U.S. Fish & Wildlife honors Louisiana, Mississippi biologists


The Associated Press

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' waterfowl study team and a biologist at the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge in Gautier, Miss., are among 32 people and groups honored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Southeast Region.

The Shreveport-based Friends of Red River National Wildlife Refuge and Kevin Roy of the USFW's Ecological Services Field Office in Lafayette also were recognized at the Regional Director's Honor Awards ceremony Wednesday in Atlanta, Ga.

Larry Reynolds and the waterfowl study team were among eight conservation partners honored. The team has banded well over 10,000 wood ducks since 2004, going far beyond the annual quota of 500, the agency said.

"In 2011, the LDWF waterfowl study team banded 2,176 woodies, representing the highest number banded by any southeastern state during the same time period," the citation read.

Traditional waterfowl surveys don't work in the forested wetlands where most wood ducks live, so banding programs are critical to wood duck population management.

The agency said Scott Hereford's research about the wetlands savannah where Mississippi sandhill cranes live has helped the endangered crane's recovery and supported the world's largest and oldest crane release program.

He and Roy were among 11 agency employees honored. Roy chairs a group that evaluates projects proposed under the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act and manages the Lake Hermitage and Lost Lake Marsh Creation projects.

The Red River organization, one of two Friends Groups of the Year, has provided more than 10,000 hours of service by its members and other volunteers since 2005, and has raised more than $200,000 for the refuge over the same time, according to its citation.

"One of the group's major accomplishments was completing the renovation of a 1930s farmhouse on the Bayou Pierre Unit that will be used as a visitor contact station, education and research center," it read.

"In addition, they have several ongoing programs, including Backpacks for Birders. They are also developing a Bird Finding Guide and implementing a Nature of Learning citizen science project."

The Service's Southeast Region covers 10 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, including 129 national wildlife refuges, 11 migratory bird offices, 14 national fish hatcheries, 14 ecological services offices and 30 law enforcement offices.

There are 46 Friends Groups at national wildlife refuges and 6 Friends Groups at national fish hatcheries.

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