and after Hurricane Isaac.  Fawn mortality was high in some of these areas.  The additional mortality from HD is not unexpected and was one of the reasons for the season reductions around Lake Maurepas, Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes.  Hunters in the river parishes, other hurricane flooded portions of the state, and whom have observed additional adult deer mortality may want to be more conservative and limited in their deer harvests this season.  However, obviously emaciated and sick deer should be harvested, and if you have concerns or questions about your deer herd please contact a LDWF biologist.

White-tailed deer are one of nature’s most resilient and productive big game animals.  Louisiana native white-tailed deer are especially adapted to withstand seasonal HD and other southern diseases.  Deer that survive disease outbreaks develop resistance and therefore can pass on the genetic traits that helped them survive to their offspring.  Pen-raised and imported deer do not have the disease resistance that native wild deer have to local virus strains, and may harbor strains which are not normally found locally and may therefore be a threat to the native wild populations.

Hunters are encouraged to report sick and dying deer to their regional LDWF office.  If specimens are fresh enough LDWF biologists may be able to obtain samples for viral testing.  To date, EHDV-1, EHDV-2 and a new virus, EHDV-6 have been isolated from samples submitted by biologists.

For more information, contact LDWF’s Dr. Jim LaCour at 225-765-0823 or jlacour@wlf.la.gov; or Scott Durham at 225-765-2351 or sdurham@wlf.la.gov.

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LDWF Offering Habitat Management Assistance to Landowners Through Prescribed Burn Initiative

Release Date: 10/26/2012

Oct. 26, 2012 – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is offering habitat management assistance to landowners through the department’s East Gulf Coastal Plain Prescribed Burn Initiative

Prescribed burning is an important tool for managing pine and mixed pine-hardwood forests in Louisiana.  To assist landowners with management activities, improve habitat for wildlife, and encourage additional burning throughout the state, LDWF has gained approval and funding for three separate US Fish and Wildlife Service, State Wildlife Grants over the past three years.  Funding from these grants is used to cost-share prescribed burns on those properties that qualify for the initiative. 

EGCP Prescribed Burn initiative funding is available to landowners with property that meets ranking criteria in the following parishes:  West Feliciana, East Feliciana, St. Helena, Livingston, Tangipahoa, Washington and St. Tammany.  Applications are ranked according to habitat characteristics and potential wildlife benefits. LDWF will provide approximately 80 percent of the cost of prescribed burning activities from initiative funds and assist landowners by locating contractors to conduct the work on all approved tracts.

Applications must be submitted by Nov. 9 to be considered for the 2012-2013 burning season.  However, applications submitted after this date will be eligible for funding in 2013-2014.

If you or someone you know has property in southeast Louisiana that would benefit from prescribed burning, please contact the LDWF Hammond field office at 985-543-4777 or Cody Cedotal at 225-765-2354 or ccedotal@wlf.la.gov for more information and applications.

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Additional Public Oyster Areas Set to Open October 29

Release Date: 10/25/2012

Oyster Area 10/29/12

Oct. 25, 2012 - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) reminds the public the 2012/2013 oyster season on the majority of public oyster seed grounds is set to begin Monday, October 29, 2012.  The opening date of the oyster season was determined by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission at its August 2012 meeting.   

Two public oyster areas, the Little Lake Public Oyster Seed Grounds and the Vermilion/East and West Cote Blanche/Atchafalaya Bay Public Oyster Seed Grounds, were previously opened on September 5, 2012 and commercial oyster harvest continues to be documented from those areas. 

The area of the public grounds east of the Mississippi River and south of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, are a “sacking only” area for the 2012/2013 season and no seed oyster harvest is allowed.

The oyster season in the west cove portion of the Calcasieu Lake Public Oyster Area (DHH harvest area 30) shall open at one-half hour before sunrise on Thursday, November 1, 2012.  The sack limit during this time period is set at 10 sacks per person, per vessel, per day.

The areas remaining closed for the 2012/2013 oyster season include the Public Oyster Seed Reservations in Bay Gardene and Sister Lake, the 2011 cultch plants in Mississippi Sound and California Bay within the coordinates listed below, and the 2012 cultch plants in Hackberry Bay, South Black Bay (Bay Crab), and Lake Fortuna within the coordinates listed below. 

