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The following schedule is subject to change (as of October 11, 2016). Please check back for updates. For more information about this meeting, go to: www.seafwa.org/conferences/2016
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Saturday, October 15
 

4:00pm

Conference Registration Desk Open
Saturday October 15, 2016 4:00pm - 7:00pm
Gallery

6:00pm

MINRC Student Welcome Orientation
Saturday October 15, 2016 6:00pm - 8:30pm
Capitol Room
 
Sunday, October 16
 

7:00am

8:00am

8:00am

Speaker Ready Room
Sunday October 16, 2016 8:00am - 5:00pm
Boardroom

8:00am

Conference Registration Desk Open
Sunday October 16, 2016 8:00am - 6:00pm
Gallery

8:30am

9:00am

11:30am

12:00pm

Exhibits Set-up
Sunday October 16, 2016 12:00pm - 6:00pm
Gallery & Ballroom Foyer

1:00pm

MINRC Business Meeting
Sunday October 16, 2016 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Riverview A

1:00pm

Wetlands Wildlife Committee
Sunday October 16, 2016 1:00pm - 3:00pm
Capitol Room

1:00pm

1:00pm

Fisheries Resources Committee
Sunday October 16, 2016 1:00pm - 5:00pm
Governor Room

1:00pm

Student Field Trip to Wall’s Alligator Farm

Offsite - 26946 Blood River Road, Springfield, LA 70462 (view map). An excursion to a nearby alligator farm has been coordinated to introduce students attending the SEAFWA to this aspect of wildlife management. Louisiana (as well as other southeastern states) has an active alligator farming program, which is an example of sound wildlife management. Louisiana’s program allows for legal permitted egg collections of eggs from wild nests, with later return of some “head start” juvenile alligators to replace the eggs collected, many of which would be lost to high natural mortality if left in the field. Alligator farmers incubate and hatch the eggs, then raise the alligators to the 3’ – 6’ size classes, where hides are used to produce high-end luxury leather goods for international fashion markets. Alligator meat is also used extensively, both domestically and internationally. The field trip will allow students to view recently hatched alligators, yearlings, and larger juvenile alligators in a captive setting. Discussions of this multi-million dollar industry and how it is a clear example of sustained use management will be provided. The field trip is limited to the first 50 students that signed up. Photographs are not permitted on site.


12:30
  • Meet with van driver at main entrance of hotel
  • Review schedule and directions
  • Exchange cell phone numbers
  • Load students into vans
1:00
  • Leave for Walls Alligator Farm - Springfield, LA
1:50
  • Arrive at Walls Alligator Farm
  • Meet LDWF Alligator Program staff and Walls Farm staff
  • Tour facility/overview of alligator industry
  • Live demonstration – alligator tagging and release
5:00
  • Return to conference hotel


Sunday October 16, 2016 1:00pm - 5:00pm
Offsite

1:00pm

Wildlife Resources Committee
Sunday October 16, 2016 1:00pm - 5:00pm
Louisiana Room

2:30pm

Refreshment Break
Sunday October 16, 2016 2:30pm - 3:30pm
Ballroom Foyer

2:30pm

3:00pm

3:00pm

5:00pm

5:00pm

6:00pm

 
Monday, October 17
 

7:00am

7:00am

7:00am

Conference Registration Desk Open
Monday October 17, 2016 7:00am - 5:00pm
Gallery

7:00am

Exhibits Open
Monday October 17, 2016 7:00am - 5:00pm
Gallery & Ballroom Foyer

7:00am

Speaker Ready Room
Monday October 17, 2016 7:00am - 5:00pm
Boardroom

8:00am

Plenary Session: Conserving Vital Habitats
Review the agenda for the Plenary Sessions and learn about the presenters here: 
http://seafwa.org/conferences/2016/html/plenary.shtml

Monday October 17, 2016 8:00am - 12:00pm
Riverview Ballroom

10:00am

Refreshment Break
Monday October 17, 2016 10:00am - 10:30am
Gallery & Ballroom Foyer

10:00am

Guest Tour to Houma’s House

$20.00 per person includes transportation, guided tour of the plantation, self-guided tour of the gardens. Lunch on own and available at the plantation at one of many options. More information at www.houmashouse.com.


Monday October 17, 2016 10:00am - 2:00pm
Offsite

11:30am

12:00pm

12:00pm

12:00pm

Student/Mentor Lunch at De la Ronde Hall (within short walking distance of hotel)
Offsite at De la Ronde (within short walking distance of hotel).

Monday October 17, 2016 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Offsite

12:00pm

1:00pm

Fisheries. Evolution of Marine Fish Tagging Programs in Louisiana
AUTHORS: Craig Gothreaux, Heather David, Rebecca Hillebrandt, Mariana Steen, Ashley Ferguson - Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: Mark-recapture studies have been used for centuries to improve our understanding of the biology, ecology, and movements of fish. Fish marking technology has evolved into a myriad of possible tools and techniques that can be used by fishery biologists to gather valuable information about the species involved. Marking fish helps elucidate details often hidden beneath the water’s surface, and also provides spatial and temporal data on how fish utilize and interact with an ever-changing coastal zone. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) supports multiple tagging programs throughout state waters, all with a common goal - gaining better understanding about movement patterns and habitat preferences of marine fishes. Tagging efforts span the spectrum from conventional tagging efforts utilizing citizen scientists to electronic tags that allow remote sensing and repeated measures of individual fish. The objective of this presentation is to summarize the evolution of ongoing marine fish tagging programs in Louisiana. Specific discussions will include the Louisiana Cooperative Marine Fish Tagging Program and the inclusion of elite citizen scientist for field studies, the integration of controlled tank experiments conducted at the LDWF Grand Isle Fisheries Research Laboratory, and information derived from acoustic telemetry research in Calcasieu Lake and Lake Pontchartrain.

Monday October 17, 2016 1:00pm - 1:20pm
Riverview A

1:00pm

Wildlife. White-tailed Deer Density, Range Size, and Annual Survival in a Southeastern Louisiana Coastal Fresh Marsh
AUTHORS: D. T. Baker, Trebor Victoriano, Scott Durham - Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Bret A. Collier, School of Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center

ABSTRACT: White-tailed deer near the mouth of the Mississippi River are of historical significance as a major source for re-stocking in Louisiana. Following Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries began evaluating deer in the coastal habitats to identify potential vulnerabilities. We captured and individually marked 56 deer on Pass a Loutre Wildlife Management Area during 2007–2014. We monitored travel corridors using un-baited trail cameras and recorded all sightings of marked and unmarked deer. We estimated abundance from the camera data annually using an open population mark-resight approach. Mean resighting rate was 0.28 (SE = 0.16) for females and 2.62 (SE = 0.46) for males and estimates of abundance ranged from 8–200 for females and 21–81 for males. Home range polygons were configured for deer based on observations of marked deer at different camera or observed locations. Annual survival (constant) was 0.82 for males and 0.52 for females. Our results indicate that population monitoring and abundance estimation in coastal marshlands using digital cameras can provide demographic data supporting harvest management planning.

Monday October 17, 2016 1:00pm - 1:20pm
Riverview B

1:00pm

Legal. Legal Issues Surrounding Florida Bear Hunt
AUTHORS: Bud Vielhauer, General Counsel, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission

Monday October 17, 2016 1:00pm - 1:45pm
Academy Room

1:00pm

1:00pm

Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS) Leadership Summit
Moderator: Cynthia Kallio Edwards, Wildlife Management Institute  

Summit Description:  The dramatic changes sweeping the Southeastern United States — such as urbanization, competition for water resources, extreme weather events, sea-level rise, and climate change — pose unprecedented challenges for sustaining our natural and cultural resources. But they also offer a clear opportunity to unite the conservation community around a shared, long-term vision for the future. The Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS) is that vision. Through SECAS, diverse partners are working together to design and achieve a connected network of landscapes and seascapes that supports thriving fish and wildlife populations and improved quality of life for people across the southeast. Together, federal, state, non-profit and private organizations are coordinating their conservation actions and investments to focus on common goals.

SECAS was initiated by states of the Southeastern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) and the federal Southeast Natural Resource Leaders Group (SENRLG) with support from Southeast and Caribbean Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs), the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership, and the Southeast Climate Science Center. The purpose of the SECAS Leadership Summit is to communicate the SECAS vision among SEAFWA directors and staff, SENRLG leadership and staff, LCC participants, key conservation thought leaders, and the broader partnerships.

By October 2016, SECAS will achieve a major milestone with the release of a first draft of a conservation blueprint for the Southeast and Caribbean. The SECAS Blueprint stitches together the work of multiple LCCs into a map for shared conservation and restoration actions across the Southeast and Caribbean. Just as a construction blueprint serves as a plan for achieving an architect’s design of a building, the SECAS Blueprint serves as a plan for making the SECAS vision a reality.

The broad objectives of the summit are to:


  • Ignite excitement around the SECAS Blueprint 1.0 and solidify support for continued improvement

  • Solicit an affirmation of continued engagement from SEAFWA directors and SENRLG principals

  • Generate commitment from partners to support SECAS implementation

  • Increase the number of organizations actively participating in implementation of the SECAS Vision



Agenda:
Specific speakers are still being confirmed.  Attendance is open to all – and strongly encouraged!

In general the Summit will have two components.  The first will focus on the question of ‘Why’ we need to define the conservation landscape of the future.  This section will focus on a conversation with the SEAFWA Directors and SENRLG Principals to articulate why this is needed, what it needs to help them do, and continued engagement.  The second component will focus more on ‘How’ we continue to define the conservation landscape of the future – identifying data gaps and methods to fill those, the mechanics of stitching together a blueprint that helps guide conservation efforts across a diverse landscape, and expanding the conversation to broader audiences that need to be engaged.

Monday October 17, 2016 1:00pm - 5:00pm
Governor Room

1:20pm

Fisheries. LDWF Shark Electronic Tagging Program: Determining Vital Habitats of Poorly Understood Species in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
AUTHORS: Jennifer A. McKinney, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Brett Falterman, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: In 2012 the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries initiated a Shark Electronic Tagging Program to better understand habitat use of commercially important and protected species of Elasmobranches off the coast of Louisiana. Worldwide many populations of sharks are in decline due to human impact, so effective management is vital for conservation. This study focuses on three species of conservation and management concern: the scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini; n=28), the whale shark (Rhincodon typus; n=16), and the blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus; n=15). Pop-up satellite archival tags (PSAT) and smart-position-only tags (SPOT) were used to examine habitat use and address data needs identified by management agencies. Scalloped hammerhead tag data suggest a strong affinity for shelf-edge habitats along Louisiana’s coastline within a narrow depth contour. Whale shark seasonal utilization distributions demonstrate a distinct preference for north-central Gulf of Mexico waters during warmer months and southward movement into the southern Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea in cooler months, documenting distinct seasonal shifts and connectivity into the southern GOM and Caribbean Sea. Tags deployed on blacktip sharks were part of a pilot study to develop methodologies for assessing post-release survival. Future studies on blacktips will examine stress physiology and habitat use. This collaborative research focuses on proactive fisheries management for coastal and pelagic sharks.

Monday October 17, 2016 1:20pm - 1:40pm
Riverview A

1:20pm

Wildlife. Fawning Season of White-tailed Deer is Influenced by Population Demography
AUTHORS: Timothy J. Neuman, Chad H. Newbolt, Stephen S. Ditchkoff - Auburn University

ABSTRACT: Although white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are one of the most abundant and studied ungulates in North America, few studies of how population demography affects the fawning season have appeared to date. Age structure and adult sex ratio of a population may influence the timing and duration of the fawning season. From 2010 to 2013, we used Vaginal Implant Transmitters (VITs) to record the birth date of fawns born from native Alabama deer enclosed within a 174-ha captive facility to elucidate how population demography affects fawning season. The deer herd was intensively monitored which permitted us to document an earlier shift in fawning season as male age structure increased from a mean of 2.74 years old in 2010 to 3.92 years old in 2013. Prior to the shift, the mean fawning date was 12 August, and after a maturation of male age structure, the mean fawning date was 30 July. Earlier fawning may be important for neonatal survival, especially in areas of the Southeast where coyotes (Canis latrans) are severely reducing recruitment. The effect of male age structure on the timing and duration of the fawning season has yet to be firmly established, but we presume managers can increase neonate development and survival by increasing male age structure.

Monday October 17, 2016 1:20pm - 1:40pm
Riverview B

1:30pm

Law Enforcement. Operation “Guasa Casa”
AUTHORS: Investigator Doyle Cook, Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission, Division of Law Enforcement

ABSTRACT: In early 2013, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Investigators received a tip passed along from the Collier County Sherriff’s Office (CCSO) regarding an illegal commercial fish operation which would, after two years of investigative work, result in the takedown of two egregious violators.

After the initial tip, FWC Investigators began surveillance on the suspect, David Vazquez, who worked construction during the week and operated an illegal commercial fishing operation out of his home on the weekends. Vasquez would fish on Saturdays, and sell his catch to numerous customers on Sunday. Initial surveillance on the home proved unsuccessful, but in May of 2013, an unrelated arrest yielded a break.

An individual, arrested with several others for spearfishing in a local Wildlife Management Area, happened to also be a confidential informant with the CCSO and offered valuable information on Vasquez and another violator, Jorge Escalona, a frequent fishing companion of Vazquez. The informant had fished personally with Vasquez, and knew the details of his commercial operation. He told FWC that in addition to selling legal species, Vasquez also caught protected species such as goliath grouper and sea turtles, and he knew the location of a hidden compartment on Vasquez’s boat where the illegal catch was kept. Escalona was later verified by FWC as a passenger during a stop of Vasquez, and confirmed to also be running an illegal commercial fishing operation.

With this new information, FWC stepped up surveillance and increased stops of Vasquez and his son, but were still unable to locate illegal fish on his boat. The decision was made to begin a covert operation, and an undercover FWC officer initiated contact with Vazquez in September of 2013. The undercover officer made several purchases of grouper, establishing the existence of an illegal commercial fishing operation, but after failure to uncover major violations, the decision was made to end the investigation and issue the appropriate misdemeanor citations.

However, before that happened, the undercover officer received a call from Vasquez offering snapper for sale. After our officer told him that he could find what he needed with another supplier, Vazquez’s greed got the better of him. Although he had previously indicated that he knew the stiff penalties for catching protected species like goliath grouper, he offered to sell goliath grouper to the FWC undercover officer. Subsequent purchases were made and the charges started stacking up. On one occasion, Vasquez even offered sea turtle meat to the officer, but unfortunately the officer was out of town and that purchase could not be completed.

While this investigation was underway, a concurrent investigation was being worked on Jorge Escalona. Escalona was decidedly less reticent about selling protected species to the FWC undercover officer, and a purchase of goliath grouper was made on the officer’s first visit.

After a few months of complications and bad luck, FWC still did not have a turtle purchase and some of the original charges were expiring due to the statute of limitations. In the summer of 2015, plans went into place to serve search warrants simultaneously on Escalona’s and Vazquez’s vessels and homes on a day they would both be out fishing; on July 18, 2015, this plan would go into action.

Vazquez was the first to return from offshore that day and FWC officers were ready. His phones were secured and as officers searched his vessel, they continually rang, the caller ID displaying his customers’ first names followed by “wants fish” in Spanish. Vazquez denied having any illegal fish on board, but a K-9 immediately alerted to the hidden compartment in the center console area of the vessel. Officers explained to Vazquez that the dog had found his fish and presented him with the search warrant for his boat. Officers found goliath grouper, 86 undersized red grouper, an undersized amberjack, as well as undersized yellowtail snapper.

On this same day, Escalona returned shortly after Vasquez through a different pass. Once FWC officers stopped him, they radioed to the officers waiting to serve the search warrants for the homes of Vasquez and Escalona, and gave them the go ahead. While their homes were searched on land, their vessels were searched as well. Like Vazques, Escalona denied any other fish aboard his boat. FWC investigators were able to get Escalona to show them where his hidden compartment was located. The compartment was so well made that officers may not have been able to find it without eliciting the information from Escalona himself. It was a small hatch on the floor in the bow area of the boat held in place by four corner screws under the lip of the deck. Inside the compartment, officers found the entire bow portion of the boat - from the stringers to the deck - full of illegal catch. They removed a green sea turtle, 13 goliath grouper filets, 124 red grouper (88 of which were undersized), five oversized permit, 13 barracuda, 6 undersized yellowtail snapper, 2 undersize lane snapper, an African pompano and a number of grunts.

Both David Vazquez and Jorge Escalona were arrested, their vessels, gear and fish were all seized as evidence. The search of their homes led to the discovery of undersized grouper and numerous bags of goliath grouper filets.

At the conclusion of this extensive investigation, three businesses were involved, four individuals were arrested and six individuals were charged for a total of four felonies and 346 misdemeanors. Vazquez pled guilty to six resource violations and received 10 days in jail. He was ordered to pay FWC $1,500 for the cost of the investigations, received six years of probation, lost his privilege to fish or be on state waters for two years and had to forfeit his vessel, trailer, and all of his gear. Escalona and his brother pled guilty to the felony charge of taking a sea turtle and received five years of probation, $3,500 in fines, the loss of their privilege to fish or be on state waters for three years, and they also had to forfeit their vessel, trailer, and all associated gear. This operation is a hallmark of investigative tenacity, thoroughness and the importance of timing, preparation and, in some instances, luck, to success.

Monday October 17, 2016 1:30pm - 2:05pm
Victory Room

1:40pm

Fisheries. Assessing Data Deficiencies in a Popular Sport and Commercial Fish, the Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus albacares), in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
AUTHORS: Brett Falterman, Jennifer McKinney, Cijii Marshall, Erik Lang - Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: The yellowfin tuna is a popular target of both offshore recreational anglers and the commercial pelagic longline fishery. The majority of user groups that target this species in the northern Gulf of Mexico are based in Louisiana. Nevertheless, significant data deficiencies exist in almost every aspect of the yellowfin tuna’s biology in the region. Beginning in 2012 the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) initiated an attempt to address many of those critical data gaps by both sampling yellowfin tuna from the Louisiana recreational catch and initiating a directed yellowfin tuna electronic tagging program. To date over 2400 yellowfin tuna have been sampled from the recreational fishery and samples from these fish have significantly contributed to novel projects on natal origin, age and growth, reproductive biology, feeding ecology, and genetic population structure of the Gulf yellowfin resource. In addition, both pop-up satellite tags (PSATs; n=26) and internal archival (IA; n=163) tags have been attached to yellowfin tuna in the northern Gulf. Results to date suggest higher retention and slower growth in the Gulf of Mexico that previously suggested.

Monday October 17, 2016 1:40pm - 2:00pm
Riverview A

1:40pm

Wildlife. Economic Optimization of Forage and Nutrient Availability During Stress Periods for Deer
AUTHORS: Michael P. Glow, Stephen S. Ditchkoff - School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University

ABSTRACT: Providing a sufficient quantity of nutritional forage should be an integral component of any white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) management plan that aims to maximize deer condition and quality. Deer managers generally attempt to meet the nutritional needs of their herd through some combination of habitat management, food plot production, and/or supplemental feed provisioning. However, nutritional demands of deer, and forage quality and abundance fluctuate throughout the year, creating nutritional stress periods and a dilemma for managers regarding how to maximize the nutritional plane of their herd while minimizing cost. We measured crude protein availability from mature pine habitat managed with prescribed fire and Ladino clover food plots during three nutritionally stressful periods for deer on a 259-hectare white-tailed deer enclosure located in east-central Alabama. We then used a cost-benefit analysis to determine how to cost-effectively maximize food production by comparing management options which varied by the percentage of total area planted in food plots (0 - 5%), percentage of pine stands treated with prescribed fire (0 - 100%), and the addition of supplemental feed. Native forage in pine stands treated with prescribed fire and food plots cost-effectively maximized food production during June and July without the addition of supplemental feed. However, supplemental feed became increasingly important during September to compensate for the decreased availability of high-quality native forage. Deer managers should understand how the relative importance of each nutritional input varies seasonally in order to maximize the nutritional availability of their land for deer in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

Monday October 17, 2016 1:40pm - 2:00pm
Riverview B

1:45pm

Legal. Land Protection Tools - Acquisitions & Conservation Easements
PRESENTER: David McAllister, Deputy General Counsel, Missouri Department of Conservation 

Monday October 17, 2016 1:45pm - 2:30pm
Academy Room

2:00pm

Fisheries. Lake Pontchartrain Acoustic Telemetry Project: A Focus on Behavior of Spotted Seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus) and Red Drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) Following the Opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway
AUTHORS: Ashley Ferguson, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Craig Gothreaux, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: The Bonnet Carré spillway flood control structure was opened on January 10, 2016 for 22 days, redirecting freshwater from the Mississippi River into Lake Pontchartrain. The ongoing acoustic telemetry project within Lake Pontchartrain allowed biologists the unique opportunity to observe fish movements in response to the diverted river water. In 2012, 90 acoustic receivers were deployed throughout the lake to study the movement patterns and habitat use of fishes. A total of 244 adult spotted seatrout Cynoscion nebulosus, 64 adult red drum Sciaenops ocellatus, and 18 juvenile bullsharks Carcharhinus leucas have been cooperatively tagged with acoustic transmitters since project initiation. At the time of the spillway opening, 26 spotted seatrout and 28 red drum with active tags were present in Lake Pontchartrain. Data from receivers were downloaded after the spillway closed and were uploaded and integrated onto the department’s telemetry visualization website (louisianafisheries.net/telemetry/). Representative fish locations were overlaid with MODIS satellite images to observe movement in relation to the sediment plume. Additionally, these data were overlaid with salinity maps, which display salinity gradients in the lake before, during, and after the spillway opening. Spotted seatrout and red drum did show an avoidance response to the river water, moving away from the plume and toward the north east portion of the lake. Tagged spotted seatrout and red drum returned to the center of the lake after the spillway was closed. Results from this study provide insight to the poorly understood behavior of fishes in response to large sediment-loaded freshwater inputs.

Monday October 17, 2016 2:00pm - 2:20pm
Riverview A

2:00pm

Wildlife. Evidence of temporal and sex-related differences in use of baited sites by white-tailed deer
AUTHORS: Chad Newbolt, Seth Rankin, Stephen S. Ditchkoff - School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University

ABSTRACT: Many of the methods used to estimate white-tailed deer population parameters from camera images are reliant upon assumptions regarding animal use of baited sites which may not be met in all environments. We placed trail cameras set at 1-minute time-lapse intervals at randomly selected sites baited with corn (n = 3) inside the Auburn University Deer Research Facility, a 175-ha enclosure containing a captive population of marked white-tailed deer, to investigate temporal and sex-related differences in deer use of baited sites. Surveys were conducted during 3, 10-day periods (Pre-rut, Rut, and Post-rut), 2013-2014 to determine number and duration of visits by individual adult deer to baited sites. Both sexes exhibited differences between survey periods in the number and duration of visits to baited sites, and these differences were particularly pronounced in male deer. Male deer visited more frequently and made longer visits during Pre-rut than during Rut (1.86 times as many visits; visit duration 1.85 times as long) and Post-rut (1.65 times as many visits; visit duration 1.35 times as long). We also observed differences between sexes in use of baited sites that varied between survey periods. Males spent more time (visit duration 1.33 times as long) than females at baited sites during visits in Pre-rut, and females spent more time (visit duration 1.33 times as long) than males during Rut. Individuals utilizing camera surveys for deer should carefully consider the identified temporal and sex-related differences in deer use of baited sites when selecting survey periods and evaluating camera data.

Monday October 17, 2016 2:00pm - 2:20pm
Riverview B

2:00pm

2:05pm

Law Enforcement. Whaley (Ginseng) Case
AUTHORS: Cpl. Casey Jones, Georgia DNR-Law Enforcement Division

ABSTRACT: In the early spring of 2014 Cpl. Jones began receiving complaints of suspects harvesting ginseng out of season on Cohutta Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and surrounding private property. The complaints gave no specific information as to who was involved or when it was occurring. Cpl. Jones gained the trust of a couple of local ginseng diggers who provided him with some additional information in May of 2014. In June of 2014, Cpl. Jones was looking for a mobile Meth lab on Cohutta WMA after a tip from Murray County Investigator. Cpl. Jones located the suspect’s vehicle on the WMA and found reasonable suspicion to make a vehicle stop. Although there was no Meth lab in the vehicle, the driver was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug related objects. The passenger happened to be a hitch hiker who had gotten a ride back to meet his friend at another location on the WMA. After gaining consent to search the passengers backpack, he was found to be in possession of more than 200 freshly dug wild ginseng roots. The passenger and the friend he was going to meet were also the names that the local ginseng dealers had given Cpl. Jones as being the primary suspects in harvesting ginseng out of season.

From that arrest, Cpl. Jones began gathering additional information on the two suspects and others that might be involved. He utilized everyone in the work section to assist him over the next two months. In August, a few weeks before ginseng season opened, Cpl. Jones was able to apprehend the suspect. Cpl. Jones was able to determine from his months of investigating the most likely places that the suspect would be going to dig ginseng. A coordinated effort was set up along several areas to look for the suspect’s vehicle. When the vehicle was not located at any of the areas, surveillance was set up on the roads leading in and out of the areas thinking that the suspect was being dropped out to avoid leaving his vehicle out for detection. Just before dark, Cpl. Jones spotted the suspect’s vehicle entering Cohutta WMA with a female driver. Minutes later the vehicle exited the WMA with the suspect driving. Cpl. Jones followed the vehicle at a distance. Cpl. Jones and other rangers then conducted a traffic stop of the suspect where they located 85 freshly dug ginseng roots in the vehicle. The suspect also confessed to harvesting the ginseng roots on the WMA.

