June 2006

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

Northern Region Highlights

CO Applegate and Lieutenant Cole responded after hours to a report of an injured Bald Eagle in Delaware Township in Hunterdon County. The officers were able to capture the bird, an adult male, and transport it to the Raptor Trust for rehabilitation. The eagle is expected to make a full recovery from the wing injury.

CO Hutchinson and Lieutenant Fletcher assisted with a motor vehicle accident in Riverdale in Morris County. CO Hutchinson was able to extinguish a fire, which started in one of the vehicles.

An investigation of an Essex County Taxidermy Shop concluded with the signing of complaints by CO Kuechler. The shop owner was charged with twenty-one counts of unlawful possession of white-tailed deer and one count of failing to keep required records.

Captain Cussen attended Federation of Sportsman Clubs meetings in Bergen, Union and Warren Counties.

CO Paul conducted training at a recent Region Meeting regarding the safe handling of potentially dangerous wildlife.

ATV Patrols were conducted at Sparta Mountain, Wildcat Ridge and Pequest WMAs. The following officers assisted with the effort, COs Samona, Paul, Williamson, Kuechler, Panico and Hutchinson, Deputies Mortensen, Kahn and Schliefer, Lieutenants Cole and Fletcher and Captain Cussen. Individuals were apprehended and charged with eight violations and three warnings. One motorcycle was impounded.

CO Kuechler investigated a complaint of songbirds in captivity at a residence in Union. Two cardinals were found along with a trap set for the capture of additional birds. The cardinals were transferred to rehabilitator prior to release and complaints signed for possession of each bird.

CO Nestel attended a fishing derby at Ghost Lake in Warren County conducted by the New Jersey State Park Police HOFNOD program.

CO Kuechler attended fishing derbies at Branch Brook Park Pond and Weequahic Park Pond; Newark, Verona Park Pond; Verona, West Hudson County Park Pond; Harrison and Nomahegan Park Pond; Cranford.

CO Williamson was requested by the licensing section to pick up licenses at County Line Sport Shop in Washington Township Morris County, as a result of accounts in arrears.

An American alligator, seventy-one inches in length was removed from a residence in Milford in Hunterdon County by Michael Ralbovsky of Rainforest Reptiles. The animal is to be relocated. Assistance was given by COs Applegate, Paul and O’Rourke.

Northern Region Officers made several apprehensions for over-the-limit and undersized trout over the Memorial Day Weekend. The apprehensions were as follows:

CO Applegate - eight over on the Capoolong, CO Panico - seven over on the Musconetcong River with the assistance of Deputy Fluta and CO Paul - two over as well as closed waters violations on the North Branch of the Raritan River.

CO Applegate responded to a complaint of possession of undersized trout at Round Valley Reservoir. Two individuals were apprehended with six undersized fish, complaints were also signed for over the limit violations.

Conservation Officers have investigated several Bear Feeding complaints during the report period. In one incident, an Andover Township Sussex County man was charged with enticing black bears to take items from his hand. The individual had been given both verbal and written warnings in the past.

CO Applegate and Lieutenant Cole responded to a complaint regarding the taking of bass during the closed season at White Lake in Hardwick Township in Warren County. When contacted, the individuals set the stringer of bass adrift from their boat. Complaints were signed on four individuals for possession of bass closed season, wanton waste of fish and possession of alcoholic beverages on WMA property.

CO Hutchinson attended a HOFNOD fishing derby sponsored by the Police Department of Ramsey in Bergen County. There were 82 children in attendance and approximately 600 fish were caught and released.

CO Paul attended a fishing derby sponsored by the Somerset County Park Service at Mettlar’s Pond. The derby benefited the County’s Office of Therapeutic Recreation.

CO Kuechler issued a warning to a fisherman who advised that he had left it at home. When the individual provided proof of a license through the mail, it was determined that it had been purchased after the encounter and the date of issue changed. Complaints were signed for no license and altering a license.
CO Paul apprehended an individual at Chimney Rock Reservoir fishing without a license. Upon closer inspection it was determined that his driver’s license was suspended and vehicle registration was expired. Bridgewater Police were called and the appropriate motor vehicle complaints were signed and the vehicle impounded.

COs Samona and Paul conducted training regarding Bog Turtle enforcement concerns.

CO Panico attended a fishing derby at the Liberty Township Community Day in Warren County.

