Outdoor Corner: No Harassment
When I hear the work harassment, it usually brings about an uneasy feeling to my stomach. Not that there is anything wrong with the word or its meaning or the use we have for it in our society.
The definition of the word harass is negative in nature as its meaning is to pester, hound, badger, tease, torment, continual persistent attacks, and I could go on ad nauseam. The word seems to be used as a weapon more than the original intent, but I think it's worth talking about it in the outdoors.
It's against the law to harass wildlife. I remember in the early 70's when we got our first pair of nesting eagles that took residence in the Spanish Lake swamp. Folks were surely interested in taking a look because that was pretty much a phenomenon here. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries set a boundary of one-half mile. If anyone got any closer, a very expensive ticket was issued to the perpetrator.
There was an incident a few years back when some friends of mine were on a deer hunting trip on a federal game management area. The group took a ride late at night to look for deer after consuming probably too many adult beverages.
They saw what looked like a doe on the side of the road. Game wardens now employ an electronic deer decoy that is very life-like and move its head and ears. The group were fooled but had no intention of harming the animal. They did want to mess with it so a few empty beer bottles were thrown its way. They were promptly issued two tickets each, one for littering and the other for harassing wildlife.
There is also a law against the harassment of folks that are enjoying the outdoors, as well. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries would like to remind anglers and hunters it is illegal to harass anyone legally hunting or fishing. This law prohibits interfering with or disturbing hunters, anglers, or the animals they are legally pursuing.
According to statute, no person shall engage in the following activities: "Disturb any hunter, trapper, or fisherman who is engaged in the lawful taking of a wild animal or who is engaged in the process of taking, with intent to dissuade or otherwise prevent the taking, or to prevent such person's enjoyment of the outdoors." RS 56:648.1.3
Example violations include, but are not limited to, intimidating someone to leave a fishing spot or brushed fishing hole, motion activated sounds or water sprinklers on docks to dissuade the public from fishing, or aggressively operating your boat around others actively fishing to persuade them to leave.
A common infraction of this law is an individual claiming ownership of a baited or brushed fishing spot. Anglers are reminded that ownership of artificial habitat, brush, or broadcast fish bait ends when it leaves their boat and enters a public water body and cannot be kept from others.
LDWF enforcement division suggests taking cell phone video of any incident that may be a violation for review. Potential violations can be reported by calling 800-442-2511 or via our Tip 411 Program by texting details to 847411. Be sure to include your contact information and a location of the incident including the water body and parish.
I've experienced a little of this over the years fishing right here on the Amite River. On two occasions at different locations folks claimed I was catching "their" fish as they fed them every day. It was nothing threatening, and I kept my thoughts to myself and continued to fish those piers for years.
There was another pier off of Chinquapin Canal where the owner routinely harassed anglers for fishing the pier. He got tired of fussing at us and installed some cable that made it impossible to fish there without getting hung up.
But sometimes things do get a bit hairy. Back in June of 2017 the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited an Opelousas man for an alleged dispute over a public fishing hole on Toledo Bend Reservoir in Sabine Parish on June 12.
Agents cited Dean Bullara, 56, from Opelousas, for harassment of persons lawfully fishing. Agents were called to the scene following 911 calls to the Sabine Parish Sheriff's Office (SPSO) from both Bullara and Donald Johnson, 48, of Deridder. Both men were in a dispute over a public fishing area on the reservoir near Kite's Landing.
When LDWF agents and SPSO deputies arrived on scene they learned that Johnson and his wife were fishing the area when Bullara pulled up in his boat demanding Johnson leave the area. After a lengthy and heated dispute over the public fishing area, Johnson pulled a firearm on Bullara.
The Sabine Parish Sheriff's Office arrested Johnson for aggravated assault with a firearm and booked him into the Sabine Parish Correctional Center. Johnson reported that he had pulled his handgun in self-defense on Bullara because he felt threatened by his actions.
On the humorous side of the "harass a fisherman," it's probably fair to say that property owner Joyce Khatibi didn't know what she was getting herself into after telling a fisherman that she owns the water in front of her home in Vero Beach, Florida.
This lady apparently has a history of harassing folks fishing near her dock. She recently went to spraying them with her water hose and has been arrested for her harassment. The local fishermen have organized an event titled "Fish Joyce's Dock."
It's become so popular that they have their own Facebook page and website. According to their FB the first event had some 400 boats organized to meet up around Joyce's dock to have an organized fishing event. The group is selling t-shirts with slogans "Joyce is a squirter" or "I got wet at Joyce's dock."
Quite an appropriate response, don't you think? Remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Have fun in the outdoors, be safe, and may God truly bless you!
Lyle Johnson is a free-lance writer, co-host of Ascension Outdoors TV and Curator of the Louisiana State Fish Records. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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