The following week another suspect was interviewed and confessed to harvest ginseng out of season. Two Search warrants were obtained to seize cell phones, and two additional search warrants obtained to search the contents of the phones. The GBI was utilized to pull all phone calls, text messages and photographs, from the phones. GPS coordinates and dates were obtained from the photographs to prove additional incidents where the suspects had harvested ginseng out of season and on private property without landowner permission.

In the end there were four suspects arrested on 12 charges, including 7 counts of harvesting ginseng out of season, three counts of harvesting ginseng on private property without written permission, one count of violation of US Forest Service rules on a WMA, and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. More than 500 illegally harvested ginseng plants were confiscated, only a small portion of what was believed to have actually been harvested.

To date the suspects are awaiting trial.

Monday October 17, 2016 2:05pm - 2:40pm
Victory Room

2:20pm

Fisheries. Spawning at Age of Spotted Seatrout, Cynoscion Nebulosus, in Barataria Bay, Louisiana
AUTHORS: Erik T. Lang, Chris A. Levron - Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: Spotted seatrout is a primary target species in the coastal recreational fishery in Louisiana. The most accurate characterization of the spawning stock of a species, uses annual fecundity for each age of that species. Louisiana currently uses the biomass of the adult spotted seatrout population to represent the spawning stock but is now developing a data set of annual fecundity at age. To compile this data set, we assessed age, spawning season duration, spawning frequency, and batch fecundity. Specimens were captured using gill nets and hook and line. Ages for spotted seatrout sampled to date range from one to three years, which restricts our resolution of fecundity at age data. However, there could be a large difference in fecundity from one to three years considering that the average gonadosomatic index (GSI) during spawning months is much higher in age three individuals. Additionally, based on macroscopic staging, the frequency of age three individuals undergoing vitellogenesis is higher than age one or two, suggesting more frequent spawning. Overall, more fish need to be sampled from older age classes and further histological and fecundity work needs to be completed.

Monday October 17, 2016 2:20pm - 2:40pm
Riverview A

2:20pm

Wildlife. Don’t bring that in here! Can interstate collaboration reduce the risk of CWD introduction?
AUTHORS: Maria B. Palamar, Wildlife Veterinarian, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; Merril Cook, Wildlife Health Biologist, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

ABSTRACT: As Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) continues to claim new U.S. states every year, state agencies nationwide must craft and enforce regulations that will minimize the risk of disease introduction. Tight regulations have been implemented in many states to prohibit the importation of high risk cervid parts, and both out-of-state hunters and taxidermists have been identified as high risk points of entry. Importation regulations are usually posted in the state’s “Hunter Regulation Digest” or on agencies’ websites. Most agencies fail to provide out-of-state hunters with their home state regulations. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission conducted a nationwide survey to learn how state agencies regulate, report and communicate with non-resident hunters, and the movement of cervid carcasses, as a part of a study that also addresses taxidermists. In 2015, we surveyed 77 state agency employees about their state’s regulations regarding cervid carcass importation and exportation, record keeping and information dissemination. Overall, 51 (66%) participants from 41 states responded. Thirty-six indicated they had carcass importation regulations and 6 had carcass exportation regulations. Most states did not require hunters to report the importation of cervid carcasses, and only 6 respondents indicated their state provided out-of-state hunters with the importation regulation from their home state. Our survey results highlight the importance of nationwide guidelines on out-of-state harvest reporting, record keeping and information dissemination. We are exploring interstate data sharing opportunities that may reduce the risk of disease introduction to the state, modeled on CWD but that could be applied to other emerging wildlife diseases.

Monday October 17, 2016 2:20pm - 2:40pm
Riverview B

2:30pm

3:00pm

Legal. State Restrictions on Hunting and Fishing Opportunities by Nonresidents
PRESENTER: Jim Goodhart, General Counsel, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission

Monday October 17, 2016 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Academy Room

3:20pm

Fisheries. A Characterization of Greenstick Catch in the Northern Gulf of Mexico: Implications for Bycatch Reduction and Economic Viability
AUTHORS: Mariana E. Steen, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: In this report, the results of a four-year alternative gear study for yellowfin tuna using greenstick fishing gear are given. The goal of this research was to characterize the catch and bycatch of greenstick gear in the northern Gulf of Mexico and to investigate the economic viability of developing a commercial greenstick gear fishery in the region. Results from this work indicated that the greenstick catch was comprised primarily of blackfin and yellowfin tuna. No species of concern, threatened, or endangered were caught using the gear and no bluefin tuna interactions were recorded. The gear proved to be selective for target species with dead discards accounting for only 2.5% of the total catch compared to 56.2% for pelagic longline gear, but average dressed weights for yellowfin tuna caught using greenstick in this study were substantially less than those reported for pelagic longline gear, 31 lb and 86.3 lb (NOAA 2011), respectively. The majority of yellowfin tuna caught using greenstick gear was either sub-legal or just over the legal limit (27-39 inches curved fork length). Large gradable yellowfin landed ranged from 64 - 101 lb dressed weight, and grades assigned to the fish from a local fish house increased over time. Total revenue per trip was never enough to cover operating costs. Consequently, all sampling trips experienced a net loss. Additional sampling should be conducted in the future in order to more accurately determine if a dedicated greenstick fishery in the northern Gulf of Mexico is truly economically viable.

Monday October 17, 2016 3:20pm - 3:40pm
Riverview A

3:20pm

Wildlife. An evaluation of Georgia’s public mourning dove hunting demand and opportunity
AUTHORS: Gregory D. Balkcom, Georgia Wildlife Resources Division; Bobby T. Bond, Georgia Wildlife Resources Division

ABSTRACT: Georgia’s Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) provides managed dove fields that are open for public dove hunting. Our goal was to examine public mourning dove hunting demand and opportunity in Georgia along with the spatial and temporal distribution of each. We used a hunter survey to estimate the number of public dove hunters, their county of residence, the average number of days afield, and the timing of their hunting activities. We estimated opportunity provided by WRD dove fields in hunter-days for the entire season, by season segment, and by county. In 2015, Georgia had 54,679 total dove hunters who averaged 4.43 days afield or 242,226 hunter-days of total demand. Public demand accounted for 33,912 hunter-days, or 14% of total demand. WRD public dove fields provided 201,957 hunter-days of mourning dove hunting opportunity, which more than exceeded public hunting demand. However, temporal demand was not met on opening day, and spatial demand was not met in 90 counties on opening day or in 77 counties during the September segment. Agencies should consider both temporal and spatial demand when assessing public dove hunting opportunity and should emphasize opening day and early season opportunities near urban areas when possible.

Monday October 17, 2016 3:20pm - 3:40pm
Riverview B

3:20pm

Law Enforcement. Spring Bayou WMA Case
AUTHORS: Sgt. Gabe Guidry, Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, Law Enforcement Division

ABSTRACT: During the winter of 2014, our state owned swamp lands were devastated by a couple of individuals with intentions filled with greed. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Agents received information of several trees cut on the northeastern portion of the Spring Bayou WMA. After assessing the damage, we discovered approximately 116 trees sawed down blocking access to vessels entering the area. The trees consisted of valuable native timber which was identified as cypress, willow, and oak. Most of the trees were cut in order to block the passage of boats entering through Bayou Cocodrie and Lac Valerie to prevent access to the northeastern portion of the WMA commonly known as the “Bean Fields”. All of the trees were cut by using a chainsaw and they were left where they had fallen. Louisiana’s Operation Game Thief, The Spring Bayou Restoration, and the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation contributed $3000.00 in reward money for information leading to the arrest of the persons responsible for illegally cutting the trees. During the investigation, two eye witnesses came forward and confirmed Keith (Rick) Savoy and Allen Gaspard were responsible for cutting the trees on the WMA. Witness testimony, electronic forensic evidence extracted from cell phones, and circumstantial evidence gathered during the investigation was sufficient enough for a jury to find Rick Keith Savoy guilty of criminal damage to state property. Savoy's sentence included paying $15,000 to LDWF. His hunting and fishing privileges were also revoked for five years.

Monday October 17, 2016 3:20pm - 3:55pm
Victory Room

3:40pm

Fisheries. Analyzing Capture and Genetic Data Together to Estimate Population Size of Endangered Smalltooth Sawfish (Pristis pectinata)
AUTHORS: Kelcee L. Smith, Louisiana State University; Dr. John K. Carlson, NOAA Fisheries Service-Southeast Fisheries Science Center; Dana M. Bethea, NOAA Fisheries Service-Southeast Fisheries Science Center; Dr. Michael Kaller, Louisiana State University; Dr. William Kelso, Louisiana State University; Dr. Sabrina Taylor, Louisiana State University

ABSTRACT: A fundamental parameter in mathematical models that underpin ecological, conservation, and evolutionary theory is population size. It can be estimated as census size (NC), i.e. the number of individuals in a population, or effective population size (NE), which only counts individuals contributing genes to future generations. Estimating both NC and NE allows for a better understanding of potential demographic, environmental, and genetic risks that populations face. However, both methods are rarely used together to examine both components of population size. Here, we compare NC and NE estimates for a juvenile population of endangered Smalltooth Sawfish, Pristis pectinata, in Southwestern Florida, U.S. Capture-mark-recapture data (2000-2015) were analyzed in program MARK to estimate NC with recapture probabilities and apparent survival from individual capture histories, assuming a closed population. Models with time dependent capture probability and constant recapture probability estimated an NC of 385 juveniles per year. To estimate NE, small tissue samples (n = 375) taken from captured individuals were genotyped at 18 microsatellite loci. Estimates of NE included temporal, linkage disequilibrium, and sibship methods. Overall, NC can be evaluated with genetic tools, like NE, to determine effects of harvest, environmental change, or species fitness. Monitoring imperiled species in this way can reveal specific issues not evident in estimates of NC that can be addressed to facilitate recovery.

Monday October 17, 2016 3:40pm - 4:00pm
Riverview A

3:40pm

Wildlife. Effects of spinning-wing decoys on mourning dove harvest vulnerability in Tennessee
AUTHORS: Russell R. Skoglund, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; Steven E. Hayslette, Tennessee Tech University

ABSTRACT: Apparent declines in mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) populations nationwide have raised interest in factors affecting survival, including harvest. We tested the effects of spinning-wing decoys (SWDs) on mourning dove harvest vulnerability on dove fields in central Tennessee during opening weekend of hunting 2007 and 2008. Use of a SWD did not affect numbers of shots fired, doves harvested, doves missed, or doves crippled. Heavy hunting pressure and/or dove foraging based on experience may have limited SWD effects on dove harvest by hunters using them. Use of SWDs does not seem to increase overall harvest in mourning dove populations, so regulations prohibiting these decoys for mourning dove hunting seem unnecessary.

Monday October 17, 2016 3:40pm - 4:00pm
Riverview B

3:55pm

Law Enforcement. Covert/Surveillance/Technical Equipment
AUTHORS: Sgt. Josh Koenig, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

ABSTRACT: This presentation will cover field deployable long term surveillance devices, focusing on the current products available on the market, the limitations, and alternatives to high cost devices. It will also have instructions on how to utilize cost effective products to build your own surveillance package. Product examples will be on hand for demonstration.

Monday October 17, 2016 3:55pm - 4:30pm
Victory Room

4:00pm

Fisheries. Production of Hatchery-raised Oyster Larvae at the Michael C. Voisin Oyster Hatchery in Grand Isle, Louisiana
AUTHORS: Erin Leonhardt, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: The Michael C. Voisin Oyster Hatchery in Grand Isle, Louisiana opened in the summer of 2015 and is operated by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in collaboration with Louisiana Sea Grant. Raising hatchery-produced oyster larvae requires detailed management of water filtration, larval production, and algal production systems. Getting these systems up and running required learning new technologies and developing and modifying standard operating procedures and protocols. Experience gained during the 2015 hatchery season allowed for a more streamlined and successful production of larvae and algae in 2016. Hatchery systems, operating methods, total larval production, larval and spat deployment locations, and pediveliger production for creating spat-on-shell will all be discussed.

Monday October 17, 2016 4:00pm - 4:20pm
Riverview A

4:00pm

Wildlife. Lead Shot Deposition in Fields Managed for Mourning Doves in Tangipahoa Parish Louisiana
AUTHORS: Jeffrey P. Duguay, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Baton Rouge, LA; Kim M.Tolson, Department of Biology, University of Louisiana at Monroe; James Holt, Department of Biology, University of Louisiana at Monroe

ABSTRACT: Concentrating hunters on dove fields could place mourning doves (Zenaida macroura) and other ground foraging birds at risk of lead poisoning. We collected soil samples during three time periods (pre-soil disturbance [i.e., disking], post-soil disturbance, and post-hunting) to determine if disking reduced the amount of lead shot potentially available to ground foraging birds in managed dove fields. We also collected soil samples and in the woods adjacent to these fields. Disking did not have an impact on the amount of lead pellets found on the soil surface within the dove fields. More lead pellets were collected in the soil samples in the woods adjacent to dove fields than were collected in the dove fields. Deposition of lead pellets in wooded areas adjacent to fields managed for dove hunting could pose as big a risk to birds feeding in these areas as to birds feeding within dove fields.

Monday October 17, 2016 4:00pm - 4:20pm
Riverview B

4:00pm

Legal. Liability for Damages/Death Caused by Wildlife
AUTHORS: Sheryl Holtam, General Counsel, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

Monday October 17, 2016 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Academy Room

4:20pm

Fisheries. Are Asian Tiger Shrimp (Penaeus monodon) an Invasive Threat or Just a Paper Tiger? A Summary of the Tiger Shrimp’s Interactions with Both Native Prey and Predators
AUTHORS: Jennifer M. Hill, Louisiana Tech University; Olivia Caretti, North Carolina State University; Kenneth L. Heck, Dauphin Island Sea Lab

ABSTRACT: Asian tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) have steadily appeared in commercial shrimp catches from North Carolina to Texas since 2011. Their consistent presence is ecologically concerning because the tiger shrimp’s large body size, broad diet, aggressive carnivory, and estuarine distribution suggest they may consume native shrimp or other crustaceans and that biotic resistance to invasion may be limited due to gape-limited fish predators. To assess these concerns, we used a series of mesocosm experiments to determine: a) the predation rates of tiger shrimp on adult and juvenile native shrimp; b) the behavioral responses of native shrimp to tiger shrimp, c) tiger shrimp diet preferences in estuarine environments, and; d) the abilities of red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) predators to consume adult tiger shrimp. In contrast to the initial fears, predation rates on native shrimp species were generally low. However, despite their success at evading most tiger shrimp predation attempts, native shrimp often displayed avoidance behaviors that displaced them from their preferred habitats. Diet experiments also indicated juvenile blue crabs, an important commercial species, will be threatened by tiger shrimp as they were the preferred prey in multispecies diet experiments. Consequently, tiger shrimp will likely have context and species specific impacts on estuarine prey. Conversely, when tiger shrimp were offered as prey to red drum, tiger shrimp were consumed as often as similarly-sized native white shrimp suggesting native predators may provide some biotic resistance to the tiger shrimp invasion occurring on the Gulf Coast.

Monday October 17, 2016 4:20pm - 4:40pm
Riverview A

4:20pm

Wildlife. A Management Approach to Nocturnal Habitat of American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) on the Wintering Grounds of South-Central Louisiana
AUTHORS: James C. Haynes, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Jeffrey P. Duguay, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Kim M. Tolson, University of Louisiana at Monroe

ABSTRACT: Woodcock have experienced long-term population declines (1968-2011). Nocturnal habitat availability on the wintering grounds is believed to be critically important to wintering woodcock survival. We examined nocturnal habitat selection of American woodcock (Scolopax minor) on the wintering grounds in Louisiana using four popular land management techniques: bush hogging, burning, disking, and a bush hog/burn combination. From 2011 – 2013, we captured 316 woodcock with an additional 350 woodcock flushed from within the study plots. For the 2011 – 2012 field season, woodcock demonstrated high affinity for the bush hog treatment (52.8% of all data points), with juvenile males showing significant preference for the bush hog treatment (P = 0.0059). Adult female woodcock showed differences in selection by treatment for 2012 – 2013 (P = 0.0356) and flushed woodcock showed significant preference for the burn treatment (P = 0.0020). The disk treatment tended to be used less frequently than the other treatments. Woodcock selection of vegetative parameters within nocturnal habitats was most strongly represented by models containing the height of woody vegetation, with the best model including the height of woody vegetation and percent of standing woody vegetation given the data and candidate models. Our results suggest that both bush hogging and burning can provide suitable nocturnal habitat for woodcock on the wintering grounds.

Monday October 17, 2016 4:20pm - 4:40pm
Riverview B

4:30pm

Law Enforcement. Operation Herpsaspetz
AUTHORS: Special Agt. Scotty Boudreaux, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT: In 2012, Special Agents with US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and the Department of Justice (DOJ) began investigating a US postal worker who completed unusual banking transactions from November 2011 through March 2012. The target received approximately $186,225.00 in 13 incoming wires from Hong Kong, China. Intelligence gathered by investigators indicated the target was smuggling turtles to China Investigative techniques included the execution of grand jury subpoenas, administrative subpoenas, mail covers, aerial surveillance, and the use of IP surveillance cameras of the subject’s residence. In June of 2014 a search warrant was executed on the suspect’s home and evidence of the scheme was gathered. The suspect confessed and became a cooperating defendant.

Immediately, investigators structured a joint covert investigation named Operation Herpsaspetz, with USFWS/OLE, USPIS, HSI, and DOJ. The operation identified and dismantled an unlawful scheme in which, nearly $345,000.00 worth of North American Wood turtles were sold illegally. Investigators estimate that more than 750 turtles were captured illegally from a small area south of Pittsburg, PA during a three-year period. During that time the turtles were sent via a common carrier to Louisiana. From Louisiana they were sold and smuggled to Hong Kong via California. The investigation gathered evidence against every co-conspirator. Several American and international suspects were arrested for violations of the Lacey Act, Endangered Species Act, smuggling, money laundering, using fictitious names addresses, and conspiracy violations.

During the execution of Operation Herspsaspetz, the cooperating defendant was contacted by a known reptile trafficker from Illinois. The Illinois native was not involved with the current scheme, but quickly became lagniappe for Louisiana agents. The target visited Louisiana to complete a large deal for wood turtles then arrested for several felony violations of the Lacey Act.

During this multi-jurisdictional, covert investigation, SA’s executed multiple subpoenas, 10 search warrants, and made 7 arrests, 3 of the arrests have been of foreign nationals. Two of the foreign nationals were arrested during a controlled delivery by Hong Kong Customs. Monetary seizures total $134,000.00. These events have taken place in 5 different states, and in Hong Kong, China. The prosecution phase has yielded 6½ years of incarceration, 25 years of probation, and $51,000.00 in fines and restitution so far. The extradition of the final co-conspirator is currently underway.

While conducting this operation, enough cannot be said about the extraordinary teamwork by investigators from all the agencies involved. This coordination yielded a very successful operation against a lucrative wildlife smuggling enterprise. The unlawful international trade in turtles, fuels an unsustainable market that will drive our wild native species to extinction.

Monday October 17, 2016 4:30pm - 5:00pm
Victory Room

4:40pm

Wildlife. American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) Movement Ecology and Habitat Selection in Louisiana, USA
AUTHORS: Elisa Elizondo, Louisiana State University; Jeff Duguay, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Bret A. Collier, Louisiana State University

ABSTRACT: The American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) is a game bird species that has experienced steady population declines across its breeding range. Loss of early successional habitat is thought to be one of the greatest drivers of this population decline. Although American Woodcock habitat use and movement has been studied on the breeding grounds, there are few data regarding the migratory and wintering ground habitat use. We conducted a study in Louisiana to assess the habitat use of wintering American Woodcock in the state between November 2015 and February 2016. We utilized backpack style GPS transmitters programmed to record time-specific spatial data during both diurnal and nocturnal periods. We recovered data for 9 woodcock and generated Minimum Convex Polygons (MCPs) for each period (43 diurnal, 49 nocturnal) to estimate day-specific ranges, which I then sampled to identify and evaluate vegetation structure. VHF generated locations and MCPs were sampled for vegetation structure. We found that American Woodcock regularly utilized mixed-pine habitats within 1.5 km of nightly foraging habitat. The overall area covered by GPS-tagged birds was 0.110 ha during the day and 0.239 ha at night. Woodcock moved on average 1.03 km from their diurnal habitat to their nocturnal habitat when moving from a forested area to an open field, a movement attributed to their foraging strategies. These GPS data allowed for a finer scale examination of woodcock movement and habitat use to better inform management decisions.

Monday October 17, 2016 4:40pm - 5:00pm
Riverview B

5:00pm

5:30pm

Poster Session & Social
Please join us during this time to meet with poster authors! View the poster abstracts

Monday October 17, 2016 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Heidelberg Ballroom - 10th Floor

6:00pm

Dinner on Your Own in Baton Rouge
Monday October 17, 2016 6:00pm - 11:00pm
Offsite
 
Tuesday, October 18
 

7:00am

7:00am

7:00am

Conference Registration Desk Open
Tuesday October 18, 2016 7:00am - 5:00pm
Gallery

7:00am

Speaker Ready Room
Tuesday October 18, 2016 7:00am - 5:00pm
Boardroom

7:00am

Exhibits Open
Tuesday October 18, 2016 7:00am - 7:00pm
Gallery & Ballroom Foyer

8:00am

8:00am

Education/Outreach. An evaluation of e-mail as a survey distribution method for Louisiana waterfowl hunters
AUTHORS: Lucien P. Laborde, Jr., School of Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana State University; Michael D. Kaller, School of Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana State University; Larry A. Reynolds, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: We surveyed Louisiana waterfowl hunters using 3 distribution methods – 2,500 by random mail, 24,842 by e-mail, and by open web convenience sample following the 2014-2015 hunting season. We asked identical questions about waterfowl hunting effort, success, satisfaction, attitudes toward proposed regulations, and demographics. We hypothesized no statistically significant differences (≤ 0.05) no differences in demographic, satisfaction, or attitudinal variables, but higher levels of effort and success in the convenience sample. After elimination of duplicate responses, we received 603 usable responses to the random mail survey, 4,873 usable responses to the e-mail survey, and 1,480 usable responses to the open web survey. We compared results across survey methods using generalized linear models (GLMs) with Tukey-Kramer post hoc tests. In tests of 3 variables measuring effort and harvest, 6 variables measuring hunter satisfaction, 6 variables measuring attitudes towards proposed regulations, and 7 demographic variables, we identified no significant differences between any of the 3 methods in responses to 6 attitudinal variables. Compared to the random mail survey respondents, e-mail survey respondents were statistically similar in harvest, demographics, and satisfaction, but differed in consistency of effort. Respondents to the open web survey were significantly younger, more avid, harvested more waterfowl, and were less satisfied. The cost per usable response for the random mail, e-mail, and open web surveys were $85.41, $0.36, and $1.18, respectively. Analysis of attitudes towards proposed regulations would lead to identical managerial conclusions irrespective of survey method.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 8:00am - 8:20am
University

8:00am

Fisheries. Performance of a Statistical Catch-at-age Analysis for Inconsistent Electrofishing Samples from Inland, Freshwater Fisheries
AUTHORS: Troy M. Farmer, Auburn University; Matthew J. Catalano, Auburn University; Nicholas G. Feltz, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission

ABSTRACT: Many management agencies across the southeastern United States inconsistently sample large reservoir sportfish populations with boat-mounted electrofishing surveys to monitor recruitment, growth, and mortality rates (i.e., vital rates). Statistical catch-at-age analysis (SCAA), which is commonly used in marine fish stock assessments but not for inland recreational fisheries, provides a platform for rigorous analysis of these inconsistent samples. However, the performance of SCAA in inland recreational fisheries has not been rigorously evaluated. Herein, we evaluate the performance of SCAA using simulated population data for two common inland sportfishes (largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides and black crappie, Pomoxis nigromaculatus) with differing recruitment dynamics to determine the bias and accuracy of vital rates derived from SCAA. For each species, we use latitudinal variation in life-history traits (e.g., growth, mortality schedules) to evaluate the bias and accuracy of SCAA vital rate estimates for simulated populations in Southeastern and Midwestern reservoirs. We also evaluate how sampling frequency and assumptions regarding the structural form of the vulnerability-size relationships (e.g., dome-shaped, sigmoidal) and natural and fishing mortality estimates might bias vital rates. Ultimately, our results will assist management agencies in determining the optimal sampling frequency and provide insight into the sensitivity of SCAA to incorrect assumptions regarding vulnerability and mortality rates. By evaluating how well SCAA performs in response to interspecific variation in recruitment dynamics across latitudinal gradients in life-history traits, our analysis will offer a broad evaluation of the potential of SCAA models to inform management of inland, freshwater fisheries.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 8:00am - 8:20am
Riverview A

8:00am

IT/Licensing. Keep Them Fishing: Angler Churn Rates, Lifestyles and Other Insights Needed to Effectively Maintain Sportfishing

AUTHORS: Rob Southwick, Southwick Associates; American Sportfishing Associations; National Shooting Sports Foundation


Tuesday October 18, 2016 8:00am - 8:20am
King Room

8:00am

8:00am

Wildlife. Louisiana’s Gopher Tortoise Conservation Efforts
AUTHORS: Keri Landry, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: The Louisiana Natural Heritage Program (LNHP) housed within the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is currently assessing the gopher tortoise's status and working on measures to restore habitat for this species in the state. LNHP is committed to determining a population estimate and distribution for tortoises in Louisiana and working with managers and landowners to improve priority habitat on public and private lands. Data from ongoing survey and habitat conservation efforts will be discussed.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 8:00am - 8:20am
Riverview B

8:00am

Legal. Law Enforcement Officers’ Use of Body Cameras and Tasers
AUTHORS: Craig Jones, Assistant Chief Counsel, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources 

Tuesday October 18, 2016 8:00am - 9:00am
Academy Room

8:00am

8:15am

8:20am

Education/Outreach. Being Bear Wise in Florida
AUTHORS: Sarah Barrett, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

ABSTRACT: The Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) aims to prevent human-bear conflicts in an effort to protect people and bears across the 15 states of the Southeastern U.S. The term Bear Wise was adopted by SEAFWA for use by its membership to represent communities implementing practices that reduce or eliminate human-bear conflicts. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) passed a statewide resolution in 2015 highlighting the importance of securing bear attractants in urban and rural areas and began implementing a Bear Wise program. As a state agency in the spotlight concerning bear management, FWC is poised to make great strides with the Bear Wise initiative.

