LDWF Bird Radio Tracking Project To More Than Double in Capacity Thanks to Grant From ConocoPhillips

Sept. 6, 2017 – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Coastal Louisiana Array Project, used to track radio-tagged birds, will more than double in capacity by July 2018 thanks to a generous grant from ConocoPhillips.

This project started as a joint effort among LDWF, the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP) and the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation (LWFF) in the spring of 2016. Louisiana’s network, based on Bird Studies Canada’s successful Motus Wildlife Tracking System, consists of multiple very high frequency (VHF) receiver stations constructed along the coast.

The ConocoPhillips’ grant will allow construction of an almost seamless digital network, consisting of 32 VHF receiver stations stretching from the Texas border to the Mississippi border. To support the donation, ConocoPhillips, through its subsidiary, The Louisiana Land Exploration Company LLC which owns approximately 636,000 acres, will provide free access to its property along the Southeast Louisiana coast.

"BTNEP is pleased to partner with the many organizations and funding partners who understand the value of tracking migratory birds,’’ said BTNEP Director Susan Testroet-Bergeron. “The key benefit of this technology is that it allows biologists to conduct research on target individuals without the requirement of recurring and often random visual observation. This low impact form of monitoring has led to tremendous advances in our knowledge of bird habitat use, breeding success and mortality."

Although radio-tracking of animals has occurred since the 1960s, the miniaturization of electronics and the collaborative nature of the Motus project have revolutionized animal tracking. Biologists across North America have been attaching miniature radio tags, called nanotags, to birds and other animals for several years. Nanotags emit radio signals that are detected by the receiver stations, allowing scientists to study animal behaviors like migration and allowing identification of sites for conservation.

To date, LDWF and BTNEP have constructed 13 receiver stations across coastal Louisiana. Several dozen birds, from songbirds to shorebirds, including federally threatened species like the red knot, have already been detected in just the first year of the project.

Because of the Motus program and Louisiana’s new coastal network, Louisiana scientists and colleagues across the globe are able to more efficiently study animal movements and implement conservation.

Generous funding from ConocoPhillips, BTNEP, LWFF and LDWF ensures Louisiana’s continued contribution to this novel, international scientific network.

For more information, contact LDWF ornithologist Michael Seymour at mseymour@wlf.la.gov or 225-763-3554.

Massive wetland restoration project completed on Russell Sage WMA

WHAM Brake Dedication

Partners gathered to celebrate Wham Brake restoration project

MONROE, La. – June 20, 2017 – Nearly 40 conservation partners gathered at Russell Sage Wildlife Management Area this morning to celebrate the completion of the Wham Brake enhancement project. Ducks Unlimited and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries partnered on the project to enhance 3,500 acres of wetland habitat in northeast Louisiana.

“After adding Wham Brake to Russell Sage WMA, the LDWF wanted to improve waterfowl habitat in this wetland basin and provide increased public hunting opportunities,” said LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet. “As always, Ducks Unlimited’s restoration and engineering expertise was vital to the success of this project.”

Ducks Unlimited wetland engineers replaced three failing structures, a bridge that connected the entrance road to the boat ramp and levee, and a large, concrete weir water-control structure that controls much of the water level in the basin, enabling LDWF to manage habitat more effectively. This terminal structure is 270 feet wide and made of 550 cubic yards of reinforced concrete.

“This project provides water quality, recreation and wildlife habitat benefits near a major metropolitan area,” said DU Southern Region Director Jerry Holden. “Ducks Unlimited is proud to again partner with LDWF in improving public lands for waterfowl and all who enjoy them.”

The enhancement work is part of a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant. Project partners include LDWF, Ducks Unlimited, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation, the Walker Foundation, Biedenharn Foundation, International Paper and DU major sponsors who support the America's River Initiative.

“The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation is proud to have partnered with the department, DU and the other contributors on the Wham Brake Project as it enabled us to leverage foundation funds to rehabilitate and enhance this WMA for the benefit of wildlife and for public enjoyment for years to come,” LWFF Executive Director Kell McInnis said.

For more information on Ducks Unlimited visit:  www.ducks.org or contact Andi Cooper at (601) 956-1936 or acooper@ducks.org


Sam C. Barbera III Named Assistant Executive Director of Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation

Sam C. Barbera III, a Thibodaux native who has spent the past three years working for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), has been named assistant executive director of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation (LWFF).

Barbera, 49, will begin his duties as assistant director in two weeks and will succeed LWFF Executive Director Kell McInnis later this year. McInnis has served as executive director since May 15, 2006.

Though only working for LDWF since October of 2013, Barbera has navigated Louisiana waterways since he was a boy growing up in the state. Prior to coming to LDWF, he was co-host of BIGFISH Television in New Orleans. From 2001-2011 he worked for the Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana, serving as STAR tournament director and assisting with fundraising events.

Barbera is a U.S. Army veteran. His last assignment was commander of the 239th Military Police Company in Baton Rouge, the first Louisiana Army National Guard unit called to active duty after 9/11.

At LDWF, Barbera assisted with a variety of fisheries research projects, including the Louisiana Cooperative Marine Fish Tagging Program and the Lake Pontchartrain Acoustic Telemetry Project. He also helped with the department’s artificial reef development/deployment activities and biological monitoring. In addition, he worked with fisheries extension, including numerous outreach events, fishing seminars and as the Louisiana Saltwater Series tournament director.

“To be selected as assistant executive director for this organization is humbling,’’ said Barbera, a graduate of Nicholls State University in Thibodaux. “For many years, I’ve seen firsthand the job LWFF has done and the various contributions it has made not only to LDWF but also to the citizens of the state who love and enjoy all Louisiana outdoors has to offer. The core mission of LWFF is to enhance and encourage public enjoyment and use of the wildlife and fisheries resources of Louisiana. I’ll work tirelessly to make sure we continue that mission.’’

“Sam’s extensive knowledge of the outdoor industry in Louisiana, coupled with his fund-raising ability and organizational skills, makes him the perfect candidate to oversee the Foundation,’’ said LWFF President John W. Barton, Jr. “We look forward to him growing the efforts Kell McInnis has built on through the years as executive director.’’

LWFF, a non-profit public charitable foundation, was created in 1995. Its goals are to aid the department in habitat conservation, youth recruitment, environmental education and training, natural resource research and management, regulation enforcement and financial assistance to LDWF programs.

The Foundation receives no public funding and depends entirely upon contributions from individual and corporate donors. Encouraging cooperation and support for LDWF programs is the major focus of LWFF, accomplished by connecting people and businesses with Louisiana’s natural resources.

Some of the programs LWFF assists with include Archery in Louisiana Schools, Becoming an Outdoor Woman, Get Out & Fish!, Louisiana Wetland Protection, Youth Hunter Education Challenge, the Louisiana Black Bear restoration, the VHF Tower Project, WETSHOP and the Whooping Crane restoration project.