September 2006

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

Northern Region Highlights

CO Paul gave a presentation to approximately sixty people attending the Somerset County 4H Fair. The focus of the program was the career of Conservation Officer. The presentation was well received. Additionally, CO Paul gave instructions regarding Hunter Safety at a mandatory program for hunters requesting permits to hunt in Hillsborough Township.

CO Hutchinson, investigating a complaint of a baited blind within 450 feet of a residence in Sparta in Sussex County, apprehended an adult and two juveniles bow hunting on the early season opener in a zone closed to hunting. A complaint was signed for trespass for the purpose of hunting as well as written warnings for hunting within 450 of a dwelling and hunting deer closed season.

During a Saturday patrol of the South Branch of the Raritan River in Hunterdon County, CO Applegate apprehended seven individuals fishing without licenses. In addition, one of the individuals was using a cast net and was in possession of three undersized small-mouth bass while another individual also possessed three undersized small-mouth bass and more than one daily limit of bait-fish. A total of eleven complaints were signed.

Lieutenant Fletcher returned to duty from his shoulder injury.

CO Paul apprehended an individual in possession of two musk turtles taken from the Delaware Raritan Canal in Franklin Township, Somerset County. A complaint was signed for possession of the regulated non-game species.

CO Williamson and Captain Cussen attended the Morris County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs Meeting.

CO Kuechler, assisted by Deputy Toth and Lieutenant Cole, continued his patrols for crabbing in the condemned waters of the Newark Bay Complex. A total of sixty-one individuals were apprehended with charges filed for twenty-nine undersized and thirty-five crabbing in condemned waters. Written and verbal warnings were issued when appropriate.

CO Paul apprehended an individual in possession of eleven undersized small-mouth bass and nine pan fish over the daily limit during a patrol of the Raritan River in Bridgewater Township in Somerset County. The appropriate complaints were signed.

During the evening before opening day of the early fall bow season, CO Williamson observed a vehicle spotlighting fields in Washington Township in Morris County. The officer stopped the vehicle when it came out of the fields and found an uncased hunting bow with arrows in the front seat of the passenger compartment. A complaint was signed for spotlighting for deer with a weapon in possession.

CO Paul and Lieutenant Cole apprehended a group of eight individuals fishing without licenses during a Sunday patrol in Somerset County. In addition, an individual was charged with using a cast net in trout stocked waters and another found concealing fourteen undersized small-mouth bass. The appropriate complaints were signed.

CO Williamson responded to a call from Chester Township Police Department on the opening day of the early bow season. An observant police officer had found an individual at Black River WMA in possession of an untagged antlered deer. In addition, the hunter had yet to harvest an antlerless deer. The CO signed the appropriate complaints.

CO Hutchinson attended scoped rifle training conducted by the training section.
During a recent patrol, CO Paul observed excessive amounts of silt entering the Lamington River in Bedminster Township in Somerset County. The source of the silt was traced to the property of the Trump Golf Course. Contact was made with the Somerset County Soil Conservation Department and a Notice of Violation was issued through that agency.

Lieutenant Fletcher and CO Nestel are investigating the shooting of a black bear by a bow-hunter in Montville in Morris County. The bow-hunter stated that the bear had physically pushed him away from the deer he was in the process of field dressing. The shot was taken after the bear had reportedly lunged at the hunter at least twice.

Central Region Highlights

CO’s Mutone and Szalaj were patrolling the Greenwood Forest Wildlife Management Area when they came upon two vehicles illegally parked in the middle of Webbs Mill road after hours. As the officers approached, they noticed the occupants throwing beer cans into the woods. After exiting their patrol vehicle to investigate, they encountered a large group of belligerent individuals. Lacey Police were notified and provided backup. It was finally determined that the first vehicle had broken its drive shaft by driving over one of the barricades that kept vehicles from entering a restricted area of the management area. Two individuals in the group were arrested by the Lacey Police, one for the illegal possession of “Brass Knuckles”, and the other on warrants. A total of eighteen summonses were issued for the following violations: littering; after hours; possession of alcohol; and operating off the established roadway.