Central Region Highlights

At the request of the New Jersey State Police, CO’s McManus and O’Rourke responded to a one car motor vehicle accident that occurred on Hawkins Road within the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area in Plumstead Twp. All available troopers in the area were tied up on other calls. Upon arrival the CO’s noticed a 2005 Chevrolet pickup truck partially submerged in one of the ponds along Hawkins Rd. The two male occupants had escaped without injury. The officers immediately secured the scene and began to reenact the accident. The driver initially told the officers that he had been run off the road by an ATV. Officers interviewed fishermen on the lake and other witnesses who informed them that there were no other vehicles involved. Evidence collected at the scene revealed that the driver had struck a tree first and then veered into the lake. When the CO’s confronted the driver with the evidence, they were able to obtain a written statement from him stating that he had lied about the ATV and that he was just traveling too fast and lost control of his vehicle. When the Trooper finally did arrive, he was provided with the information gathered by the CO’s and issued a summons for careless driving.

CO Szulecki was assigned to investigate an incident in Ocean Twp, Monmouth County after the central region office received information that a local resident had three dead box turtles hanging from his porch. After gathering evidence and conferring with the local authorities, it was determined that the subject had a total of fourteen non-game and exotic species in his home without the necessary permits. A summons for the illegal possession of non-game and exotic species was issued in addition to a number of other citations issued by the S.P.C.A. for animal cruelty.

While on patrol in the Assunpink Wildlife Management Area, CO Martiak located a group of individuals that were parked near Lake Assunpink. As he approached he noticed that they were attempting to conceal the illegal beer they had in their possession. He quickly took control of the situation and through the course of his inspection located a plastic bag which contained two short large mouth bass and one short black crappie. One of the members in the group stated that the fish belonged to three friends who were still out fishing on the lake. Lt. Sich located the subjects who were fishing from a small rubber boat and called them ashore. During the initial inspection, Lt. Sich noticed that they had no life preservers, one individual was fishing without a license and the other had obtained a resident fishing license illegally. Summonses were issued for illegal possession of alcohol, no life preservers, possession of bass closed season, possession of undersized crappie, fish no license and providing false information to a license agent.

CO Martiak was recently assigned to investigate a complaint made against a Monmouth County resident who allegedly shot and killed a number of geese in his back yard with a pellet gun. After interviewing the suspect who acknowledged his involvement, the neighbors that had witnessed the incident and conferring with SPCA who had retrieved one of the injured geese, CO Martiak issued the following complaints; hunt geese closed season and hunt with an illegal missile.

CO Mutone while on patrol in the Forked River WMA stopped an illegal motorcycle rider using her patrol vehicle emergency lights and instructed the subject to turn off his motorcycle in order to do an inspection. When the rider asked if there was anything wrong the officer repeated her instructions to turn off the motorcycle and dismount. With that said the rider rapidly accelerated his motorcycle and fled from the officer. Unfortunately for him, Officer Mutone was able to locate his transport vehicle parked in a remote section of the wildlife management area. After concealing her patrol vehicle she set up on the subject’s vehicle and waited. A short time later the rider returned and began to refuel his motorcycle. The officer then announced her presence and apprehended the subject. While gathering information she noticed that a bag in the back of the suspect’s truck was moving. The subject readily admitted that it contained fowler toads that he had collected from the wild. Summonses for interference, unregistered MV on a WMA, illegal collecting of non-game species, and failure to obey an officer’s direction were issued.

During the “Free Fishing Days” Lt.’s Lacroix, Sich and CO’s Mutone and Martiak focused their enforcement efforts on the region’s wildlife management areas. On Saturday evening at approximately midnight officers encountered two separate groups that were illegally camping on the Greenwood Forest Wildlife Management Area. One group had set up their campsite in a restricted area of the wildlife management area and placed their tents right under the posted signs. Violation’s encountered that evening ranged from under age consumption of alcohol, littering, illegal camping, illegal campfires, after hours on a wildlife management area, being in a restricted area, unregistered and uninspected motor vehicles. A total of thirty-three fish and wildlife and three motor vehicle summonses were issued.

