2006 March

On March 29, 2006, Conservation Officer Sean McManus, was on a routine patrol along the Delaware River in Trenton City. As Officer McManus pulled up to the parking lot on Lamberton Street he saw a man tying a white plastic bag that appeared to have a large fish in it. The man looked around the area then placed the bag in the back of the truck behind the spare tire and returned to the river and started to fish.
Officer McManus approached the man and asked if he caught any fish. He replied “No”. Officer McManus then asked what kind of fish was in the bag that he placed in the truck. After a long pause and some stuttering he claimed it was a carp. Officer McManus requested to see it. He retrieved the bag from the truck. Officer McManus opened the bag and found that it contained a 34 inch long shortnose sturgeon. Officer McManus photographed and measured the fish. The fish was still alive so it was released back into the water. Shortnose Sturgeon and Atlantic Sturgeon are considered endangered species and are illegal to take.
The man also had an outstanding warrant for a previous Fish and Wildlife violation out of Point Pleasant. He was detained and transported to Trenton P.D.

Northern Region Highlights

Lieutenant Cole, CO Kuechler and CO Panico have been selected to receive a Teamwork/Achievement Award for their activities relating to the Caldwell Taxidermy Investigation. The award is made through the New Jersey Public Service Recognition Awards Program and will be presented at the State House in May. Congratulations on a job well done.

Northern Region Conservation Officers assisted with public information duties at the Suffern Outdoor Show recently. Lt. Fletcher and COs Hutchinson, Nestel and Samona answered questions from the general public relating to wildlife and enforcement issues.

CO Paul investigated a fish-kill involving suckers and small-mouth bass on Chambers Brook in Branchburg, Somerset County. The mortality was the direct result of runoff from a petroleum products fire at a nearby warehouse. CO Paul assisted with the placement of a boom to control the runoff.

CO Applegate, assisted by Lieutenant Cole, conducted an inspection of records and wildlife at a taxidermist shop located in Ringoes, Hunterdon County. The investigation is continuing.

CO Williamson assisted the Province of Alberta Fish and Wildlife Division with the interview of a Long Valley, Morris County, resident regarding hunting activities in Alberta during 2004 and 2005.

CO Kuechler attended the Essex County Federation of Sportsman Clubs meeting.
Captain Cussen attended the Bergen County Federation of Sportsman Clubs meeting.

CO Paul apprehended two individuals from a local hunting club participating in the Bridgewater Community Based Deer Hunt. The hunters had killed more than the number of deer allowed at one time, and were attempting to find additional tags for the deer when apprehended. The two individuals were removed from the list of participants due to the violation, complaints were signed and the extra deer were turned over to the food bank.

CO Williamson assisted with winter firearms qualifications for Deputy Conservation Officers.
Lieutenant Cole and CO Kuechler were interviewed by the Korean Television Broadcasting Company regarding their investigation of Caldwell Taxidermy. The interview was conducted for viewing in Korea, to inform the public of the duties of Conservation Officers in their country as well as worldwide.

Lieutenant Cole and COs Paul and Williamson are investigating a self inflicted hunting related shooting. The deer hunting incident took place during the closed season in Branchburg, Somerset County. The hunter shot himself through the upper left thigh with a 12 gauge rifled slug. The incident is still under investigation and the wound resulted in the loss of the limb.

A resident of the state of Florida charged with the possession of a road-killed bear plead guilty in Montville Municipal Court in Morris County from a complaint signed by CO Williamson.

Central Region Highlights

CO Fresco has recently investigated a number of illegal dumping cases located within the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area. He has also apprehended two individuals who were using the trash receptacles located on the Prospertown Wildlife Management Area for the disposal of their household trash. Working in conjunction with the lands management crew, trash that contained identifiers was set aside. When a pattern of use was documented, Officer Fresco was able to issue the appropriate summonses. It is interesting to note that when both individuals were presented with the evidence they promptly admitted their guilt and were quite surprised that someone had taken the time necessary to make the case.

