NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife
Bureau of Law Enforcement
CO Applegate, with the assistance of officers from the Pennsylvania
Game Commission, investigated a report of an antlered deer killed
illegally and transported to Pennsylvania. The deer was located
at a butcher shop across the State line. The deer bore a metal
possession seal which returned to an antlerless deer killed a
month earlier. In an interview conducted by CO Martiak, the hunter
admitted to using the possession seal to avoid using his buck
stub. Complaints for failure to tag deer and possession of untagged
deer parts were signed. Additionally, a complaint of failure to
affix possession seal to deer was also signed, as the possession
seal had never been affixed to the antlerless deer.
CO Nestel investigated a complaint of an illegal deer hanging
in a tool shed at a residence in Sussex County. Although the deer
was no longer there, the officer observed blood and hair in the
shed. An interview of the owner secured a confession that the
deer had been killed without the necessary license, muzzleloader
permit or rifle permit. The appropriate complaints were signed.
CO Kuechler investigated a report of the possession of an alligator
at a business in Jersey City. The individual responsible for acquiring
the animal was charged with possession of potentially dangerous
wildlife. The Wildlife Permits Unit relocated the alligator.
Returning to an area where illegal deer hunters had escaped on
ATVs the previous year in Pompton Lakes in Passaic County, CO
Hutchinson was able to apprehend the same subjects. Assisted by
Deputy CO Struble, the officers watched one of the individuals
shoot and conceal a seven point buck. The four hunters were charged
with hunting without licenses, hunting without valid muzzleloader
permits, failure to wear orange garment, uncased firearms on a
motor vehicle, trespass for the purpose of hunting and fail to
tag deer immediately upon killing.
CO Panico apprehended an individual in White Township in Warren
County for deer hunting while his privileges were suspended. Initially,
the hunter had fled and hidden his firearm when he observed the
officer headed in his direction. Officer Panico was able to locate
the firearm and hunter a short time later. In addition to the
revocation, the individual was charged with hunting without a
license, hunting without a permit and interference.
CO Williamson assisted CO Hutchinson and Deputy CO Struble with
an investigation of illegal deer hunting in Wayne Township in
Passaic County. A bait site for deer was being utilized at a parking
area for tractor-trailers in a populated section of the town.
When approached by CO Williamson, the hunter concealed in a trailer,
jumped from the trailer and attempted to throw shotgun shell cartridges
in order to avoid apprehension. A shotgun was found inside the
trailer and officers were able to locate the ammunition, which
had been tossed in the bushes. The hunter was found to be a person
prohibited from possessing weapons and was arrested. Charges were
filed for criminal firearm possession, as well as hunting without
a valid license, hunting without a valid shotgun permit and hunting
deer without fluorescent orange garment. The Wayne PD and Passaic
County Sheriffs Department assisted with the case.
COs Kuechler and Nestel responded to a complaint of an individual
hunting squirrels with a .22 caliber rifle in Knowlton Township
in Warren County. The individual was found walking through the
woods with the loaded rifle and initially stated that he was engaged
in target practice. Complaints were signed for illegal missiles
and manner and means for squirrel hunting.
COs Hutchinson and Kuechler assisted the Marine Enforcement Unit
with inspections of four seafood restaurants and markets in the
Bergen County area. Violations of offering undersized sea bass,
failure to maintain records and untagged shellfish were uncovered.
CO Applegate and Lieutenant Cole were photographed in the performance
of their duties for an article about the job of Conservation Officers
in the Star Ledger.
Northern Region Conservation Officers have been conducting ORV
patrols on Berkshire Valley and Weldon Brook WMAs during the past
report period. Seven individuals have been apprehended and charged
with various WMA and motor vehicle violations including operating
a motor vehicle while suspended. COs Williamson, Nestel and Hutchinson
have taken part in the patrols, assisted by Deputies Mortensen
and Schliefer and Lieutenant Fletcher and Captain Cussen.
Captain Cussen attended the Morris County and Sussex County Federation
of Sportsman’s Clubs meetings.
CO Hutchinson, Lieutenant Fletcher and Captain Cussen assisted
the Bureau of Wildlife Management in their sampling of deer from
the Peter Mine section of Ringwood in Passaic County. The officers
monitored for security problems related to the activities on the
“Super Fund Cleanup” site.
Central Region Highlights
As a result of the recent warm weather the wildlife management
areas have attracted an ever-increasing number of individuals
seeking a place to operate their ATV’s. Unfortunately due
to their lack of knowledge concerning the environment they have
destroyed fragile ecosystems and have caused the severe erosion
of roads that run throughout the wildlife management areas, rendering
them almost impassable and requiring additional money and staff
to repair. On one recent Sunday, Officer Mutone apprehended fourteen
individuals for the illegal operation of ATV’s while patrolling
the Greenwood Forest Wildlife Management Area. A conservative
estimate of approximately forty riders avoided apprehension by
fleeing from the officer that day.
CO Tonnesen investigated a complaint that a Stafford Twp. man
was in possession of approximately thirty turtles of various species
that he had illegally collected from the wild. When a check of
Division records revealed that no permits were issued to that
subject, Officer Tonnesen confronted the individual and after
a thorough interview was able to obtain an admission of guilt.
Unfortunately a number of the animals had already been moved or
released prior to the interview however he was able to retrieve
a number of box turtles that were still in the subject’s
possession. The turtles were removed and placed with a wildlife
rehabilitator. The appropriate summonses were issued.
