LDWF News

LDWF News Release

LDWF Schedules Drawdown on Bundick Lake

Release Date: 07/03/2019

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has scheduled a drawdown for Bundick Lake in Beauregard Parish on August 1, 2019. The drawdown, requested by the Bundick Lake Commission, will allow the parish and landowners to repair and maintain shoreline facilities. 

During the 2018 drawdown, rainfall was higher than average, preventing the necessary decrease in the lake’s water level to complete the repairs. During the 2019 drawdown, the lake level will be lowered 8 feet below pool stage at the rate of 2 to 4 inches per day. The control structure will be closed on or about November 29 to allow water levels to return to normal. 

Along with the opportunity for shoreline maintenance, the August drawdown will assist with aquatic vegetation control and bottom sediment compaction.

For details regarding the management of Bundick Lake, refer to the Bundick Lake Management Plan: Part A (lake history and management issues) and Part B (waterbody evaluation and management recommendations).

For additional information regarding the drawdown, contact Sean Kinney, LDWF Biologist Manager, at skinney@wlf.la.gov 337-491-2575. 

LWF Commission Passes Resolution in Response to 2019 Flooding

Release Date: 07/02/2019

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission recently passed a resolution in response to the impacts of 2019 floodwaters on Louisiana’s fisheries. Water levels are expected to qualify this event as the longest flood fight in the state’s history.    

The resolution described the severity of the flood event and requested LDWF to continue to document the impacts of the flood on Louisiana’s commercial and recreational fisheries. It also affirms the Commission’s support of Governor John Bel Edwards’ recent request to the U.S. Department of Commerce for a federal fisheries disaster declaration. 

“Our commercial and recreational fisheries are being severely impacted by this flood. All parts of these important industries, from fishermen to processors to marinas to the very communities along our coast, are feeling the impacts,” said Commission Chairman Al Sunseri. “It is important that the impacts are well-documented so that our congressional delegation can assist us in our efforts to secure disaster funding necessary to help rehabilitate fisheries resources and the people dependent upon them.”

These historic high river levels come with an unprecedented influx of freshwater into our coastal areas, and statewide biological sampling indicates a notable reduction in the availability of crabs, shrimp, oysters, and finfish. LDWF plans to continue its monitoring efforts to collect, analyze, and share data.

(Preliminary sampling results as of June 28, 2019, are available here.) 

A letter from Gov. Edwards’s office was submitted in June to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries and the U.S. Department of Commerce requesting a declaration of a fisheries disaster in Louisiana, asking Congress to authorize and appropriate funds to recover fisheries disaster loss.   

His letter cited specific impact examples to support the request. It is important to note that the request represents all fishing sectors, all commercially- and recreationally-important species, and all sections of the coast. LDWF biological sampling and fisheries landings (harvest levels) will be utilized to determine the severity of impacts and if such impacts reach the federal threshold for declaring a disaster. To be considered for a fisheries disaster declaration, economic and/or fisheries resource losses must reach 35 percent over a 12-month period as compared to the most recent five-year average.

Given that the extent of damages to Louisiana’s fisheries cannot be fully determined until floodwaters recede and a 12-month evaluation can be completed, LDWF cautions against any premature assessment. LDWF will continue to collect the data to support the Governor’s federal fisheries disaster declaration request. Once the required data analysis is completed it will be submitted to NOAA for its inspection.

LWFC Passes Declaration of Emergency Modifying Deer Urine Products Ban

Release Date: 07/02/2019

July 2, 2019 – The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC) passed a declaration of emergency during its July meeting Monday (July 1) that modifies the deer urine ban for the 2019-20 hunting season. The ban is part of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ (LDWF) and LWFC’s effort to prevent chronic wasting disease (CWD) from entering the state.
 
New testing procedures have been made available to producers of deer urine that can detect the presence of CWD in urine-based products.
 
The modified regulation reads as follows: It is unlawful to use or possess scents or lures that contain natural deer urine or other bodily fluids while taking, attempting to take, attracting or scouting wildlife, except natural deer urine products produced by the manufacturers or entities that are actively enrolled and participating in the Archery Trade Association Deer Protection Program, which have been tested using real-time quaking induced conversion and certified that no detectable levels of CWD are present and clearly labeled as such.
 