While more than 19 communities throughout North America have successfully reduced human-bear conflicts by adopting Bear Wise practices, such as by-laws or ordinances, Florida has at least five locations that have done the same. These examples outlining the effectiveness of following the Bear Wise model include: Hurlburt Air Field in Okaloosa County that reduced their human-bear conflicts by 70%, Wingfield North in Seminole County, which experienced a significant drop in human-bear conflicts within a few months of implementation, and the communities of St. Teresa and Alligator Point in Franklin County and Ave Maria in Collier County that are observing reductions in their conflicts with bears and other wildlife since implementing Bear Wise practices.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 8:20am - 8:40am
University

8:20am

Fisheries. Evaluation of Diel Differences in Continuous and Point Abundance Electrofishing in Shallow, Turbid Floodplain Waterbodies
AUTHORS: Michael D. Kaller, Joshua C. Herron, A. Raynie Harlan, Tiffany E. Pasco, William E. Kelso - School of Renewable Natural Resources Louisiana State University Agricultural Center

ABSTRACT: Published reports indicate night electrofishing may be superior to day sampling to estimate density and diversity of collected fishes. However, shallow, highly turbid waters characteristic of river floodplains present detection, navigation, and safety concerns during night electrofishing, and many southeastern floodplain sampling programs have focused on day electrofishing. To assess potential day electrofishing bias, we collected fishes during continuous (200 m distance for eight minutes) and point abundance electrofishing (1 minute at eight points spaced 25 m apart) during paired day and night efforts at 12 sites in the Atchafalaya River floodplain during 2013. Analyses compared day and night estimates of overall density (CPUE), CPUEs of Bluegill Lepomis macrochirus, Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides, Black Crappie Pomoxis nigromaculatus, and assemblage richness and evenness by electrofishing method. General linear mixed models used day or night sample as a fixed effect, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, water depth and specific conductance as fixed covariables, and sampling month as a random effect. We also compared day and night assemblages with redundancy analysis. Point-abundance sampling at night resulted in significantly greater overall (P=0.03) and Bluegill (P=0.03) CPUE, with continuous sampling yielding greater nocturnal richness (P=0.02) and diurnal Largemouth Bass CPUE (P=0.02). No differences were detected for estimates of Black Crappie CPUE, evenness, or between day and night assemblages for either sampling method. Thus, selection of day or night electrofishing may depend on sampling goals, habitat characteristics, particularly turbidity, and the electrofishing method employed.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 8:20am - 8:40am
Riverview A

8:20am

Wildlife. Effects of habitat management and soil suitability categories for gopher tortoises on forage nutrients in south Mississippi
AUTHORS: B. Nicole Hodges, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Mississippi State University; Jeanne C. Jones, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Mississippi State University; Michael S. Cox, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences Mississippi State University; Lisa Y. Yager, USDA Forest Service; Bruce D. Leopold, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Mississippi State University; Matthew G. Hinderliter, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Michael K. Crosby, Department of Natural Science Shorter University; Kathy R. Shelton, MS Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks

ABSTRACT: Populations of gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) in Mississippi exhibit limited recruitment despite recovery efforts implemented since federal listing under the Endangered Species Act in 1987.  In 2008, mortality associated with metabolic bone disease was detected in juvenile gopher tortoises in south Mississippi. We theorized that skeletal malformations in these tortoises were potentially linked to nutritional deficiencies.  Forage quality can play a role in reproductive success and growth rates of tortoises, thus, we investigated calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus levels in tortoise forage plants and effects of habitat management and soil suitability classes on nutrient levels in 11 plant growth forms. In forage samples collected during summers of 2012 – 2013 across all plant growth forms (N = 1,590), cacti exhibited greatest levels of the four nutrients, and forbs exhibited the next greatest levels of calcium and potassium (P < 0.01).  Forage samples exhibited greatest levels of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus in mowed areas compared to areas that were burned (P < 0.01).  A greater understanding of nutrient content within different plant growth forms will allow biologists to better assess plant community characteristics related to nutritional quality available to gopher tortoises. Also, greater knowledge of forage quality existing on different soil types under varying habitat management regimes can be useful in planning and implementing gopher tortoise habitat management and restoration. 

Tuesday October 18, 2016 8:20am - 8:40am
Riverview B

8:20am

8:20am

IT/Licensing. Open Discussion Topics
  • Paper licenses vs Waterproof licenses (pros and cons)
  • Current successes and challenges in Licensing
  • Public Records Requests (What licensing data is considered confidential?)
  • Website/Mobile applications (Recreational licenses, Commercial licenses, Boat registrations, etc.)
  • Overall license sales (increase/decrease)

Tuesday October 18, 2016 8:20am - 9:40am
King Room

8:30am

8:30am

8:40am

Education/Outreach. Colleges and universities: A promising “habitat” for hunter recruitment and retention?
AUTHORS: Brett Stayton, Clemson University; Lincoln R. Larson, Clemson University; Ryan L. Sharp, Kansas State University; Adam Ahlers, Kansas State University

ABSTRACT: Declining participation in hunting, driven in part by decreasing numbers of young adult hunters, is a major concern for wildlife agencies that rely on hunting to achieve management objectives and generate revenue for conservation. We focused on a key population of young adults, college students, to examine their hunting-related beliefs, attitudes, intentions, and behaviors. During Spring 2016, we conducted a web-based survey of a random, representative sample of undergraduate students at two major land grant universities in the southeastern United States: one in the Southeast (n=764) and one in the Midwest (n=4,864). We found a higher hunting participation rate than anticipated, with 39-41% of the respondents at both schools reporting previous hunting experience. (Non-response bias checks confirmed this participation rate.) About 32-35% of respondents indicated they would consider hunting in the future, and 71-72% said they approved or strongly approved of hunting. Prominent barriers to hunting included a preference for other recreation activities, lack of free time, and a lack of knowledge/skills required to hunt and prepare game meat. Wildlife conservation was important to more than 80% of respondents at both schools. Results have significant implications for hunter recruitment and retention (HRR). Although most college students do not hunt, they approve of hunting and support conservation. Almost 2/3 of non-hunters indicated they would consider hunting in the future. Our analysis highlights social and environmental correlates of hunting participation (and support) among college students and offers insights that should inform the development of young hunters and hunting advocates.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 8:40am - 9:00am
University

8:40am

Fisheries. Largemouth Bass Supplemental Stocking Success on a Coastal River in Virginia
AUTHORS: Aaron Bunch, Bob Greenlee, John Odenkirk - Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

ABSTRACT: Coastal rivers can support quality largemouth bass fishing and tournaments, but recruitment failure and habitat availability can influence population size and structure because of the dynamic nature of these systems. Management actions, i.e., stocking, can improve populations in closed systems (e.g., lakes and ponds) in poor recruitment years, but stocking effectiveness in a coastal river system is often questioned and evaluations are few. Oxytetracycline (OTC) marked F1 intergrade (Micropterus salmoides floridanus X M. s. salmoides) fingerling largemouth bass were stocked at a density of 62 fish/ha in the tidal Chickahominy River and tributaries in spring of 2006 and 2007. Stocking success was evaluated using: 1) angler creel surveys, 2) standardized long-term monitoring surveys, and 3) otolith collections to evaluate growth and percent contribution of stocked fish. Angler catch rates from creel surveys indicated drastically improved fishing success peaking in 2010. Length-at-age data revealed that a large proportion of largemouth bass ages 3–4 were at or above the preferred size (>38 cm). The stable and additive contribution of stocked fish to these age classes during peak angler catch rates indicates a direct benefit to anglers. Otolith sampling in 2015 revealed stocked origin fish (8 year old) remain in the system. Stocking enhanced the bass fishery in this coastal system; however, spatiotemporal habitat dynamics (both physical and chemical) may limit success in other systems. Understanding the mechanisms leading to success in some systems and failure in others is an important next step.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 8:40am - 9:00am
Riverview A

8:40am

8:40am

Wildlife. Tortoise Immunomes Shed Light on Genetic Variation Underlying Infectious Disease
AUTHORS: Jean P. Elbers, School of Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana State University and AgCenter, Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Mary B. Brown, Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL; Sabrina S. Taylor, School of Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana State University and AgCenter, Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Tuesday October 18, 2016 8:40am - 9:00am
Riverview B

8:45am

S2. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund
AUTHORS: Jonathan Porthouse, Senior Manager – Coastal Habitat Restoration, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Bridgett Collins, Manager, Private Lands, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation 

Tuesday October 18, 2016 8:45am - 9:00am
Louisiana Room

9:00am

S2. Landscape Conservation Cooperatives: Strategic Planning along the Gulf Coast
AUTHORS: Todd Hopkins, Coordinator, Peninsular Florida LCC, Bill Bartush, Coordinator, Gulf Coast Prairie LCC, Mallory Martin, Coordinator, South Atlantic LCC, Greg Wathen, Coordinator, Gulf Coastal Plains & Ozarks LCC, and Bill Uihlein, Assistant Regional Director, US Fish and Wildlife Service

Tuesday October 18, 2016 9:00am - 9:15am
Louisiana Room

9:00am

Education/Outreach. Overview of the Terrebonne Aquatic Clinic: Integrating Fishing Clinics to Science Curriculum Standards in the Public School System.
AUTHORS: Mitch Samaha , Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: The Terrebonne Aquatic Clinic (TAC) is an educational clinic designed to promote interest in sport fishing and facilitate stewardship of the fisheries and natural resources of Louisiana. Program development was initiated in 1995 by approaching the Terrebonne Parish School Board with the idea of free educational workbooks developed by LDWF Education staff which correlated to science curriculum standards. Every fifth-grade public school in Terrebonne parish participates, reaching a multitude of demographics. The TAC culminates in an educational field day scheduled at the end of the school year to give students hands on field experience relevant to their classroom studies. The field day consists of 6 educational stations on a 25 minute rotation. The program has changed many times over its 21 year history in order to maintain the program’s existence and improve its function, including development of educational stations that meet benchmarks in science and environmental education. Over 25,000 students from a multitude of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds have participated in the clinic. Evaluations from teachers over the 21 year span have proven to be 100% favorable. The TAC is an example of state agencies, local governments, and non-profit organizations cooperating to expand outdoor and environmental education.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 9:00am - 9:20am
University

9:00am

Fisheries. Allozyme and Microsatellite Assessment of Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) Introgression in Louisiana Lakes
AUTHORS: Tiffany E. Pasco, Debra G. Kelly, A. Raynie Harlan, Sabrina S. Taylor, William Kelso, Michael Kaller - Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, School of Renewable Natural Resources

ABSTRACT: Louisiana has been stocking Florida Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides floridanus) since 1982 to improve the overall size composition and trophy potential of the state’s largemouth bass fisheries. To monitor stocking effects on genetic composition of native Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides salmoides), we have genotyped bass from over 65 lakes across the state over the last 30 years with two diagnostic allozymes (IDH and AAT). More recently, we analyzed genetic composition of bass from 5 lakes with both allozymes and 12 microsatellite loci to further examine the: 1) extent of introgression of Florida Largemouth Bass into the native Largemouth Bass populations; 2) sensitivity of allozymes versus microsatellites in detecting Fx hybrids, and; 3) potential effects of differences in these datasets on development of fisheries management strategies. Preliminary results from the 5 water bodies indicate general agreement between the two genotyping methods regarding identification of low, medium, and high introgression lakes. Further, microsatellites suggest minimal introgression in Finch and Yucatan lakes (never stocked by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries) and the Atchafalaya River Basin (minimal stocking relative to water body size), and high, but lake-specific introgression in False River (extensive stocking history, primarily hybrids with greater ancestry from native LA Largemouth Bass) and Caney Creek Lake (extensive stocking history, primarily hybrids of Florida Largemouth Bass ancestry). Additional data analyses from three more lakes are on-going.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 9:00am - 9:20am
Riverview A

9:00am

9:00am

Wildlife. Snake trapping results in a Louisiana sandhill community
AUTHORS: Jeff Boundy, Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries

ABSTRACT: Snakes were trapped in a sandhill (historic longleaf pine) community in northern Louisiana between 2004 and 2016. Eighteen species of snakes were detected. Relative proportion of individuals for each species, differential habitat use, seasonal occurrence, and trap type success were determined.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 9:00am - 9:20am
Riverview B

9:00am

Legal. Access to Public Waters
AUTHORS: Daniel Henry, Jr., Deputy General Counsel, Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries and Ryan Seidemann, Assistant Attorney General, Section Chief – Lands and Natural Resources Section, Louisiana Department of Justice

Tuesday October 18, 2016 9:00am - 10:00am
Academy Room

9:15am

9:20am

Education/Outreach. Understanding People’s Willingness to Implement Measures to Manage Human-Bear Conflict in Florida
AUTHORS: Elizabeth F. Pienaar, University of Florida; David Telesco, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Sarah Barrett, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

ABSTRACT: In 2009, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) began surveying individuals who reported human–bear conflicts. The purpose of this survey is to assess whether individuals take actions recommended by the FWC to reduce or eliminate conflicts. Using logit analysis, we determined which factors influenced the likelihood that surveyed individuals would follow the advice provided by the FWC for managing human–bear conflicts. We found outreach efforts by the FWC increased the probability that people who report conflicts to the agency adopted recommended measures to reduce these conflicts. Our results indicate that outreach efforts by wildlife agencies increase the likelihood that people will alter their behavior to reduce human–bear conflicts.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 9:20am - 9:40am
University

9:20am

Fisheries. Genetic Relationships Among Populations of Georgia Bass
AUTHORS: Bryant R. Bowen, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Eric Peatman, Auburn University; Scott Robinson, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Tim Bonvechio, Georgia Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT: Black bass are the most sought after sport fishes in the country. Many state fisheries agencies, including Georgia, consider black bass management a high priority. Largemouth bass are the most common native black bass species found throughout Georgia’s lakes, ponds and rivers. Anglers in the state spend more days fishing for largemouth bass than any other freshwater species, and Georgia consistently produces some of the heaviest largemouth bass in the country. A 17.6-pound largemouth bass was caught in 2015 from Georgia waters that weighed more than the current state records of 46 other states. Using allozymes, Phillip et. al 1983 described an intergrade zone between two subspecies; Florida bass Micropterus floridanus and largemouth bass M. salmoides, in Georgia waters where many of these large bass are produced. In this study, we are using single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP’s) to resolve the genetic population structure and current levels of introgression among populations of largemouth bass, Florida bass, and their interspecific hybrids from lakes and rivers across the state. Determining these genetic population characteristics using the latest and most sensitive technology will inform future management efforts for largemouth bass to protect the genetic integrity of our diverse populations and ensure the highest quality bass fisheries for our anglers.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 9:20am - 9:40am
Riverview A

9:20am

S3. Using Science to Inform Decisions About Water
AUTHOR: Bryan P. Piazza, The Nature Conservancy Louisiana Chapter

Tuesday October 18, 2016 9:20am - 9:40am
Hunt Room

9:20am

Wildlife. Conservation and Reintroduction of the Louisiana Pinesnake
AUTHORS: Charles Battaglia, Natural Heritage Program Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Emlyn Smith, U.S. Forest Service Catahoula District Kisatchie National Forest Louisiana; Josh Pierce, U.S. Forest Service Nacogdoches Texas

ABSTRACT: The Louisiana Pinesnake (Pituophis ruthveni) faces a myriad of threats, including unsuitable land management practices, habitat fragmentation, and lack of prescribed fire. This species is a candidate for the federal list of threatened and endangered species and is scheduled for listing determination in 2016. Louisiana Pinesnake Conservation Working Group has been focusing on pinesnake conservation for several years. This informal working group consists of government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private industry and has been meeting for more than a decade in order to further conservation efforts rangewide. In addition, there has been an effort to reintroduce this species in presumably unoccupied habitat in its historic range, the Catahoula district of the Kisatchie National Forest. An overview of the Louisiana Pinesnake conservation and reintroduction efforts in Louisiana will be presented.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 9:20am - 9:40am
Riverview B

9:30am

9:40am

IT/Licensing. Break
Tuesday October 18, 2016 9:40am - 10:20am
King Room

10:00am

10:20am

Education/Outreach. Stakeholder involvement as a central component to the management of a large mult-use aquatic resource.
AUTHORS: Ryan Hamm, Eric Nagid, Craig Mallison - Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

ABSTRACT: Orange Lake is a large (5,000 ha) and shallow (mean depth 1.7 m) eutrophic water body located in Alachua County, Florida which presents a unique set of management challenges. Orange Lake is renowned for its high-quality bass fishing and rural setting, but also experiences drastic water level fluctuations which cause habitat shifts, habitat degradation, and creates conditions suitable for the formation of floating vegetation (tussocks) which can impede access. In order to identify and evaluate the effects of habitat enhancement projects, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) developed habitat management guidelines which utilized aerial mapping and GIS analysis to quantify habitat value for focal fish and wildlife taxa. Using habitat target ranges and a relative habitat value for eight focal taxa, biologists identified potential management projects. As dynamic as Orange Lake is, its stakeholder’s range of desires are equally variable. Besides habitat quality and access, stakeholders are also concerned with nutrient levels, impacts to groundwater, environmental impacts of management techniques, etc. To best manage this system FWC had to incorporate stakeholder input into future plans. Therefore, FWC hired an outside contractor to guide stakeholder outreach, facilitate meetings and provide writing services on a habitat management plan that utilized stakeholder input upfront. Input was attained through four public meetings, interviews with stakeholders that represented various interests, and online surveys. This information was used to draft a management plan that will inform FWC’s actions on Orange Lake for the next 5 years.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 10:20am - 10:40am
University

10:20am

Fisheries. Evaluation of the 14 Inch Minimum Length Limit for Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) in the Atchafalaya Basin and Surrounding Waters, Louisiana
AUTHORS: Brac Salyers, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: Following Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the Atchafalaya Basin and surrounding waters suffered massive fish kills, with estimates upwards of 200 million fish. Efforts to offset the damage to the fishery included fish stockings and a protective length limit that restricted harvest of largemouth bass (LMB) under 14” in total length (TL). The regulation was implemented in 1993 for LMB within these waters. Justification for the 14” MLL was that bass would be protected and allowed to spawn at least once before being subjected to angler harvest. The resulting spawns would replenish the local fishery. In the absence of large predators, the bass population responded with a tremendous resurgence in a short period of time. Instead of recognizing the resilience of the native bass population, many anglers credited the 14” MLL regulation. The 14” MLL gained popularity and soon began to also receive support as a tool to produce larger size bass. In time, the regulation that had originally been designed as a temporary protective measure was extended indefinitely and linked with expectations beyond original intent. LDWF had been managing black bass populations before Hurricane Andrew. LDWF fisheries biologists began sampling fish populations and angler catch with standardized techniques as early as 1989. Using this long term data set and the results of a 3 year study specifically designed to evaluate the 14” MLL regulation for LMB, we concluded that this regulation was not effective as a management tool in these waters to produce larger size bass and recommended its removal.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 10:20am - 10:40am
Riverview A

10:20am

10:20am

Wildlife. Evaluating Models of Released Ranched American Alligator (Alligator mississippensis) Survival in Coastal Louisiana
AUTHORS: Kristy D. Capelle, Michael D. Kaller, William E. Kelso - School of Renewable Natural Resources Louisiana State University Agricultural Center; Ruth M. Elsey, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: Since 1986, ranching programs in Louisiana have required the release of juvenile alligators raised from eggs collected from wild nests to maintain alligator populations throughout the state. Over the years, the proportion and size of released ranched alligators has been modified, based on harvest data and preliminary survival estimates. This project assessed long-term data (1991-2014) from the release program to estimate survival from harvested alligators released as part of the program. Specifically, the management objective of this project was to determine the impact of release length on survival, based on harvested farm-release marked alligators. First, wildlife and fishery harvest models and general survival models were evaluated to determine best fit to the data. Estimates of annual instantaneous survival based on release length were 0.89 (female), 0.87 (male), and 0.88 (all). Second, once the best fitting model for overall release length-survival of the farm-released alligators was established, environmental data including precipitation and temperature from alligator release areas were added into the models to investigate their influences on survival estimates. Male alligator survival was higher in warmer and wetter years. Female alligator survival was higher in wetter years, and longer release length enhanced survival over time. Alligator survival in response to additional environmental variables and market value data will continue to be evaluated to give a better understanding of the effects of economic factors and extreme weather events on future management of American alligators in Louisiana.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 10:20am - 10:40am
Riverview B

10:20am

IT/Licensing. Open Discussion (continued)
Tuesday October 18, 2016 10:20am - 12:00pm
King Room

10:30am

S2. Louisiana Oysters: Current and Future Management and Restoration Strategies
AUTHORS: Steven Beck, Oyster Program Manager, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries 

Tuesday October 18, 2016 10:30am - 10:45am
Louisiana Room

10:30am

Legal. Oysters – Dual Claim and Other Legal Issues
AUTHORS: Lawrence E. Marino, Attorney at Law, Oats & Marino, Lafayette, Louisiana

Tuesday October 18, 2016 10:30am - 11:30am
Academy Room

10:40am

Education/Outreach. VDGIF’s New “Find Wildlife VA” Website and How They Got There
AUTHORS: Lowell Ballard, Timmons Group

ABSTRACT: An effective app doesn’t just present a multitude of information; it presents this information efficiently. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) wanted to update a legacy web application created several years ago titled “Find Game”. VDGIF has distinct users that it needs to provide targeted information to: hunters, wildlife viewers, anglers, and boaters. By creating designated paths through the site for each user group, VDGIF can deliver relevant content and tailored information based on communities of interest.

Timmons Group analyzed the existing version and spoke with numerous users and subject matter experts to understand the underlying issues and desired outcomes. Timmons Group utilized its user interface and user experience (UI/UX) experts to model the application based off specific user stories. The Timmons Group application development team used Agile techniques to help in the design process presenting various “iterations” of wireframes for the product owner on VDGIF’s side to review.

The final product is an enhanced user interface with multiple landing pages specific to user interests. From hunting and fishing, to simple bird watching, users are able to filter their search but they are given valuable data based on their search criteria.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 10:40am - 11:00am
University

10:40am

Fisheries. Shoreline Rotenone Application to Control Largemouth Bass Recruitment in Small Impoundments
AUTHORS: Matthew J. Catalano, Auburn University; Graves Lovell, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

ABSTRACT: Controlling largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) recruitment to reduce their population density in small impoundments ( < 40 ha; hereafter “ponds”) is an important management challenge but is necessary to maintain desirable growth rates, body condition, and size structure in these populations. Recruitment of these populations is difficult to control directly because common gears (hook-and-line, electrofishing) for the mechanical removal of largemouth bass are inefficient at capturing age-0 fish. We evaluated the shoreline application of the piscicide rotenone to reduce age-0 largemouth bass density in five small impoundments in Alabama. Rotenone was applied twice at each pond, with treatments spaced two weeks apart in early to mid-June of 2015. Age-0 largemouth bass density was assessed via 15-ft seine hauls one day prior to and one day after rotenone application at treated ponds and also at nearby untreated control ponds. Reductions in age-0 largemouth bass seine catch rates averaged 69% and ranged from 41 – 94 % across ponds. Follow-up seine hauls two weeks post-treatment indicated that these reductions were still evident and had not been diminished by new recruitment of age-0 largemouth bass to the shoreline. Our findings suggest that shoreline rotenone has the potential to reduce age-0 largemouth bass density during summer shortly after recruitment to the littoral zone. However, more work is needed to assess whether these reductions give rise to lower recruitment to age-1 in these systems, and if the recruitment reductions are large enough to improve largemouth bass growth and condition.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 10:40am - 11:00am
Riverview A

10:40am

10:40am

Wildlife. Modeling bird distributions in coastal Louisiana
AUTHORS: Katrina Hucks, University of Louisiana at Lafayette; Paul Leberg, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

ABSTRACT: Coastal systems are facing many challenges including climate change, sea level rise, storm surge, and erosion, all of which contribute to land loss. In Louisiana, this has led to the development of the coastal master plan supported by Habitat Suitability Index models to predict wildlife responses under various management scenarios. However, these models were not originally intended for this purpose and their functionality at large spatial scales is unclear. The goal of this project is to use Maxent to predict how various bird distributions might change with coastal restoration and management. During the summer of 2015, we surveyed southern Louisiana for Mottled Duck, Brown Pelican, and Roseate Spoonbill. We measured salinity, temperature, water depth, SAV presence and cover, and recorded surrounding vegetation. Using a predictive vegetation model, we projected the probability of occurrence for each target species. We had strong model fit for all models. Important variables for Mottled Duck were water, Schoenoplectus californicus, bare ground, Paspalum vaginatum, and Typha domingensis. Important variables for Brown Pelican were water, Spartina alterniflora, T. domingensis, Sagittaria lancifolia, and Taxodium distichum. Important variables for Roseate Spoonbill were water, bare ground, S. californicus, T. domingensis, and SAV. We plan to incorporate other environmental variables in future analyses to project habitat changes over a 50 year period. These results will help us understand how coastal change is affecting distributions of avifauna in southern Louisiana.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 10:40am - 11:00am
Riverview B

10:45am

S2. Deepwater Horizon NRDAR Early Restoration: advances in Gulf of Mexico restoration applicability
AUTHORS: Brian Spears, Restoration Program Manager, USFWS Deepwater Horizon NRDAR Field Office 

Tuesday October 18, 2016 10:45am - 11:00am
Louisiana Room

11:00am

S2. Benefits to fish and wildlife conservation within an integrated restoration approach to “Make Mississippi Whole”
AUTHORS: Robbie Kroger, Chief Scientific Officer, Covington and Marc Wyatt, Director Office of Oil Spill Restoration, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality

Tuesday October 18, 2016 11:00am - 11:15am
Louisiana Room

11:00am

Education/Outreach. The Science of Stories: How Impactful Storytelling Touches Tomorrow’s Conservationists
AUTHORS: Heather Feeler, Missouri Department of Conservation

ABSTRACT: We are bombarded with thousands of messages every single day. How do we make the conservation message resonate, or even be remembered, in a world of 24-hour news cycles and drama-filled celebrity banter? Unfortunately, there’s no magic-bullet answer, but we can take a page from the masters of storytelling—good ole’ Hollywood—to give us a better roadmap.

