Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents cited five men on alleged poaching violations in St. Charles Parish on Aug. 18.
Agents received a complaint from their Operation Game Thief (OGT) program of individuals cleaning freshly harvested migratory game birds and rabbits in their back yard. The agents responded quickly to the residence where they made contact with the alleged suspects still cleaning the game.
Agents cited Rico Hernandez, 45, of Bridge City, Yoan Hernandez-Casanova, 27, of Bridge City, Juan Munoz, 25, of Metairie, Miguel Farradas, 33, of Davie, Fla., and Yandry Almeida, 27, of Cutler Bay, Fla., for violating state migratory game bird regulations and possessing rabbits during a closed season.
The agents seized six whistling ducks and eight rabbits taken out of season. Agents also seized three guns which were in the possession of the suspects and believed to be used to illegally take the game.
State violations of migratory game bird regulations brings a fine between $400 and $950 and up to 120 days in jail. Possession of rabbits during a closed season carries a fine between $250 and $500 and up to 90 days in jail. If convicted, the men also face civil restitution in the amount of $413.34.
If someone witnesses or has information concerning a violation, they should call Operation Game Thief’s toll-free 24-hour phone line or use the department’s tip411 program. The toll free number is 1-800-442-2511.
To use the tip411 program, tipsters can text LADWF and their tip to 847411 or download the “LADWF Tips” iPhone app from the Apple iTunes store free of charge. CitizenObserver, the tip411 provider, uses technology that removes all identifying information before LDWF receives the text so that LDWF cannot identify the sender. Texting or downloading the app enables the public to send anonymous tips to LDWF and lets LDWF respond back, creating a two-way anonymous “chat”. Users of the app or texters can also send in photos to help support their claim and be used as evidence.
The information is received by a Wildlife and Fisheries operator and immediately relayed to a wildlife agent who will investigate. If the information results in an arrest, the caller is eligible for a cash reward.
Since the program began, more than $280,000 in rewards has been paid. Information provided by OGT informants has resulted in the apprehension of more than 700 violators who were convicted on a multitude of state and federal charges.
Agents participating in the case were Senior Agent Austin Arteaga, Sgt. Kris Bourgeois, and St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputy James Grimaldi.