Over the Memorial Day weekend central region officers conducted patrols of the Delaware River and the region’s wildlife management areas. The joint operations netted 30 fishing violations, 32 wildlife management area violations, 12 motor vehicle violations, 2 marine fish and 3 Title 2C criminal violations, including 2 for CDS, and 1 Title 12 boating infraction for a total of 80 violations. During one particular incident CO McManus attempted to stop an individual who was operating a vehicle off road on the Forked River Wildlife Management Area. The driver ignored the officers direction to stop and attempted to evade apprehension by driving through a deep water creek thinking that the officer wouldn’t follow. He was quite correct in his assumption, but he was apprehended when his pickup truck became submerged in the creek and needed to be towed out. CO Martiak stopped a pickup truck on the Forked River WMA for safety violations and subsequently arrested two female occupants for the illegal possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms and marijuana. During a patrol of the Delaware River, Lt. Lacroix noticed an unattended cooler, which at first nobody claimed ownership of. Lt. Lacroix opened the cooler and found 11 short striped bass. In addition to being short, the season was also closed in that portion of the river. After dealing with some language barrier issues, it was determined that two fishermen were putting their fish in the cooler. Both fishermen were charged with taking short stripers.

CO Martiak was patrolling the Assunpink WMA when he located what appeared to be an abandoned pickup truck. The 1984 Ford truck was parked in a parking area, the plates were removed and the keys were left in the ignition. Upon investigation of the cargo box in the back of the truck, which appeared to have been pried open, the name and address of the last registered owner was located on a scrap of paper. CO Martiak contacted the woman who stated that she had sold the vehicle. She was able to provide CO Martiak with the buyer’s information. Subsequent investigation led to a third owner and a fourth owner who turned out to be a Jackson Township police officer. The Jackson officer stated he had just sold the vehicle several days earlier for $50.00 on eBay to an individual in Connecticut. The officer was able to provide CO Martiak with the cell phone number of the last buyer. CO Martiak then contacted that individual who at first claimed that the battery had died and that he intended to come back for the vehicle. After further questioning, the individual finally admitted to dumping the vehicle on the Assunpink. The appropriate summonses were issued.

CO Martiak learned recently that a woman he had issued a summons for consumption of alcohol on a WMA back in April had provided him a drivers license belonging to someone else that night. The woman whose driver’s license had been used, recently found the crumpled up summons in her house after her roommate had moved out. She contacted CO Martiak and provided him with the correct identity of the woman he was looking for. In tracking this person down, CO Martiak learned that she had been recently picked up and housed in Monmouth County Jail. They were able to provide CO Martiak with the last known address for her. The consumption of alcohol summons was reissued along with interference with a Conservation Officer and criminal hindering

Southern Region Highlights

CO Risher prosecuted two Delaware residents for over the limit turkey violations. The two men killed five turkeys one day in Fairton Twp. Cumberland County. They agreed to pay $2000 in fines for their greed.

CO Vazquez’s investigation into a dumping on Winslow WMA in Winslow Twp. Camden County resulted in the apprehension of a local man. The accused who just moved to the area had some boxes and household trash that he needed to dispose of. He said he couldn’t get into the dumpster where he worked and when one of the boxes blew out of his truck he decided to dump the rest along Piney Hollow Road. He was charged with the appropriate dumping statutes.

Several Conservation Officers attended fishing derbies to represent the division. CO Kille attended a derby at Grenlock Lake, Washington Twp. Gloucester County. CO Stites attended a derby at Supawna Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Pennsville Twp. Salem County. CO Vazquez attended the Haddon Lake derby in Audubon Twp. Camden County. Hundreds of people who were at the derbies got to talk to their local game warden and ask him questions about the Division and fishing in New Jersey.

ATV’s continue to keep CO’s occupied. On Memorial Day CO’s Kille and Vazquez apprehended 10 riders. One of the individuals had a warrant for his arrest and was taken into custody.

While patrolling the waters of Gloucester County CO Kille apprehended a man fishing without a license. He also had several warrants for his arrest. Among his offenses was failure to register as a convicted sex offender. He was taken to the Camden jail.

CO’s logged many hours of patrol protecting the shorebirds along the Delaware Bay. Much of the work was proactive preventing any disturbance to the birds.

CO’s Kille and Stites responded to multiple complaints of a cougar in Greenwich Twp., Gloucester County. The animal was seen near houses and baseball fields. The complaints were so numerous and the locals were so upset that public outdoor events were cancelled in the township. The Conservation Officers set up a remote camera in an attempt to capture the animal on film. They also answered many questions about cougars and reassured the public of there safety.

In Mantua Twp., Gloucester County CO Kille responded to a complaint from the office of a man in possession of captive white-tailed deer. The investigation uncovered six deer, three buck and three does. One of the bucks was an eighteen pointer last year. The investigation is continuing into their origin.