Impactful storytelling is vital to reaching new conservationists, or those audiences not yet engaged in conservation efforts. But what makes a good story that leaves a lasting impression? How do we tweak our messages to reach new audiences? How do we share our conservation story in such a way to spur people into action to be future conservationists?

Presentation will include:
  • Elements of story that make it great (Hollywood knows!);
  • Engaging the smart, scientific brains in our agency for story starters;
  • Modifying our messages in unique way to reach different audiences;
  • Understanding the king of content in today’s fast-moving world;
  • Using social media to tell our story and listen to the story of others.
Participants will also have a chance to ask questions, as well as share any best practices from their agency on impactful storytelling, if time at the end. While there won’t be any popcorn during the show, we hope this is one presentation you won’t want to miss, especially for your key agency “storytellers.”

Tuesday October 18, 2016 11:00am - 11:20am
University

11:00am

Fisheries. Age, Growth, and Mortality of Black Bass in Three North Georgia Reservoirs
AUTHORS: John T. Perry, University of Georgia; Brian J. Irwin, U.S. Geological Survey; Timothy F. Bonvechio, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Patrick M. O'Rouke, Georgia Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT: In the southeastern U.S., black bass (Micropterus spp.) are widely targeted by anglers, and these species potentially intermix and compete for resources. We evaluated the relative abundance, age and size structures, length-weight and length-at-age relationships, and annual mortality rates for angler targeted bass populations in 3 north Georgia reservoirs: Lakes Lanier, Chatuge, and Nottely. Fish were collected by electrofishing, and individuals were measured (total length, mm) and weighed (g). Data were grouped as either Largemouth Bass (M. salmoides) or Spotted Bass (M. punctulatus), although genetic information remains incomplete. Electrofishing catch per effort (number of fish/hour) of Spotted Bass was highest in Chatuge (50.2 + 5.1; + S.E.), intermediate in Nottely (43.2 + 5.9), and lowest in Lanier (25.2 + 5.2 fish). Largemouth Bass catch per effort was higher in both Chatuge and Lanier (29.6 + 8.4 and 29.5 + 6.4, respectively) than in Nottely (11.8 + 1.2). Length-weight relationships were similar for Spotted Bass across reservoirs. Based on von Bertalanffy models fit to the available data, the highest estimate for theoretical maximum length-at-age was for Spotted Bass from Nottely, but this reservoir also had the smallest proportion of larger individuals (i.e., total length ≥ 356 mm). Likewise, the age and size structures of Lake Nottely Spotted Bass were more skewed towards younger and smaller fish than for Chatuge or Lanier. For all three systems, annual mortality estimates for Spotted Bass were near 0.4. In Lake Lanier, Spotted Bass had a higher estimate of annual mortality than Largemouth Bass (approximately 0.25).

Tuesday October 18, 2016 11:00am - 11:20am
Riverview A

11:00am

Wildlife. Delineating chronology and distribution of midcontinent white-fronts during fall migration and winter using novel techniques
AUTHORS: Ryan J. Askren, Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, Division of Agriculture; Douglas C. Osborne, Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, Division of Agriculture

ABSTRACT: The midcontinent population of greater white-fronted geese (Anser albifrons frontalis) has gained considerable attention in recent years from an evident increase in population abundance and perceived shift in winter distribution from the Central to Mississippi Flyway. Understanding species distribution is key to effective management and monitoring of harvested species. Migratory and wintering distributions are dynamic and may be altered due to long-term landscape changes thus necessitating frequent reassessment of the distribution of white-fronts. The most current literature on white-front distribution may be outdate and not representative of perceived changes likely due to changes in agriculture practices and climate change. The objective of this research was to provide the most up to date assessment of temporal and spatial distribution of white-fronts during fall migration and winter. GPS-equipped solar-powered PTTs were deployed in Nunavut during 2014 and Alaska during 2014 and 2015. Dynamic Brownian Bridge Movement Modelling was used to map utilization distributions of transmitter marked white-fronts. This is a novel technique that has profound implications for understanding space use by waterfowl yet has received little attention to date. Average latitudes of band recoveries by 7-day periods during fall migration were used to corroborate the timing of movements of transmitter marked white-fronts. White-fronts had a mean arrival date (±SE) of Sept. 14 (±1.9 days) to the staging areas in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan and departure of Oct. 26 (±2.6 days). Information from this research will aid in population surveys and introduce novel techniques for examining spatial use.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 11:00am - 11:20am
Riverview B

11:00am

11:15am

11:20am

Education/Outreach. Impacts of special hunting clinics on the recruitment and retention of youth and young adult hunters in South Carolina
AUTHORS: Brett Stayton, Clemson University; Lincoln R. Larson, Clemson University; CPT John W. Downer, II, SC Department of Natural Resources; LT Kimberly D. Leverich, SC Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT: Hunter recruitment and retention is a high priority within the wildlife management community yet hunting participation remains low among youth and young adults, groups whose attitudes and behaviors will substantially impact the future of hunting. Wildlife agencies across the US are therefore introducing a variety of hunting clinics designed to foster mentoring opportunities and skill development. However, little research has evaluated the effects of these clinics on the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of new hunters. Using a longitudinal data collection approach, our study examined the effects of different types of hunting clinics held during 2015-16 in SC: one group clinics targeting youth (n = 77) and their parents/guardians (n = 63), and a special clinic designed for college students (n = 19). Youth clinics primarily attracted individuals already socialized into hunting, though they helped to reinforce positive perceptions of hunting, and produce significant gains in confidence with respect to hunting-related skills. Almost all youth (96%) planned to hunt following the clinic, most of them (86%) with the adult that accompanied them to the clinic. The college student clinic targeted non-hunters (only 14% of attendees had previously hunted) and revealed even more pronounced gains with respect to perceptions of hunting, confidence in hunting-related skills, and ability to overcome hunting barriers. The young adult clinic also increased the likelihood of future hunting participation. As the study continues, we will investigate hunting behaviors one year after the clinics and identify optimal strategies for fostering enduring connections between youth, young adults, and hunting.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 11:20am - 11:40am
University

11:20am

Fisheries. Daily Age Validation of Otoliths in Spotted Gar (Lepisosteus oculatus)
AUTHORS: Richard A. Snow, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation; James M. Long, U.S. Geological Survey Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Bryan D. Frenette, Division of Biology, Kansas State University

ABSTRACT: Accurate age and growth information is essential in successful management of fish populations and for a complete understanding of early life history. We validated daily ring formation, including the timing of first ring formation, for Spotted Gar (Lepisosteus oculatus), a species of conservation concern, through 127 days post-hatch. From fry produced from hatchery-spawned specimens, up to 10 individuals per week were sacrificed and their otoliths (sagitta, lapilli, and asteriscus) removed for daily age estimation. Daily age estimates for all three otolith pairs were significantly related to known age (r² ≥ 0.95), but the strongest relationship existed for measurements from sagittae (r² = 0.98) and the lapillus (r² = 0.98). Age prediction models all resulted in a slope near unity, indicating that ring deposition occurred approximately daily. Timing of ring formation varied among otolith types; sagitta approximately 3 days after hatch, lapillus 7 days after hatch (i.e., swim-up), and asteriscus 9 days after hatch. These results fill a gap in knowledge and can aid understanding of evolutionary processes as well as provide useful information for management and conservation.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 11:20am - 11:40am
Riverview A

11:20am

11:20am

Wildlife. Effects of Energy Development on Waterfowl Nesting Ecology in the Bakken Formation of North Dakota
AUTHORS: Cassandra G. Skaggs, Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana State University AgCenter; Kevin M. Ringelman, Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana State University AgCenter; Kaylan Carrlson, Ducks Unlimited; Tanner Gue, Ducks Unlimited; Chuck Loesch, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Frank Rohwer, Delta Waterfowl; Michael L. Szymanski, North Dakota Game and Fish Department

ABSTRACT: The Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) is responsible for producing more than half of the dabbling ducks in North America, many of which winter or migrate through Louisiana. The PPR in northwestern North Dakota coincides with the Bakken shale formation, where rapidly accelerating oil and gas development has the potential to impact more than 1 million duck pairs. Our goal is to assess the effect of energy development in the Bakken on waterfowl nest density and success. We selected sites that were stratified by the intensity of energy development as measured by the number of well pads present (Control: 0, Low: 1, Medium: 2-3, High: >3). We searched for waterfowl nests on at least two 32-ha grassland replicates on each of 28 plots (7 in each category) between 30 April-30 June 2015 and 28 April-15 July 2016. We searched for nests every three weeks using a chain drag and revisited every 5-7 days to determine nest fate. In 2015 and 2016, we searched over 2,600 hectares and found over 2,531 nests total. Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors), Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), and Gadwall (Anas strepera) comprised 75% of nests that were located. Preliminary results suggest nest survival weakly increases with the intensity of petroleum development. While areas of high extraction activity may lead to an increase in nest success, an irreversible decrease in nest density could lower the waterfowl production capacity of the region due to habitat loss and fragmentation.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 11:20am - 11:40am
Riverview B

11:30am

S2. Challenges to Fish and Wildlife Restoration: State Perspective
AUTHORS: Todd Baker, Assistant Chief, Coastal & Nongame Resources Division, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries 

Tuesday October 18, 2016 11:30am - 11:45am
Louisiana Room

11:40am

Education/Outreach. Honey Island Shooting Range: An alternative strategy for public shooting range management
AUTHORS: John E. Sturgis, Bradley Jackson - Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries

ABSTRACT: The Honey Island Shooting Range (HISR) is a nine acre recreational shooting complex located on the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area in Southeast Louisiana. This facility is owned by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and operated by a third party, non-profit organization. Since 1994, a lease and operating agreement has existed between LDWF and Southeast Louisiana Firearms Safety, Inc. (SELFS) assigning operational authority of this range to SELFS. This cooperative agreement has benefited LDWF and range users by reducing staffing needs while simultaneously providing active, on site, range management. The SELFS organization recruits and trains volunteers to safely operate the range, and teaches hunter education courses to the general public. The usage of a non-profit third party entity for management purposes has resulted in substantial savings in both money and manpower, as well as generating volunteer hours which are used to match Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid Funds. HISR serves as a potential range management model for state agencies attempting to expand public shooting opportunities while minimizing agency expenses.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 11:40am - 12:00pm
University

11:40am

Fisheries. Reproductive Ecology of Alligator Gar: Identification of Environmental Drivers of Recruitment Success
AUTHORS: David L. Buckmeier, Nathan G. Smith, Daniel J. Daugherty, *Daniel L. Bennett - Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

ABSTRACT: Observations of alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula) spawning events indicate that recruitment may be linked to spring and summer flood pulses. However, because data have not typically come from formal experimentation, it is unknown to what degree these data represent true requirements for successful recruitment. We collected and reviewed existing data regarding alligator gar spawning and early development to draft habitat suitability criteria related to recruitment success and then tested these criteria against historic annual recruitment variability (i.e., year class strength) in the Trinity River and Choke Canyon Reservoir, Texas. Habitat suitability criteria were identified for water temperature (20 to 30°C), hydrology (inundation of floodplain habitats to a depth of at least 1 m for a minimum of 5 d), and spawning habitat characteristics (open canopy with herbaceous or small woody vegetation within 0.5 m of the water surface where there is little or no flow). In general, in both systems we found that alligator gar recruitment variability corresponded closely with the historic availability of suitable environmental conditions based on our proposed habitat suitability criteria. Alligator gar recruitment was highly variable with above average recruitment occurring in about 30% of the years. These years accounted for 75 – 86% of the age sample and the strongest two year classes in each system comprised about half of the population. While additional research is needed to refine these habitat suitability criteria, our study verifies a link between alligator gar recruitment success and the availability of floodplain spawning habitats in the spring and summer.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 11:40am - 12:00pm
Riverview A

11:40am

11:40am

Wildlife. Carnivore diet on Louisiana barrier beaches
AUTHORS: Mirka Zapletal, University of Louisiana at Lafayette; Dr. Paul Leberg, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

ABSTRACT: Dietary analysis provides information on predator trophic roles. We investigated the diets of coyotes and raccoons at eight barrier beach sites in coastal Louisiana, from Cypremort Point SP in the west to East Grande Terre in the east. We analyzed 59 coyote and 30 raccoon scats across broad prey categories to reveal patterns in dietary breadth, evenness, and prey volume. Coyotes exhibited significantly greater dietary breadth than raccoons (Wilcoxon, X^2 = 4.27, df = 1, P = 0.039), but dietary evenness did not differ between species (Wilcoxon, X^2 = 0.00, df = 1, P = 1.00). Coyote diet was dominated by mammalian prey (especially lagomorphs), grasses, and other plant materials, while raccoons consumed crustaceans, insects, and grasses more than other types of prey. Coyote dietary breadth was significantly influenced by rabbit presence (Wilcoxon, X^2 = 3.86, df = 1, P = 0.0495), suggesting that coyotes consumed fewer types of prey when rabbits are an available resource. We investigated changes in volume of prey in scats across environmental gradients (i.e. site size, vegetative complexity); as site isolation increased, raccoons consumed a greater volume of small mammal prey. Coyotes consumed smaller volumes of crustaceans and birds in sites with rabbits. Our results suggest that carnivore diet varies by species and responds to habitat complexity and prey availability. These patterns have conservation implications in coastal Louisiana where prey species include managed seabird populations and rising sea levels will alter habitat and prey availability. Carnivore management should employ species-specific strategies.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 11:40am - 12:00pm
Riverview B

11:45am

S2. Opportunities and Collaboration for Fish and Wildlife in Gulf Restoration: A Synthesis
AUTHORS: John Tirpak, Science Coordinator, Gulf Restoration Program, US Fish and Wildlife Service 

Tuesday October 18, 2016 11:45am - 12:00pm
Louisiana Room

12:00pm

Attendee Lunch on Your Own
Tuesday October 18, 2016 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Offsite

12:00pm

12:00pm

1:00pm

Education/Outreach. Engaging citizen scientists through fish tagging in Louisiana
AUTHORS: Craig Gothreaux, Heather David, Ashley Ferguson - Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: Angler-based tagging programs provide an opportunity for the public to engage in science and contribute to fisheries research, management, and conservation. The Louisiana Cooperative Marine Fish Tagging Program is a collaborative effort that allows citizen scientist to join forces with fishery biologists to tag and release fish, collect ancillary data over a wide geographic and temporal range, and report recaptures of these tagged fish. The program originated in 1988 with a focus on red drum, but has grown substantially in recent years with the involvement of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Extension/Outreach section. There are over 700 volunteer anglers actively participating, with an average of over 30,000 fish being tagged annually. There is also a group of elite taggers (that tag well over 100 fish per year) which are currently involved in a field study to evaluate different tag types. Furthermore, these citizen scientists also assist with fish collection for the Lake Pontchartrain acoustic telemetry project that involves surgical implantation of transmitters by biologists. As a way to share the information collected from the various tagging programs, websites have been created to allow the public to interface with the conventional tagging program (www.taglouisiana.com) and to visualize the movements of the acoustically tagged fish (louisianafisheries.net/telemetry/). These efforts have combined to successfully engage recreational anglers through outreach and foster the enthusiasm of citizen scientists eager to join forces with fisheries biologists towards an overarching goal of responsible resource management and conservation.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 1:00pm - 1:20pm
University

1:00pm

Fisheries. Old Dogs Learning New Tricks: American Eel Studies in Louisiana and the Gulf States
AUTHORS: Robert Maxwell, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Daniel Hill, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; and Sean Kinney, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: The American eel (Anguilla rostrata) has received increased attention in recent years due to world pressure on United States stocks, passage barriers, and lack of available life history information. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reviewed the status of the American eel in 2007 and 2015, and found that protection under the Endangered Species Act was not needed. Gulf of Mexico populations of American eel are data deficient compared to Atlantic populations, so we set out to capture eels to gather sex, size, age, and genetic data from eels in Southwest Louisiana. Using trapping methods similar to Savoie and Casanova (1982), we set traps monthly for a year in Lake Misere and Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge in Cameron Parish, LA. Though we caught bycatch consisting of preferred prey items, we failed to catch eels in our study pots, and only caught one in a “test pot” run parallel to the study. Failure to catch eels led us to reach out to multiple state and federal agencies in the region. It was discovered that very little interstate communication concerning eels was taking place, and many research goals and methods were overlapping. Failures were being repeated, and successes were not being shared. In early 2016, in conjunction with the University of Texas, we set up a listserv to share information about Gulf eel populations. It currently has 49 subscribers, and is growing. With increased communication across Gulf States, research can proceed more efficiently and effectively in the future.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 1:00pm - 1:20pm
Riverview A

1:00pm

S4. Resilience in the face of changing environmental conditions: Vertical adjustment and horizontal migration in tidal marshes
AUTHORS: Julia Cherry, University of Alabama

ABSTRACT: Tidal marsh resilience to sea-level rise and climate change depends on maintaining surface elevations relative to mean sea level or migrating upslope when rates of vertical adjustment are insufficient. The biophysical mechanisms regulating the capacity for vertical adjustment or horizontal migration are influenced by simultaneously changing external forcing factors, including rising concentrations of atmospheric CO2, changes in the depth or duration of flooding, alterations in sediment or freshwater delivery, nutrient enrichment, and shifts in disturbance regimes. To promote marsh resilience to these changing environmental factors, it is important to understand the interactive effects that these changes have on the biophysical processes regulating surface elevation and marsh migration. Through a combination of surface elevation change measurements and field and greenhouse experiments, I have examined some of the critical biophysical processes governing marsh responses to environmental change. Here, I will highlight some of the results of these studies, including the ways in which CO2, sea-level rise, disturbances, and/or nutrient enrichment can affect biological feedbacks to marsh surface elevations, as well as the ways in which these factors can affect the ability of marshes to transgress upslope. Collectively, the results of these efforts demonstrate that species-specific responses to changing conditions can drive marsh ecosystem responses, and they underscore the importance of examining multi-factor interactions on processes regulating marsh persistence in the landscape. Thus, the results of this research can inform management and conservation strategies aimed at improving tidal marsh resilience to sea-level rise and other environmental changes.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 1:00pm - 1:20pm
Louisiana Room

1:00pm

Wildlife. Teaming for Success: The Monito Island Gecko Recovery Initiative
AUTHORS: Miguel A. García, Department of Natural Resources and Environment and Center for Applied Tropical Ecology and Conservation; Jan Zegarra, Ecological Services Caribbean Field Office US Fish and Wildlife Service; Iván Llerandi-Román, Ecological Services Caribbean Field Office US Fish and Wildlife Service; Ricardo Lopez, Department of Natural Resources and Environment ; Cielo E. Figuerola, University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras Campus and Island Conservation; Omar Monsegur-Rivera Ecological Services Caribbean Field Office US Fish and Wildlife Service; José Cruz-Burgos, Ecological Services Caribbean Field Office US Fish and Wildlife Service; Nicole Angeli, Island Conservation

ABSTRACT: Islands suffer extremely high extinction rates (80%) and high indices of biodiversity and endemism. Therefore, the combination of these ecological factors makes implementing conservation initiatives and allocating funding toward these ecosystems an important priority. The endangered Monito Island gecko is an endemic species restricted only to 15 ha of habitat. Black rats and bombing practices were identified as the most plausible causes for its decline in the recovery plan. But, while bombing stopped even before the discovery of the species, high numbers of black rats were present in Monito Island. Consequently, we started in 1992 a two stages initiative, aimed to the recovery of this species. The first part consisted in the eradication of the black rat and the second part in the evaluation of the threat removal and assessing the response in the gecko population.

The eradication program was completed in 1999 and Monito Island was declared rat free in May 2014. Gecko counts range from initial rapid assessment of 13-23 sightings to a minimum of 92 individuals using a more robust methodology and further analysis is being done to calculate population estimates. But most importantly, geckos were found in 36 of the 40 plots randomly established throughout all searchable habitat of the island. This project was a joint venture between the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and the Caribbean Field Office US Fish and Wildlife Services and represents the first event in which an interagency team achieves the recovery of an endangered species in Puerto Rico.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 1:00pm - 1:20pm
Riverview B

1:00pm

S1. The task ahead for all of us: Overview of National List Working Plan and the role we each play (USFWS, State Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Private Working Forest Landowners)

America’s forest landowners support reasonable regulation that protects wildlife habitat while keeping working forests economically viable. The Southeast is the largest wood fiber producing region in the country, producing 63 percent of the nation’s total timber by volume, while also ranking at the top of all forests in biodiversity when measured by wildlife and plant species, demonstrating that well-managed working forests are also successful conservation programs.

Moderator: Melinda Gable - Forest Landowners Association, VP Stewardship Initiatives

Panel Presenters:

  • Mike Harris – At-Risk Species Coordinator, USFWS Region IV
  • Paul Stone – Conservation Forester, Crosby Land Resources and Louisiana Forestry Association Endangered Species Committee Chair
  • Lauren K. Ward - Doctoral Candidate Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Doctoral Candidate
  • Chris Erwin - Director, Woodland Conservation, American Forest Foundation
  • Michael J. Brennan - Director, Wildlife Conservation and Mitigation Program, Texas A&M University Institute of Renewable Natural Resources 
1:00 pm – 1:30 pm: The task ahead for all of us: Overview of National List Working Plan and the role we each play (USFWS, State Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Private Working Forest Landowners)

1:30 pm – 2:00 pm: Survey results of forest landowners in the SEUS on knowledge and attitudes pertaining to the ESA, red-cockaded woodpecker, and perspectives on the political and economic forces at play in their land management decisions, with implications for future collaboration and policy changes that could lead to better public/private collaboration for the protection of at-risk species.

2:00 pm – 2:40 pm: Ensuring landowners “regulatory predictability” as management decisions are assessed will be crucial in achieving the conservation and recovery of at-risk species on working forests.  America’s multi-generational family working forest owners as well as TIMO’s must be an integral part of achieving conservation of at-risk species.

Overview of the diverse forest stakeholders and the benefits and challenges of providing habitat for at-risk species, while also managing for timber production. 

2:40 pm – 3:20 pm: Break

3:20 pm – 3:50 pm: Overview and Case Study: How managing working forests can contribute to conservation of at-risk species and how federal and state conservation programs can contribute to conservation of at-risk species on working forests. 

3:50 pm – 4:30 pm: Current initiatives and collaboration: Strategies to address regulatory uncertainty and how best to engage private working forests in voluntary conservation to achieve mutual objectives of species conservation and keeping working forests working. 

4:30 pm – 5:00 pm: Discussion on action items to achieve optimal collaboration and desired outcomes.

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Improving communications and collaboration among the fish and wildlife service, state fish and wildlife agencies and private landowners

 

  • How do we better document what benefits are occurring on managed working forest?
  • Improving collection of fundamental information about status and distribution of species for more informed decision making by the USFWS.  Establishing assurances for landowners to participate in species research/data collection.
Development of a Programmatic CCAA for multiple species: creating umbrella agreements to include species with like habitat needs.  The “bundling” of species for review, rules and CCAA is a reoccurring theme with forest managers and owners.  Discussion on how to streamline the process and work across state lines.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 1:00pm - 1:30pm
Hunt Room

1:00pm

Law Enforcement. Illegal Taking of Alligators
AUTHORS: Ranger 1st Class Jon Penuel/Cpl. Tony Cox, Georgia DNR Law Enforcement Division

ABSTRCT: In November of 2015, Ranger First Class Jon Penuel and Corporal Tony Cox began an investigation into the possible illegal taking of alligators during the 2015 Alligator Quota Season. They initially began their investigation in the Albany Region by checking harvest information sheets that hunters are required to complete when checking in their harvested alligator. They examined each harvest record sheet and checked each hunters name to ensure that they had purchased the correct licenses and had harvested the alligator in the correct zone for which they had been drawn. During their initial checks the Rangers identified approximately 10 violations out of the approximately 30 names that were checked.

As a result of these compliance checks, RFC Penuel and Cpl. Cox identified multiple license violations as well as multiple alligators which had been harvested in the wrong zone. After presenting their findings, the Rangers were directed to continue their investigation outside of the Albany Law Enforcement Region. With this directive, the Rangers gathered all the harvest information sheets, quota selection sheets, quota tag number lists and any other pertinent information available from the DNR State Alligator Program and began to manually check each harvest information form for compliance. RFC Penuel and Cpl. Cox completed these manual compliance checks over the following weeks by comparing each of the 300 plus harvest information sheets to the paper quota selection sheets and quota tag lists they had obtained.