 

Mississippi Sound (2011) – St. Bernard Parish

A.  30 degrees 07 minutes 17.56 seconds N

      89 degrees 27 minutes 52.39 seconds W

B.  30 degrees 07 minutes 26.94 seconds N

      89 degrees 27 minutes 36.20 seconds W

C.  30 degrees 07 minutes 07.11 seconds N

       89 degrees 26 minutes 45.48 seconds W

D.  30 degrees 06 minutes 40.93 seconds N

      89 degrees 27 minutes 14.09 seconds W

 

California Bay (2011) – Plaquemines Parish

A.  29 degrees 30 minutes 40.42 seconds N

      89 degrees 34 minutes 03.19 seconds W

B.  29 degrees 30 minutes 27.18 seconds N

      89 degrees 33 minutes 21.85 seconds W

C.  29 degrees 29 minutes 54.99 seconds N

      89 degrees 33 minutes 20.24 seconds W

D.  29 degrees 30 minutes 02.74 seconds N

      89 degrees 34 minutes 03.93 seconds W

 

Hackberry Bay (2012) – Lafourche Parish

A.  29 degrees 25 minutes 21.16 seconds N

      90 degrees 02 minutes 59.53 seconds W

B.  29 degrees 24 minutes 58.30 seconds N

      90 degrees 02 minutes 51.34 seconds W

C.  29 degrees 24 minutes 29.25 seconds N

      90 degrees 03 minutes 24.92 seconds W

D.  29 degrees 24 minutes 45.37 seconds N

      90 degrees 03 minutes 35.33 seconds W

 

Lake Fortuna (2012) – St. Bernard Parish

A.  29 degrees 39 minutes 08.04 seconds N

      89 degrees 30 minutes 28.93 seconds W

B.  29 degrees 38 minutes 33.31 seconds N

      89 degrees 29 minutes 15.45 seconds W

C.  29 degrees 38 minutes 10.57 seconds N

      89 degrees 29 minutes 40.71 seconds W

D.  29 degrees 39 minutes 04.41 seconds N

      89 degrees 30 minutes 32.61 seconds W

 

South Black Bay (2012) – Plaquemines Parish

A.  29 degrees 34 minutes 41.72 seconds N

      89 degrees 36 minutes 22.86 seconds W

B.  29 degrees 34 minutes 31.45 seconds N

      89 degrees 35 minutes 48.68 seconds W

C.  29 degrees 34 minutes 08.12 seconds N

      89 degrees 36 minutes 07.94 seconds W

D.  29 degrees 34 minutes 23.03 seconds N

      89 degrees 36 minutes 43.20 seconds W

 

In addition, the east side of Calcasieu Lake (Department of Health and Hospitals’ harvest area 29) and the Sabine Lake Public Oyster Area shall remain closed for the entire 2012/2013 oyster season.

Oyster harvesters are also reminded that in addition to normal licenses required for the harvest of oysters, special permits are also required to fish specific public oyster areas.  In Calcasieu Lake, all harvesters are required to hold a valid Calcasieu Lake Oyster Harvester Permit.  The Calcasieu Lake permit is free of charge and is available from the Baton Rouge office of LDWF.  Harvesters fishing all other public oyster areas are required to fish only from a commercial vessel which holds a valid Public Oyster Seed Ground Vessel Permit.  The application deadline for the Public Oyster Seed Ground Vessel Permit is December 31, 2012.

 

Delay on a Portion Public Seed Ground East of the Mississippi River to Protect Developing Oysters

While a majority of the public seed grounds are set to open, oyster season is delayed until further notice in a portion of the public oyster seed grounds east of the Mississippi River in an effort to protect recently-settled young oysters, called spat.  The oyster season was originally scheduled to open in this area on October 29, 2012.  The delay includes that area of the public oyster seed grounds east of the Mississippi River, south of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, and north of a line of latitude at 29 degrees 34 minutes 48.0 seconds north. 

The decision was made that the protection of the oyster spat is in the long-term best interest of oyster conservation in this area of the public oyster seed grounds as they represent the future oyster resource in an area where oyster stocks are at historic lows.

Public notice of any opening, delay, or closure of a season will be provided at least 72 hours prior to such action, unless such closure is ordered by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals for public health concerns.