Conservation Officer’s Massey and Ely, assisted by Deputy Conservation Officer Santini, encountered several individuals on the Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area, Corbin City, Atlantic County, drinking alcoholic beverages and littering. None of the individuals could produce proper identification and a records check indicated that none of the individuals possessed a valid driver’s license. A search of the motor vehicle files indicated that the vehicle possessed fictitious tags. The vehicle was towed from the WMA and the appropriate Fish and Wildlife summonses were issued.

During a routine patrol of the Maple Lake Wildlife Management Area in Estell Manor, Atlantic County Conservation Officer Massey and Deputy Conservation Officer Santini encountered an unoccupied vehicle left in the middle of a roadway. The driver of the vehicle was located and found not to possess a valid driver’s license. The vehicle was towed from the management area and the operator was issued several summonses.

Conservation Officer’s Honachefsky and Batten encountered a stolen motorcycle on the Clark’s Pond Wildlife Management Area in Fairfield Township, Cumberland County. The CO’s observed the subject drive the motorcycle into the WMA while they were conducting a surveillance operation at the boat ramp for litter, alcohol and criminal activity. The CO’s were able to conduct a motor vehicle stop and apprehend the rider. A computer search indicated that the motorcycle had been stolen despite the fact that the rider said that he had a bill of sale. The subject was charged with two criminal violations, four title 39 motor vehicle violations and two title 23 Fish and Wildlife violations.

While on a routine patrol of the Clarks Pond Wildlife Management Area in Fairfield Township, Cumberland County, Conservation Officer Batten encountered an individual found to be in possession of a large quantity of white powder believed to be a controlled dangerous substance. The State Police lab in Hammonton is testing the substance to confirm whether on not it’s a CDS. A field test indicated that the substance was a CDS and the appropriate charges have been filed.

Conservation Officer Ely taught a class about the Division of Fish and Wildlife and local wildlife species to a Cub Scout Pack in Cape May County.

Marine Enforcement Highlights

On 5/17/06 CO’s Jones, Fittin, and Massey inspected the charter fishing vessel, “Hyper Striper” fishing trip as it docked in Highland after a striped bass fishing trip. The inspection recorded that 11 striped bass had been filleted prior to landing. A summons for possession of parts of striped bass less than the minimum size was issued to the captain of the vessel. Two years prior, the Captain received an identical summons for the same violations. The penalty range is $300 to $3000.

On Saturday 5/20/06 Officer James located fishermen on the Bidwell Creek jetty at Reeds Beach. He observed 3 fishermen catch horseshoe crabs by hook and line. Once the fishermen unhooked the horseshoe crab they threw it down inside the rocks and proceeded to smash the horseshoe crabs with large jetty stones. Summonses were issued for Wanton Waste of a marine fish as well as littering while fishing.

On 5/27/06, CO Jones with Deputy Mehler inspected the charter vessel “High Hook II” as it docked at Monmouth Marina in the Port Monmouth section of Middletown Twp. The inspection revealed 10 striped bass which had been filleted prior to landing. A summons was issued to the Captain of the vessel for possession of striped bass parts less than 28” in length. The penalty range is $300 to $3000.

On 6/4/06, CO’s Jones and Fittin apprehended two bait clam boats from the port of Belford fishing for bait clams on Sunday.

The vessels “Spisula” and “Alexa J” were boarded at sea by CO Jones aboard a USCG vessel out of Sandy Hook. Both were ordered back to port and were met by CO Fittin and joined by CO Jones shortly afterward.
The “Spisula” had 121 bags of shellstock aboard and 16 gallons of shucked stock. The total value of all this product was $1096.00. A check in this amount was seized from the captain.

The “Alexa J” had 33 bags of shellstock aboard valued @ $264. The captain of the “Alexa J” opted to return his catch to the Atlantic Ocean.
Both vessels’ captains were issued summonses for harvesting bait clams on Sunday during the month of June and face penalties between $300 to $3000. Additionally, if convicted, the captain of the Spisula faces loss of the value of the clams harvested.

