A WIDE EXPANSE
LDWF Enforcement Agents In Region 3 Have A Lot Of Area And Water To Cover
story by Adam Einck, LDWF Public Information
Each Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division Region has its own difficulties and challenges for the agents when they are on patrol enforcing the outdoor rules and regulations.
The LDWF Enforcement Division is made up of eight regions across the state and a statewide strike force that assists the regions during the busier seasons that the regions encounter. These eight regions are numbered one through eight with regional offices in Minden, Monroe, Pineville, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Thibodaux, Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
This article is the first in a series that will highlight each region across the state and focuses on the LDWF Enforcement Division’s Region 3 Office in Pineville. Region 3 is made up of 27 agents, who patrol Sabine, Vernon, Natchitoches, Winn, Grant, Rapides, LaSalle, Avoyelles, Catahoula and Concordia parishes.
“Region 3 is the largest land mass region in the state and it is the only region that stretches from the Texas border to the Mississippi Border,” said Capt. Curt Belton, the captain of Region 3 since 2014. “The lands in this region are also very diverse ranging from rolling hills in the northern parts of the region to delta lands near the many major rivers to bayous and countless acres of timber forest.”
Region 3 contains many acres of public hunting lands as well as public bodies of water, including 15 wildlife management areas and four national wildlife refuges. It is also home to Toledo Bend, which is the largest man-made lake in the South, Catahoula Lake, which is a major duck hunting destination, and the largest portion of hunting lands within the Kisatchie National Forest in the state.
Belton said one of the hardest tasks in being an agent in Region 3 is having to patrol the Toledo Bend and the Sabine River to the west that shares a border with Texas and the Mississippi River to the east that shares a border with Mississippi.
“All states have different laws pertaining to hunting, fishing and boating,” Belton said. “Some examples would be on Toledo Bend where Texas doesn’t allow scuba divers to take fish with spear guns, but Louisiana does. Texas doesn’t allow fish to be caught in nets, but Louisiana does. Same thing goes for the other side of the state as Louisiana requires a person operating a tiller handle outboard on a vessel less than 16 feet to wear a personal flotation device, but Mississippi doesn’t. Also, Louisiana has a deer tagging requirement, but Mississippi doesn’t require a tag.”
Belton said his agents are aware that these differences in laws from state to state are confusing to the public and when the agent can he or she will try to educate them to Louisiana laws.
With such a large area to cover and with this area being a rich environment for people wanting to utilize the outdoors, it is no surprise that Region 3 agents are usually first or second in case production every month throughout the year. Agents in Region 3 have a wide range of cases, including writing WMA rules and regulations violations, deer and turkey tagging violations, hunting and fishing license violations and boating safety violations.
During the hunting seasons, agents in Region 3 patrol for a wide variety of hunting opportunities during the fall, winter and spring months.
“From dove season around Labor Day, to alligator season in September and October, to squirrel and rabbit seasons, to deer and duck seasons and then to the spring squirrel and turkey seasons, agents in Region 3 must be very knowledgeable of all laws pertaining to every animal that can be hunted in the state,” Belton said.
Region 3 also offers some of the best fishing in the state with Toledo Bend being among the best bass fishing lakes in the United States. Each parish within Region 3 also has a number of smaller lakes that are frequented by the public year-round.
“Toledo bend is obviously our largest water body and requires quite a bit of enforcement effort during the spring and summer months,” Belton said. “It isn’t unusual for an agent in this region to spend eight to 12 hour days in a boat patrolling fishing areas.”
Each agent in Region 3 is assigned at least two boats, which usually consists of a larger vessel for bigger lakes and a small vessel for rivers, creeks and back waters. Agents of Region 3 patrol the waterways to ensure the boating safety rules and regulations are being followed and especially look for anyone operating a vessel while impaired.
“We strive to keep the good people of Louisiana safe while they are trying to enjoy the many opportunities our lakes and streams have to offer,” Belton said.
Region 3 has also seen a number of search and rescue missions ranging from lost or injured hunters in the woods to missing boaters on the waterways. One of these missions occurred on Nov. 11, 2019, at approximately 10 p.m.
Three Region 3 agents were notified about two overdue boaters in the Red River in Avoyelles Parish. The agents responded quickly and were able to ping the missing boaters’ cell phones to get their location. Around midnight the agents found the missing boaters clinging to a rock jetty and their boat was missing. The agents were able to bring them to safety so they didn’t have to spend a night in the cold weather conditions.
Belton said he has a team of highly trained and educated men and women that use good sound judgement in daily activities and treat the public fair and impartial. He also said that his secretary, Robyn Cutts, helps him and the agents with anything they need.
“The enforcement agents in Region 3 are proud of their profession and perform their duties to the best of their abilities every day they put the uniform,” Belton said. “I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention Mrs. Cutts. She is truly the glue that holds our region together and keeps us running like a well-oiled machine.”
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