Lt. Sich and CO Fresco attempted to initiate a stop of four ATV riders that were illegally operating on the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area. When the subjects noticed the patrol vehicle lights and siren they immediately turned around and fled from the officers by driving on Hawkins road at a high rate of speed. The group split up in an attempt to elude the officers. Unfortunate for them, the officers who are very familiar with the area set up in an attempt to apprehend the riders before they could return home. With CO Fresco parked in a strategic location, Lt. Sich entered the woods and tracked the riders back to a location where they were all found hiding in the brush. When everything was sorted out three of the riders were issued a total of four motor vehicle summonses and three fish and wildlife summonses.

While posting trout signs on the Toms River located in Jackson Township, CO’s Tonnesen and Mutone noticed that sediment, debris and what appeared to be a petroleum product was being deposited into the stream leaving a sheen on the water. The two officers were able to trace the source of pollution back to a construction site where heavy equipment was being used to clean a retention basin. The officers noticed fuel leaking from a large pump that was being used to pump water from the basin into a storm drain that led to the trout stream. An Emergency Response Unit was dispatched and other state and local environmental enforcement agencies were notified. The construction site supervisor halted the work until the proper method of curtailing the pollution could be implemented. The investigation is continuing and summonses are pending.

CO McManus was on patrol posting for trout along the D & R Canal when he noticed a red fox mount displayed on a pickup truck at the Golden Nugget Flea Market in Hopewell Twp. Upon closer inspection, he also saw a rattlesnake mount displayed on a table as well as deer skins and antlers. Since he was in uniform, he contacted Lt. Lacroix who was able to respond in plain clothes. Lt. Lacroix posed as an interested customer and told the two men she was interested in buying mounted wildlife. The men were very willing to talk and offered to sell the deer antlers for $40. One of the men stated that he once had a great horned owl mount, but it was illegal to sell those. After identifying herself, the men were pretty upset that she had duped them. The appropriate summons was issued to the seller. Afterwards, another seller at the flea market approached the officers and stated that she sees lots of wildlife offered for sale at the flea market. She stated that several weeks earlier someone was selling a mounted owl.

CO's McManus, Martiak, O'Rourke and DCO Tindall were on patrol in the Caruso Village area of Greenwood Forest WMA, when CO McManus observed a motor vehicle pulling into a wooded area around 2120 hours. When CO McManus activated his emergency lights to approach the vehicle for an after hours inspection, he observed the front seat passenger making suspicious movements. CO Martiak approached the passenger side of the vehicle and observed the passenger bent over reaching under the front seat. The passenger and driver were asked to exit the vehicle and an open box of "test tube" shots was observed on the dashboard. The officers were given permission to look through the vehicle after the occupants stated that there wasn't anything in the vehicle. CO Martiak located a large plastic bag containing a green leafy substance that had an odor of marijuana under the front passenger seat. When asked if there was anything else in the vehicle, the passenger stated no but removed two smaller bags containing a similar substance and a pipe from his pant pockets. A case of beer was also found in the vehicle. The passenger was transported to Lacey Twp. Police Department where he was processed for possession of CDS as well as wildlife management area violations.

CO Martiak assisted Alberta Fish and Game with a case involving an Alberta hunting guide who had guided some New Jersey hunters last fall. The guide had specific zone permits where he was allowed to guide and kill deer, but Alberta had received information that he had taken the New Jersey hunters to another zone and had killed several large deer. CO Martiak interviewed one of the hunters who lived in Middlesex County. The NJ hunter was unfamiliar with the area in Alberta but statements made during the interview confirmed the information that Alberta Fish and Game had received. The hunter became worried that he was going to lose the large deer that he had harvested and hired a lawyer. He then refused to talk when asked for another interview. Alberta Fish and Game will be pressing charges and is moving for a search warrant for the Alberta taxidermist in order to seize the illegal deer.

Southern Region Highlights

A man pled guilty to dumping on Union Lake WMA in Cumberland County. In an agreement worked out by Conservation Officer Risher he agreed to clean up his trash and pay a $1000 fine.

Conservation Officer Risher also convicted a man for multiple violations involving riding an ATV on Winslow WMA in Gloucester County. The rider was fined $700. He had a previous apprehension for the same offense.

Conservation Officer Kille obtained convictions for two different dumping violations on Glassboro WMA Gloucester County. One case involved a fraternity house that had been doing some early spring-cleaning. Three people were convicted in this case. The other incident involved a contractor that was dumping building materials. Both sites were cleaned up as well as fines being paid.