On 6/9/06 Officer Petruccelli was patrolling Cape May Harbor when he observed the F/V Captain Jeff tie up to Cold Spring Fish Company’s dock. The F/V Captain Jeff has a General Sea Scallop Permit which allows a maximum landing of 400 pounds of shucked sea scallops per trip per day. Officer Petruccelli boarded the vessel and observed 8 50-pound bags of sea scallops in a gray extacta on the deck of the vessel. Officer Petruccelli then interviewed the captain and inspected the logbook which at that time was accurately completed showing the 400 pounds of sea scallops as well as a few pounds of monkfish and summer flounder. Officer Petruccelli then inspected the fish hold of the vessel and found two totes of loose sea scallops hidden underneath a pile of nets. Officer Petruccelli notified NMFS and seized the catch. Officer Petruccelli will act as the case agent and will issue EAR’s to the captain and owner for exceeding the 400-pound trip limit and falsifying the vessel trip report.

On 6/11/06 at approximately 1100 hrs., CO Dravis was on routine patrol in the Belmar area when he stopped to inspect two fishermen who had just returned from fluke fishing. One of the fishermen stated that they were enrolled in the Jersey Coast Angler's fluke tournament. Upon inspecting a large fluke aboard their vessel, CO Dravis became suspicious based upon the fish's condition that it had not been caught on this day. The color was poor, eyes cloudy, and gills coloration poor. At this time, CO Dravis contacted Lt. Chicketano and requested that he come to Belmar to assist in the investigation. Upon arriving at the weigh station, Lt. Chicketano and CO Dravis began examining the fluke together with another fish which had obviously been caught recently. While the officers examined both fish side by side to compare gill, eye, and body coloration, numerous parties were asking what they were looking for. CO Dravis responded that they were checking for "sea lice" which appeared to appease the onlookers. Based upon their experience and direct comparisons, both Lt. Chicketano and CO Dravis concluded that the fish was definitely not caught that day. The captain of the vessel together with his guest were then interviewed separately regarding this fish. The captain held fast to his story while his guest admitted that the fish was not from that day. When the captain was confronted with his guest's admission, he then also admitted that he had gotten the fish from a friend who had caught it in Barnegat Bay the prior day.
The captain, a fireman by profession, was reminded that if he had entered this fish into the contest and received money for it, he could have been charged with the criminal violation of theft by deception, a charge which would endanger his Police & Fire Pension. The captain was both embarrassed and thankful that he had been apprehended.

On Monday 6/12/06 Officer Petruccelli and Officer James inspected the Pilot House Restaurant in Cape May. Officer Petruccelli had received an anonymous complaint that the restaurant purchased a shark from a local fisherman who was not federally permitted. At the restaurant Officer Petruccelli interviewed the head chef as well as the owner. The head chef admitted to purchasing an 80-pound Mako from a local fisherman a few days earlier. When the head chef produced the Mako fillets Officer Petrucelli also noticed bluefish fillets. The owner of the restaurant admitted to catching the bluefish on an earlier fishing trip. The owner will receive summonses for selling bluefish without a federal permit and during the closed season. The restaurant will receive summonses for purchasing bluefish and shark from a non-permitted fisherman and not being a federal dealer. The shark fisherman will receive a summons for selling shark without having a commercial permit from NMFS.

On 6/14/06 Officer Petrucelli and Lt. Yunghans inspected the F/V Jessica at Lund’s Fisheries in Cape May. The F/V Jessica is a general category scalloper, which allows for a maximum of 400 pounds of shucked sea scallops per trip. On the deck of the vessel was a gray exacta that contained ten 40-pound bags of sea scallops. Upon searching further another 35 pounds was found in another exacta. The vessel logbook only reflected the 400 pounds of sea scallops. Special Agents from NMFS were notified and the 35 pound overage was seized and donated to Atlantic City Rescue Mission. The case will be handled as a summary settlement for falsifying the vessel trip report and landing sea scallops in excess of 400 pounds.

Training Highlights

Lt. Brown provided an update on wildlife resource law to troopers assigned to the Kingwood station of the New Jersey State Police.

Lt. Brown and Capt. Boyle attended the annual Anti-Terrorism Symposium sponsored by SureFire and the New York office of the US Secret Service.

Conservation Officers assigned M4 carbines requalified at Colliers Mills. Emphasis was on low light shooting.

A meeting of the Bureau’s defensive tactics instructors was held to discuss the new training manual. When completed, the manual will provide a ready reference on the complete range of force options.

Spring firearms training was conducted during this period.

Capt. Boyle attended the Annual Training Conference of the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors. This years conference was held in West Palm Beach, Florida.

CO’s Dominick Fresco and Tim Williamson completed the NRA Patrol Rifle Instructor Course at Colliers Mills.


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Last Update April 17, 2007