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LDWF Agents Cite Two Men for Taking Alligator During Closed Season

Release Date: 08/16/2018

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited two men for alleged alligator violations on Aug. 15 in St. Mary Parish.

Agents cited Barry Pedigo, 59, of Pensacola, Florida, and Logan Madere, 28,of Westwego, for possessing an alligator during a closed season.

Agents received information about an alligator being illegally harvested at Burns Point Park located in St. Mary Parish.

After investigating the information, agents learned that Pedigo captured an alligator by hand.  Pedigo was bit multiple times and had to be taken to Lafayette General Hospital to be treated for moderate injuries.  Madere then killed the alligator.

Agents seized the 4 foot 8 inch alligator.

Harvesting an alligator during a closed brings a $400 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.  The men may also face civil restitution totaling $375.80 for the replacement value of the alligator.

LDWF Clarifies Commercial Crab Regulation

Release Date: 08/16/2018

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries would like to remind commercial fishermen about the regulations of egg-bearing crabs.

Fishermen may not harvest any female crabs in the berry stage (when they are carrying eggs or young attached to the abdomen). Egg bearing crabs must be immediately returned to the water without injury to protect this next generation of crabs.

However, a legally licensed commercial fisherman may have, in the fisherman’s workbox only, an incidental take of not more than two percent total crabs in the berry stage.

Violating crab possession limits could result in up to a $950 fine, 120 days in jail and have crabs and equipment seized.

Stephensville Man Arrested for DWI and Drug Charges

Release Date: 08/15/2018

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents arrested a St. Mary Parish man for alleged fishing, boating and drug violations on Aug 14.

Agents arrested Mark Derouen, 33 of Stephensville, for operating or driving a vessel while intoxicated (DWI), illegal possession of suspected marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, felony cultivation of marijuana, not possessing a recreational fishing license, and fail to comply with personal flotation device (PFD) requirements.  Agents also cited Melinda Hartley, 49, of Stephensville, for violating crab trap marking requirements.

While patrolling the Lake End Park in St. Mary Parish agents observed a vessel on Lake Palourde being operated by Derouen with Hartley and cooler full of crabs onboard.

Agents made contact with both subjects and found that Hartley did not tag any of the crab traps she used with the required LDWF license number.

After further investigation, agents also found Derouen in possession of a zip loc bag with marijuana and a large plastic grocery bag full of fresh marijuana, multiple smoke pipes and other drug paraphernalia.

After receiving permission to search Derouen’s residence, the Morgan City Police Department and St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office narcotic teams inspected Derouen’s residence where they found marijuana plants.

Derouen was also found to be impaired at the time of the stop.  Agents booked Derouen into the St. Mary Parish Jail.

Not tagging crab traps with the required markings carries a $400 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.  Not abiding by PFD
requirements and not possessing a fishing license each brings up to a $50 fine and 15 days in jail.

A DWI carries a $300 to $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail. Possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia each brings up to a $500 fine and six months in jail.  Cultivation of marijuana carries up to a $50,000 fine and five to 30 years in jail.
 

Lafayette Man Cited for Fake Distress Calls

Release Date: 08/15/2018

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited a Lafayette man for alleged criminal mischief on Aug. 13 in Pointe Coupee Parish.

Agents cited Benjamin T. Becnel for criminal mischief for making fake distress calls from the radio on his vessel.

Agents received a call on Aug. 13 in the afternoon about a distress call in the vicinity of False River.  Agents made contact with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and informed them that they went to the vicinity of the distress call and could not locate anyone in distress.

On the evening of Aug 13, another mayday call went out to the USCG in the vicinity of False River near Oscar.  The USCG deployed a search and rescue mission by air and the LDWF and Pointe Coupee Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) deployed vessels to False River.

At approximately 10 p.m. LDWF agents and PCSO deputies made contact with Becnel who was an occupant on a vessel on False River earlier in the day.  During questioning, Becnel informed the agents and deputies that he had made the distress calls by VHF radio from his vessel.

Criminal mischief brings up to a $500 fine and six months in jail.

Marrero Man Cited for Recreational Fishing Violations

Release Date: 08/14/2018

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited a Jefferson Parish man for alleged recreational fishing violations on Aug. 11.

Agents cited Keith Camper, 33 of Marrero, for possessing undersized red drum, using crab traps without required markings, violating crab trap escape ring requirements, violating recreational gear requirements and taking game fish illegally.

While on patrol in the Barataria Waterway in Jefferson Parish near Lafitte, agents observed Camper operating a vessel with several crab traps on board.

Agents made contact with Camper and found him in possession of 11 crab traps of which he admitted to fishing and emptying their contents in his ice chest.  Agents also observed no visible markings on any of the traps and they only contained two escape rings.

Agents found Camper in possession of 47 blue crabs and two undersized red drum that were all caught in the crab traps.  Agents seized and donated the red drum and seized and returned the blue crabs back to the water.

All crab traps, including those deemed as recreational, shall have a minimum of three escape rings.  Recreational crab traps also require markings sufficient to enable agents to clearly identify crab traps including the license number of the owner of such crab traps.  Recreational crab fishermen are also limited to fishing 10 traps per day per licensed fisherman.  Furthermore, red drum may not be retained as by-catch and are still subject to applicable size limits.

Using crab traps without required markings, violating crab trap escape ring requirements, and taking game fish illegally each carry a $400 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail for each offense.  Taking and possessing undersized red drum carries $100 to $350 fine and up to 60 days in jail.  Violating recreational gear requirements brings up to a $50 fine and 15 days in jail.

