May 2006

NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife
Monthly Highlights
Bureau of Law Enforcement

Mark Canale Receives Conservation Officer of the Year Award for 2005
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officer (CO) Mark Canale has received the Conservation Officer of the Year Award from the Northeast Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs Association and the Shikar-Safari Club International. In the last year Mark has excelled in every aspect of the field Conservation Officers job, and has shown leadership in his district with other officers.
Mark has worked hard in establishing a strong information network with other agencies involved with marine law enforcement, and has been responsible for, or directly involved in, every major marine fisheries case his district has made this year. This includes a very complex federal case involving scallops, which yielded more than $935,000 in monetary penalties. He has also been an excellent liaison for the DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife, helping to spread the word on the goals and mission of the agency.
Canale was a Deputy Conservation Officer in 1992 prior to being appointed as a full-time CO. He also worked for the DEP's Division of Parks and Forestry from 1991 - 1993.
Mark has a B.S. Degree in Wildlife Management from Rutgers University and was hired as a CO in the Central Region in February 1993. CO Canale graduated from Burlington County Police Academy in January of 1994. Mark then transferred to the Marine Region in January of 1997 and has worked there since that time. He is a certified instructor and teaches in-service classes as well as basic police classes at the Burlington County Police Academy. Mark resides in Atlantic County with his wife and three daughters.

The responsibilities of NJ Conservation Officers include protection of many non-game species. Conservation Officer Doug Ely captured this injured Golden Eagle on the Tuckahoe WMA. The eagle was taken to a state certified rehabilitator and released two months later in the area of capture.

Northern Region Highlights

CO Panico returned to duty after recuperating from a knee injury received during training in December 2005. His return is welcomed. Conservation Officers of the Northern Region did a commendable job in covering this open area as well as an adjoining area during his absence.

As the result of a trespass complaint in Mansfield Township, Warren County, CO Applegate apprehended two local hunters for violations of the Spring Turkey Regulations. Complaints were signed for Trespass for purpose of hunting (two counts), hunt turkey wrong zone, registering turkey with false information and failing to properly tag turkey.

On a closed waters stocking date along the Ramapo River in Bergen County, CO Hutchinson apprehended six individuals for fishing without the proper license. The apprehensions were found while patrolling from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

CO Kuechler investigated a complaint of illegal songbirds in captivity in Belleville, Essex County. Three Cardinals and four Mourning Doves were seized and turned over to a rehabilitator due to the poor condition of the birds. Complaints were signed for each of the species.

CO Williamson and Deputy Schleifer found a suspicious vehicle parked in Washington Township in Morris County. Though the occupants were obviously turkey hunters, a feed bag was observed in the vehicle. A foot patrol of the area found two hunters with decoys out calling turkeys in an area baited with corn within thirty feet of their position. Another empty feed bag was also found at that location. Appropriate complaints were signed for hunt turkey in a manner prohibited by State Game Code.

CO Hutchinson has been conducting inspections of fish markets in the Bergen County area in an attempt to monitor illegal sales of marine finfish.

On a recent patrol of the Pequest River, Lieutenant Cole observed four individuals fishing near the outflow of the Pequest Hatchery. Three of the anglers had licenses displayed; the fourth was found to have no license. Of the three displayed licenses examined, two were found to have been loaned. The appropriate complaints were signed.

Lieutenant Fletcher attended a class at the Somerset County Police Academy regarding preparation of Search Warrants.

CO Paul attended a class at the Somerset County Police Academy on Basic Fingerprinting Techniques.

CO Hutchinson is conducting a joint investigation with Police of a New Milford, Bergen County resident, found in possession of a live Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. The snake was remanded to a rehabilitator by personnel of the Non-Game Section.

Lieutenant Cole made several apprehensions for over the limit trout during the spring. In one instance he found an individual on the South Branch with five trout on a stringer and an additional six hidden in his automobile. He conducted a plainclothes surveillance of an individual on the Musconetcong River, following him to four different locations including the home of a friend to drop off the first limit. After four hours, Lieutenant Cole apprehended his target with four trout over the daily limit. In a separate incident CO Applegate assisted in the apprehension of an individual on the D&R Canal found with four trout on his person and an additional seven in his vehicle. The appropriate complaints were signed in each case.

COs Paul and Samona attended a meeting at the CRO regarding Bog Turtle Enforcement.

Lieutenant's Brown and Fletcher conducted a power point presentation on Wildlife Law Enforcement at the Somerset County Police Academy. The training focused on cooperation between Police Departments and the Division’s Bureau of Law Enforcement.

CO Kuechler and Lieutenant Cole apprehended an individual in Bayonne, Hudson County in possession of three undersized striped bass. The same individual had been apprehended in the past for possession of undersized stripers. Complaints were signed for the three fish as well as possession of striped bass in excess of the daily limit.