See attached map detailing these opening, closures and delays. 

For more information please contact lwooderson@wlf.la.gov or (504) 430-2623

Migratory Game Bird Violations Lead to Five Guilty Pleas and Fines

Release Date: 10/24/2012

Oct. 24, 2012 -- Two Vermilion Parish men pled guilty in the U.S. Western District Court of Louisiana in Lafayette on Oct. 17 for migratory game bird violations.

Ryan Frederick, 23, of Kaplan, and Dustin Fontenot, 23, of Abbeville pled guilty to taking over the daily bag limit of white-fronted geese, hunting geese with an electronic calling device and for failing to maintain custody of their birds in the field.

Judge Patrick Hanna ordered Frederick and Fontenot to each pay a total of $2,155 in fines and fees and placed them on two years of probation, which includes no hunting of any migratory game birds.

In connection with this case, Zayne Greene, 23, Robert Russo, 21, and Drew Laborde, 21, all from Abbeville, pled guilty outside of court at an earlier date to hunting geese with an electronic calling device and failing to maintain custody of their birds in the field. These three men each paid $1,770 in fines and fees.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents observed Frederick and Fontenot on an afternoon hunt north of Kaplan on Jan. 12, 2012.  When agents attempted to make contact with Frederick and Fontenot, the two threw geese into a nearby canal to hide them.  Agents recovered 17 white-fronted geese and five snow geese from the canal and an electronic calling device used during the hunt after making contact with Frederick and Fontenot.

After further investigation, agents learned that Greene, Russo and Laborde participated in the hunt earlier in the afternoon in which the electronic calling device was used.  Greene, Russo and Laborde also left harvested birds in the field.

Senior Agents Justin Sonnier and Lonnie Campbell investigated this case, which was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett L. Grayson.

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

Unlikely Duo Reels in the Win at the LASS Fall Trout Tournament

Release Date: 10/23/2012

First place finishers Kristian Robert and Ford Thomas.
One of many tagged, speckled trout being released.

(Oct. 23, 2012) -Seasoned Louisiana Saltwater Series tournament angler Kristian Robert and his partner Ford Thomas took home this weekend’s top prize at the fall speckled trout tournament.  What you don’t know about this pair is something that may shock you.  Thomas is proof that it doesn’t matter whether you’re 4 or 44, a world-class fishermen can come at any age. 

“My regular tournament partner had to sit this one out, so it was just Ford and I, a 6-year-old kid from Batesville, MS,” explained Robert.  “I told him it was just the two of us, and he smiled and assured me we could still win.”

With a two-fish stringer weighing in at 6.91 pounds, the team took home first place and a cash prize of $740.  Robert explained their prize winning tactics, “I figured we had to beat a spot near SeaBrook to death.  We fished the spot for four hours, and only had 15 bites, hooked 10 fish and boated three.  I have always been told never leave fish to go find fish.  When you’re fishing a tournament, you’re not looking for 100 fish, you’re just looking for the right two fish to bite.”

The top finishing teams, all taking home cash prizes, include: 2nd place, Nick Ward and Mitchell Chevalier; 3rd place, Kevin Hall and Bill Waterman.

Thomas also took home first place in the tournament’s youth division.

 “I look forward to the 2013 season.  I hear big things are coming,” said an enthusiastic Robert.  “The prizes alone should have people lining up, and the data the Department is collecting is going to prove very valuable for Louisiana in the future.”

The Louisiana Saltwater Series plans to continue to grow and create awareness for the Department’s tagging program into 2013.  Additionally, LDWF, in conjunction with Louisiana State University, will soon launch a long-term acoustic telemetry study of spotted seatrout in Lake Pontchartrain.  Two hundred fish will be tagged, and 90 acoustic receivers will be deployed and maintained throughout the lake to record trout movement. 

For complete event results, including photos, visit www.lasaltwaterseries.com.  Be on the lookout for our 2013 schedule, which will soon be available.

“If you’re not fishing the Louisiana Saltwater Series, what are you waiting for?” said Robert.  “It’s the best tournament going for the money, and you get a chance to meet fishermen from all different walks of life.”

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/ldwffbor follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For press inquiries, contact Ashley Wethey at awethey@wlf.la.gov (225) 765-2396.

 

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