Little Egg Harbor Police notified the Central Region office that they had encountered approximately fifty snakes in the bedroom of a house they entered during a domestic violence complaint. Officer’s Mutone, O’Rourke and Linda Buono from the Non-game Dept. conducted an inspection of the home a few days later. The owner of the snakes was very cooperative and answered all the officers questions. The suspect was well aware that permits were required and even admitted that he hadn’t renewed his permit in three years. The investigation is continuing in order to determine whether the subject was running a commercial pet facility from the residence. Summonses are pending.

CO McManus who patrolled the Assunpink WMA over the Labor Day weekend located an abandoned vehicle stuck in one of the farm fields located within the management area. When he ran the vehicle information through Trenton Dispatch they notified him that the vehicle was unregistered and that the plates were fictitious. After towing the vehicle and some good detective work, the officer finally made contact with the owner who gave a written statement implicating him in a number of wildlife management & motor vehicle violations.

Officer Szulecki responded to a complaint of illegal fishing on the beach located in Asbury Park. When he arrived on scene, he noticed an individual that matched the description given by the complainant. He was putting fish in a cooler and then loading the cooler into his vehicle. As the subject attempted to leave, CO Szulecki initiated a motor vehicle stop and conducted an inspection. When the officer requested the subjects credentials, it was determined that the vehicle was unregistered. When the cooler was inspected, it contained four short fluke. As the officer finished his paperwork, the driver informed him that there were others on the jetty who also were in violation. The officer then proceeded to a construction site located on the beach where he observed these subjects. He was unsure how to cross the long stretch of beach without being seen. That problem was solved when a heavy equipment operator offered to drive him over to the jetty in a large construction excavator. Needless to say, the fisherman was caught totally off guard and unable to discard the fish when the officer stepped out of the excavator and apprehended him while in possession of undersized fluke. The appropriate summonses were issued.

While conducting surveillance at Morgan Creek in Sayreville, Officer Martiak observed a fisherman carrying a large plastic bag full of fish. When the fisherman realized that the officer was watching him, he pretended to stumble and fall to the ground. As the subject fell he threw the bag of fish into the water. Officer Martiak directed the fisherman to stand up and retrieve the bag of fish. The subject complied, but immediately began to dump fish back into the water. Once again, the officer directed the fisherman to stop dumping fish. The subject was trying to conceal the fact that he had a large quantity of illegal undersized porgies in his possession. Because the subject became agitated and failed to comply with the officer’s instructions, he was handcuffed for safety reasons. Once the fisherman calmed down he began to apologize for his actions. When questioned as to the location of his vehicle, he stated that his wife had dropped him off and that she was going to return later to pick him up. With that said, Officer Martiak noticed a set of car keys in his possession and after a brief interview it was determined that the subjects vehicle was parked nearby and that it contained additional illegal fish inside. Summonses were issued for interference, littering, wanton waste, and possession of undersized porgies.

Officer Martiak made another apprehension at Morgan Creek when he observed a group of fishermen who were returning to their vehicle after a day of fishing. What caught his attention was the fact that the subject who was carrying a large bucket made an abrupt turn into the woods as the rest of his friends continued back to their vehicle. The officer sensing that something was wrong, proceeded to follow and then finally locate the fisherman in possession of a bucket full of undersized crabs and fish. When confronted, the fishermen admitted that he knew the crabs and fish were illegal to possess. That’s why he was waiting for his friends to pick him up. He did not want to risk being caught as he crossed the beach. It turns out, he was being cautious because he was apprehended the week prior for the same thing and was fearful of getting caught again. Summonses were issued for undersized crabs, tautog, and striped bass.