As a result of these compliance checks, RFC Penuel and Cpl. Cox identified a violation rate of approximately ten (10) percent. The violations identified were hunting without licenses, taking alligators in the wrong zone and taking alligators without a permit (tag). Due to number of violations and the fact the violations were committed by subjects located throughout the state, the help of other Rangers around the state were enlisted to assist with the interviews.

As these statewide interviews were taking place, RFC Penuel and Cpl. Cox interviewed some of the local hunters that had been identified for being out of compliance. During these interviews, they identified a subject that had been possibly manipulating DNR’s online quota selection system. Through interviews with different subjects who had harvest information sheets filled out in their names, they identified that this subject was using other individuals’ personal information without their consent, to apply and in some cases be selected for an alligator permit (tag). Upon further investigation, it was found that this subject had been manipulating as many as twenty seven (27) different license accounts over multiple years in order to build up rejection points on each account, then apply and be selected for alligator permits (tags). The subject was able to list his personal email address in each license account which gave him access to all communications to and from the online quota system in order to know when or if each account holder had been selected for a permit (tag). The subject would then make contact with the account holder to let them know that they had been selected for an alligator permit and offer to take them on a hunt. In some cases, the account holder actually hunted and harvested an alligator. In other cases, the account holders stated they had no knowledge of the quota application/selection process and had never been on an alligator hunt.

As this investigation has continued over the past few months, RFC Penuel and Cpl. Cox have interviewed other hunters connected to the suspect and have served a search warrant on the suspects email account. They are currently awaiting results of that warrant in order to move forward with more interviews and charges which may include Identity Theft and/or Fraud along with hunting license violations and possession of illegally taken wildlife.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 1:00pm - 1:35pm
Victory Room

1:00pm

Legal. Legal Issues - State and Federal Interaction
AUTHORS: Doug Mann, Special Assistant Attorney General and Drew Malone, Special Assistant Attorney General, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks  

Tuesday October 18, 2016 1:00pm - 1:45pm
Academy Room

1:00pm

1:00pm

1:00pm

1:00pm

1:20pm

Education/Outreach. LDWF’s Aquatic Volunteer Instructor Program
AUTHORS: Alayna McGarry, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has expanded on its aquatic education instructor program in order to reach more individuals across the entire state. The goal is to train volunteers to help us increase awareness and participation in recreational fishing in Louisiana. The program consists of a free hands-on training course in which participants are taught how to host their own event to share knowledge of Louisiana fisheries and teach others how to fish. Now known as the Aquatic Volunteer Instructor Program (Aquatic VIP), we have trained just over 50 volunteers in the past year. Whether it’s as simple of an activity like casting practice with backyard bass or as in-depth of a lesson like fish anatomy, this Program covers it all. Aquatic VIP supplies the volunteers with lesson plans, activity guides, educational material and loaner kits to be utilized at events. With Aquatic VIP expanding and reaching more parts of Louisiana, the future of this program is bright. Thanks to these volunteers, the public will continue to be taught about their role in conserving Louisiana’s aquatic resources

Tuesday October 18, 2016 1:20pm - 1:40pm
University

1:20pm

Fisheries. Population Characteristics of Channel Catfish from Toledo Bend Reservoir, Louisiana
AUTHORS: Sean Kinney, Bobby Reed - Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) were studied on Toledo Bend Reservoir from 2008 to 2010 with vertically set hoop nets to better understand population characteristics. The length and age at which 50% of the specimens have achieved sexual maturity (M50) was estimated for both sexes and was similar to other studies from Louisiana (male total length (TL) = 274 mm, age = 3+) (female TL = 279 mm, age = 3+). Relative weight (Wr) for all but the largest of catfish sampled was poor. This was attributed to excess competition of the size class 228 to 330 mm TL. Gonad somatic indices (GSI) for females showed the highest proportion of body weight designated to reproduction was found in the month of June. Estimates of total annual mortality (80%), natural mortality (62%), and fishing mortality (20% - commercial gear only) were estimated using catch curve analyses and were within the range of results reported in the literature. Yield per recruit was maximized when natural mortality was high, exploitation was low, and minimum length limit was below 228 mm (9 inches). Results indicated that channel catfish in Toledo Bend Reservoir exhibit the characteristics of a stunted population. Increased commercial harvest is suggested to reduce competition and increase yield per recruit.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 1:20pm - 1:40pm
Riverview A

1:20pm

S4. Assessing Potential Ecosytem Function in Coastal Wetlands Using Habitat Suitability Indices
AUTHORS: Tim Carruthers, The Water Institute of the Gulf; Melissa Baustian, The Water Institute of the Gulf; Camille Stagg, US Geological Service; Carey Perry, Gulf South Research Corporation; Kelly Darnell, The Water Institute of the Gulf; Ann Hijuelos, The Water Institute of the Gulf

ABSTRACT: While the importance of coastal marshes in supporting commercially and recreationally important fisheries species in coastal Louisiana is well recognized, frameworks to interpret the relative importance of various emergent marsh habitats versus adjacent submerged aquatic habitats are lacking. In addition, approaches to assess the relative importance of key coastal habitats to suites of species to develop assessments of integrated ecosystem function (including fisheries) are challenging, yet this knowledge can inform decision making for sustainable management and prioritization of restoration actions.

Habitat suitability index (HSI) outputs from the 2012 Master Plan were used to develop an approach for assessing integrated ecosystem function values for broad coastal habitat classifications. Of the nineteen HSIs calculated, seven were commercially or recreationally important fisheries species; alligator, brown shrimp, crawfish, largemouth bass, oyster, spotted trout, and white shrimp. These spatial HSI data from across coastal Louisiana were synthesized and analyzed relative to the Coastwide Reference Monitoring System (CRMS) marsh habitat classification (saline, brackish, intermediate and fresh). Linkages between habitats, species and consideration of integrated ecosystem function value of each habitat were summarized and verified, where possible, with available literature.

Ongoing loss of emergent marsh in coastal Louisiana and transition to shallow open water habitat makes understanding the linkages between ecosystem functions (including fisheries), with submerged aquatic habitats, independent of associated emergent marsh habitats, increasingly important. This work provides a conceptual framework and analytical approach to assist in addressing these knowledge gaps.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 1:20pm - 1:40pm
Louisiana Room

1:20pm

Wildlife. Conservation of Coastal Prairie Rangelands in Southwest Louisiana
AUTHORS: Christopher Reid, Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Natural Heritage Program

ABSTRACT: Coastal prairie historically occupied 9 million acres stretching along the Gulf Coast from south-central Louisiana to southern Texas. This extension of tall-grass prairie from the eastern Great Plains is among the most imperiled habitats in North America, with less than 1% remaining. Most of Louisiana’s remaining coastal prairie acreage is utilized as rangeland. While coastal prairie rangelands are very promising, they are invariably degraded. Rangeland prairie floras typically include a mix of characteristic prairies species and weedy elements responding to past grazing pressure, soil disturbance, and fire exclusion. Inadequate fire has also resulted in woody encroachment by native and exotic species. In 2013, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) partnered with three ranches to improve prairie habitat on these properties. To date, LDWF staff have applied prescribed fire to 2,000 acres of prairie and have accomplished chemical brush control on 300 acres. Funding has been secured to continue vigorous prescribed burning and to perform chemical and mechanical brush control on coastal prairie remnants over the next three years. These stewardship actions are improving coastal prairie habitat quality and improving forage quality and quantity for cows. Accomplishments of LDWF’s coastal prairie conservation initiative will be reported and information from ongoing botanical and ecological research will be presented.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 1:20pm - 1:40pm
Riverview B

1:30pm

S1. Survey results of forest landowners in the SEUS on knowledge and attitudes pertaining to the ESA, red-cockaded woodpecker, and perspectives on the political and economic forces at play in their land management decisions, with implications for future c

America’s forest landowners support reasonable regulation that protects wildlife habitat while keeping working forests economically viable. The Southeast is the largest wood fiber producing region in the country, producing 63 percent of the nation’s total timber by volume, while also ranking at the top of all forests in biodiversity when measured by wildlife and plant species, demonstrating that well-managed working forests are also successful conservation programs.

Moderator: Melinda Gable - Forest Landowners Association, VP Stewardship Initiatives

Panel Presenters:

  • Mike Harris – At-Risk Species Coordinator, USFWS Region IV
  • Paul Stone – Conservation Forester, Crosby Land Resources and Louisiana Forestry Association Endangered Species Committee Chair
  • Lauren K. Ward - Doctoral Candidate Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Doctoral Candidate
  • Chris Erwin - Director, Woodland Conservation, American Forest Foundation
  • Michael J. Brennan - Director, Wildlife Conservation and Mitigation Program, Texas A&M University Institute of Renewable Natural Resources 
1:00 pm – 1:30 pm: The task ahead for all of us: Overview of National List Working Plan and the role we each play (USFWS, State Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Private Working Forest Landowners)

1:30 pm – 2:00 pm: Survey results of forest landowners in the SEUS on knowledge and attitudes pertaining to the ESA, red-cockaded woodpecker, and perspectives on the political and economic forces at play in their land management decisions, with implications for future collaboration and policy changes that could lead to better public/private collaboration for the protection of at-risk species.

2:00 pm – 2:40 pm: Ensuring landowners “regulatory predictability” as management decisions are assessed will be crucial in achieving the conservation and recovery of at-risk species on working forests.  America’s multi-generational family working forest owners as well as TIMO’s must be an integral part of achieving conservation of at-risk species.

Overview of the diverse forest stakeholders and the benefits and challenges of providing habitat for at-risk species, while also managing for timber production. 

2:40 pm – 3:20 pm: Break

3:20 pm – 3:50 pm: Overview and Case Study: How managing working forests can contribute to conservation of at-risk species and how federal and state conservation programs can contribute to conservation of at-risk species on working forests. 

3:50 pm – 4:30 pm: Current initiatives and collaboration: Strategies to address regulatory uncertainty and how best to engage private working forests in voluntary conservation to achieve mutual objectives of species conservation and keeping working forests working. 

4:30 pm – 5:00 pm: Discussion on action items to achieve optimal collaboration and desired outcomes.

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Improving communications and collaboration among the fish and wildlife service, state fish and wildlife agencies and private landowners

 

  • How do we better document what benefits are occurring on managed working forest?
  • Improving collection of fundamental information about status and distribution of species for more informed decision making by the USFWS.  Establishing assurances for landowners to participate in species research/data collection.
Development of a Programmatic CCAA for multiple species: creating umbrella agreements to include species with like habitat needs.  The “bundling” of species for review, rules and CCAA is a reoccurring theme with forest managers and owners.  Discussion on how to streamline the process and work across state lines.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 1:30pm - 2:00pm
Hunt Room

1:35pm

Law Enforcement. Posses, Sell, Ship Prohibited Species
AUTHORS: Investigator Steve Wayne, Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission, Division of Law Enforcement

ABSTRACT: The market for fish and wildlife has increased thru the ease and availability of internet sales and the convenience of shipping wildlife through commercial shipping companies. The pet trade has followed this trend from traditional retail store sales to internet sales. A Central Florida dealer in reptiles and amphibians used deceptive methods to possess, sell and ship prohibited species of reptiles through intra- and interstate commerce to locations all over the world. A team of local, state and federal partners focused on a long term criminal investigation of the dealer resulting in a complex array of state and federal wildlife and fraud violations.

In early 2013, FWC Investigator Steve Wayne intercepted a shipment of four alligators from an unlicensed reptile dealer in Central Florida. His investigative experience told him that there was potential for a larger scale criminal operation than was immediately obvious. Over the course of Wayne’s investigation, which spanned a large geographic area, multiple aliases, business names and fictitious shipping addresses, he was able to track and inspect, with the assistance of multiple partners, more than 50 shipments of illegal species of wildlife and hundreds of legal species.

Using multiple investigative methods with a wide range of partners, it was learned that the reptile dealer was also committing fraud by setting up and using multiple fraudulent shipping business accounts, pocketing shipping fees that were being paid to him by unsuspecting customers.
More than 200 state wildlife violations were cited, as well as federal felony violations for Lacey Act (False Labelling), Lacey Act (Wildlife Trafficking), Bank Fraud, Mail Fraud, Aggravated Identity Theft, and Conspiracy. Investigator Wayne’s tenacity, perseverance and his ability to create and sustain inter-agency partnerships and communications resulted in this successful case.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 1:35pm - 2:05pm
Victory Room

1:40pm

Fisheries. Population Characteristics of Paddlefish in the Mermentau River Basin, Louisiana
AUTHORS: Bobby Reed, Eric Shanks, Kristi Butler - Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: While primarily an inhabitant of the Mississippi River basin, several disjunct populations of paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) occur in the smaller rivers along the western gulf coast of Louisiana. Paddlefish were studied in the Mermentau River in southwest Louisiana to better understand population characteristics in this small coastal river. The growth, mortality, fecundity, age frequency, sex ratio, and population estimates were determined from paddlefish (n = 1,414) collected from 1990 to 2006. The gender-combined sizes ranged from 496 to 1,017 mm eye-fork length, and ages ranged from 2 – 16 years (males) and 5 – 16 years (females). Instantaneous mortality rates were moderate (Z = 0.36, r2 = 0.91) when compared to other Louisiana populations from the Mississippi River basin. Observed annual growth rates of paddlefish from mark and recapture efforts ranged from 7 mm to 35 mm per year. The sex ratios of fish collected on the spawning grounds ranged from 1.0 : 1.1 to 6.6 : 1, males to females, while those sampled in summer habitat were nearly 1 : 1. Fecundity determined from 90 hatchery spawned females ranged from 38,400 to 226,800 ova with an average of 125,040 per spawn. The population of breeding adults was estimated to be 27,273,000 (95% CI = 19,013 – 40,769). While geographically separated from the Mississippi River population, Mermentau River paddlefish exhibit similar life history characteristics.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 1:40pm - 2:00pm
Riverview A

1:40pm

1:40pm

Wildlife. Development of Open-Pine Forest Condition Metrics for Wildlife and Ecological Integrity
AUTHORS: Randy Wilson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Rickie White, NatureServe, Carl Nordman, NatureServe, Milo Pyne, NatureServe, Clay Ware, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chuck Hunter, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Catherine Rideout, East Gulf Coastal Plain Joint Venture

ABSTRACT: Open woodlands were historically a large component of the landscape across the southeastern United States. These woodlands have an open canopy of longleaf, slash, shortleaf, and/or loblolly pines, with scattered shrubs and a grassy understory. These southern open pine ecosystems support many species of wildlife, many of which have declined in recent years as the amount and condition of their habitat has declined. This troubling decline in wildlife species has led to a focus on regional conservation efforts by a myriad of conservation agencies, organizations. These groups all agree that there is a need for more high quality open pine acreage, but until now there has been no efficient, agreed upon, way to identify those tracts that are providing the best habitat for key wildlife species. In partnership with the Gulf Coastal Plain and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative, NatureServe, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the East Gulf Coastal Plain Joint Venture have developed desired forest condition metrics to facilitate implementation and evaluation of wildlife habitat and ecological integrity of lands where the primary objective is wildlife habitat. These desired forest condition metrics when used in conjunction with a rapid assessment protocol help conservation-minded landowners understand how their properties are contributing to the habitat needs of priority wildlife of southern open pine ecosystems, as determined by the Gulf Coastal Plain and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative Science Adaptation Plan.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 1:40pm - 2:00pm
Riverview B

1:45pm

Legal. AFWA Update
AUTHORS: Carol Bambery, Counsel, AFWA 

Tuesday October 18, 2016 1:45pm - 2:30pm
Academy Room

2:00pm

Education/Outreach. WETSHOP: A coastal awareness teacher workshop
AUTHORS: Angela Capello, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: WETSHOP (Wetland Education Teacher workshop), sponsored by LA Dept. Wildlife & Fisheries, is a coastal awareness workshop for teachers which provides an in-depth look at issues related to wetland ecology and coastal land loss in Louisiana. During this week-long wetlands institute, teachers spend a portion of each day in the field learning about maritime forests, barrier island beach ecology, coastal restoration, ornithology, coastal botany and the role of oil and gas in Louisiana. Pre-test and post-test data indicate an increase in scientific content knowledge. WETSHOP is a stewardship project which encourages WETSHOP graduates to implement wetland projects with their students, other teachers and their community.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 2:00pm - 2:20pm
University

2:00pm

Fisheries. Evaluation of the Commercially-Exploited Paddlefish Fishery in the Lower Mississippi River
AUTHORS: Jeremy T. Risley, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission; Ronald L. Johnson, Arkansas State University; Jeffrey W. Quinn, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

ABSTRACT: Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) are a commercially-exploited species harvested primarily for their roe. The objectives of this study were to describe population characteristics of paddlefish in the Lower Mississippi River (LMR), and use population simulation software to determine the length limit required to prevent recruitment overfishing by maintaining spawning potential ratios over 30%. In cooperation with commercial fishers, paddlefish were collected from the LMR during the 2008 – 2011 commercial seasons (n = 534). Sizes ranged from 150 – 1,095 mm and ages from 2 – 24 years. Total annual mortality was estimated at 28%, and exploitation was derived to be 11% with 17% conditional natural mortality. Only 10% of gravid females were protected by the existing 864-mm minimum length limit (MLL), and changing to 889-mm protected an additional 10%. Growth curves were used to predict fish require 10.8 and 11.8 years to reach 864-mm and 889-mm, respectively. Population simulations predicted SPRs would fall below 30% at 26% and 37% exploitation for 864-mm and 889-mm MLLs. Exploitation in excess of 72% was required to lower SPR below 20% with an 889-mm MLL. Simulations predicted an 889-mm MLL would only reduce flesh yield by 9% versus the existing MLL. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission instituted an 889-mm MLL in 2013, based on the results of this study, to protect the sustainability of the paddlefish population in the LMR.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 2:00pm - 2:20pm
Riverview A

2:00pm

S4. Implications of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project on freshwater and oligohaline marshes and tidal freshwater swamps in South Carolina and Georgia
AUTHORS: Jamie A Duberstein, Clemson University Baruch Institute

ABSTRACT: Improvements in efficiencies for cargo ships accessing the Savannah River harbor are underway, along with a variety of environmental monitoring protocols. Higher salinity water is expected to flood further up the main channel of the Savannah River as the shipping lane is deepened from -42 feet to -47 feet, potentially effecting those environmental resources being monitored; mitigation features are planned to be implemented to offset marsh losses along the main channel. Twelve freshwater and oligohaline marsh sites are being monitored for changes in aboveground and/or belowground salinity, and community composition of the marsh vegetation. Three tidal freshwater forest areas are also being monitored for growth rates and salinity conditions. Marsh monitoring began in April 2014, and forest monitoring began December 2014. Analysis results from marsh vegetation surveys of June 2014 and 2015 will be compared, and the dominant six community types described. A summary of site-specific salinity conditions will also be provided. An anticipated timeline for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project will be presented, recognizing the inherent dynamics associated with this national infrastructure development priority.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 2:00pm - 2:20pm
Louisiana Room

2:00pm

Wildlife. An Overview of At-Risk Species Research Related to the Electric Power Industry
AUTHORS: Becca Madsen, Electric Power Research Institute

ABSTRACT: The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is a non-profit research institute that conducts research related to issues facing the electric power industry. In 2016, the organization launched a new research area related to Endangered and Protected Species. The major themes of research relate to conservation planning, species listing and delisting, and critical habitat. Additionally, EPRI supports collaboration among federal and state agencies, utilities, and other commercial and non-profit organizations in the area of endangered and protected species. Some research already conducted included developing a methodology for prioritizing research and conservation efforts for at-risk species, analyzing ecological assets of corporate surplus lands, synthesizing information on voluntary conservation tools, and reviewing policy and approaches for defining critical habitat. This presentation will help participants understand industry perspective, challenges, and opportunities related to research of at-risk species issues.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 2:00pm - 2:20pm
Riverview B

2:00pm

S1. Ensuring landowners “regulatory predictability” as management decisions are assessed will be crucial in achieving the conservation and recovery of at-risk species on working forests. America’s multi-generational family working forest owners as well as

America’s forest landowners support reasonable regulation that protects wildlife habitat while keeping working forests economically viable. The Southeast is the largest wood fiber producing region in the country, producing 63 percent of the nation’s total timber by volume, while also ranking at the top of all forests in biodiversity when measured by wildlife and plant species, demonstrating that well-managed working forests are also successful conservation programs.

Moderator: Melinda Gable - Forest Landowners Association, VP Stewardship Initiatives

Panel Presenters:

  • Mike Harris – At-Risk Species Coordinator, USFWS Region IV
  • Paul Stone – Conservation Forester, Crosby Land Resources and Louisiana Forestry Association Endangered Species Committee Chair
  • Lauren K. Ward - Doctoral Candidate Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Doctoral Candidate
  • Chris Erwin - Director, Woodland Conservation, American Forest Foundation
  • Michael J. Brennan - Director, Wildlife Conservation and Mitigation Program, Texas A&M University Institute of Renewable Natural Resources 
1:00 pm – 1:30 pm: The task ahead for all of us: Overview of National List Working Plan and the role we each play (USFWS, State Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Private Working Forest Landowners)

1:30 pm – 2:00 pm: Survey results of forest landowners in the SEUS on knowledge and attitudes pertaining to the ESA, red-cockaded woodpecker, and perspectives on the political and economic forces at play in their land management decisions, with implications for future collaboration and policy changes that could lead to better public/private collaboration for the protection of at-risk species.

2:00 pm – 2:40 pm: Ensuring landowners “regulatory predictability” as management decisions are assessed will be crucial in achieving the conservation and recovery of at-risk species on working forests.  America’s multi-generational family working forest owners as well as TIMO’s must be an integral part of achieving conservation of at-risk species.

Overview of the diverse forest stakeholders and the benefits and challenges of providing habitat for at-risk species, while also managing for timber production. 

2:40 pm – 3:20 pm: Break

3:20 pm – 3:50 pm: Overview and Case Study: How managing working forests can contribute to conservation of at-risk species and how federal and state conservation programs can contribute to conservation of at-risk species on working forests. 

3:50 pm – 4:30 pm: Current initiatives and collaboration: Strategies to address regulatory uncertainty and how best to engage private working forests in voluntary conservation to achieve mutual objectives of species conservation and keeping working forests working. 

4:30 pm – 5:00 pm: Discussion on action items to achieve optimal collaboration and desired outcomes.

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Improving communications and collaboration among the fish and wildlife service, state fish and wildlife agencies and private landowners

 

  • How do we better document what benefits are occurring on managed working forest?
  • Improving collection of fundamental information about status and distribution of species for more informed decision making by the USFWS.  Establishing assurances for landowners to participate in species research/data collection.
Development of a Programmatic CCAA for multiple species: creating umbrella agreements to include species with like habitat needs.  The “bundling” of species for review, rules and CCAA is a reoccurring theme with forest managers and owners.  Discussion on how to streamline the process and work across state lines.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 2:00pm - 2:40pm
Hunt Room

2:00pm

Human Resources Committee Session
Tuesday October 18, 2016 2:00pm - 5:00pm
King Room

2:05pm

Law Enforcement. SeaHawk IOC
AUTHORS: FSGT Cary R. Davis, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT: The SeaHawk IOC is a multi-agency taskforce combining Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies, as well as local partners with an interest in providing security for the Port of Charleston. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has assisted since the inception of SeaHawk, however a DNR Law Enforcement Intelligence Officer was assigned to work full time at the IOC in February 2015. This position assists in the coordination of DNR participation in the port security mission, in both maritime and shore-side environments.

The primary mission of the IOC is to focus on port security, however it has evolved since its inception in 2003. It additionally provides intelligence and investigation assistance requested by any law enforcement agency with an open investigation, no matter how big or small the case may be. The presentation is a Power Point presentation, and is between 45 minutes to 1 hour. It includes the history and evolution of SeaHawk, the technology utilized, involvement in high profile cases (Emanuel AME Church Shooting in Charleston and the Walter Scott officer involved shooting in N. Charleston), and several success stories. It will also highlight how SCDNR's participation has benefited the department and the SeaHawk partners.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 2:05pm - 2:40pm
Victory Room

2:20pm

Education/Outreach. Keep Them Fishing: Angler Churn Rates, Lifestyles and Other Insights Needed to Effectively Maintain Sportfishing
AUTHORS: Rob Southwick, Southwick Associates; American Sportfishing Association; National Shooting Sports Foundation

ABSTRACT: Today, fishing activity is up compared to just ten years ago. But why? Have we recruited more anglers or did we increase the rate with which anglers renew their licenses? What’s the trend among younger anglers, women? Are there regional issues to address? Answers to these questions, and others, are critical insights for the recreational fishing communities in their efforts to maximize participation and returns on future marketing investments.