To see the full declaration go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/action-items.
 
CWD is a neurodegenerative disease found in most deer species, including moose, elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer. It is infectious and always fatal. It is part of a group of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) and is similar to BSE (Bovine spongiform encephalopathy or mad cow disease) of cattle and scrapie in sheep. These diseases cause irreversible damage to brain tissue that leads to salivation, neurological symptoms, emaciation and death of the animal.
 
Deer infected with CWD can spread the disease even before symptoms develop. It can take one to two years for infected animals to become symptomatic. When symptoms appear, they can include emaciation, lethargy, abnormal behavior and loss of bodily functions. Other signs include excessive salivation, loss of appetite, progressive weight loss, excessive thirst and urination, teeth grinding and drooping ears.
 
It has been found in 26 states, including Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas.
 
LDWF has tested more than 8,600 deer since 2002 and has not detected CWD in Louisiana. For more information, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/hunting/CWD.
 

LWFC Amends Notice of Intent on LDWF Dredge Fill Material Program

Release Date: 07/02/2019

July 2, 2019 – The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC) amended a notice of intent on changes to the dredge fill material program administered by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) during its July meeting Monday (July 1) in Baton Rouge.
 
The amendment reads as follows: The extent of a single permitted site in the Mississippi River, the Atchafalaya River, the Red River, the Pearl River (not including the West Pearl), the Calcasieu River below the saltwater barrier, the Ouachita/Black River south of the confluence of Bayou Bartholomew shall not exceed 1 linear mile and shall not extend across the geometric center line of the stream.
 
To see the amended NOI, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/action-items.
 
The LWFC approved changes to the program, which covers dredging of fill material from the water bottoms of Louisiana, earlier this year.
 
The rule changes align regulations with statute and codify current practice by identifying the licenses required to remove dredge material from state water bottoms.
  
For more information, contact permits coordinator Dave Butler at dbutler@wlf.la.gov or 225-763-3595 or director Kyle Balkum at kbalkum@wlf.la.gov or 225-765-2819.
 

LDWF Announces Increase in Bounty for Coastwide Nutria Control Program

Release Date: 07/02/2019

July 2, 2019 – The Coastwide Nutria Control Program (CNCP) bounty will be raised to $6, up from $5, when the program season commences Nov. 20, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced. The increase is to make the take of nutria more lucrative for hunters and trappers enrolled in the program.
 
“Protection of our coast is of the upmost importance,’’ said LDWF Biologist Director Amity Bass. “The Coastwide Nutria Control Program plays an important part in keeping down the number of this invasive species that destroys our marshes.  We hope the increase in the bounty will incentivize hunters and trappers to go after more nutria.’’
 
The program was established in 2002 to combat nutria in coastal Louisiana. Its goal is to remove up to 400,000 nutria each season to reduce marsh damage. The program season runs each year from Nov. 20-March 31.
 
Participation in the program requires a trapping license, completion of the CNCP application and designation of property or properties to be harvested along with landowner information and signature.
 
Public properties are available and instructions for registering these properties is in the application packet. All registered properties must be within the program boundary area, which is all of coastal Louisiana, bounded on the north by Interstate 10 from the Texas state line to Baton Rouge, Interstate 12 from Baton Rouge to Slidell and Interstate 10 from Slidell to the Mississippi state line.
 
For more information on the program, go to https://www.nutria.com/site.php or contact Jennifer Hogue-Manuel at jhogue-manuel@wlf.la.gov or 337-735-8674.
 

Louisiana Feral Hog Management Advisory Task Force to Meet on July 11

Release Date: 07/01/2019

July 1, 2019 - The Louisiana Feral Hog Management Advisory Task Force will meet July 11 at 9 a.m. at Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) headquarters in Baton Rouge (2000 Quail Drive) in the Joe L. Herring Room.
 
