LDWF Enforcement Agents Work Case Of Illegal Alligator Hunt
story by Adam Einck, LDWF Public Information
Alligator hunting is something that is unique to the southeastern U.S. and more specifically Louisiana. Alligator hunting adds another commercial wildlife industry to the state as its hide and meat have value. It also offers another species that can be hunted recreationally helping fill the gap between the spring and fall hunting seasons.
However, Louisiana would not be able to offer alligator hunting without the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Alligator Program which brought the alligator back from the brink of extinction in this state in the 1960s. The alligator program did this through a strict management program and regulations.
Today, alligators can only be harvested in the wild by licensed alligator hunters who have an alligator tag and land they have permission to take alligators from. Each year the LDWF alligator program does alligator habitat and population assessments of properties, determines how many alligators can be taken from those properties and then issues the appropriate number of tags for those properties.
Louisiana is divided into east and west alligator hunting zones. The east zone opens the last Wednesday of August and the west zone opens the first Wednesday of September. Each zone remains open for 30 days from the opening date. Baited hooks and lines may be set no more than 24 hours prior to the general open season and shall be removed no later than sunset of the last day of the open season.
These regulations ensure their population will be sustainable and continue to thrive into the future. It is up to the LDWF Enforcement Division to make sure these regulations are being followed.
One such case involving two men who did not follow alligator hunting regulations occurred on Aug. 19, 2018 in St. Martin Parish, which is in the west zone alligator season that ran from Sept. 5 - Oct. 4 in 2018.
“On Aug. 19 myself and Senior Agent Adam Tieben were on patrol on the Henderson Levee near Catahoula in St. Martin Parish,” said Senior Agent Lucas Hidalgo. “We observed two pickups at the bottom of the levee near the canal and then an individual make a sudden movement while running with something very large in his hands and then hiding something in the bushes.”
Hidalgo and Tieben approached the man and found Daniel D. Norton, of New Iberia, and Jeremy E. Kibble, of Lafayette, near the vehicle. The agents noticed that Kibble was visibly tired and out of breath.
“We asked Kibble what he was carrying and he said ‘a garfish’,” said Hidalgo. “When we asked to see the garfish he responded, ‘you got me, it was an alligator.’”
The agents found a recently harvested alligator in the bushes where Kibble was initially seen. Kibble told agents that he attempted to hide the alligator after seeing them on top of the levee.
During further questioning, Norton admitted to shooting the alligator with a pistol while Kibble reeled it in with a fishing pole. Norton also told agents that he and Kibble were in the process of cleaning the alligator when they saw the agents.
“Senior Agent Tieben and I found a plastic bag of alligator meat in the cab of the truck and a bullet casing near the bank where the alligator was shot,” said Hidalgo. “We then seized the alligator and the pistol and issued the men citations for illegally harvesting an alligator.”
The agents cited Norton and Kibble for taking an alligator without a license, taking an alligator during a closed season and intentional concealment of wildlife.
Norton and Kibble then plead guilty to intentional concealment of an illegally taken alligator on Jan. 23, 2019 in St. Martin Parish Court. The Honorable Judge Anthony Thibodeaux sentenced the men to serve 100 days in jail suspended, to serve one year of probation, to pay $900 in fines, to perform 80 hours of community service and revoked their hunting and fishing privileges for one year.
The pistol used to take the alligator was also forfeited to LDWF.
Assistant District Attorney Lynn Musumeche prosecuted the case for the state.
Senior Agent Hidalgo has been an LDWF agent for five years and mostly patrols the St. Martin Parish area. Senior Agent Tieben has been an agent for eight years and mostly patrols the southern parishes.
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