With the support of the American Sportfishing Association and state fish and wildlife agencies, Southwick Associates undertook an in-depth exploration of historical fishing license sales data from twelve states across the nation. We identify key segments within the angling population: those who are retained year after year, those who recently stepped away from the sport but are returning to the sport, and those who are new to the sport. Based on their activity levels, we uncover new insights about today’s angling population after exploring their demographics, lifestyle characteristics, and other factors influencing their desire to fish.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 2:20pm - 2:40pm
University

2:20pm

Fisheries. Movement and Growth of Wild Brown Trout in the Chattahoochee River Below Lake Lanier, Georgia
AUTHORS: Patrick O'Rouke, Georgia Wildlife Resources Division (Current affiliation, Georgia Power Company)

ABSTRACT: The Georgia Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) performed a tagging study from April 2011 to May 2012 to study the growth of wild brown trout in the Lanier Tailwater section of the Chattahoochee River. Sampling occurred monthly at four sites and fish were tagged through March 2012 for subsequent recapture. Finer-scale samples later in 2012 confirmed a lack of movement between sites by any tagged brown trout that was seen in the previous samples. Growth increments between tagging and recapture events were calculated and used to estimate average length at age. Brown trout appear to initially grow rapidly and reach stock size (200-260 mm) within two years. However, it can take more than ten years for the average brown trout to reach 300 mm TL based on calculated von Bertalanffy growth curves. More than 80% of brown trout collected measured between 175 and 275 mm TL. Some individuals did display much faster growth rates which could only partially be explained by obvious variables such as seasonality, location, or size. The strong decline in growth rate among larger fish is potentially a result of limited forage in a relatively unproductive river, while the individual variability between similar fish may be a result of behavior (e.g. a transition to piscivory).

Tuesday October 18, 2016 2:20pm - 2:40pm
Riverview A

2:20pm

S4. Louisiana’s Alligator Management Program
AUTHORS: Edmond C. Mouton Jr., Ruth M. Elsey, Jeb T. Linscombe - Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries

ABSTRACT: The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries manages the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) as a commercial, renewable natural resource. The Department’s sustained use program is one of the world’s most recognizable examples of a wildlife conservation success story, and has been used as a model for managing various crocodilian species throughout the world. The goals of the Department’s alligator program are to manage and conserve Louisiana’s alligators as part of the state’s wetland ecosystem, provide benefits to the species, its habitat and the other species of fish and wildlife associated with alligators. The basic philosophy was to develop a sustained use management program which, through regulated harvest, would provide long term benefits to the survival of the species, maintain its habitats, and provide significant economic benefits to the citizens of the state. Since the inception of the Department’s program in 1972, over 1 million wild alligators have been harvested, over 9 million alligator eggs have been collected from the wild, and over 5 million farm raised alligators have been sold bringing in millions of dollars of revenue to landowners, trappers and farmers. Conservative estimates have valued these resources at over one billion dollars over the years providing significant, direct economic benefit to the citizens of Louisiana. This presentation will briefly review the federal government’s oversight and approval role for management of the alligator, discusses wild, farm and nuisance alligator programs as well as research activities.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 2:20pm - 2:40pm
Louisiana Room

2:20pm

Wildlife. A preliminary survey of the reproductive behavior of a non-migratory whooping crane (Grus americana) population in southwest Louisiana
AUTHORS: Phillip L. Vasseur, Sara E. Zimorski, Eva K. Szyszkoski - Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: Since 2011, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has released a total of 75 whooping cranes (Grus americana) in southwest Louisiana in an attempt to reintroduce the species to a portion of its historic breeding range with the ultimate goal of establishing a self-sustaining, non-migratory population. The whooping crane is a long-lived species (up to 30 years in the wild) that reaches sexual maturity around 3-5 years of age. Therefore, several individuals in this population have only recently attained breeding-age status and shown indications of reproductive behavior including pair formation, copulation, nest building, and egg laying. In 2014, a pair produced the first clutch of eggs laid in the Louisiana wild in 75 years. Several other pairs nested the following year including one pair that produced a fertile egg; however, no eggs hatched to that point. This year marked a historic milestone with the successful hatching of two chicks from the nest of a newly formed pair. LDWF researchers will continue to closely monitor reproductively active pairs in order to build a more robust database on nesting behavior by recording the timing, location, and placement of nests, as well as, incubation and hatching rates to better assess management objectives.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 2:20pm - 2:40pm
Riverview B

2:30pm

Refreshment Break with Exhibitors
Tuesday October 18, 2016 2:30pm - 3:30pm
Gallery

3:00pm

3:20pm

Education/Outreach. LDWF’s Get Out and Fish! program
AUTHORS: Megan MacMenamin, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has launched a new community fishing program called Get Out and Fish!. Through this program LDWF strives to recruit, retain and reactivate anglers to the sport of fishing. The creation of a quality fishery provides residents of all ages and abilities easy access to a fun fishing experience. The Get Out and Fish! program promotes family and community interactions and provides educational opportunities to teach children and adults how to fish.

LDWF biologists select a community pond that is located in close proximity to a city, town, or village and is accessible to the general public. LDWF then partners with the local government or community organization to provide quality fishing with great odds of catching fish by stocking adult size channel catfish and rainbow trout. LDWF assists with scheduling the fish stocking and provides technical or pond management assistance. In addition, LDWF staff and volunteers assist the local organization in hosting a Get Out and Fish! event in conjunction with the initial stocking of fish. These events have both a family friendly fishing competition as well as educational fishing activities. For those anglers who are less experienced we provide instruction on casting, bait selection, knot tying, fish identification and more.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 3:20pm - 3:40pm
University

3:20pm

Fisheries. Relationships Among Angler Satisfaction, Catch, and the Sport Fish Assemblage of an Urban Small Impoundment Fishery
AUTHORS: Tomas J. Ivasauskas, Wilson N. Xiong, Augustin C. Engman, Jesse R. Fischer - North Carolina State University Department of Applied Ecology; Thomas J. Kwak, North Carolina State University Department of Applied Ecology, U.S. Geological Survey, North Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Kirk R. Rundle, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

ABSTRACT: Urban fisheries provide unique angling opportunities for people with limited transportation and from traditionally underrepresented demographics. Prior studies have shown that these fisheries differ from rural counterparts in terms of factors affecting angler satisfaction, as well as effort and harvest rates. Lake Raleigh is a 38-ha impoundment located on North Carolina State University campus in Raleigh; little is known about angler use and satisfaction or how angling success relates to fish availability in this urban fishery. We simultaneously characterized the Lake Raleigh recreational fishery and sport fish assemblage with an angler survey and boat electrofishing in 2015. In total, 197 anglers were interviewed over 68 occasions. Pulsed-DC boat electrofishing was conducted on 25 dates, and 1,985 fish were sampled. On average, anglers spent 1.6 hours fishing per trip and caught 0.24 fish per hour. Forty-six percent of anglers targeted multiple species, 34% targeted Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides, 11% targeted catfish (bullhead catfishes and Channel Catfish Ictalurus punctatus), and 9% targeted panfish (e.g., Bluegill Lepomis macrochirus, Black Crappie Pomoxis nigromaculatus). A majority of anglers surveyed (73%) were satisfied with their experience, and satisfaction was not related to catch rate. Angler catch rate was not related to electrofishing catch rate, indicating that anglers’ success was independent of fish density. The addition of fish attractor structures did not have an immediate effect on angling or electrofishing catch rates. Our results highlight the unique preferences and behaviors of urban anglers, and demonstrate that even minimally managed urban fisheries can provide high angler satisfaction.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 3:20pm - 3:40pm
Riverview A

3:20pm

S4. The Apalachicola Most Endangered Estuary
AUTHORS: Dan Tonsmere, Apalachicola Riverkeeper

ABSTRACT: The ACF River Basin drains 19,600 square miles from the foothills of the Smokey Mountains to the Northern Gulf Coast where Apalachicola Bay pours into the Eastern Gulf. This system provides 35% of the freshwater and nutrients that nourish the offshore fisheries over 250 miles out into the Gulf. That same system provides drinking water for the growing North Georgia Metropolitan Area surrounding Atlanta, irrigation for the agricultural breadbasket of the SE US in SE Alabama, SW Georgia and NW Florida, along with energy and industrial uses such as cooling towers, paper mills and beer making. At the bottom of the system, the Apalachicola River, Floodplain and Bay are renowned as having the highest bio-diversity of any River System in North America and one of the most productive estuaries in the Northern Hemisphere. Management of the water resources has been incongruent, short sighted and uncompromising for over 50 years with divergent interests locked in litigation for over 25 years. Not unlike other historic water allocation battles, upstream water use for agricultural, municipal and industrial uses are taxing the viability of ecosystem functions and services that support a downstream fishing and natural resources based economy. This presentation will provide some insight into the biology, science, and modeling concepts used to determine how the freshwater needs of an estuary can be viewed to determine impacts in attempts to resolve the long-standing water dispute.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 3:20pm - 3:40pm
Louisiana Room

3:20pm

Wildlife. Rapid Sounder Removal results from Russell County, Alabama project
AUTHORS: Rod Pinkston, JAGER PRO

ABSTRACT: In February 2016, two members of the Russell County, Alabama Soil & Water Conservation Committee requested feral pig and whitetail deer crop depredation preventative maintenance on approximately 3,000 acres of property. A single Hog Control Operator was hired to remove the total wild pig population and remove 50 whitetail deer on a nuisance permit issued by the AL Department of Conservation.

Rapid Sounder Removal is a time sensitive strategy where emphasis is placed on efficient removal of every sounder expanding at least 2,500 acres (four square miles) within 30 days of operation. The mission is to quickly and efficiently remove 100% of each individual sounder, on multiple properties, in the shortest time possible. Several Integrated Wild Pig Control strategies can be implemented in unison to eliminate wild pig escapes, education and reproduction from large tracts of land at one time. This concept can be applied by all adjacent landowners to remove entire feral pig populations from a county, water conservation district or wildlife management area.

This presentation will provide final detailed results (capture percentages, camera to kill ratios, etc.) and photo/video documentation of the intel gathering strategies and control sequences used to eliminate 266 wild pigs in 15 events and 50 whitetail deer in six nights within the target area.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 3:20pm - 3:40pm
Riverview B

3:20pm

S1. Overview and Case Study: How managing working forests can contribute to conservation of at-risk species and how federal and state conservation programs can contribute to conservation of at-risk species on working forests.

America’s forest landowners support reasonable regulation that protects wildlife habitat while keeping working forests economically viable. The Southeast is the largest wood fiber producing region in the country, producing 63 percent of the nation’s total timber by volume, while also ranking at the top of all forests in biodiversity when measured by wildlife and plant species, demonstrating that well-managed working forests are also successful conservation programs.

Moderator: Melinda Gable - Forest Landowners Association, VP Stewardship Initiatives

Panel Presenters:

  • Mike Harris – At-Risk Species Coordinator, USFWS Region IV
  • Paul Stone – Conservation Forester, Crosby Land Resources and Louisiana Forestry Association Endangered Species Committee Chair
  • Lauren K. Ward - Doctoral Candidate Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Doctoral Candidate
  • Chris Erwin - Director, Woodland Conservation, American Forest Foundation
  • Michael J. Brennan - Director, Wildlife Conservation and Mitigation Program, Texas A&M University Institute of Renewable Natural Resources 
1:00 pm – 1:30 pm: The task ahead for all of us: Overview of National List Working Plan and the role we each play (USFWS, State Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Private Working Forest Landowners)

1:30 pm – 2:00 pm: Survey results of forest landowners in the SEUS on knowledge and attitudes pertaining to the ESA, red-cockaded woodpecker, and perspectives on the political and economic forces at play in their land management decisions, with implications for future collaboration and policy changes that could lead to better public/private collaboration for the protection of at-risk species.

2:00 pm – 2:40 pm: Ensuring landowners “regulatory predictability” as management decisions are assessed will be crucial in achieving the conservation and recovery of at-risk species on working forests.  America’s multi-generational family working forest owners as well as TIMO’s must be an integral part of achieving conservation of at-risk species.

Overview of the diverse forest stakeholders and the benefits and challenges of providing habitat for at-risk species, while also managing for timber production. 

2:40 pm – 3:20 pm: Break

3:20 pm – 3:50 pm: Overview and Case Study: How managing working forests can contribute to conservation of at-risk species and how federal and state conservation programs can contribute to conservation of at-risk species on working forests. 

3:50 pm – 4:30 pm: Current initiatives and collaboration: Strategies to address regulatory uncertainty and how best to engage private working forests in voluntary conservation to achieve mutual objectives of species conservation and keeping working forests working. 

4:30 pm – 5:00 pm: Discussion on action items to achieve optimal collaboration and desired outcomes.

-----

Improving communications and collaboration among the fish and wildlife service, state fish and wildlife agencies and private landowners

 

  • How do we better document what benefits are occurring on managed working forest?
  • Improving collection of fundamental information about status and distribution of species for more informed decision making by the USFWS.  Establishing assurances for landowners to participate in species research/data collection.
Development of a Programmatic CCAA for multiple species: creating umbrella agreements to include species with like habitat needs.  The “bundling” of species for review, rules and CCAA is a reoccurring theme with forest managers and owners.  Discussion on how to streamline the process and work across state lines.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 3:20pm - 3:50pm
Hunt Room

3:20pm

Law Enforcement. Social Media in Conservation Law Enforcement
AUTHORS: Lt. Michael Mitchell, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

ABSTRACT: This presentation offers insights on how Texas Game Wardens have been using outbound social media to increase exposure, recruit, demonstrate relevancy, and even solve cases. The division’s technology lieutenant will walk the audience through several principles, examples, and even videos used online. This is an emerging area of technology and represents a cost effective opportunity for conservation law enforcement.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 3:20pm - 3:55pm
Victory Room

3:40pm

Education/Outreach. Find MO Fish: An App for Responsible Fishing
AUTHORS: Alex Prentice, Missouri Department of Conservation; Lowell Ballard, Timmons Group

ABSTRACT: The Find MO Fish app was designed with an innovative user-interface for anglers and other non-technical users. The app features custom maps allowing users to view fishing resources such as; location maps, bathymetry data and boat ramps. One of the most popular features is the inclusion of more than 4000 mapped fish attractors in managed water bodies. Anglers are able to locate areas where MDC staff made habitat improvements to public water bodies including the location and type of habitat structure.

Users of the app are able to find water bodies of interest, locate boat ramps and other access points, and navigate to their favorite fishing spots. The app includes a Fish Guide which allows users to peruse a list of fish species found in Missouri waters and also visualize the best bets for any water body. Users can also view photos, distribution in Missouri, and detailed information about each species.

The current product timeline includes exciting new features coming this year such as the ability to purchase and store permits on the app, the ability to bookmark locations, create and manage a journal, and gamification elements (e.g., badges, rewards and social integration).

The app is available for Apple and Android. In this talk we will detail lessons-learned and the process used to create this solution.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 3:40pm - 4:00pm
University

3:40pm

Fisheries. Demographics and Fishing Practices of Hand Fishers in Texas
AUTHORS: Dan Bennett, Kris Bodine, Warren Schlechte, Richard Ott, Jacob Norman - Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

ABSTRACT: In 2011, the Texas state legislature legalized hand fishing as a harvest method for catfish in Texas. Although large catfish (> 600 mm) are expected to be vulnerable to this fishing method; little is known about hand fishers or their harvest practices. To help make informed management decisions, we used a statewide survey to collect information on demographics and fishing practices of those who hand fish. Survey respondents (N = 118) were primarily preexisting catfish fishermen who already utilized other gear types to fish for catfish; 5.6% of respondents exclusively hand fished. Despite a willingness to use other gear types, 40% of those surveyed (N = 47) considered hand fishing their most important catfishing activity. Respondents indicated they hand fished a median of 15 days annually, primarily during the spawning period. Hand fishers reported catching about eight catfish per day while hand fishing, yet harvesting only two or three. The median size of flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) and blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) caught was 762 and 508 mm, respectively. The maximum size flathead catfish and blue catfish hand fishers indicated they would keep was 1016 mm and 914 mm, respectively; which corresponded to the suggested trophy size for each species. Results suggest that whereas hand fishers target large fish, harvest may not be a primary objective. The addition of hand fishing does not appear to have recruited many new fishermen to catfishing, and the overall impact to Texas’ fisheries resources will likely be minimal.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 3:40pm - 4:00pm
Riverview A

3:40pm

S4. Constructed marsh terraces: benefits to fish, wildlife, and coastal sustainability
AUTHORS: Michael G. Brasher, Ducks Unlimited Inc., Gulf Coast Joint Venture

ABSTRACT: The extent and rate of coastal wetland loss in the northern Gulf of Mexico are the highest observed throughout the conterminous U.S. In response, numerous techniques have been developed to help slow these losses and restore productive coastal wetlands. Marsh terracing is a relatively new technique and has become a common feature of coastal restoration efforts in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Marsh terraces are segmented ridges of bare soil and emergent marsh constructed from excavated subtidal substrates in shallow, open water areas. They function by reducing fetch and wave energy, which is believed to help create emergent marsh, reduce shoreline erosion, increase growth of submerged aquatic vegetation, and ultimately increase habitat quality for marsh-dependent organisms. However, the efficacy of marsh terraces in achieving their intended objectives remains uncertain, largely due to a lack of rigorous evaluations, which has led to their de-emphasis in some coastal restoration programs and projects. I conducted a literature review to ascertain and summarize current knowledge and remaining gaps in our understanding of the benefits of marsh terraces. Available information provided general support for the effectiveness of marsh terraces, although the magnitude and consistency of benefits varied greatly among objectives. Benefits were most evident for improving nekton habitat, but were more variable for improving waterbird habitat, reducing shoreline erosion, and creating emergent marsh outside the terrace footprints. Recommendations are provided for additional scientific investigations that are needed to definitively assess the benefits of marsh terraces and appropriately inform decisions about their design and application.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 3:40pm - 4:00pm
Louisiana Room

3:40pm

Wildlife. Development of a Self-Contained Carbon Dioxide Euthanasia Trailer for Large-Scale Euthanasia of Feral Swine
AUTHORS: John C. Kinsey, Justin A. Foster, Ryan L. Reitz - Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Kerr Wildlife Management Area

ABSTRACT: Range expansion of feral swine (Sus scrofa) continues to be pervasive in the United States. Lethal control of feral swine is an accepted management practice throughout the nation. Indirect lethal control measures (e.g., trapping) often require euthanasia and methods used must be humane, safe, and economical. Though cranial gunshot is a widely accepted method of euthanasia, in some cases it is not safe, legal for use, or practical. Alternate means for euthanasia of wildlife research subjects are needed at the Feral Swine Research Facility on the Kerr Wildlife Management Area (KWMA), Hunt, Texas, USA. The American Veterinary Medical Association approves a gradual fill method of carbon dioxide (CO2) euthanasia for some laboratory animals and livestock species, including domestic swine. We manufactured a self-contained CO2 euthanasia chamber on a 4.27-m (14-foot) dump trailer for the euthanasia of feral swine. We conducted 3 euthanasia trials of 5 feral swine (n¼3) during December 2014–February 2015 at the KWMA. Carbon dioxide administration began immediately post-loading and commenced for 5min at an average of approximately 18% chamber volume/minute. Recorded mortality rates were 100%. Results of this study and scalability of our system may have widespread impacts on wildlife euthanasia protocols for wildlife researchers and state game agencies across the nation.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 3:40pm - 4:00pm
Riverview B

3:50pm

S1. Current initiatives and collaboration: Strategies to address regulatory uncertainty and how best to engage private working forests in voluntary conservation to achieve mutual objectives of species conservation and keeping working forests working.

America’s forest landowners support reasonable regulation that protects wildlife habitat while keeping working forests economically viable. The Southeast is the largest wood fiber producing region in the country, producing 63 percent of the nation’s total timber by volume, while also ranking at the top of all forests in biodiversity when measured by wildlife and plant species, demonstrating that well-managed working forests are also successful conservation programs.

Moderator: Melinda Gable - Forest Landowners Association, VP Stewardship Initiatives

Panel Presenters:

  • Mike Harris – At-Risk Species Coordinator, USFWS Region IV
  • Paul Stone – Conservation Forester, Crosby Land Resources and Louisiana Forestry Association Endangered Species Committee Chair
  • Lauren K. Ward - Doctoral Candidate Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Doctoral Candidate
  • Chris Erwin - Director, Woodland Conservation, American Forest Foundation
  • Michael J. Brennan - Director, Wildlife Conservation and Mitigation Program, Texas A&M University Institute of Renewable Natural Resources 
1:00 pm – 1:30 pm: The task ahead for all of us: Overview of National List Working Plan and the role we each play (USFWS, State Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Private Working Forest Landowners)

1:30 pm – 2:00 pm: Survey results of forest landowners in the SEUS on knowledge and attitudes pertaining to the ESA, red-cockaded woodpecker, and perspectives on the political and economic forces at play in their land management decisions, with implications for future collaboration and policy changes that could lead to better public/private collaboration for the protection of at-risk species.

2:00 pm – 2:40 pm: Ensuring landowners “regulatory predictability” as management decisions are assessed will be crucial in achieving the conservation and recovery of at-risk species on working forests.  America’s multi-generational family working forest owners as well as TIMO’s must be an integral part of achieving conservation of at-risk species.

Overview of the diverse forest stakeholders and the benefits and challenges of providing habitat for at-risk species, while also managing for timber production. 

2:40 pm – 3:20 pm: Break

3:20 pm – 3:50 pm: Overview and Case Study: How managing working forests can contribute to conservation of at-risk species and how federal and state conservation programs can contribute to conservation of at-risk species on working forests. 

3:50 pm – 4:30 pm: Current initiatives and collaboration: Strategies to address regulatory uncertainty and how best to engage private working forests in voluntary conservation to achieve mutual objectives of species conservation and keeping working forests working. 

4:30 pm – 5:00 pm: Discussion on action items to achieve optimal collaboration and desired outcomes.

-----

Improving communications and collaboration among the fish and wildlife service, state fish and wildlife agencies and private landowners

 

  • How do we better document what benefits are occurring on managed working forest?
  • Improving collection of fundamental information about status and distribution of species for more informed decision making by the USFWS.  Establishing assurances for landowners to participate in species research/data collection.
Development of a Programmatic CCAA for multiple species: creating umbrella agreements to include species with like habitat needs.  The “bundling” of species for review, rules and CCAA is a reoccurring theme with forest managers and owners.  Discussion on how to streamline the process and work across state lines.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 3:50pm - 4:30pm
Hunt Room

3:55pm

Law Enforcement. Louisiana Maritime Special Response Team
AUTHORS: Capt. Eddie Skena, Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, Law Enforcement Division

ABSTRACT: The Louisiana Maritime Special Response team is a cooperative endeavor by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Law Enforcement Division and the Louisiana State Police SWAT team to address maritime security threats within the State of Louisiana.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 3:55pm - 4:30pm
Victory Room

4:00pm

Education/Outreach. Meeting People Where They Are: Wildlife Wednesday Webinar Series
AUTHORS: Lara Milligan, UF/IFAS Extension Pinellas County; Shannon Carnevale, UF/IFAS Extension Polk County

ABSTRACT: With the expansion of technology and a push for social media, Agents collaborated to offer a webinar series for the public. The Wildlife Wednesday Webinar series was offered on the third Wednesday of every month, August through December, from 12:15-1:00pm as a lunch & learn opportunity. Webinars are common among professionals, but are an innovative tool for reaching the general public. They have proven to be an excellent resource for environmental outreach with a goal to advance the knowledge of participants about local wildlife and ways to coexist with them. A total of five webinars were offered in 2015 reaching 147 people. Each webinar concluded with a link to an online evaluation. Eighty participants completed an evaluation for a 54% response rate. A retrospective pre/post question about knowledge prior to and after the webinar showed a 63% increase in knowledge (on a five-point scale) from an average score of 2.7 prior to the webinars and 4.4 after, and 55% (n=76) strongly agreed and 45% agreed that the information participants received in the webinar will help them to better protect natural resources (native plants and animals). The information learned was also extremely likely (57%) and likely (38%) to be shared with others. Webinars are a great way to reach the public who are already interacting with computers and cell phones as part of their daily routine, and they are highly transferable for use in public education programs in other states.  