The task force was created by Louisiana House Concurrent Resolution No. 9 during the 2016 regular session of the state legislature to develop ideas and recommendations to deal with the state’s feral hog problem.
 
For more information on the task force, contact Dr. Jim LaCour, LDWF Wildlife Veterinarian, at jmlacour@wlf.la.gov or 225-765-2346.
 
A live audio/video stream of this meeting will be available via Gotowebinar.com. To attend a live broadcast of the meeting, please register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2670917553393526541
 

LDWF Plans Six Crab Trap Closures Along Louisiana Coast for Derelict Crab Trap Collection

Release Date: 07/01/2019

Since 2004, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, together with individual volunteers and organizations, has successfully removed and disposed of over 41,000 abandoned and derelict crabs. The removal of these crab traps is especially important to boating safety and crab harvesting efforts.
 
Last year, LDWF, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation members, volunteers, Barataria-Terrebone National Esturary Program, CCA Louisiana, and members of the recreational and commercial fishing community assisted in retrieving more than 4,000 abandoned crab traps.
 
The efforts and successes of the derelict crab trap program speak for themselves, with the removal of nearly 13,800 derelict traps over the past three years. With the continued success of this program, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission and LDWF has scheuled six closure areas in 2020.
 
At today’s meeting, the LWFC adopted a Notice of Intent allowing the removal of derelict crab traps along Louisiana’s coast in 2020 from the following six areas:

  1. The first closure will take place in Lake Pontchartrain, east of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge, from midnight Monday, February 3, 2020, through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, February 16, 2020.
     
  2. The second closure will take place in the upper Barataria Basin, in an area from Lafitte to Little Lake, from midnight Monday, February 3, 2020, through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, February 16, 2020.
     
  3. The third closure will take place in the Calcasieu Basin, in the lower portion of Calcasieu Lake, from midnight Monday, February 10, 2020, through 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, February 19, 2020.
     
  4. The fourth closure will take place in the Vermilion-Teche Basin, in the western portion of Vermilion Bay, from midnight Monday, February 10, 2020, through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, February 23, 2020.
     
  5. The fifth closure will take place in the Pontchartrain Basin, Lake Borgne, from midnight Monday, March 2, 2020, through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, March 15, 2020.
     
  6. The sixth closure will take place in the Terrebonne Basin, within an area between Bayou Pointe Auc Chenes and Bayou Terrebonne, from midnight Monday, March 2, 2020, through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, March 15, 2020.

The closure areas are decribed in futher detail below. Maps of the designated closure areas are available here .
 
1.    Lake Pontchartrain Crab Trap Removal 
From a point originating from the intersection of the north bound lane of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge and the southern shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain (30 degrees 01 minutes 13.054 seconds north latitude, 90 degrees 09 minutes 15.165 seconds west longitude); thence easterly along the southern shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain to Chef Menteur Pass (30 degrees 05 minutes 49.10 seconds north latitude, 89 degrees 49 minutes 09.54 seconds west longitude); thence southerly along the western shoreline of Chef Menteur Pass to its intersection with U.S. Highway 90 at 30 degrees 03 minutes 59.99 seconds north latitude, 89 degrees 48 minutes 19.04 seconds west longitude; thence easterly following the east bound lane of U.S. Highway 90 to its intersection with the north shore of Rigolets Pass (30 degrees 10 minutes 32.08 seconds north latitude, 89 degrees 43 minutes 45.66 seconds west longitude); thence westerly following the north shore of Rigolets Pass to its opening at the northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain; thence westerly following the northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain to its intersection with the north bound lane of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge; thence southerly along the north bound lane of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge to the origin.
 