One late morning, a homeowner in Shamong Twp., Burlington County was watching a flock of turkeys feeding in his backyard. The flock slowly wandered into his neighbor's yard. He then heard two shotgun blasts. The homeowner then called the Central Region Office. CO O'Rourke responded to the complaint. He went to the house where the shots came from. While knocking on the front door, he could view through the windows a young man in the backyard. The officer went to the backyard and identified himself to the man. The officer immediately saw two plucked turkeys lying on the patio. Knowing he was “had”, the young violator admitted to shooting the turkeys. He explained to the officer that he was recently accepted to a prestigious culinary arts school. He said that he had always wanted to prepare a wild turkey dish, but never had an opportunity. When the flock entered his yard, he saw his opportunity. He said he shot two small hens, because he thought they would be the most tender ones in the flock. Dinner was seized and the appropriate summonses were issued.

Southern Region Highlights

Conservation Officers Risher and Stites apprehended three freshwater clammers at Parvin State Park. The accused had collected over 500 pounds of Asian clams from Muddy Run. These prohibited shellfish were most likely destined for the Philadelphia markets. Two of the suspects were fined $1000. The third individual didn’t show for court and the court issued a warrant for his arrest.
Deputy Conservation Officer Shivers was hunting in Hopewell Twp., Cumberland County during the early goose season when he heard a lot of shooting. Since there were no geese flying, he contacted officer Risher. CO Risher apprehended three individuals who had killed several seagulls and cormorants. They were also using lead shot. The appropriate summonses were issued.

After a five and a half hour trial with testimony from CO’s Kille, Leonard and Division pathologist Dr. Roscoe a Franklin Twp. man was convicted of several deer violations from an act he committed last bow season. The court decided that although the state couldn’t determine exactly how the deer died it wasn’t killed by a bow as claimed by the defendant. Therefore, the accused was found guilty of registering (checking in) a deer that he didn’t lawfully take. He was also found guilty of unlawful possession of the 15 point buck.

CO Risher helped coordinate the 7th annual Youth Outdoor Day at the Salem County Sportsman Club. There is always a good turnout at this event and this year was no different. One hundred and sixty seven children were given opportunities to try fishing, kayaking, fly tying, archery, and shooting clay and paper targets. Several Girl Scout groups were among those in attendance.

CO Risher also represented the Division of Fish & Wildlife at Parvin State Park’s 75th anniversary. He passed out a lot of the Division’s publications and answered questions concerning the difference between Conservation Officers and Park Police.

At the request from the State of Kansas Parks & Wildlife Conservation Officers conducted seven interviews of New Jersey residents who hunted illegally in Kansas. Six trophy deer mounts were seized and the hunters are facing state and federal charges.

CO Vazquez has had to make some court appearances recently. A man who had purposefully driven his pickup truck into Cains Mill Pond on the Winslow WMA in Winslow Twp., Camden County paid $1,500 for polluting the water. A man who’d dumped 9 tree stumps on the Cedar Lake WMA was fined $1,150 and had to remove the stumps. A man who was fleeing from Deputy Chiusolo on his dirt bike and collided with the State ATV recently paid $1,200 which included restitution for the damage. Four others paid $1,100 for basic WMA area violations related to riding their ATVs on the Winslow WMA.

Conservation Officer Batten and Deputy Conservation Officer Mullins were conducting a routine patrol in the Clarks Pond Wildlife Management Area in Fairton, Cumberland County when they observed three individuals in a motor vehicle after legal hours. The CO's conducted a motor vehicle stop and observed open containers of alcohol and suspected CDS (marijuana) in the vehicle. During an interview CO Batten asked the driver if there was anything else in the vehicle that he should know about and the driver stated that there was a handgun in the glove compartment. The CO's obtained consent to search the vehicle and recovered the handgun, which was a small .22 caliber revolver, and ammunition. All of the occupants, including a juvenile, were charged with the WMA violations and possession of marijuana under 50 grams. The driver of the vehicle was charged criminally for possessing a weapon for an unlawful purpose. After the charges were filed the New Jersey State Police contacted the Division and stated that they have an interest in the handgun because it may have been used in a homicide. The handgun and the CDS have been turned over to the State Police lab for testing.

Conservation Officer Massey responded to a complaint about a large safe that had been dumped in the spillway at Cedar Lake Wildlife Management Area, Buena Vista Township, Atlantic County. Conservation Officer Massey was able to locate several pieces of personal information in the safe, which had the door removed. The information about the safe and its recovery was turned over to the State Police who determined that the safe was related to a recent burglary. The State Police dive team was dispatched and they were able to recover additional stolen items including jewelry.