Tuesday October 18, 2016 4:00pm - 4:20pm
University

4:00pm

Fisheries. Restoration Suitability Index for Southern Appalachian Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in the Cherokee National Forest
AUTHORS: Caylor Romines, University of Tennessee; Dr. Brian Alford, University of Tennessee

ABSTRACT: Over the course of the last century, Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) have been reduced in high elevation streams throughout the Southern Appalachian Mountains. These fish are being affected by many anthropogenic factors, including warming temperature in the downstream portion of watersheds and acid deposition in the headwaters of the streams. These impacts will restrict the distribution of Brook Trout across the longitudinal gradient of the stream. Overall, the Southern Appalachians contain some 18,000 km of coldwater streams with the potential for supporting salmonid populations. Wild trout inhabit about 9,660 km of these streams and native Brook Trout are found in approximately 2,580 km. In order to develop a restoration suitability index, thirty trout streams were randomly selected across the north zone of the Cherokee National Forest. Each of these streams will be evaluated by estimating Brook Trout abundance, examining instream habitat characteristics and riparian forest structure. Habitat characteristics will be modeled against Brook Trout abundance to determine the variables that are most significant to a Brook Trout restoration suitability index. If validated, then models of restoration suitability will provide state and federal agencies in the Southern Appalachians a valuable guide towards selecting locations for Brook Trout restoration projects. This model will also work as a guide to determine the particular instream and forest habitat characteristics that should be improved to successfully restore Brook Trout within stream reaches.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 4:00pm - 4:20pm
Riverview A

4:00pm

S4. Potential impacts of changing environmental conditions on overall submerged aquatic vegetation resources: Food and habitat availability for dependent fish and wildlife
AUTHORS: MK La Peyre, U.S. Geological Survey, Louisiana Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit, School of Renewable Natural Resources, LSU AGCenter; ER Hillmann; KE DeMarco; JA Nyman, School of Renewable Natural Resources, LSU AgCenter; B Couvillion, U.S. Geological Survey, Wetland and Aquatic Resources Center; S Brown, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Baton Rouge, LA

ABSTRACT: Across the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico, wetlands and shallow water habitats provide valuable food and habitat for fish and wildlife. Specifically, submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) habitat is preferentially occupied by many species as compared to adjacent habitats, as SAV beds provide cover and high quality nutrition. Predictions of changing coastal conditions in this area include increased water levels, altered salinities, and higher temperatures, potentially affecting the distribution, characteristics and relative availability of coastal habitats, including areas supporting SAV. Currently, aquatic habitat suitable to support SAV occupies approximately 7% of these coastal areas, and provides ecosystem services including food and habitat provision. Using inter and intra annual sampling of SAV and environmental variables, we examined SAV resources (presence, percent cover, species, biomass) in relation to discrete and integrated environmental data. Despite differences in mean salinities and water depths across marsh types, the overall abundance of SAV resources remained stable from 2013-2015 although spatial distribution and SAV species assemblages and biomass differed. SAV was most abundant and diverse in fresher habitats, indicating that if freshwater habitats expand, SAV resources may increase. Significant reductions in SAV resources only occurred in saline areas, suggesting that fresh through brackish SAV habitats may provide similar resources. A possible threshold for SAV resources exists related to higher salinities and associated landscape variables such as exposure and water depth. Determining how changes in coastal conditions will impact SAV provides critical data to help manage coastal habitats and understand fish and wildlife carrying capacities.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 4:00pm - 4:20pm
Louisiana Room

4:00pm

Wildlife. Optimization of Sodium Nitrite as an Oral Toxicant for Feral Swine
AUTHORS: John C. Kinsey, Kerr Wildlife Management Area, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Nathan P. Snow, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University; Kurt C. VerCauteren, United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center; Justin A. Foster, Kerr Wildlife Management Area, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Linton Staples, Animal Control Technologies (Australia) Pty Ltd (ACTA); Simon Humphrys, Invasive Animals CRC

ABSTRACT: Research and management experience have shown that when attempting to control invasive and adaptive species of vertebrate pests it is most efficacious to take an integrated pest management approach that incorporates the timely use of a variety of cost-effective methods to minimize damage. Several methods can be employed to manage feral swine, but they have not proven efficient or cost effective in reducing damage or limiting populations on broad scales. Methods such as shooting or trapping with humane destruction are currently used to reduce densities of feral swine but neither option reliably achieves the desired control range-wide. Additional lethal methods that can be more broadly applied are needed to address this issue and development of a toxicant for feral swine is warranted. We describe how an interdisciplinary team from state, federal, and private entities in three countries has developed, evaluated, and will register a toxicant to target feral swine in the USA. Our team has progressed quickly in recent years to make advancements in bait stability and palatability which has resulted in mortality rates >90%. We have continued to focus on eliminating non-target risks through the development of species-specific feeders as well as evaluating the sensitivity of secondary consumers. Our science-based efforts began in controlled captive settings and will be expanded to free-range settings in representative habitats across the US. By aiding efforts to eliminate populations of feral swine, our toxicant will serve to reduce associated damages to our natural resources and thus benefit native wildlife and fish.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 4:00pm - 4:20pm
Riverview B

4:20pm

Education/Outreach. Families Understanding Nature Camp: Exposing families to nature through outdoor activities.
AUTHORS: Karen Crabtree, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries 

ABSTRACT: Families Understanding Nature (F.U.N.) Camp is an educational program designed to promote participation in outdoor activities, awareness of conservation efforts of Louisiana’s wildlife and fisheries resources, as well as develop an appreciation of the outdoors in general.  The program began 20 years ago and has evolved over the years.  However, its primary focus remains to develop interpersonal relationships among the families attending the camps through participation in outdoor activities.  The camp is held on weekends to maximize participation opportunity, and offers an assortment of outdoor activities.  Families are grouped with 2-3 other families to facilitate a bonding relationship within the outdoor experience.  Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries personnel have observed continued personal interactions among camp attendees for many years after initial participation.  An independent study performed by Responsive Management showed high outdoor activity retention among many of the families that attended.  In addition, participant evaluations upon completion of the camp have consistently indicated attendees plan to continue partaking in the outdoor activities learned at the camp.  The program accepts 8-10 families in two camps held annually.  A Father/Child camp is held in the spring and a Mother/Child follows in the fall.  Age limits have been set to maximize the child’s ability to participate in the array of activities offered.  Based on experience, we have concluded that children ages 10-15 have the best experience and stamina to participate in all activities.  FUN Camp is an action packed weekend full of outdoor experiences that many of the participants have never been exposed to prior to attending.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 4:20pm - 4:40pm
University

4:20pm

S4. Management of South Atlantic Coastal Impoundments for Waterbirds
AUTHORS: R. D. Perry, S. C. Department of Natural Resources; D. E. Harrigal, S. C. Department of Natural Resources; R. M. Kaminski, Clemson University; M. R. Kneece, Clemson University; M. B. Prevost, White Oak Forestry Corporation; D. A. Shipes, S. C. Department of Natural Resources; E. P. Wiggers, Nemours Wildlife Foundation; and R. K. Williams, Williams Land Management

ABSTRACT: The landscape of the South Atlantic Coast (SAC) has ecological, environmental, aesthetic and economical values attributed to estuarine systems formed by rivers pulsing nutrients and sediments that created forested and emergent wetlands. Tidal impoundments are special wetlands existing along the SAC as relics of 17th-early 20th-century rice production. Management of these habitats is historically, culturally and economically important to SAC ecosystems and continental waterbirds. Moreover, conservation and management of former rice plantations in the SAC is unique worldwide and vital to habitat protection under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and other landscape conservation initiatives. An intact infrastructure, consisting of embankments and water control structures, (“trunks”) is required for habitat management to allow manipulation of water levels, hydroperiods and salinity – the primary factors influencing estuarine plant communities. We describe effective practices for management of freshwater, brackish and saline wetlands promoting production of native emergent and submersed habitats used preferentially by waterfowl and other waterbirds. Typical coastal impoundment habitat management across salinity zones involve cyclic drawdown, moist-soil management, staged increases and decreases in water levels and seasonal or semi-permanent flooding with circulation. Cross- and within-seasonal water level management are critical in maximizing waterbird use and species diversity. Although high resource value is placed on SAC impoundments, threats to sustainability arise from development, pollution, incompatible recreation and, most importantly, sea-level rise. Adaptive regulatory policies, secure funding sources, additional conservation and programmatic/philosophical shifts are needed to allow coastal impoundments to persist but also migrate managed wetlands inland in response to sea-level rise.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 4:20pm - 4:40pm
Louisiana Room

4:20pm

Wildlife. Characteristics of black bear population growth and mortality in northern Georgia: A historical perspective from 1979-2014
AUTHORS: Andrew R. Little, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia; Adam Hammond, Georgia Department of Natural Resources–Wildlife Resource Division; James A. Martin, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia; *Kristina L. Johannsen, Georgia Department of Natural Resources–Wildlife Resource Division; Karl V. Miller, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia

ABSTRACT: An understanding of black bear (Ursus americanus) population trends and characteristics of mortality is needed to direct management decisions in northern Georgia. Therefore, we monitored black bear population characteristics across 26 counties and 18 Wildlife Management Areas in northern Georgia from 1979-2014. We collected mortality data from 6,433 individuals during the study period. Using age-at-harvest data, population reconstruction illustrated an increasing trend in the bear population for both males (λ = 1.113) and females (λ = 1.108). Similarly, bait station indices reflected an increasing population trend based on increased visitation over time (min: 12.3% visitation in 1983; max: 76.7% visitation in 2009). Bear-vehicle collisions have increased from 1986-2014 (β = 0.087; SE = 0.009; P < 0.001). Males were more vulnerable to vehicle collisions than females (χ2 = 29.75, df = 11, P = 0.002), especially males ≤ 2 years old. Males were most vulnerable (35.6%) to vehicle collisions during May-July relative to females (18.2%). However, vehicle collisions of both sexes increased during August-November (males: 47.8%; females: 67.3%). Current population trajectory suggests black bear populations in northern Georgia will continue to increase. If bear population trends continue to increase, we suggest further evaluation of current bear harvest regulations in northern Georgia to reduce potential human-bear conflicts.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 4:20pm - 4:40pm
Riverview B

4:30pm

Law Enforcement. Use & Evolution of Tech. in Conservation Law Enforcement
AUTHORS: Capt. Chris Sella, Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission, Division of Law Enforcement

ABSTRACT: Conservation Law Enforcement demands innovative, adaptable, resilient, and dependable technology. This technology will be used in harsh environments, on specialized equipment and unique missions that are not considered by hardware, software manufacturers, and vendors. This places unique purchasing demands to include but not limited to; available appropriation, vendor capability, setup, and deployment to end users that will ultimately adopt the technology.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has been building its use of technology over the past decade. FWC leveraged different models from partnering with other state agencies, building in house software solutions, and leveraging commercial software to help improve the use of technology. While we have made great strides, we have hit our share of road bumps, road blocks, and outright failures.

Please join us to learn about what we have done right, what we have done wrong, and where we want to go in the future. We will share success stories of the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) System, Mobile Computer Terminal, Field Based Reporting, K-9 Automation, Applicant Tracking System and more. We will also share lessons learned, how to improve, and where we want to be in the future.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 4:30pm - 5:00pm
Victory Room

4:30pm

S1. Discussion on action items to achieve optimal collaboration and desired outcomes.

America’s forest landowners support reasonable regulation that protects wildlife habitat while keeping working forests economically viable. The Southeast is the largest wood fiber producing region in the country, producing 63 percent of the nation’s total timber by volume, while also ranking at the top of all forests in biodiversity when measured by wildlife and plant species, demonstrating that well-managed working forests are also successful conservation programs.

Moderator: Melinda Gable - Forest Landowners Association, VP Stewardship Initiatives

Panel Presenters:

  • Mike Harris – At-Risk Species Coordinator, USFWS Region IV
  • Paul Stone – Conservation Forester, Crosby Land Resources and Louisiana Forestry Association Endangered Species Committee Chair
  • Lauren K. Ward - Doctoral Candidate Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Doctoral Candidate
  • Chris Erwin - Director, Woodland Conservation, American Forest Foundation
  • Michael J. Brennan - Director, Wildlife Conservation and Mitigation Program, Texas A&M University Institute of Renewable Natural Resources 
1:00 pm – 1:30 pm: The task ahead for all of us: Overview of National List Working Plan and the role we each play (USFWS, State Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Private Working Forest Landowners)

1:30 pm – 2:00 pm: Survey results of forest landowners in the SEUS on knowledge and attitudes pertaining to the ESA, red-cockaded woodpecker, and perspectives on the political and economic forces at play in their land management decisions, with implications for future collaboration and policy changes that could lead to better public/private collaboration for the protection of at-risk species.

2:00 pm – 2:40 pm: Ensuring landowners “regulatory predictability” as management decisions are assessed will be crucial in achieving the conservation and recovery of at-risk species on working forests.  America’s multi-generational family working forest owners as well as TIMO’s must be an integral part of achieving conservation of at-risk species.

Overview of the diverse forest stakeholders and the benefits and challenges of providing habitat for at-risk species, while also managing for timber production. 

2:40 pm – 3:20 pm: Break

3:20 pm – 3:50 pm: Overview and Case Study: How managing working forests can contribute to conservation of at-risk species and how federal and state conservation programs can contribute to conservation of at-risk species on working forests. 

3:50 pm – 4:30 pm: Current initiatives and collaboration: Strategies to address regulatory uncertainty and how best to engage private working forests in voluntary conservation to achieve mutual objectives of species conservation and keeping working forests working. 

4:30 pm – 5:00 pm: Discussion on action items to achieve optimal collaboration and desired outcomes.

-----

Improving communications and collaboration among the fish and wildlife service, state fish and wildlife agencies and private landowners

 

  • How do we better document what benefits are occurring on managed working forest?
  • Improving collection of fundamental information about status and distribution of species for more informed decision making by the USFWS.  Establishing assurances for landowners to participate in species research/data collection.
Development of a Programmatic CCAA for multiple species: creating umbrella agreements to include species with like habitat needs.  The “bundling” of species for review, rules and CCAA is a reoccurring theme with forest managers and owners.  Discussion on how to streamline the process and work across state lines.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 4:30pm - 5:00pm
Hunt Room

4:40pm

S4. Promoting Living Shorelines along waterfront properties: opportunities and challenges
AUTHORS: Jeff Beal, Steve Rockwood, Kent Smith - Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

ABSTRACT: Worldwide, the hardening of waterfront properties to reduce erosion using heavily-engineered solutions (eg, seawalls, revetments) threatens coastal waterbodies such as estuaries. These structures decrease littoral habitat, contribute to water quality degradation, and are often short-term expensive fixes. In tidal areas, they restrict adaptive management in lieu of stressors such Sea Level Rise, contributing to “coastal squeeze.” Techniques are currently available as alternatives to shoreline hardening using predominantly natural products (oyster shell, rock, coquina, natural fiber fabrics, native plants). These “Living Shorelines” often provide cost-effective long-term solutions to erosion while providing nutrient uptake and habitat for fish and wildlife. When properly designed and maintained, Living Shorelines afford the dissipation of wave energy, subsequent baffling of nearshore sediments, and, in places, accretion. Numerous successful Living Shorelines projects have been implemented throughout the southeastern U.S. In some locations, fringing tidal wetlands have been installed as a key component of these projects. As a result of recent changes to state and federal permitting requirements, these types of projects are gaining in popularity and ease of implementation. Challenges remain, however, in terms of promoting these concepts to public/private interests given the long-standing historical use of hardening techniques. Given recent Living Shoreline project successes, this practice is now a well-recognized tool for developing resiliency for shorelines along estuaries.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 4:40pm - 5:00pm
Louisiana Room

4:40pm

Wildlife. A data-driven range map for black bear in Florida
AUTHORS: Brian K. Scheick, Mark A. Barrett, J. Walter McCown - Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

ABSTRACT: Many range maps are developed subjectively, generally using an expert opinion approach, including the previous black bear range map in Florida that was digitized into polygons of primary and secondary range. In an effort to update the bear range map using a more objective approach, staff from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) gathered a variety of datasets containing geographic information on bear occurrence. Data sources included public sightings, mortality, hair snare corrals, telemetry and other observational accounts. After combining over 30 years of data, a total of 229,532 point locations (some including abundance information) were available; however, the final dataset contained 32,489 point locations after constraining the data to a 3 year period (2013-15) and creating subsets by randomly selecting points from some sources with potential spatial and temporal bias. Isopleths derived from kernel density estimates and concave hulls delineated a multilevel range map depicting potential occurrence of bears throughout Florida. Finally, we created several alternative range maps based on derivations of the data for comparative purposes. Updated species ranges are important to FWC for managing and predicting human-bear conflicts, estimating potential areas for improving linkages between subpopulations, employing conservation plans, implementing public outreach, and monitoring listing criteria.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 4:40pm - 5:00pm
Riverview B

6:00pm

Cocktail Reception
Tuesday October 18, 2016 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Ballroom Foyer

7:00pm

Awards Banquet
Tuesday October 18, 2016 7:00pm - 9:30pm
Riverview Ballroom
 
Wednesday, October 19
 

7:00am

Continental Breakfast
Wednesday October 19, 2016 7:00am - 8:30am
Ballroom Foyer

7:00am

Conference Registration Desk Open
Wednesday October 19, 2016 7:00am - 10:00am
Gallery

8:00am

Fisheries. Louisiana Artificial Reef Program: Past, Present, and into the Future
AUTHORS: Craig Gothreaux, Mike McDonough, Rebecca Hillebrandt, Mariana Steen, Ashley Ferguson - Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: The Louisiana Artificial Reef Program has been very successful since its inception in 1987 thanks to mutually beneficial partnerships and an adaptive management approach. Artificial reef development in Louisiana began at offshore sites using donated oil and gas structures through a process commonly referred to as Rigs-to-Reefs. Over time, efforts have expanded towards developing, monitoring, and enhancing the artificial reef potential of Louisiana including the creation of fishing opportunities closer to shore. Louisiana’s artificial reef sites are categorized into zones based on location and water depth: offshore, nearshore, and inshore. A preponderance of reef sites are located offshore, which are comprised primarily of decommissioned oil and gas platforms. Nearshore reef sites lie between the 100-ft depth contour and the coastline, representing an area containing the bulk of platforms slated for removal. Inshore reef sites are located within the coastline, spread throughout each of Louisiana’s coastal basins, and provide access to the largest number of anglers. Within each zone, artificial reef development presents both challenges and opportunities. Nearshore and inshore zones are unique due to the shallower waters and utilization by multiple user groups. At the same time, these areas are also much more accessible to anglers; therefore, site selection, reef design, and material utilization are tailored to the situational conditions. To balance these issues, distinctive plans have recently been established which embrace an adaptive management approach that maximizes the economic and biological benefits of artificial reef development across Louisiana’s coastal waters.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 8:00am - 8:20am
Riverview A

8:00am

Wildlife. Beach-nesting Bird Response to Vegetation Dynamics in Coastal Louisiana
AUTHORS: Erik I. Johnson, Audubon Louisiana|National Audubon Society; Delaina LeBlanc, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program; Richard DeMay, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program; Natalie Waters, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program; Katie L. Percy, Audubon Louisiana|National Audubon Society; Jed Pitre, Audubon Louisiana|National Audubon Society, American Bird Conservancy; Kacy Ray, American Bird Conservancy

ABSTRACT: Coastal habitats are dynamic systems in which storms and hurricanes serve as important disturbance events, scouring beachfronts and shifting sediment to reduce vegetation cover. As beaches and dunes recover through wind- and water-driven transport of sediments, vegetation recolonizes. Coastal Louisiana is facing a land loss crisis, and beach renourishment projects and vegetation plantings can roughly emulate these dynamics, but important aspects of the ecosystem, such as predator-prey dynamics and elevation changes differ from natural disturbance regimes. Understanding how natural and human-generated beachfront dynamics affect beach-nesting bird populations is important for understanding how species of conservation concern, like Wilson’s Plovers (Charadrius wilsonia) and Least Terns (Sternula antillarum), will respond to landscapes facing large-scale restoration. We examined relationships between beach-nesting bird densities, coastal vegetation growth, and beachfront geomorphology at five sites that have undergone restoration and compared them against six control sites without recent restoration. We classified NAIP high-resolution imagery from 2013 and 2015 to quantify the area and relative cover of vegetation, open sand, and mudflats and compared against nesting bird counts from May and June of those years. Most sites increased in vegetation cover between these two years, including restoration sites, which resulted in lower densities of Least Terns and increased densities of Wilson’s Plovers. We discuss these results in the context of coastal restoration activities and to predict long-term trade-offs in adding vegetative cover versus providing early successional open habitat for nesting birds.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 8:00am - 8:20am
Louisiana Room

8:00am

Wildlife. Louisiana Alligator Resource Fund- Industry Driven Conservation
AUTHORS: LDWF, Louisiana Alligator Advisory Council

ABSTRACT: The Louisiana alligator is a conservation success story. The economic incentive derived from a sustainable use platform has led to both species and habitat conservation. Since 80% of the wetlands in Louisiana are privately owned, the economic incentive of a successful alligator program is a vital aspect of conservation. The program has produced substantial results: the State of Louisiana has increased its wild alligator population from less than 100,000 in the early 1970s to over 1.5 million today. The state management of the Louisiana alligator industry has become self-funded though industry generated fees, and industry members have chosen to use surplus funds for research, conservation, and education. The Louisiana Alligator Resource Fund was legislatively created in 1991 to offset the costs associated with the state management of the alligator industry and alligator population, but a stable and growing industry was soon able go beyond self-sufficiency and become proactive in conservation and research. Through the Louisiana Alligator Advisory Council and the LDWF Alligator Management Program, Louisiana has made strides in the international arena, serving as a model for other wildlife conservation programs. With an industry conservatively valued at over 100 million dollars annually, industry members have reaped the economic benefits of their investments in research, education, and conservation.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 8:00am - 8:20am
Riverview B

8:00am

8:20am

Fisheries. Site Occupancy of Saltmarsh Topminnows in Florida
AUTHORS: Jason O'Connor, John Knight - Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

ABSTRACT: Saltmarsh Topminnows Fundulus jenkinsi are listed as a species of special concern in Florida and are candidates for federal listing. They occur in estuarine marshes along the gulf coast from extreme northwest Florida to Galveston Bay, Texas. The Saltmarsh Topminnow Action Plan was created to guide conservation and research actions within Florida with the goal of improving the status of the species to the point that it can be delisted. We began implementing the plan in August 2014. Our initial research objective was to develop site occupancy models to create unbiased estimates of the current distribution of saltmarsh topminnows within Florida. We surveyed 28 randomly selected sites from all available saltmarsh habitat within Perdido, Escambia, Blackwater, and East Bays. Sites were surveyed 7 times each between Mar 2016 and Mar 2017. We used ranked an a priori set of occupancy models using AICc to select the best occupancy model. Assuming constant detection and occupancy across sites, we estimated that a given patch of saltmarsh habitat within the sampling area had a 70% chance of being occupied by Saltmarsh Topminnows and that using our methods we would expect to detect Saltmarsh Topminnows at sites of known occupancy on 67% of surveys. The top ranked occupancy model included a quadratic effect of site salinity on occupancy probability. Additional sampling will help improve the occupancy and detection estimates and allow for development of more complex occupancy models. Future research will explore methods for estimating density will be investigated.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 8:20am - 8:40am
Riverview A

8:20am

Wildlife. A three-year study of American alligator nest depredation by feral hogs
AUTHORS: Kim Marie Tolson, University of Louisiana Monroe; James M. LaCour, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Fred L. Cunningham, USDA/APHIS/WS/NWRC; Dwight J. LeBlanc, USDA/APHIS/WS

ABSTRACT: Managed as a renewable natural resource in Louisiana, the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) has been estimated to provide 80-90 million dollars of direct economic benefit annually to the state. Feral hogs (Sus scrofa), classified as an “outlaw quadruped” by LDWF, are wreaking havoc on the landscape in every parish of the state. The effects of feral hog depredation on alligator nests are the subject of a 3 year study in southwest Louisiana. The study site experiences regular feral hog eradication efforts by USDA/WS and private landowners. Game cameras were deployed on nests early in the nesting season (July) and retrieved in September after hatching had occurred. In 2014 (Year 1), 78% of monitored nests had hog visits documented on camera. The average number of hog visits was 1.64 visits/nest (Range 1-3). In 2015 (Year 2), 63% of nests monitored were visited by hogs. The average number of hog visits was 5.2 visits/nest (Range 2-14). Additionally, in Year 2, two sham nests imbedded with a player broadcasting recorded sounds of alligator hatchlings were monitored using the same technique. One of the two sham nests was located in an alligator nest that had recently been harvested of eggs; it was visited 30 times by hogs. In 2016 (Year 3), the monitoring of sham nests will be expanded in number and restricted to active nests that have recently had eggs harvested for commercial purposes. Results from Year 3, compiled and incorporated into the data set from Years 1 and 2, will be presented.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 8:20am - 8:40am
Riverview B

8:20am

Wildlife. Building a Better Bird Feeding: How urban communities on the gulf coast and elsewhere can have a real impact on migratory birds and other wildlife
AUTHORS: Naomi Edelson, National Wildlife Federation

ABSTRACT: National Wildlife Federation is engaging Americans to create wildlife habitat where they live, work, play, learn, and worship to restoring wildlife habitat, helping with climate adaptation, and water conservation. We have usurped so much of the natural world that we now need to build functioning ecosystems at home. People are starting to use criteria in addition to aesthetics to decide what to plant; from simply decorative value to ecological value for wildlife. NWF, in collaboration with the US Forest Service and Dr. Doug Tallamy, are launching in June 2016, a new web-based tool that will provide the best native plants to help wildlife founded on which genera are hosts to the most caterpillars. Caterpillars are among the most important protein source for nesting and migrating birds as well as other wildlife. By planting natives that rank highest as host plants for caterpillars we can help people “build better bird feeders” in urban and suburban settings. The native plant finder will be searchable by zip code. This is tremendous opportunity to help those migratory birds reaching the Gulf Coast shore's upon their return from the wintering grounds to their breeding grounds. The current condition of this stopover habitat is filled with houses, roads and non-native landscaping and means no food for these starved birds. We can make a big difference for them during this critical period by encouraging the Gulf communities to plant native plants that are especially good as host plants for caterpillars.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 8:20am - 8:40am
Louisiana Room

8:30am

8:40am

Fisheries. Breaching Levees to Reconnect Extensive Marsh Habitat to a Major Chain of Lakes, Conserving Vital Aquatic Habitat and Providing New Freshwater Fishing Opportunities
AUTHORS: Dennis J. Renfro, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

ABSTRACT: In Central Florida in the 1950’s a levee system was constructed that resulted in isolating 10,000 acres of marsh from the 9,417 acres main body of Lake Griffin. The marshland was subsequently drained and transformed into productive farmland to support the increased need for agricultural land. In recent years, the state has purchased lands to undertake a restoration project to reconnect the vital marsh habitat to Lake Griffin. Florida has reconnected two marshes, Area 2 (400 acres) in 2005 and Area 4 (660 acres) in 2007 resulting in 11 percent return of the drained marsh habitat to the major system. With completion of the reconnection of the Area 3 (1,000 acres) the lake will have a total net gain of 21 percent of the vital marsh habitat reconnected. The first phase of the project encompasses breaching the internal levees at six locations, removing the rock surface used for vehicle access of the interior levees and creating four 30 x 15 feet habitat islands. Reconnection will be accomplished by breaching the external levees in four locations, a single 600 feet breach and three 200 feet long breaches. Reconnection of 1,000 acres of wetlands will create new fishing opportunities, improve access to Lake Griffin, manage wetlands/aquatic vegetation for waterfowl hunters and provide wildlife viewing opportunities through habitat management.
This project meets the goals of FWC’s strategic plan in providing residents and visitors with quality fishing, hunting, boating and wildlife viewing opportunities while also providing for the sustainability of natural resources.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 8:40am - 9:00am
Riverview A