2.   Barataria Basin Crab Trap Removal 
From a point originating at the intersection of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and the northern shore of Hero Canal (29 degrees 48 minutes 12.73 seconds north latitude, 90 degrees 04 minutes 09.21 seconds west longitude); thence westerly to a point along the western shore of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway at 29 degrees 48 minutes 15.14 seconds north latitude, 90 degrees 04 minutes 18.67 seconds west longitude; thence southerly along the western shore of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway to a point opposite the western shore of Bayou Perot (29 degrees 40 minutes 56.67 seconds north latitude, 90 degrees 11 minutes 36.79 seconds west longitude); thence easterly to a point on the western shore of Bayou Perot at 29 degrees 40 minutes 50.66 seconds north latitude, 90 degrees 11 minutes 25.48 seconds west longitude; thence southerly along the western shore of Bayou Perot to Little Lake; thence southerly along the western shore of Little Lake to 29 degrees 30 minutes 00 seconds north latitude, 90 degrees 12 minutes 01.497 seconds west longitude; thence eastward along 29 degrees 30 minutes 00 seconds north latitude to the eastern shore of Wilkinson Canal (29 degrees 30 minutes 00 seconds north latitude, 89 degrees 56 minutes 58.47 seconds west longitude); thence northerly along the eastern shore of Wilkinson Canal to its termination; thence northerly to the western shore of the Mississippi River at 29 degrees 38 minutes 24.94 seconds north latitude, 89 degrees 57 minutes 1.21 seconds west longitude; thence northerly along the western shore of the Mississippi River to a point easterly of the northern shoreline of Hero Canal (29 degrees 47 minutes 9.60 seconds north latitude, 90 degrees 01 minutes 17.77 seconds west longitude); thence westerly to the northern shore of Hero Canal; thence westerly along the northern shore of Hero Canal to the origin.
 
3.   Calcasieu Basin Crab Trap Removal 
From a point originating on the eastern shore of Calcasieu Lake at 29 degrees 56 minutes 30 seconds north latitude, 93 degrees 14 minutes 52.30 seconds west longitude; thence southerly following the eastern and southern shore of Calcasieu Lake to its intersection with the eastern shore of East Pass at 29 degrees 50 minutes 21.904 seconds north latitude, 93 degrees 19 minutes 40.934 seconds west longitude; thence southerly following the eastern shore of East Pass to its intersection with the Calcasieu Ship Channel; then southerly along the eastern shore of the Calcasieu Ship Channel to a point located just north of the Cameron Ferry (29 degrees 48 minutes 14.45 seconds north latitude, 93 degrees 20 minutes 43.75 seconds west longitude); thence west along 29 degrees 48 minutes 14.45 seconds north latitude to a point located north of the Cameron Ferry on the western shore of the Calcasieu Ship Channel (29 degrees 48 minutes 14.45 seconds north latitude, 93 degrees 20 minutes 56.436 seconds west longitude); thence northerly along the western shore of the Calcasieu Ship Channel to a point at 29 degrees 56 minutes 30 seconds north latitude, 93 degrees 20 minutes 25.77 seconds west longitude; thence west along 29 degrees 56 minutes 30 seconds north latitude to the origin.
 
4.   Vermilion-Teche Basin Crab Trap Removal 
From a point originating from the intersection of the Acadiana Navigational Channel and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (29 degrees 50 minutes 33.793 seconds north latitude, 91 degrees 50 minutes 26.43 seconds west longitude); thence southwest along the Acadiana Navigational Channel red buoy line to the red navigational marker number 20 (29 degrees 36 minutes 12.551 seconds north latitude, 92 degrees 00 minutes 18.487 seconds west longitude) near the Marsh Island shoreline near Southwest Pass; thence westerly to the Green Light Channel Marker number 21 (29 degrees 36 minutes 44.541 seconds north latitude, 92 degrees 00 minutes 21.808 seconds west longitude); thence westerly to Southwest Point; thence westerly along the southern shore of Vermilion Bay to the eastern shore of Hell Hole; thence southerly along the shore of Hell Hole to its intersection with Hell Hole Bayou; thence westerly to the western shore of Hell Hole; thence northerly along the western shore of Hell Hole to its intersection with the southwestern shore of Vermilion Bay; thence northerly along the southwestern shore of Vermilion Bay to Redfish Point; thence westerly along the shore of Vermilion Bay to its intersection with Freshwater Bayou Canal just past Coles Bayou (29 degrees 44 minutes 54.065 seconds north latitude, 92 degrees 13 minutes 02.277 seconds west longitude); thence northerly along the western shore of Freshwater Bayou Canal to its intersection with the northern shore of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway; thence easterly along the northern shore of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway to the origin.
 