A vehicle belonging to the Endangered and Nongame Species Program was vandalized at Stone Harbor, Cape May County. Conservation Officer Snellbaker received information that an individual that CO Ely had arrested for shooting deer at night with a rifle was bragging that he got back at the Division by vandalizing a vehicle. Conservation Officers Ely and Batten have attempted to interview the suspect and the investigation is ongoing.

Captain Eisenhuth met with the Cumberland and Gloucester County Prosecutor’s offices and discussed issues of mutual interest.

Marine Enforcement Highlights

During the months of July and August Conservation Officers have been focusing some of their enforcement efforts towards federal regulations concerning Highly Migratory Species (Tuna, Sharks, and Billfish). Approximately 100 fishing vessels using hook and line gear were inspected in Atlantic and Cape May counties. A warning was issued for an undersized sharks (<54”) and 2 Enforcement Action Reports were issued for retaining tuna without a HMS permit. In addition 8 vessels were inspected that were actively fishing for tuna but did not catch or retain any tuna. Verbal warnings were given to these vessels. In previous years filleting and retaining over the bag limit violations were found. Enforcement efforts will continue into the fall.

On August 12th, 2006 Conservation Officers Snellbaker and James received a complaint from a local bait and tackle shop that several undersized tautog were being retained on the 8th Street Jetty in Avalon, NJ. Officer’s James and Snellbaker inspected three fishermen believed to be involved and found 39 sub-legal tautog. All three fishermen were issued summonses for undersized and over the bag limit violations.

On August 24, 2006 Lt. Yunghans assisted Special Agents Mayeski, Woodruff and Soper in an undercover operation involving the illegal sale of shucked sea scallops. Special Agents posing as scallop fishermen entered the Four Season’s Diner located in Rio Grande and sold approximately 100 pounds of sea scallops. Once the transaction was complete Special Agent Mayeski and Lt. Yunghans arrived at the diner and informed the manager and owner that they were in violation of purchasing sea scallops without a Dealers Permit. The sea scallops were seized and the Diner and owner were issued an Enforcement Action Report for the violation.

On September 8, 2006, Conservation Officer Dravis was on routine patrol in the town of Point Pleasant Beach in the vicinity of Laurelton Welding. Driving down a dead end street, he observed an individual carrying a bucket full of an unknown substance and dump it into the Manasquan River. Interviewing the subject, the individual stated that he had dumped a bucket of soapy water into the waterway. When CO Dravis asked why he had done that, he replied “To help break up the oil slick”. CO Dravis asked “What oil”, at which time the subject stated that their crane was leaking hydraulic fluid into the water. Upon inspecting the aforementioned crane, CO Dravis observed a large volume of oil leaking from the gear box of the crane onto the ground and then into the Manasquan River. CO Dravis is pursuing pollution charges against the company and immediately ordered the individuals on scene to place speedy dry onto the ground to mitigate and control any further leakage from the crane. Lt. Chicketano assisted.

On September 12, 2006, Conservation Officer Fittin received information concerning the taking of illegal striped bass from the Manasquan River in the vicinity of the Brielle Railroad Bridge. On the evening of September 12, 2006, Conservation Officers Fittin and Dravis set up a surveillance and observed several individuals fishing in the vicinity of the railroad bridge. The officers maintained the surveillance throughout the evening until the early morning hours of September 13, 2006 at which time they apprehended three individuals with 4, 3, and 2 sublegal striped bass respectively. Summonses were issued to all three individuals for the offense.

Training Highlights

Conservation Officers attended a class on document fraud held at the CRO.

Recruits from the Burlington County Police Academy participated in 2 days of training at Colliers Mills. Captain Boyle provided instruction in handgun skills.

Captain Boyle presented a block of instruction on low light threat management to a class of firearms instructor candidates at the Division of Criminal Justice Academy range in Ft. Dix.

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Last Update April 17, 2007