8:40am

Wildlife. Evaluation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to Monitor Great Egrets (Ardea alba) Nesting in Southwestern Louisiana
AUTHORS: Samantha A. Collins, Gabriel Giffin - Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge

ABSTRACT: Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are a new monitoring technology capable of collecting scientific information from difficult-to-access places while minimizing disturbance. These devices are increasingly used in many research disciplines but their application to wildlife research remains relatively unexplored. We implemented a research study to monitor a large colony of Great Egrets (Ardea alba) nesting in isolated patches of Phragmites australis (Common Reed) along a managed canal within Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge by conducting surveys by boat or drone. We compared hatching success estimates from boat and UAV surveys, as well as disturbance to adults and chicks from the two survey types. Further, we investigated flight initiation distance of nesting adults to UAV presence and flight altitude effects on adults at various nesting stages. Results from this study suggest that adults are more prone to flush when incubating eggs and less prone to flush when adults are tending to chicks, particularly those tending to recently hatched chicks. We also found that adults were less disturbed by the UAV when other adults were present on the nesting territory. We recommend that UAVs be flown at an altitude of >20m above a nest to reduce disturbance to nesting colonial wading birds in an open marsh habitat.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 8:40am - 9:00am
Louisiana Room

8:40am

Wildlife. The velocity of regional global change: Are climate resilient landscapes also resilient to land use change?
AUTHORS: *Adam Terando, US Geological Survey and North Carolina State University; John Kupfer, University of South Carolina; Peng Gao, University of South Carolina; Bruce Stein, National Wildlife Federation

ABSTRACT: Maps depicting the “velocity of climate change” provide a simple but elegant means for examining the rate at which species must migrate over the earth’s surface to track changing climatic conditions. The underlying premise, that landscape heterogeneity is a key component for climate change adaptation, has been incorporated into climate change conservation strategies such as the ‘conserving the stage’ concept and the Nature Conservancy’s Resilient Landscapes; however, such concepts as presented typically ignore or treat landscape condition as a static variable and do not consider how an accelerated pace of land use change can dramatically impact the ability of species and ecosystems to respond to human-caused environmental changes. In this research, we expand on the velocity of climate change approach by including: 1) additional climate variables in the velocity calculation that are more relevant to critical Southeastern species and ecosystems, and 2) a new velocity axis that depicts the rate of landscape change in terms of projected suburban growth over the next several decades. We do so by using statistically downscaled climate projections to assess expected climate change velocities for different fossil fuel emission scenarios and ensembles of climate models. Using existing datasets, we also quantify the expected landscape change in terms of the expansion of urbanized areas. Combining the effects of these two anthropogenic drivers of change provides greater insights into which areas within the region potentially provide a resilient network of lands and which are most vulnerable to change.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 8:40am - 9:00am
Riverview B

9:00am

Fisheries. Restoration Activities in the Buffalo Cove Water Management Unit, Atchafalaya River Basin, Louisiana
AUTHORS: Raynie Harlan, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center; Michael D. Kaller, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center; William E. Kelso, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center; Daniel Kroes, US Geological Survey; Robby Maxwell, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Tiffany E. Pasco, Louisiana State Agricultural Center; Steve W. Roberts, US Army Corps of Engineers; Brac Salyers, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: Since 2005, Louisiana State University has collected bi-weekly water quality, flow velocity, habitat, and fish community data in support of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers restoration project in the Buffalo Cove Water Management Unit of the Atchafalaya Basin Floodway System (ABFS). As part of this project, several water input elements and water blockage elements were constructed at strategic points within Buffalo Cove to improve water circulation and sedimentation patterns with the ultimate goal of improving water quality (EA#366). Using the Ecological Limits of Hydrologic Alteration framework (ELOHA; N.L. Poff et al. 2009) as a guide, we calculated pre-alteration and post-alteration hydrograph statistics at multiple Areas of Influence (AOI) delineated for each of the constructed flow alteration elements. We then related the differences detected between pre/post hydrograph statistics for each AOI to the restoration activities employed, and tested whether critical ecological parameters, such as dissolved oxygen and temperature, were positively or negatively impacted. We believe the ELOHA framework, although recommended mainly for use in developing regional instream flow standards, can also be an effective framework to guide quantitative analysis of the effects of floodplain restoration projects when flow alteration is a primary objective. We also believe that rigorous evaluation of restoration activities is a critical step in refining floodplain models for future restoration efforts and describing ecological health and flow regime relationships in the ABFS.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 9:00am - 9:20am
Riverview A

9:00am

Wildlife. A Landscape Level Approach to the Air Force Sustaining Military Readiness Through Conservation Partnerships in the State of Florida
AUTHORS: Phillips, Catherine, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Hoctor, Thomas. University of Florida; Volk, Michael. University of Florida; Ralston, Rebecca, HDR; Porteck, Kevin, United States Air Force; Jurena, Paul, United States Air Force; Oetting, Jon, Florida Natural Areas Inventory

ABSTRACT: In 2015, a pilot project was initiated by the United States Air Force to identify a regional natural resources management approach to help minimize threats to military missions and identify partner-leveraged conservation opportunities throughout the State of Florida. The regional plan was developed and implemented through the Landscape Conservation Cooperative Framework and its existing biological planning and partners and covers land on and surrounding eight installations throughout Florida. The plan aims to be a proactive approach for Air Force, identifying conservation priorities that support military mission, focusing on opportunities beyond the installation fence lines, and looking at opportunities to work with partners to ensure that Air Force lands are not species islands, and instead, a functional and vital piece of the greater conservation picture in the State of Florida. Year one of the plan is complete and year two is focused on refinement of priority species models and implementation in partnership to benefit conservation for at risk, listed and state imperiled species.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 9:00am - 9:20am
Riverview B

9:20am

Fisheries. The Temple-Inland Incident Fish and Mollusk Kill in the Lower Pearl River, Louisiana and Mississippi, August 13 – 24, 2011: The Response, Monitoring Efforts, Lessons Learned and Effects on Current Management Decisions and Philosophies
AUTHORS: Gary Vitrano, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: On August 13, 2011 at 1300 hours, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality responded to several calls from the public about an extensive fish kill occurring in the lower Pearl River from just below Bogalusa, LA to Pool’s and Walkiah Bluffs downstream. Several agencies closely coordinated efforts to mobilize their collective fisheries personnel to provide a comprehensive account of the aquatic resources impacted on the Pearl River Basin from the unauthorized release of pot liquor by Temple-Inland Inc. An estimated total of 591,561 fish and mussels were lost as a result of the event. A major point source fish kill has many implications and consequences. The long-term implications may vary, but the initial responses and follow up actions can have a direct impact on restitution amounts, legal actions, intra- and inter- agency relations, and management policies and philosophies. This report addresses the Pearl River incident with a focus on three sequential segments: the initial response and report; the monitoring effort and report; and post incident management philosophies.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 9:20am - 9:40am
Riverview A

9:20am

Wildlife. Accuracy Assessment of GPS Transmitters for Use on Small Avian Species
AUTHORS: Dean Marquardt, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Luke Scroggs, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University; Brian L. Pierce, Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, Texas A&M University; Kevin Mote, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Kevin L. Skow, Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, Texas A&M University; Bret A. Collier , School of Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center

ABSTRACT: Technological changes have allowed us to further increase the quality and quantity of spatial information gathered for movement ecology and range estimation. We assessed the accuracy and applicability of a PinPoint GPS transmitter for use on small avian species using Northern Bobwhite Quail as our test species. We conducted a series of static tests to evaluate relative impacts of canopy cover across a suite of data collection schedules, and then deployed evaluation units on 6 quail trapped in north-central Texas in 2014. Radial error static test data indicated an overall mean spatial error from known to estimated location was 39.7 m with a standard deviation of 191.7 (range 0-4389.2). The median, or the point at which 50% of the locations are less than and 50% of the locations are greater was 2.68 m with an 85th probability quantile of 6.57 m. Less than 0.08% of locations had radial error >100 m. Units used for field tests on quail collected between 47 and 55 locations (expected 50) and were able to identify both group structure, travel corridors, and loafing habitats for the < 4 days deployed. Our results suggest that use of GPS units on small avian species may provide scientist with increased ability to evaluate questions regarding habitat selection and use, especially in an experimental context.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 9:20am - 9:40am
Louisiana Room

10:20am

Fisheries. Prevalence of Intersex Condition in Fishes Inhabiting the Upper Tennessee River System
AUTHORS: J. Brian Alford, University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture; Debra L. Miller, University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture

ABSTRACT: We investigated the prevalence and severity of intersex condition in male Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Greenside Darter, and Banded Darter in tributaries of the Upper Tennessee River watershed. During March 2015, we found 6% occurrence of intersex (oocytes present in testes) in male Largemouth Bass (N = 28, Tennessee and Nolichucky rivers) and Smallmouth Bass (N=2, Nolichucky River) combined at 2 of 5 sites sampled. In May-June 2015, we found no evidence of intersex in male darters sampled in shallow riffles of the Nolichucky River at sites heavily-impacted (HI) and least-impacted (LI) by agriculture and urban land use and point-sources of pollution. Occurrence of intersex in male Smallmouth Bass (N=75) was high in the Little Pigeon, Pigeon, and Nolichucky Rivers. Fish collected from LI sites had similar prevalence (88%) as those from HI sites (85%). However, severity of intersex was mild and did not differ between site classifications. Mean hepatosomatic index for males and females was low and did not differ between site classifications (HI = 0.83, LI = 0.80). We attempted to discern a baseline level of intersex in fishes by sampling in sites thought to be little impacted by endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDC) from agriculture and point-source effluents from wastewater treatment plants. However, it may be that (1) freshwater sites cannot avoid pollution from EDC (e.g., via atmospheric deposition or low-level, chronic runoff), (2) that the baseline level of intersex in Smallmouth Bass is just high, or (3) that other confounding factors need to be discovered.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 10:20am - 10:40am
Riverview A

10:20am

Wildlife. Establishing Biological Objectives to Guide Strategic Habitat Conservation for the Gulf of Mexico Coast
AUTHORS: James P. Cronin, USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center; Blair E. Tirpak, USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center; Leah L. Dale, USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center; Virginia Brink, USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center; John M. Tirpak, USFWS Gulf Restoration Program

ABSTRACT: Conservation targets along the Gulf of Mexico’s coast are threatened by multiple, complex processes operating across large spatial scales. Thus, the success of gulf restoration efforts hinges on partners developing a common vision for conservation. However, that common vision has remained elusive. Therefore, the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and partners collaborated to define (1) focal conservation areas, (2) population objectives for species that are representative of these areas, and (3) habitat objectives necessary to achieve those population objectives. We defined fifteen biological planning units (BPU) on or adjacent to the Gulf Coast, 89 conservation target species representative of sustainable BPU habitats, and gathered population objectives for each species from the literature. For a subset of conservation target species, we developed spatially explicit Bayesian network models of the relationships between habitat characteristics and population objectives. When coupled with the established population objectives, the model outputs provided insight into how much habitat is available, how much more is needed, and where conservation or restoration efforts most efficiently achieve established objectives. We will present the BPUs, conservation target species, and the modeling results to demonstrate the benefits of this approach for informing restoration and monitoring efforts.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 10:20am - 10:40am
Louisiana Room

10:40am

Fisheries. Lake Bistineau: A Case Study of Managing Giant Salvinia (Salvinia molesta) in a Lowland, Swamp Reservoir
AUTHORS: Jeff Sibley, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: Lake Bistineau is an aging, shallow, eutrophic impoundment located in northwest Louisiana. There are more than 1,000 homes along the shoreline, and it is a popular destination for outdoor recreation. Vegetation problems have plagued the lake since it was first created in 1938. These vegetation issues combined with dense stands of cypress trees and a large watershed have contributed to an overabundance of non-decomposing organic material on the lake bottom which contributed to a decline in sportfish populations. The management of aquatic resources within Lake Bistineau were further complicated by the discovery of giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta) in 2006. Early efforts to control giant salvinia included physical removal and foliar herbicide applications to the scattered plants. Giant salvinia weevils (Cyrtobagous salviniae) were introduced in 2007. Personnel from across the state assisted with control efforts prior to hiring additional local personnel. Despite these efforts by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the plants continued to expand covering 7,386 acres by September of 2009. Public outcry to the deteriorating conditions on the lake was tremendous. An integrated vegetation management strategy has been adopted that includes strategic herbicide applications, weevil stockings, water level fluctuations and an increased focus on public education. The strategy is designed to reduce vegetation levels while maximizing the recreational use of the lake and simultaneously slowing the eutrophication process. Since 2010, salvinia has been held in check to an average, annual, maximum coverage of 1,863 acres. Additionally, sportfish populations have responded positively to the frequent water fluctuations.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 10:40am - 11:00am
Riverview A

10:40am

Wildlife. Florida’s vision for conservation: The next 10 years
AUTHORS: Alexandra Perryman, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

ABSTRACT: Implementable, action oriented, and time bound. These are all words that can be used to describe the new approach to Florida’s State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). The second revision of the SWAP is scheduled to be complete in 2017 and unlike the 2012 revision, which added new components to the original plan, an entirely new approach is being taken. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is working to simplify, standardize, and integrate the SWAP by aligning with the highest priorities for FWC and its partners. In addition to the statewide habitats, threats, and actions, a new regionally based approach is being incorporated to highlight important ecosystems and focal areas at a smaller scale. Additionally, by refining the role and purpose for the Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) list Florida will be able to focus resources on those species that are most imperiled with a goal of keeping species off the Endangered Species List. The ability to measure success is a critical component of all SWAPs. The actions within the revised SWAP are written at a 7 to 10 year scale and can be implemented with the current level of resources available. However, FWC is also preparing for the potential game changing success of the Blue Ribbon Panel. By incorporating actions of both small and large scale (regional/statewide), FWC is also laying the groundwork for successful conservation of Florida’s vital habitat and wildlife should dedicated funding become available.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 10:40am - 11:00am
Riverview B

10:40am

Wildlife. Use of Highway Culverts and Box Bridges by Winter-Roosting Bats in Mississippi
AUTHORS: J. B. Katzenmeyer, USDA, Wildlife Services; *K. Shelton, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks; J. C. Jones and B. N. Hodges, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mississippi State University; D. Richardson, and B. Rosamand, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT: Bat numbers have declined in the United States where outbreaks of White-nose Syndrome (Pseudogymnoascus destructans) have occurred. Bats have been reported utilizing highway underpasses as winter hibernacula throughout the United States. We recorded bat species and numbers of roosting bats in culverts (N=214) in 27 counties of Mississippi during winters of 2010 – 2015. In 2015, we collected microclimate, geospatial, and dimensional data on a subset of the 214 study culverts (N=39) to investigate relationships between bat numbers and explanatory habitat variables. We detected roosting bats in 52% of 214 surveyed culverts with 5 species being detected over the 5 year period. Numbers of bats per culvert per survey event ranged from 0 to 927 during this period. Numbers of roosting bats in culverts exhibited moderate, inverse relationships to outside, ambient air temperatures and internal ambient air temperatures at culvert mid-points (r < -0.14, P < 0.02). Winter temperatures inside culverts were conducive to establishment of WNS fungus. A moderate, positive relationship was detected between numbers of roosting bats and culvert length (r = 0.56, P < 0.01). A moderate inverse relationship was detected between numbers of roosting bats in culverts and distance (km) to public forest lands (r = -0.44, P < 0.03). This study can help biologists with prioritization of protection and monitoring of culverts, impact assessment of culvert replacement to roosting bats, and understanding the potential for WNS incidence in these roost sites.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 10:40am - 11:00am
Louisiana Room

11:00am

Fisheries. Solving Problems in Fisheries Management: Proof of Concept Using Structured Decision Making at the Undergraduate Level
AUTHORS: Elise. R. Irwin. U.S. Geological Survey, Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Jeffery Terhune. School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University

ABSTRACT: Fisheries management problems are often termed “wicked” to describe complex socio-ecological systems encumbered by issues of scale, stakeholder conflict and structural uncertainty with respect to the influence of management on the resource. Consequently, agencies that manage fisheries actively seek employees that can demonstrate problem-solving skills. To enhance development of critical thinking skills, problem-based learning was incorporated into an undergraduate introductory fisheries class using a structured decision making (SDM) framework. Student teams identified a problem of national or regional significance then defined the problem’s scope and scale, decision maker and stakeholder multiple, conflicting objectives and alternative actions designed to meet objectives. Finally, students analyzed consequences of actions on objectives using a decision analysis tool allowing for determination of preferred management actions or portfolios and associated tradeoffs. One team’s problem (Elk River Boulder Darter Conservation) is used to illustrate the framework employed. Although students lacked the expertise to develop completely accurate analyses, they used various sources of data—from expert opinion to published literature—to inform the decision. The SDM framework allowed students to identify and acknowledge key uncertainties related to various aspects of the problem and determine the influence of lack of information on the decision. Because State and Federal natural resources agencies (FWS, USFS, USGS, ALDCNR, GADNR) are increasing their use of SDM and adaptive management frameworks (i.e., the iterative form of SDM) for fisheries management problems, teaching these techniques to the next generation of managers will give our students tools to help frame, decompose and solve future wicked problems.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 11:00am - 11:20am
Riverview A

11:00am

Wildlife. Influence of prescribed fire on habitat selection and reproductive ecology of female eastern wild turkeys in west-central Louisiana
AUTHORS: Nathan A. Yeldell, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Michael J. Chamberlain, University of Georgia; Bradley S. Cohen, University of Georgia; Andrew R. Little, University of Georgia

ABSTRACT: Eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) inhabit southeastern pine-dominated ecosystems managed with prescribed fire. It is unclear how fire disturbance affects resource selection and reproductive behavior of female turkeys throughout the reproductive period. Our objectives were to 1) examine reproductive parameters of female wild turkeys, 2) evaluate vegetative characteristics at nest sites, 2) assess the influence of prescribed fire on habitat selection, and 4) examine space use relative to recent fire disturbance at Kisatchie National Forest, 2014 and 2015. Nesting rate was 87%, nest success was 15%, and brood survival was 30%. Nest sites were positively associated with ground level vegetation, proximity to roads, and distance from forest ecotones. Random sampling of available areas within home ranges suggested turkeys favored nest sites in stands burned 2 years prior and avoided nesting in stands burned ≥3 years prior. Habitat selection varied throughout the reproductive period. Females selected hardwoods in late winter, recently burned mature pines prior to initial nest incubation, and mixed forests and open habitats prior to second nest incubation. Female with broods avoided hardwoods. Predictive models of probability of turkeys using recently burned stands suggested use of burns peaked at 106 days post-fire before declining. Within recently burned stands, turkeys were more likely to use space near the perimeter of burns, but the effect of distance to perimeter decreased with time-since-fire.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 11:00am - 11:20am
Louisiana Room

11:00am

Wildlife. Using State Wildlife Grant funds to address knowledge gaps for Florida’s Species of Greatest Conservation Need
AUTHORS: Ashley Ballou, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; *Dan O’Malley, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 

ABSTRACT: Florida’s Wildlife Legacy Initiative (FWLI), a program within the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), was established to steward use of Florida’s State Wildlife Action Plan (Action Plan) and implementation, using State Wildlife Grant (SWG) funds. A competitive grant process has been established where selected projects receive a portion of Florida’s SWG allocation to implement elements of the Action Plan. These projects address one of the 5 implementation goals identified for the Action Plan and are primarily on a habitat-level scale to ensure multiple Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) benefit. However, one implementation goal is focused solely on filling knowledge gaps for SGCN (e.g. research, monitoring, and management). Knowledge gaps are determined by giving a species a knowledge level score. The knowledge level score ranges from 0 to 7, where 0 means the status of the taxa is unknown. The “Data Gaps” goal is to acquire information necessary to conserve SGCN, to establish measurable objectives for these species, and to monitor achievement of the objectives for the species. Since 2012, FWLI has funded 20 Data Gaps projects addressing 51 SGCN, including 9 projects with non-FWC principal investigators. Each of the 51 SGCN have moved up at least 1 knowledge level score as a result of successful Data Gaps funded projects. Projects have spanned across all taxa and habitat types, including projects focused on Worthington’s marsh wren (Cistothorus palustris griseus), Florida bonneted bats (Eumops floridanus), and 6 freshwater mussel species.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 11:00am - 11:20am
Riverview B

11:20am

Wildlife. A comprehensive review of Mottled Duck demographics during the breeding season
AUTHORS: Kevin M. Ringelman, Louisiana State University

ABSTRACT: Mottled Ducks (Anas fulvigula) are endemic to the Gulf Coast of the southern United States and serve as a flagship species for conserving coastal marsh habitats. The eastern population of mottled ducks (FL) appears to be increasing, while along the western gulf coast populations are stable (LA) or declining (TX). This variation may be explained in part by the substantial range-wide variation documented in breeding season demographics. Breeding season survival of adult females appears to be higher in Florida (especially urban areas) than in Texas, where tradeoffs between survival and nesting propensity likely depend on environmental conditions. Across the entire range of the mottled duck, average nest success is near the 15% level thought to be required to sustain mid-continent Mallard populations. However, there is substantial variation in nest success, with some studies documenting success rates as high as 28% in urban habitats, or as low as 6% in agricultural areas. Here, we provide a comprehensive review of mottled duck demographics during the breeding season, highlighting emerging patterns and drawing attention to important knowledge gaps.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 11:20am - 11:40am
Riverview B

11:20am

Wildlife. Movements and habitat selection of male Rio Grande wild turkeys during drought in south Texas
AUTHORS: Bret A. Collier, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center; Joshua Guthrie, Texas A&M University; Jason B. Hardin, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Kevin L. Skow, Texas A&M University

ABSTRACT: Wildlife managers rely on accurate information regarding wild turkey habitat selection and use to appropriately structure management activities. We used integrated VHF-GPS transmitters to evaluate fine scale movements and habitat selection of male Rio Grande wild turkeys (Meleagris gallapavo intermedia) in south Texas. As our study coincided with the regions 2nd worst recorded drought, we evaluated the influence of supplemental resources (supplemental feeding and managed surface water) on turkey distribution and movements. We deployed 8 GPS units on adult male Rio Grande wild turkeys captured in south Texas during spring 2009. We classified land cover into three vegetative categories: bare ground/herbaceous (26%), thorn scrub (69%), and woody riparian (5%). Based on 5 recovered individuals, we found that adult male Rio Grande wild turkeys used bare ground/herbaceous (49%) and woody riparian (41%) habitat types in much greater proportion to their availability on the landscape. Turkeys traveled in relatively linear paths (fractal dimension ≤ 1.1) and moved significantly longer distances in the morning (2.9 km) than in the afternoon (1.2 km). Our results also suggest that turkey locations were significantly closer to supplemental resources than random locations generated within our study area. Our results indicate that bare ground/herbaceous and woody riparian habitat types are essential for wild turkey populations in the south Texas plains region and supplemental resources will be actively selected for during severe drought years.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 11:20am - 11:40am
Louisiana Room

11:40am

Wildlife. Spring Movement Ecology of Male Wild Turkeys in South Carolina
AUTHORS: Bret. A. Collier, School of Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center; Patrick Wightman, School of Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana State University; Michael J. Chamberlain, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia; Jay Cantrell, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; Charles Ruth, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT: Anthropogenic pressure can have significant impacts on how wildlife move and use habitats. How wildlife response to hunting intensity can impact both population level demography as well as hunter satisfaction. During 2014-2016, we deployed 41 GPS collars on male wild turkeys on the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Webb Center Wildlife Management Area to evaluate the effect of hunting intensity on male wild turkey movement ecology. Average male weekly core areas were approximately 16 ha, and were consistent over a 3 month period. Daily movements were highly variable at the individual level and no clears trends were noted. Based on our results, male wild turkeys slightly their movements in response to hunting intensity, and we found no changes in daily movements relative to the timing of the reproductive season or the hunting season. We found only limited evidence for variation in weekly range sizes, again inferring that neither hunting intensity nor reproductive season timing influenced male wild turkey movements. Our results suggest that male wild turkey movement ecology is only slightly impacted by hunting activities.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 11:40am - 12:00pm
Louisiana Room

11:40am

Wildlife. Variation in number of ducks harvested among hunters in the Central Flyway
AUTHORS: Matthew Haugen, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Mark Vrtiska, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission; Larkin Powell, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

ABSTRACT: Knowledge of the relationship between waterfowl hunters and harvest levels may better inform harvest management decisions. We examined frequency of different sizes of daily harvests among duck hunters, and hunters’ contributions to duck harvest in the Central Flyway from 1975-1984, 1988-1993, and 2002-2011 using the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Parts Collection Survey. We stratified hunters sampled by the Parts Collection Survey into 10 equal hunter groups based on seasonal harvest. Hunter groups were ranked from 1 to 10, with hunter group 1 representing hunters with the lowest seasonal harvests, and hunter group 10 representing hunters with the highest seasonal harvests. Successful hunters, respectively, attained the 5-duck (1975-1984), 3-duck (1988-1993), or 6-duck (2002-2011) daily limit in 8%, 28%, and 13% of daily harvests reported to the Parts Collection Survey. For all the time periods examined, hunter group 1 only contributed 0.98-1.48% to the total duck harvest in the Central Flyway, whereas hunter group 10 contributed 31.26-38.41% to the total duck harvest. We conclude that successful hunters were unlikely to achieve large daily limits and hunters disproportionately contribute to Central Flyway duck harvest. Our data may assist in formulating duck harvest regulations.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 11:40am - 12:00pm
Riverview B
 
Thursday, October 20
 

8:30am