 
5.   Pontchartrain Basin Crab Trap Removal
From a point originating at the intersection of the Mississippi/Louisiana state line and U.S. Highway 90 (30 degrees 14 minutes 20.816 seconds north latitude, 89 degrees 36 minutes 53.218 seconds west longitude); thence westerly along U.S. Highway 90 to its intersection with the western shore of Chef Menteur Pass; thence southerly on the western shore of Chef Menteur Pass to its intersection with the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway; thence westerly on the northern shore of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway to its intersection with the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Lake Borgne Surge Barrier ( 30 degrees 00 minutes 53.88 seconds north latitude, 89 degrees 54 minutes 06.13 seconds west longitude) ; thence southerly along the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Lake Borgne Surge Barrier to the western shore of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet ( 29 degrees 59 minutes 39.183 seconds north latitude, 89 degrees 54 minutes 29.09 seconds west longitude) , thence southerly along the western shore of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet to its intersection with the western shore of the Shell Beach Canal; thence southerly along the western shore of the Shell Beach Canal to a point at 29 degrees 51 minutes 13.28 seconds north latitude, 89 degrees 40 minutes 47.54 seconds west longitude; thence easterly to a point on the eastern shore of the Shell Beach Canal (29 degrees 51 minutes 12.82 seconds north latitude, 89 degrees 40 minutes 45.80 seconds west longitude); thence northerly along the eastern shore of the Shell Beach Canal to its intersection with the western shore of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet; thence northerly to a point located on the eastern shore of the Shell Beach Cut; thence northerly along the eastern shore of the Shell Beach Cut to a point located at its intersection with the southern shore of Lake Borgne; thence easterly and northerly along the south and east shore of Lake Borgne to Malhereux Point ( 30 degrees 04 minutes 41.392 seconds north latitude, 89 degrees 29 minutes 02.000 seconds west longitude) ; thence northerly to a point on the Mississippi/Louisiana state line (30 degrees 09 minutes 45.844 seconds north latitude, 89 degrees 29 minutes 02.000 seconds west longitude); thence northerly along the Mississippi/Louisiana state line to the origin.
 
6.   Terrebonne Basin Crab Trap Removal
From a point originating along the western shore of Bayou Pointe Aux Chenes (29 degrees 25 minutes 59.26 seconds north latitude, 90 degrees 27 minutes 31.39 seconds west longitude) near the intersection of Lower U.S. Highway 665 and Island Road; thence westerly to the south bound lane of Island Road; thence southerly along the south bound lane of Island Road to its intersection with the western boundary of the Pointe Aux Chenes Unit of the Pointe Aux Chenes Wildlife Management Area (29 degrees 24 minutes 25.774 seconds north latitude, 90 degrees 29 minutes 28.429 seconds west longitude); thence northerly along the western boundary of the Pointe Aux Chenes Unit of the Pointe Aux Chenes Wildlife Management Area to its intersection with the southern boundary of the Montegut Unit of the Pointe Aux Chenes Wildlife Management Area (29 degrees 25 minutes 20.378 seconds north latitude, 90 degrees 29 minutes 58.29 seconds west longitude);   thence westerly along the southern boundary of the Montegut Unit of the Pointe Aux Chenes Wildlife Management Area to its southwestern most point located on the eastern shore of the Humble Canal (29 degrees 25 minutes 51.125 seconds north latitude, 90 degrees 33 minutes 31.885 seconds west longitude); thence northerly along the eastern shore of the Humble Canal to its intersection with Bayou Terrebonne (29 degrees 26 minutes 17.702 seconds north latitude, 90 degrees 34 minutes 00.193 seconds west longitude); thence westerly to a point located on the western shore of Bayou Terrebonne at 29 degrees 26 minutes 17.66 seconds north latitude, 90 degrees 34 minutes 02.751 seconds west longitude; thence southerly along the western shore of Bayou Terrebonne to its intersection with Bush Canal (29 degrees 22 minutes 07.156 seconds north latitude, 90 degrees 36 minutes 05.437 seconds west longitude); thence westerly along the northern shore of Bush Canal to its intersection with Bayou Little Caillou (29 degrees 22 minutes 52.495 seconds north latitude, 90 degrees 37 minutes 14.931 seconds west longitude); thence southerly along the western shore of Bayou Little Caillou to 29 degrees 17 minutes 00 seconds north latitude, 90 degrees 38 minutes 41.401 seconds west longitude; thence east along 29 degrees 17 minutes 00 seconds north latitude to the western shore of Bayou Pointe Aux Chenes (29 degrees 17 minutes 00 seconds north latitude, 90 degrees 23 minutes 00.507 seconds west longitude); thence northerly along the western shore of Bayou Pointe Aux Chenes to the origin.
 