The Sussex County Federation of Sportsman Club Meeting was attended by Captain Cussen.

Central Region Highlights

CO Mutone assisted a local Toms River resident when she observed smoke coming from the subject’s backyard. When she went to investigate CO Mutone encountered a woman carrying a small child as they exited from their residence. The subject informed the officer that hot ashes from a trash fire on a neighboring construction site had blown onto to the fence causing the fence and then her shed to catch on fire. The fire department was notified and Officer Mutone used her fire extinguisher to prevent the flames from progressing to other structures until the local police and fire department arrived. No injuries were reported.

When CO Szulecki stopped to inspect a group of six fishermen at the Prospertown Lake in Jackson Twp he noticed that two of them were fishing without licenses. While trying to obtain subject information the two men became uncooperative and belligerent. Officers from the central region were sent to assist. When the situation was under control it was determined that one of the subjects was wanted for assault charges. That individual was taken into custody and transported to the Trenton Police Department by CO Martiak. Summonses for fishing without a license and interference were issued.

During a recent field operation, officers from the central region patrolled inland ponds and lakes in the late afternoon and then the region wildlife management areas during the evening. Lt.’s Lacroix, Sich, CO’s Martiak, McManus, Szalaj, Mutone and Tonnesen made thirty apprehensions for various fishing, littering, wildlife management and motor vehicle violations.

Officer Tonnesen was recently called out to assist the Barnegat and Lacey Twp Police Department’s in locating a father and son who were lost somewhere on the Greenwood Forest Wildlife Management Area which consists of approximately thirty thousand acres of desolate forest. The father had called the police on his cell phone because he had become disorientated and unable to find his way out. He was concerned for his young son because it was getting dark and the temperature was dropping. With the subjects vague description of the surrounding land marks, Officer Tonnesen was able locate and guide the weary travelers back to their starting point where they where greeted by family members who had gathered to wait for their safe return.

While patrolling Lester Lake in Dover Twp, CO Mutone stopped to inspect a group of anglers who were not displaying their licenses. During the field inspection one individual was in violation for fishing without a valid fishing license. During communication with Trenton Dispatch it was determined that the subject had three warrants out of Little Egg Harbor for his arrest. Officer Mutone placed the subject under arrest and Dover Twp Police assisted in transporting the subject back to their headquarters. A summons for fish no license was issued.

Officers from the Central Region participated in a coordinated boat and land patrol of the Delaware River in response to a number of recent complaints of fishing violations. Within a seven-hour period Officers Tonnesen, Szulecki, O’Rourke, McManus, Mutone and Szalaj apprehended seventeen individuals for various infractions including fishing without licenses and littering. Officer’s Tonnesen and O’Rourke also arrested an individual who was fishing without a license at Crystal Lake in Willingboro Twp when they were informed by Trenton Dispatch that he had three active warrants. A summons for fish no license was issued.

CO O’Rourke received a complaint about two people camping on the Assunpink WMA. After encountering the individuals, CO O’Rourke determined that they had spent the night on the WMA and had been fishing. Neither individual had a fishing license. One of the individuals had no identification on him and provided false information to the officer. After questioning the man for approximately a half-hour CO O’Rourke was able to ascertain his true identity which revealed multiple warrants out of several jurisdictions, including a fugitive warrant from Pennsylvania. Title 23 summonses were issued and the man was transported to Trenton City P.D. on the warrants.

CO O’Rourke was on patrol on a Saturday evening when he received a report of a woman screaming for help near Assunpink Lake on the Assunpink WMA. CO O’Rourke responded and met with State Police who had also been notified. The officers found a vehicle in the area and found a 14-year old girl sitting in the vehicle that seemed very upset and had a black eye and numerous scratches and bruising on her neck and shoulders. They then noticed a 17-year old male approaching on foot who also seemed upset. The girl denied being hurt by her boyfriend and stated that they had just been arguing. During a pat down of the male, the Trooper located what appeared to be marijuana. He also smelled alcohol on the subject. Both individuals admitted to having had beer, but stated they had thrown the cans into the woods. Both individuals were transported to the State Police Barracks in Hamilton.

Southern Region Highlights

Two individuals were convicted in Egg Harbor Township, Atlantic County for their involvement in an illegal wildlife rehabilitation operation. CO Massey's case centered on the unlawful possession of many regulated wildlife species, including an endangered red-shouldered hawk and four red-tailed hawks, which were improperly housed and not being cared for properly. Another licensed rehabilitator took possession of the animals and attempted to rehabilitate them properly, but most of the animals, including the red-shouldered hawk, had to be destroyed. One individual who was convicted had attempted to get her rehabilitators' license but quit shortly after entering the lengthy intern program because she disagreed with methodology and the techniques being taught. During the sentencing phase of the trial the judge described her as a person who believes that she is above the law. That subject was fined over $7000.00 for her involvement in the illegal operation and the property owner where the illegal aviary was located was fined just over $5000.00 for his involvement.