Conservation Officer Massey responded to a trapping complaint with Parks and Forest staff at the Brigantine Natural Area in Brigantine, Atlantic County. The complaint stemmed from an individual who was hiking the area and found several dead red fox in snares. All of the recovered snares appeared to be lawfully set and marked, however they just weren't tended properly. Conservation Officer Massey conducted an interview with the trapper whose name appeared on the snares and he admitted to having forgot the location of several of his snares. The appropriate summonses have been issued.

Conservation Officer Massey located several pieces of identification in a trash pile on the Great Egg Harbor River Wildlife Management Area in Mullica Township, Atlantic County. During an interview the suspect admitted to the illegal dumping and offered to clean the area. The suspect has contacted CO Massey three times to advise him that different areas of the WMA have been cleaned. Summonses are pending the final inspection of the areas to be cleaned. If the trash removal is successful a recommendation for the mandatory minimum fines will be made to the Judge.

The Atlantic City Aquarium currently has a permit to possess a Loggerhead turtle. Conservation Officer Massey received a complaint from a citizen stating that the turtle was in deplorable condition and in danger of dying. Lieutenant Cianciulli and CO Massey conducted an inspection of the facility and its records and believed that everything looked to be in order. Bob Schoelkopf from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine was called as expert and identified several minor deficiencies, but said that the turtle appeared to be in good health. The aquarium agreed to raise the water temperature a degree or two and to add some additional lighting. During the investigation the Camden Aquarium was asked if they could house the turtle if it was in need of immediate care. It became apparent that they were more than willing to house the turtle because they had loaned it to Atlantic City and are attempting to get the turtle back. The Camden Aquarium was advised that the issue of ownership of the turtle would have to be addressed in court and that we couldn't settle that dispute.

Conservation Officer Ely has spent a considerable amount of his patrol time working ATV's and motorcycles being operated unlawfully on our Wildlife Management Areas in Cumberland and Cape May counties. The mild winter and the warm weather have led to an increase in activity during a period when ATV and motorcycle activity is normally slow. As is usually the case, the majority of the riders encountered are fleeing apprehension.

Marine Enforcement Highlights

In early March Officer Petrucelli received a complaint of illegal trapping at Higbee Beach WMA. Living only a short distance away Officer Petruccelli located the trapper’s vehicle and went back later that day to locate the trappers snares. Officer Petruccelli found several snares which were untagged, on private property and bait placed in an illegal manner. In addition, Officer Petruccelli found one illegally set spring loaded ram powered killer trap. On the following day Officer Petruccelli and Officer James observed 3 trappers enter private property and tend the untagged traps and illegally set killer trap. The trappers were apprehended and questioned about the trapping violations. The trappers were each charged with trespassing, littering, untagged traps, bait placed in an illegal manner and failure to report three coyotes. One trapper took responsibility for the illegal killer trap and if convicted he will lose his trapping license for a period of time determined by the court.

On March 11th, 2006 Lt. Yunghans was patrolling the shellpile section of Commercial Township in Cumberland County. As Lt. Yunghans passed the public warf he observed the F/V Brandy Lee Bateman tied up to the Warf and the vessels catch visible on the dock. The F/V Brandy Lee Bateman is licensed to dredge blue crabs and conchs on the waters of the Delaware Bay. Lt. Yunghans inspected the vessels catch, license and dredge and everything appeared to be in order. As Lt. Yunghans was about to leave the vessel he noticed a hatch cover in the forward bow that was opened slightly. Lt. Yunghans lifted the hatch and observed three white bags filled with bulky objects. Upon further inspection Lt. Yunghans determined the bags were filled with horseshoe crabs. One summons was issued under the crab dredge regulations and three summonses were issued under the horseshoe crab regulations. Each summons carries a maximum of $3,000.00 fine.

Training Highlights

Three days were devoted to rifle training for CO's and Wildlife representatives involved in Bear Response.

Firearms training for the winter quarter got underway. Emphasis will be on low light shooting.Captain Boyle assisted with a Firearms instructor class conducted by the Division of Criminal Justice Academy at Fort Dix.

The Division hosted a two-day training put on by Amour Holdings. Forty Law Enforcement Officers from around the state attended.


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Last Update April 17, 2007