TAKING THE BAIT
LDWF Enforcement Agents Successfully Work Migratory Waterfowl Case Thanks To Public Tip, Surveillance
Story by Adam Einck, LDWF Public Information
Before and during every migratory waterfowl season Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) enforcement agents spend time finding illegally baited areas.
Agents use their training, familiarity with their patrol area and tips from the public to seek out illegal baited sites.
Those tactics are what led to a federal migratory waterfowl baiting case for LDWF agents Lt. Trey Mason, Sgt. Charlie Ferrington and Corporal Eric Little in December of 2017.
These agents learned of a potential baiting site in Catahoula Parish on Black Lake on Dec. 13, 2017. Ferrington went to the potential baiting site to scout the area on Dec. 14.
“Sgt. Ferrington located a recently brushed duck blind on the water’s edge along with a small boat located inside the duck blind,” Mason said. “Located on the boat was a large quantity of fresh cracked corn indicating that someone had recently used this boat to scatter the cracked corn in the water. Located in the water were shell casings and cracked corn throughout the entire lake within close proximity of the duck blind.”
This area of the state was in the middle of the closed split with the open season set to resume on Dec. 16, 2017. On opening day of the second split, Little set up surveillance from a concealed location on Black Lake near the duck blind.
“At 5:27 a.m., Corporal Little observed subjects entering the area and setting out duck decoys in Black Lake,” Mason said. “At 6:36 a.m., he observed hunters begin to shoot at numerous ducks flying and landing into Black Lake over the baited area.”
Upon hearing this information, Mason then traveled to the duck blind location and observed the subjects inside the duck blind holding loaded shotguns, dressed in camouflage and carrying duck calls.
Agents identified the subjects inside the duck blind as Tyler W. Smith, 24, of St. Francisville and Logan A. Blanchard, 26, of Oscar. Agents then conducted a license and compliance check with the subjects and found Smith failed to possess the required basic hunting license and state migratory duck stamp. Agents also found the men in possession of five wood ducks.
“I informed the men about the cracked corn at this location and they admitted to buying the corn and scattering it out in front of their duck blind on Black Lake,” Mason said.
The agents issued federal citations to Blanchard and Smith for placing bait to take migratory game birds and hunting migratory game birds over a baited area. Agents also cited Smith for not possessing a state duck stamp and basic hunting license.
According to the regulations, it is illegal to hunt waterfowl by the aid of baiting or on or over any baited area where it is known or reasonably known that the area is or has been baited. Baiting is the direct or indirect placing, exposing, depositing, distributing or scattering of salt, grain or other feed that could lure or attract waterfowl to, on or over any areas where hunters are attempting to take them. A baited area is any area on which salt, grain or other feed has been placed, exposed, deposited, distributed or scattered, if that salt, grain or feed could serve as a lure or attraction for waterfowl.
The two men subsequently pleaded guilty and were sentenced in the U.S. District Court Western District of Louisiana in Alexandria for their duck hunting violations.
Smith and Logan both pleaded guilty in federal court to placing bait to take migratory game birds and hunting migratory game birds over a baited area. Smith also pleaded guilty to hunting migratory game birds without a state duck license and hunting without a basic hunting license.
The honorable U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph H.L. Perez-Montes accepted the guilty pleas and sentenced Smith on Nov. 7 to pay a $3,610 fine and suspended his hunting privileges for two years. Judge Perez-Montes also sentenced Blanchard on Sept. 26 to pay a $3,540 fine and suspended his hunting privileges for three years.
“These guilty pleas are directly related to the job we did as agents in gaining information of the potential baited area, surveilling the area while the suspects were actively hunting and then gathering the evidence to support the case,” Mason said.
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