All crab traps remaining in the closed area during the specified period will be considered abandoned.
 
In the weeks leading up to the closure, LDWF will mail notices to all licensed commercial crab trap license holders and crab buyers within affected parishes as well as non-resident licensed crab fishermen who landed blue crab within the previous year from Louisiana waters.
 
These proposed trap removal regulations do not provide authorization for access to private property, which can only be provided by individual landowners.
 
Crab traps may be removed only between one half-hour before sunrise to one half-hour after sunset. Only LDWF or those designated by LDWF will be authorized to remove derelict crab traps in the closure areas. Abandoned traps must be brought to LDWF designated disposal sites and may not be taken from the closed area. 
 
Interested persons may submit written comments relative to the proposed rule to Peyton Cagle, Marine Fisheries Biologist DCL-B, Marine Fisheries Section, 1213 N. Lakeshore Dr., Lake Charles, LA 70601, or via email to pcagle@wlf.la.gov prior to September 16, 2019.

Louisiana Red Snapper Landing Estimates Through June 16

Release Date: 06/28/2019

June 28, 2019 - The latest catch statistics recorded by LA Creel, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' (LDWF) near real-time data collection program, is 294,236 pounds, or 37 percent of Louisiana’s allocation. This estimate covers the period through June 16. 
 
The season will remain open until recreational landings approach or reach Louisiana’s annual private recreational allocation of 816,439 pounds of red snapper approved under the EFP according to landings estimates from LA Creel.
 
The private recreational red snapper season began May 24 in both state and federal waters. This season will run weekends only (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, including the Monday of Memorial Day and Thursday of Fourth of July) with a daily bag limit of two fish per person and a 16-inch total length minimum size limit.
 
Louisiana is operating under its second year of an EFP which allows the state to manage the private recreational red snapper season in state and federal waters. Under the EFP, participating anglers are allowed to fish red snapper in the state territorial seas and adjoining federal EEZ, from shore to 200 nautical miles, during the season set by the LDWF Secretary or Commission. NOAA Fisheries continues to regulate federal for-hire vessels (charter and headboats). State charter captains (those who do not have a federal Gulf of Mexico charter permit for reef fish) may only fish for red snapper in state waters when the state recreational red snapper season is open. 
  
For more information on the 2019 red snapper season and detailed landing estimates,  visit:  http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/red-snapper.
 
The department urges anglers’ voluntary participation in its electronic reporting program to improve recreational harvest data collection. To learn how to participate in voluntarily reporting your catch, please reference the appropriate link below, depending on the make of your cellular device.

ROLP mobile app (Android phone) 
ROLP mobile app (iPhone)
 

LDWF Release of Alligator Snapping Turtles at Boeuf WMA Aims to Keep Species Population Healthy

Release Date: 06/28/2019

LDWF biologist Chuck Battaglia releases an alligator snapping turtle.
Alligator snapping turtle.
LDWF biologists size an alligator snapping turtle.
LDWF biologists search for alligator snapping turtles in a drained fish hatchery pond.
An alligator snapping turtle.

June 28, 2019 – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is getting a head start on making sure the Alligator Snapping Turtle remains a viable and flourishing species in years to come.
 
