November 2006

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

Northern Region Highlights

While conducting a pheasant hunting patrol at Black River WMA in Morris County, Deputy Hosty observed a hunter place two pheasants in his vehicle. A short time later, CO Williamson encountered the same hunter in the field in possession of another pheasant. A complaint was signed for the over-limit violation.

COs Applegate and Kuechler and Lieutenant Cole investigated a possible Earn-A-Buck violation reported by a deer check station in Hunterdon County. The un-gutted 11-point buck was presented for registration a short time after the hunter had purchased an Extended-Bow Permit. Examination of the deer by the officers determined that the deer had been shot in the chest with a .22 caliber rifle and the arrow wound was made post-mortem. Confronted with the information, the hunter admitted to finding the deer dead along the road and purchasing the permit after the fact and presenting the deer as an animal he had killed. The hunter and two accomplices were charged with possession of an unregistered deer, registering a deer under false information and interference. The buck had been entered in a local sport shop’s Big Buck Contest, but was disqualified due to the circumstances.

Lieutenant Fletcher and CO Paul attended a training class at the Somerset County Police Training Center focusing on the dusting and lifting of latent fingerprints.

CO Applegate assisted Lebanon Township Police with a pedestrian/motor vehicle accident investigation at Ken Lockwood Gorge WMA in Hunterdon County. Three individuals who had been drinking heavily were the cause of the incident. One of the individuals struck the other two with his motor vehicle in an attempt to leave the area. The driver was charged with Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol. Co Applegate also charged all three individuals with WMA charges for after hours, alcohol and littering.

A Sussex County Court recently decided a case of placing a substance for the purpose of attracting black bears by an Andover Township Resident. The individual who was issued three summonses for the violations, which occurred in July, was observed by a neighbor placing what was thought to be candy on his head and allowing a sow and her two cubs to take it. Neighbors upset by the over abundance of bears attracted to the area had complained to the Northern Region Office. The investigating officer, CO Samona was able to arrange a plea agreement and the defendant was fined $350.00 and the complaints were merged.

On opening day of Pheasant Season, Lieutenant Fletcher and Deputy Schaublin responded to an OGT complaint alleging a QDM violation in Vernon Township in Sussex County. An eyewitness had watched the hunter shoot the deer and drag it to his home. The officers confronted the individual and he admitted to killing the deer and hiding it in his shed. Complaints were signed for the QDM violation, hunt without license, hunt without permit and failure to tag deer.

CO Applegate, CO Panico and Lieutenant Cole investigated a shooting complaint in Readington Township in Hunterdon County. Inspection of the property involved, revealed several dead deer, one of which, was found to have been shot by a .22 caliber bullet. In addition, several spent .22-caliber shell casings were found outside the suspect residence. When interviewed, the suspect admitted to shooting the deer because of shrub damage, although no steps had been taken to protect them other than the shooting. Complaints were signed for hunting without license, killing deer with rifle, illegal missiles and careless discharge.

CO Kuechler attended the Essex County Federation of Sportsman’s Club Meeting.

CO Paul assisted the Franklin Township Police Department with an illegal deer complaint at an Amish Market in Somerset County. A partially cut-up deer was found in a walk-in cooler. A bow hunter had killed the deer the previous evening, but the hide and head could not be produced. The shooter was issued summonses for hunt without license, failure to tag and mutilation of game.

CO Panico apprehended a bow hunter returning to his vehicle with an antlered deer in Harmony Township in Warren County. The individual failed to possess a hunting license or bow permit and was in violation of the Earn-A-Buck requirement. The appropriate complaints were signed.

CO Paul apprehended three bow hunters returning to their vehicle in Bernards Township in Somerset County. Two of the individuals did not possess an extended season permit and the third was out of zone. Each hunter was issued the appropriate summons.

CO Applegate gave a presentation at the Whitehouse Rotary Club in Hunterdon County. The topic of the program was the Division of Fish & Wildlife and duties of a Conservation Officer.

CO Paul gave a presentation at the Central Jersey Law Enforcement Officers Meeting on Hunting Accidents and Non-Target Impacts.

CO Applegate and Lieutenant Cole investigated an Earn-A-Buck complaint in Alexandria Township in Hunterdon County. The officers found that the individual’s address was no longer valid and Senior Communications Operator Colao was able to locate an address for the subject in Pennsylvania. The officers interviewed the individual at his residence in Pennsylvania and determined that the violation had occurred and that the hunter had been purchasing resident licenses wrongfully for the last three years. Complaints were signed for the deer violation and two years of wrongful procurement of resident licenses.

CO Hutchinson attended the Passaic County Federation of Sportsman’s Clubs Meeting.