Conservation Officer Honachefsky and Special Agent Manera have filed civil and criminal charges against an Absecon, Atlantic County man for harassing and attempting to take or kill yellow-crowned night herons. Yellow-crowned night herons are listed as a threatened species in the state of New Jersey. The individual had been given several warnings to stop shooting a paintball gun at the birds and the nests that were in his yard and a neighbor’s yard. The paintball gun and other physical evidence were collected at the scene. Statements from two individuals regarding the illegal activity and warnings that were given have been taken and members of the community are willing to testify in court.

During the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s sanctioned Greenbriar Enduro motorcycle race, participants are required to sign a release form stating that they haven’t been convicted of a state wildlife management area violation before being allowed to enter the race. Three participants ignored the form and entered the race. Conservation Officer Honachefsky has charged those individuals with the appropriate summonses.

Conservation Officer Ely responded to a dumping complaint on the Beaver Swamp Wildlife Management Area, Middle Township, Cape May County. Apparently an individual was given a free trailer and had mechanical problems trying to remove it. When he couldn’t get the trailer home he decided to leave it on our WMA. Conservation Officer Ely was able to locate the original owner from paperwork left in the trailer. The owner was able to provide information for the individual that had just removed the trailer from the park. An interview led to a confession and the appropriate charges were filed.

Officer Risher responded to a complaint about turkey hunters in Deerfield Twp. Cumberland County. His investigation discovered two juvenile turkey hunters who had violated several Fish & Game laws in their harvesting of two turkeys. The hunters, ages 17 & 15, killed the bird’s 427 feet from a residence and then recovered the birds on property where they didn’t have permission to be. In addition, one of the hunters didn’t have a permit for the correct zone. Officer Risher met with the juveniles, their parents and the complainant. In an amicable resolution to all parties the young men apologized, are temporarily suspended of their license privileges and will be taking the remedial sportsman education class.

In Pittsgrove Twp. Salem County CO Risher apprehended a man on opening day with an untagged turkey and #2 shot. He received the appropriate charges.

CO Stites investigated a complaint about a couple in Greenwich Twp., Salem County for possession of a bobcat. It seems that the couple obtained the animal from a breeder in Montana and had it before it recently escaped. The cat that goes by the name “Peeps” has been sited in the area. The investigation is ongoing.

CO Risher attended a venomous/dangerous animal handling meeting where he learned the proper procedure for capturing and transporting dangerous exotic species.

CO’s Trembley and Risher apprehended two Maryland residents who took over their limits of turkeys in Fairfield Twp. Cumberland County. The men killed five turkeys. Neither individual had a permit or plug in their guns. One of the men didn’t have a license. They were given numerous summonses.

CO's Stites and Trembley apprehended a dozen youths partying at DOD Ponds in Oldmans Twp. Salem County. The youngsters drove over from Pennsylvania to drink, and build bonfires on the management area after hours. The appropriate summonses were issued.

A recent superior court hearing resulted in the denials of defense motions to dismiss charges against a consultant and a development company for a violation of the Non Game and Endangered Species Act. The 2-year-old case involves the development of Petty's Island on the Delaware River in Pennsauken and the presence of a bald eagles' nest. Attorneys for the defendants and Deputies Attorney General argued various points during the 2-hour hearing. The judge found for the State, which allows the case to move toward trial.

Marine Enforcement Highlights

On May 5, 2006, Lt. Chicketano did an undercover patrol in an unmarked Boston Whaler in Raritan Bay. The patrol was in response to received information that certain depuration clammers were using unpermitted and unlicensed individuals aboard their vessels to harvest clams from the deep waters of Areas 12 & 14. While Conservation Officers Dravis and Jones waited on shore and prepared to conduct boardings, Lt. Chicketano continued his observations of the area, anchoring the whaler 400 to 500 yards from the clammers and pretending to fish. Watching through 12X binoculars, Lt. Chicketano was able to document two separate vessels using illegal manpower to harvest the clams. Also observed were two properly licensed individuals aboard one vessel harvesting with only one depuration identification sign displayed. After relaying all of the applicable information to CO’s Dravis and Jones, dockside boardings were conducted and summonses issued.

Training Highlights

Lt. Brown taught a class on wildlife resource law at the Somerset County Police Academy.

The Bureau hosted a 2-day Regional Training Conference sponsored by the International Association of Law Enforcement and Firearms Instructors. Instructors from as far away as Maine and Florida attended.

Spring firearms qualification and training was conducted for CO's and Deputy CO's during this period. CO's and wildlife control agents that are issued centerfire rifles for bear control also qualified.


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Last Update April 17, 2007