LDWF biologists released 14 Alligator Snapping Turtles, a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Louisiana, onto Boeuf Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Caldwell Parish on Wednesday (June 26). Since 2012, the Alligator Snapping Turtle head-start program has been operated out of the Monroe Fish Hatchery where hundreds of turtles have been reared over the last several years for reintroduction into the wild.
 
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will make a determination in 2020 as to the status of the Alligator Snapping Turtle and if the species should be listed under the Endangered Species Act. In an effort to reduce the need for federal listing, LDWF has begun to address conservation challenges affecting this species.
 
Commercial harvest of the Alligator Snapping Turtle has been banned since 2004 in Louisiana although recreational take is still allowed. But it appears that the greatest threat to Alligator Snapping Turtle populations is the lack of juvenile recruitment.
 
“Besides habitat degradation, one of the key issues affecting this species is juvenile recruitment,’’ said Amity Bass, LDWF Biologist Director. “Several years ago, we developed a program whereby we would head-start hatchling turtles by rearing them in captivity until they are large enough to reduce the chances of predation, and survive to maturity. This release is the culmination of the project to help conserve this species and keep it off the federal endangered species list.”
 
The purpose of this program is to ensure a reliable source of turtles for release to supplement wild populations. Unlike wild hatchling-sized turtles these larger head-started turtles are much less likely to be taken by predators, which should significantly increase survival rates.
  
As a Species of Greatest Conservation Need, the Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) is listed in the Louisiana State Wildlife Action Plan. Go to   http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/wildlife-action-plan  for more information.
 
 
For more information on Alligator Snapping Turtles, visit this link: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/fact_sheet_animal/32234-Macrochelys%20temminckii/macrochelys_temminckii.pdf
 
For more information, contact Keri Lejeune at 337-735-8676 or KLejeune@wlf.la.gov.
 
 

Invasive Asian Swamp Eels Found in New Orleans Bayou St. John

Release Date: 06/27/2019

Invasive Asian Swamp Eels Found in New Orleans Bayou St. John
Invasive Asian Swamp Eels Found in New Orleans Bayou St. John

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has verified that the Asian swamp eel, an invasive species, has been found in Bayou St. John in New Orleans. LDWF sampling over the past several days have found the eel, native to Asia, in several locations.
 
The impact of the Asian swamp eel on native species is unknown. Its diet consists of fish, shrimp, crawfish, frogs and other aquatic invertebrates, such as worms and insects.
 
In its native habitat, the Asian swamp eel is routinely found in shallow waterbodies and burrows into the shoreline for nesting areas and protection from predators. It primarily lives in freshwater; however, it can tolerate brackish water for short periods.  
 
“If this species becomes established in Louisiana it could be the first population in the United States. Its impact to our native fish is unknown and something we will study. We are always concerned when we find potentially invasive, non-native species in the state,”  said LDWF Aquatic Nuisance Species Coordinator Robert Bourgeois.
 
These eels are common food in many parts of Asia. How the eels found their way into Louisiana waterways is unknown. However, the most likely case is through an accidental release or the release of pets from an aquarium. Possession of live Asian swamp eels is prohibited under state law, and it is illegal to release a live Asian swamp eel into state waterways.  
 
LDWF is investigating how the eels were released into Bayou St. John.
 
Over the years, similar Asian swamp eel species have been found in New Jersey, Hawaii, Georgia and Florida.
 
Asian swamp eels are different from native eels by the lack of any fin structures. It is also different from aquatic species, such as sirens or amphibians, as they lack tiny legs.
 
LDWF is sampling surrounding waterbodies to determine how widespread the eels have spread. The department is asking the public to help determine the range of the non-native invasive by immediately placing any specimens collected in a plastic bag and placing it in a freezer. Please contact the department to arrange for pickup.  
 
LDWF will be developing a plan to protect the state’s aquatic resources from this non-native and invasive species.
 
Additional resources including b-roll video footage and photos are available here.
 
For more information, or to report sightings of Asian swamp eels, contact LDWF via email at AquaticInvasives@la.gov or the LDWF aquatic invasive species hotline at 225-765-3977.

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