Central Region Highlights

CO McManus responded to an anonymous on-going complaint regarding people butchering deer behind the Days Inn in East Windsor. CO McManus located the individuals behind the hotel. Upon investigation, it was determined that the individuals were living temporarily at the hotel and working in the area. Their employer told them to pick up road kill deer and butcher them. The employer and the butcher were both charged with possession of road kill deer without a permit.

CO McManus has been routinely checking the area around the empty state house on the Van Ness property in Mercer Co. On a recent Sunday morning, he found a homeless Trenton man living in the house. It appeared that the man had been living in the house for a couple of weeks. It also appeared that other individuals had been inside the house as well. The man stated that he had been living in a halfway house in Trenton, but had left because of the rampant drug use at the facility.

CO McManus responded to a complaint made by a Middlesex Co. check station regarding a hunter who had come in with a doe that had an ear cut. When the check station owner confronted the hunter, the hunter stated that it wasn't his deer and tried to leave. The owner already had the hunter's info and relayed that to the officer. CO McManus met with the hunter at his residence where the hunter admitted that he had tried to check a friend's deer that had already been checked in. The appropriate summons was issued.

CO O'Rourke assisted with the Remedial Sportsmen's Education Class that was conducted at the Central Region Office.

CO O'Rourke assisted CO Risher and the Southern Region with a hunting accident investigation. CO O'Rourke has assisted several officers recently with GIS mapping of hunting accident scenes.

CO Szalaj recently completed a dumping complaint on the Pemberton WMA. The dump contained car parts, oil cans, tires and trash that appeared to come from an auto repair facility. He located the auto repair shop and spoke with the owner who told him that a former employee had been responsible. CO Szalaj had a difficult time locating the employee until he found out that he was incarcerated at the Burlington Co. jail. The employee admitted to dumping the trash, however, he told the officer that his boss had paid him to find a place to dump it. Charges have been filed against the employee and additional charges may be filed against the owner.

On the opening day of “North Zone Ducks” in Manchester Twp, Officer Mutone watched as four duck hunters continued to hunt after legal hunting hours. Even though it was too dark to identify their game, the hunters continued to shoot until they finally ran out of ammunition. CO Mutone then overheard one of the hunter’s say that it wasn’t worth his time or effort to retrieve anything that was shot out on the marsh. In fact the hunters had no means of retrieving anything they shot. The hunters were issued summonses for hunting after hours.

CO Mutone located approximately three cubic yards of discarded household trash on the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area. After searching through the debris and locating a number of identifiers, she confronted the homeowner with the evidence collected. She was informed by the homeowner that he had hired an individual to remove the debris and provided a canceled check to prove his story. When CO Mutone interviewed this subject, he initially denied any involvement, but when confronted with the canceled check and the homeowner’s statement, Officer Mutone obtained an admission of guilt. The subject is now responsible for the cost of cleanup and any penalties.

CO Martiak responded to an illegal night deer hunting complaint that occurred in Marlboro Twp. where two individuals were apprehended for shooting at deer in the front yard of a local resident. Working in conjunction with the Marlboro PD a .22 cal rifle was recovered. During the interview Officer Martiak obtained admissions from the two subjects implicating them in the illegal activity. On the following day, Officer Martiak and Lt. Sich met with the two individuals at the home of the subject responsible for shooting the deer. Based on written admissions and in addition to the violations from the previous night, the following illegal items were voluntarily turned over to the officers: a frozen fawn, fourteen deer scull mounts, three frozen deer heads and a full deer head mount. The following charges were issued: hunt with the aid of lights; shooting from the roadway; hunt deer after hours; hunt with an illegal weapon; discharge of a weapon within 450ft of a residence and the illegal possession of deer. This will be the second violation for illegal hunting by the driver of the vehicle and if convicted will result in the suspension of his hunting privileges.

CO Martiak investigated a complaint of illegal deer hunting in Middletown Twp. The information received stated that an individual living in a residential neighborhood shot a deer in his backyard within 450 ft of other homes. Allegedly the deer was shot from inside the house with a crossbow. When the officer arrived on scene no one was at home but he noticed a deer covered with a tarp lying in the backyard. Officer Martiak finally made contact with the subject and arranged to meet him later that day. The subject left work early in order to check the deer in before the officer returned. Unfortunately for him, the officer knew the deer was untagged. When the two met at the prearranged time the subject presented the necessary documents and tagged deer for inspection. When the officer questioned him and pointed out discrepancies in his story, the subject finally admitted to illegally shooting the deer with a crossbow and checking it in using his brother’s license and tag. The following charges were issued: hunt with the use of an illegal weapon; hunt after hours; providing false information to a check in station; interference; 450 ft violation and the illegal possession of a deer.