Body of Ponchatoula Man Recovered from Lake Pontchartrain

Release Date: 08/12/2018

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents are investigating a single fatal boating incident that occurred on Lake Pontchartrain on Aug. 11 in Tangipahoa Parish.

The body of Milton B. Gomez, 66, of Ponchatoula, was recovered around 7:15 p.m. by authorities about a mile south of where the Tangipahoa River feeds into Lake Pontchartrain.

Agents were alerted around 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 11 about an unmanned 17-foot aluminum vessel in Lake Pontchartrain.  LDWF agents along with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Coast Guard participated in the search.

LDWF will be the lead investigative agency for this fatal boating incident.  It is unknown at this time how Gomez entered the water.  Gomez’s body was found without a personal flotation device.

Gomez’s body was turned over to the Tangipahoa Parish Coroner’s Office to determine an official cause of death.

Four Cited for Shrimping During a Closed Season

Release Date: 08/03/2018

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) enforcement agents cited four people for alleged commercial fishing violations on Aug. 2, 2018 in Plaquemines Parish.

Agents cited Tony Riley, 46, and Ingrid Ragas, 44, both of Port Sulphur, and Dac Tran,57, and Luong V. Tran, 54, both of Avondale, for using skimmers during a closed shrimp season.  Riley was also cited for not possessing a commercial fishing license.

Agents found the four subjects inside the closed waters of Bastian Bay on two separate vessels.  Agents sized a total of 405 pounds of shrimp and they were sold to the highest bidder.

Using skimmers during a closed shrimp season carries up to a $950 fine and 120 days in jail.  Taking commercial fish without a commercial license brings up to a $500 fine and 90 days in jail.

In addition for the first conviction of shrimping during the closed season, the court may revoke or suspend the violator's trawl, skimmer, or butterfly gear licenses for one year from the date of the conviction.  During such revocation or suspension, the violator may be present on a vessel harvesting or possessing shrimp or possessing a trawl, skimmer, or butterfly net only if the vessel is equipped with and employs an operating vessel monitoring system, which is accessible to LDWF.  The violator may also have to perform 40 hours of community service.

Ville Platte Man Cited for Shooting Whooping Crane

Release Date: 08/02/2018

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) enforcement agents cited a Ville Platte man on July 26 for allegedly shooting an endangered whooping crane in Evangeline Parish.

Agents cited Gilvin P. Aucoin, 52, for violating the Endangered Species Act after he admitted to shooting a whooping crane.

Agents were notified about a shot whooping crane that was found near a crawfish pond in the northeast corner of Evangeline Parish.  Agents responded to the area and questioned Aucoin, who was working on the land at the time the crane was shot.

During questioning he admitted to shooting the crane with a .22 caliber rifle on July 25 while working on the property.  Agents seized the .22 caliber rifle.

Violating the Endangered Species Act brings up to a $50,000 fine and a year in jail.

LDWF has released 125 whooping cranes since 2011 and are currently tracking 65 whooping cranes.  The male crane in this case was released in 2011.

Three Men Cited for Using Shocking Device to Catch Fish

Release Date: 07/26/2018

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries cited three Columbia men for alleged fishing violations on July 23 and 25 in Caldwell Parish.

Agents cited Heath B. Rider, 43, Dillon R. Patterson, 26, and David H. Gregory, 41, for taking fish illegally by using a shocking device and fishing without possessing a recreational fishing license.  Rider was also cited for operating an unregistered motorized vessel and failing to comply with personal flotation device (PFD) requirements.

Agents were investigating complaints of people using a shocking device to land fish on the Ouachita River near Columbia.  Agents setup surveillance on the river and witnessed Rider and Patterson in a vessel actively fishing the area with a shocking device on July 25.

Agents made contact with the two men and found them in possession of catfish and two shocking devices.  During questioning, Rider admitted to shocking fish with Gregory on the night of July 23.

The three men did not possess recreational fishing licenses.  Agents seized the 14-foot vessel, motor and shocking devices.  Agents also seized 40 catfish that were caught on July 23 and 25 and donated them to a local charity.

Taking fish illegally brings a $400 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail for each offense.  Fishing without a fishing license, failing to comply with PFD requirements, and operating a vessel without a registration each carry a $50 fine and up to 15 days in jail for each offense.

LDWF Agents Cited a St. Bernard Man for Crabbing Violations

Release Date: 07/25/2018

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited a St. Bernard man for alleged commercial fishing violations on July 23.

Agents cited Robert Lopez, 65, of St Bernard for possessing over 20 percent undersized crabs and possessing immature female crabs.

While on patrol in Bayou Biloxi in Plaquemines Parish, agents observed Lopez operating his vessel and stopped him to conduct a license and creel check.  Agents made contact with Lopez and found him in possession of several crates of crabs.

Commercial fishermen are allotted a 10 percent incidental take of undersized crabs and a two percent incidental take of immature female crabs for the total number of crabs in their possession.

Agents sampled each crate and determined that three crates contained 24 percent, 30 percent and 32 percent of undersized crabs.  Agents also discovered that one of those crates contained six percent of immature female crabs. Agents seized approximately 180 pounds of crabs and returned them to the water.

Possessing over 20 percent undersized crabs carries a $400 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.  Taking immature female crabs brings a $100 to $350 fine and up to 60 days in jail.

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