After more than 43 years of service to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division, Col. Winton Vidrine, 69, of Washington, has announced his retirement and will be leaving the department effective June 7, 2013.
In January of 1970, Vidrine was hired as an LDWF Enforcement Division agent. Vidrine reached the highest rank of colonel in 1988 and served the last 25 years as the division’s chief of enforcement at the Baton Rouge headquarters office.
“We wish the best to Col. Vidrine in his retirement years. He has certainly deserved his retirement for all of the years he has served the state of Louisiana,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham. “I’m proud to say that I was able to work with him these past years. He was instrumental in many programs and initiatives that improved the enforcement division over the years that have also benefitted conservation of our outdoor resources.”
When Vidrine started there was no formal training for LDWF agents and he was put out in the field on his first day in civilian clothes, driving his own truck and carrying his personal pistol. He received his Peace Officer Standards and Training certification in the fall of 1970. Vidrine worked out of the Opelousas office mostly working boating, night hunting and fish shocking cases.
In 1972, Vidrine was instrumental in creating the Louisiana Wildlife Agents Association to help organize agents statewide into a collective unit. Vidrine was awarded as the LDWF “Outstanding Agent of the Year” in 1975.
After his hiring, Vidrine quickly rose through the ranks achieving captain of the Opelousas office in 1976 and then being promoted to major in 1978 overseeing the Baton Rouge and Opelousas offices. In 1980, Vidrine was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and worked out of the New Orleans office.
“I’ve had a great career that I wouldn’t have traded for anything,” Vidrine said. “Just becoming a game warden was satisfying by itself as I was an avid hunter and fisherman and got the chance to uphold rules and regulations that conserved our outdoor resources for my grandkids and their grandkids to enjoy.”
After becoming Colonel in 1988, Vidrine’s top priority for the enforcement division was training. Beginning in 1990, he implemented a more tailored training program for LDWF Wildlife Cadets that included classes on the laws for fisheries and wildlife management, driving while intoxicated detection, migratory game bird and fish identification, boating, and search and rescue training.
These changes increased the training a cadet receives from 12 weeks to more than 20 weeks. In 2001, LDWF initiated their first fully accredited and POST certified Cadet Academy that was completely taught and ran by LDWF agents.
Vidrine also oversaw every agent being issued a pistol beginning in the 1990s, initiation of the Maritime Search and Rescue course in the 2000s, the Maritime Special Response Team in 2010, and the first state to be accredited in the National Association of Safe Boating Law Administrator’s Boat Operation and Training program in 2011.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes to the enforcement division in my 43 years of service,” said Vidrine. “Thankfully, I was able to be in a position to make a lot of changes over the years that made us a more professional, efficient and improved law enforcement agency.”
Vidrine will be retiring back to his farm in Washington with his wife of 50 years, one child, two grandkids and two great-grandkids.