On the opening day of “Small Game Season” hunters on the Stafford Forge and Greenwood Forest Wildlife Management Areas were totally caught off guard when they were interrupted by approximately three to four hundred motorcycles traveling through the wildlife management property. They were participating in a two day nationally sponsored event that used the management areas as part of their course. After receiving numerous complaints, Conservation Officers Tonnesen, Szalaj and Mutone were diverted from their regular duties to investigate. Officer Szalaj was able to identify and later spoke with the sponsor of the event. The CO’s inspected riders that were participating and a number of warnings were given for various motor vehicle violations. The sponsor of the event was issued a summons for not obtaining the proper permits.

Southern Region Highlights

CO Risher apprehended a duck hunter with no license, stamps or HIP number in Hopewell Township, Cumberland County. CO Risher caught the youth in violation before but because he was a juvenile he was given warnings. Since he recently turned 18 CO Risher issued several summonses. Also on opening day CO’s Kille and Stites apprehended a convicted felon who was not allowed to possess a weapon in Oldmans Township, Salem County. He was hunting with two other men who didn’t have any waterfowl stamps. Additionally, the men attempted to hide a shotgun that was loaded with lead shot. The felon was arrested and his hunting companions were issued the appropriate fish & wildlife summonses.

Monroe Township Police in Gloucester County contacted CO Vazquez in regards to ATV’s in Cedar Lake WMA. They had three stopped and others had fled. CO Vazquez and Risher responded. They recognized one individual as a repeat offender. Multiple fish and wildlife as well as motor vehicle summonses were issued.

CO Risher and Honachefsky responded to a complaint that someone killed a flock of seagulls with their car at the Cumberland Mall in Vineland. The officers spoke to several witnesses who were willing to testify that the suspect deliberately drove into the flock killing ten birds. The suspect then lost control of his car and drove over the curbing damaging his tires. Provided with a vehicle description and license plate number the officers proceeded to canvass the area in an attempt to locate the man. He was located just south of the mall where he caused an accident by rear ending another vehicle. The officers obtained a videotaped confession from the suspect. He not only is facing ten charges of unlawfully killing non game species but he has also been charged with reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, careless driving and animal cruelty charges.

Acting on a tip that a bow hunter in Stow Creek, Salem County had not checked in a buck he killed, CO Stites inspected the hunter the next day that he was observed hunting. After a successful field interview the man admitted to CO Stites that he had a six point buck at his house that wasn't tagged. CO Stites recovered the deer and the unused buck stub and charged the hunter with failing to tag and register his deer.

Conservation Officer Batten taught an ATV class to the Monroe Township Police. Two officers are now certified to operate their department issued ATV's.
Lt. Cianciulli and Conservation Officer Ely responded to a complaint about shots being fired on the Egg Harbor River in Hamilton Township, Atlantic County during the closed waterfowl season. A short search yielded a vehicle with an empty trailer and a sneak-box lid in the bed. After an hour wait, two individuals returned to the boat ramp and were inspected. The two individuals were quite surprised when the CO's advised them why they were there. In addition to hunting during the closed season, both individuals were in possession of unsigned duck stamps and did not possess HIP numbers. The appropriate summonses have been issued.

Conservation Officer Ely and Lt. Cianciulli conducted a boat patrol to inspect waterfowl hunters in the area of Stone Harbor, Cape May County. The first group that they inspected had one individual without a license or stamps. The individual insisted that he had purchased them so the CO's returned to the subject's vehicle with him and a subsequent search of the vehicle failed to yield the license or the stamps. The appropriate summonses have been issued. Another group had an individual with a duck stamp receipt and no stamp, while his hunting partner had an unsigned stamp without a receipt. A computer search showed that the individual with just the stamp had purchased a hip number at a Wal-Mart like he had said but did not show the stamp purchase at the same time like the subject had advised. A summons for possessing an unsigned duck stamp was issued.

Conservation Officer Honachefsky received information that the owner of a sporting goods store in Vineland, Cumberland County, had shot over his limit of bucks. With little information to work with CO Honachefsky decided that he would just interview the owner and confront him with the allegation. A short interview resulted in a confession and the individual telling CO Honachefsky that he just got greedy. The appropriate summonses have been issued.

For several years Conservation Officers in District Six have been working a baited waterfowl blind in Fortesque, Cumberland County. Every year the blind is baited and there's evidence that someone is hunting it, but no one could apprehend the responsible party. This year Conservation Officer Honachefsky, with the assistance of CO Batten and DCO Mullins, apprehended two parties hunting from the blind. The first individual was a guest of the blinds' owner and said that he saw the corn in and around the blind but stated that he hadn't placed it there. The subject stated that the owner of the blind was responsible for the bait, but he hadn't seen the owner place the bait around the blind. An attempt was made to contact the owner of the blind, but that only resulted in a telephone call to CO Honachefsky's house from his attorney. The attorney stated that his client would not speak to CO Honachefsky and wished CO Honachefsky luck in prosecuting his client for the federal conspiracy to bait waterfowl. At this point CO Honachefsky referred the case to Special Agent Manera of the Fish and Wildlife service. Ten days later CO Honachefsky conducted another inspection of the blind and apprehended two more individuals hunting from it who were in possession of unsigned duck stamps and over the limit on waterfowl. Because notice was given to the owner of the blind that it was baited through his attorney CO Honachefsky and SA Manera now plan to charge the owner with conspiracy to bait waterfowl because he knowingly allowed the second party to hunt the baited area. Charges are pending.

Conservation Officer Massey received information that a Galloway Township, Atlantic County, man was in possession of venomous snakes. After a lengthy investigation CO Massey was able to obtain a search warrant for the individual’s home. With the assistance of the Galloway Township Police Department entry team the warrant was served and four individuals in the home were taken into custody. The homeowner had numerous tattoos of venomous snakes, but there were no venomous snakes in the home. The subject told CO's that he never possessed any venomous snakes and that he had just failed to renew his permit to possess the 40 other snakes that he had in his possession. One individual who was in the home when the warrant was executed was arrested for resisting arrest and taken to police department. When that individual was released he returned to the home and told CO's that the homeowner was talking about other snakes that he had just removed from the home. During an interview the homeowner stated that he knew that CO Massey had talked to his ex-girlfriend about his snakes. It's believed that the subject moved that venomous snakes from his home and CO Massey is again attempting locate them. The appropriate summonses have been issued for the remaining snakes. Galloway PD is charging several individuals for possession of narcotics and drug paraphernalia that was located in the home.

Conservation Officer Massey received information that an individual in Hammonton, Atlantic County, had shot a white-tailed deer with a rifle during the archery season. The complainant said that he and his son were bow hunting when they heard the shot and observed the individual load a small buck and a rifle into a black vehicle. Conservation Officer Massey went to the subject's home and observed a freshly washed black vehicle, but no one would answer the door. After several attempts, CO Massey and DCO Rocco were able to interview the subject about the deer. The subject admitted to shooting the deer with a rifle, which he turned over to CO Massey, and said that he knew that the CO's were looking for him so he disposed of the deer. The subject said that he left his home with the intention of sighting in his rifle prior to going away on a hunt and saw the deer in the field and he couldn't resist shooting the buck. The appropriate summonses have been issued.

Marine Enforcement Highlights

On October 16, 2006 Officer Snellbaker boarded the F/V Rufus II in Sea Isle City, NJ. The F/V Rufus II was targeting black sea bass using fish pots. In addition to the black sea bass on board the vessel, Officer Snellbaker found 224 pounds of whole dead tautog. The commercial season for tautog was closed and did not open until November 1st. Out of the 224 pounds of a total of 23 fish (37 pounds) were found to be under the minimum size limit of 14 inches. The 224 pounds of tautog were seized and sold at fair market value. The investigation is still ongoing based on information obtained from Fishing Vessel Trip Reports (FVTR’s) required call-in procedures and Dealer reporting.

On October 19, 2006, Conservation Officers Dravis & Fresco inspected the party boat Paramount at Bogan's Basin, Brielle, NJ. Of 30 patrons inspected, 4 summonses were issued for sublegal scup and black sea bass involving a total of 35 illegal fish. Of considerable concern was over 90 black sea bass and scup which were left abandoned aboard the vessel after the officer's inspection. These fish were found in coolers and various garbage cans aboard the vessel.

On October 20, 2006 Officer Petruccelli boarded the F/V Star 1 at Cold Spring Fish Company in Cape May, NJ. The F/V Star 1 was a general scallop permitted vessel that landed 400 pounds of shucked sea scallops. In addition to the sea scallops, 128 pounds of summer flounder was also retained along with 5 pounds of filleted summer flounder. The F/V was cited for exceeding the 10% by-catch rule (40 pounds) and possessing summer flounder fillets. The 86 pound overage was seized and sold at fair market value.

During the month of October Conservation Officers focused enforcement efforts on hook and line tautog fishermen. From Atlantic City Inlet to Cape May Inlet a total of 23 summonses were issued to shoreside fishermen for retaining sub-legal tautog and over the limit tautog. One fisherman was apprehended for 11 sublegal and 11 over the limit tautog.

Training Highlights

Firearms training for the fall quarter was completed during this period. Bureau personnel also received a refresher on domestic violence and the pursuit policy at this time.

Captain Boyle assisted with instructor training for the Division of Criminal Justice Academy at Fort Dix.

CO's Mutune and O'Rourke conducted a block of defensive tactics training for CO's in the Central Region.

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Last Update April 18, 2007