When Lt. Sich responded to a trespassing complaint in Marlboro
Twp. he located the suspect vehicle parked directly under a posted
“No Trespassing Sign”. During a search of the area
the officer located a lone subject dressed in complete camo while
in possession of a muzzleloading rifle. It turns out that the
subject wasn’t trespassing but in addition to not wearing
hunter’s orange he had failed to purchase a rifle permit
or a muzzleloader deer permit. He stated to the officer that he
never thought that he would be checked while hunting on private
property. He was issued the appropriate summonses.
Lt. Sich was called out at 3:00 AM in the morning to assist the
NJ State Park Police in locating a vehicle containing four individuals
that had become stuck in the Greenwood Forest Wildlife Management
Area. The officer was later informed that the vehicle had been
found but that two of the occupants that had left to seek help
were now missing and presumed lost. The outside temperature had
dropped below freezing and the rest of the party was concerned
for the safety their friends. After an extensive search Manchester
Twp Police finally located the two missing individuals walking
along the highway. It turns out that the group was looking for
a place to have a party and after entering a restricted area of
the wildlife management area became stuck in a large mud hole.
The subject’s vehicle had to be towed away because of severe
water damage. Based on the driver’s explanation of events,
a summons was issued for being on a wildlife management area after
Officer Tonnesen attempted to stop two ATV riders who were illegally
operating on the Stafford Forge Wildlife Management Area. After
the subjects were instructed to stop, the first rider accelerated
and drove around the officer. The second subject was apprehended
as he attempted to flee. Even after locating the missing riders’
transport vehicle and with no other means of getting home, the
subject made it quite clear during a cell phone conversation that
he wasn’t going to return. The suspect’s vehicle was
finally removed by a friend and the subject was later issued the
following summonses: eluding; failure to obey an officer’s
direction; resisting arrest; unregistered motor vehicle on a WMA
and illegal operation of an ATV on a WMA.
CO McManus was on patrol in Hopewell Township when he heard a
gunshot nearby. He observed a hunter in a tree stand in the valley
below him. He watched the man for 20 minutes. When CO McManus
began approaching down the hill, the hunter climbed out of his
stand and went over to a dead deer lying nearby. The deer, a four
point buck, was untagged. The hunter stated that he had just shot
it and didn’t have a pen to fill out the tag, but he would
fill it out when he got back to his truck. CO McManus checked
the check station records in the Hopewell area during the next
two weeks and found no record that the hunter ever checked in
the deer. CO McManus contacted the hunter by phone and asked him
about any deer that he had taken during the firearm’s season.
The hunter didn’t mention the four point buck. When CO McManus
advised the man that he was the officer that had checked him,
the man stated “oh I forgot about that one.” When
asked where he had checked it, the man stated somewhere in Hopewell.
When CO McManus told the man that his record for that deer had
not been located, the man admitted that he had never checked in
the deer. The hunter was charged with failing to tag a deer and
failing to check a deer. He recently paid $500 in Hopewell Twp.
CO McManus received a call from a Hamilton Township patrolman
regarding a hunter that had been caught trespassing twice on property
that the patrolman and his son have permission to hunt on. The
patrolman had issued a trespassing ticket to the hunter after
catching him on the property the first time. The hunter was told
not to return. Two days later the patrolman’s son was getting
ready to hunt when the suspect returned. The two men walked into
the woods together. The patrolman’s son found an eight point
buck dead on the ground. He called to the suspect who stated that
he had shot the deer yesterday and planned to get it later. The
suspect then asked him to help drag it out. He refused because
only antlerless deer could be taken at that time and the deer
was illegal. The suspect then proceeded to cut the head off the
deer and left the area.
CO McManus met with the suspect at his residence. When asked about
the deer, the suspect stated that he had “found” the
dead deer and admitted that he had cut the head off and was getting
a mount made from it. When he was told that he had to surrender
the deer head, he stated that he had buried it in a swamp. He
was told to surrender the deer head by the end of the week. CO
McManus never heard from the suspect again and his phone has been
disconnected. The man was charged with taking an antlered deer
during the antlerless season, possession of unregistered deer,
trespass and interference.
CO Martiak was called to a complaint in Monroe involving a man
who had shot two domestic ducks belonging to his neighbor. The
neighbor informed CO Martiak that the man has been seen shooting
anything and everything on his property. CO Martiak interviewed
the suspect who admitted to shooting the ducks with a .22 caliber
rifle. He was charged with hunting with an illegal weapon. In
the course of conversation, CO Martiak asked the man about hunting.
The man stated that he liked to hunt and showed him his gun safe
containing numerous rifles and one shotgun. He stated that his
weapon of choice was a .30-.30 rifle.
CO Martiak was on patrol with CO Szulecki in Marlboro when they
observed a hunter walking along the railroad tracks leading into
the State Home property which is off limits to hunters. After
speaking with the hunter, it became apparent that there were several
more hunters in the area. The CO’s along with Marlboro P.D.
were able to locate another four bow hunters who had been conducting
a deer drive. The three shooters were issued summonses for defiant
trespass and interference.
Lt. Lacroix was notified on Tuesday night of the Six-Day Firearm
season about an eight point buck that had been stolen from a clubhouse
in Green Bank. The deer belonged to a twelve year old hunter and
it was his first buck. Lt. Lacroix met with the boy and his father,
who provided 8x10 digital photos of the deer. The deer was distinctive
in that two of the tines had been partially shot off. Lt. Lacroix
advised them that there was a slim chance that the deer would
ever be recovered. On December 23, Lt. Lacroix received a call
from the Southern Region Office. A man had come into their office
and told them about a member of his club who had shot a deer in
the Green Bank area on Tuesday of the Six-Day Firearm season however
the circumstances surrounding the taking of the deer seemed suspicious.
According to the informant, the suspect had stated he was going
hunting and then 30 minutes later came back to the clubhouse with
a large six point buck with the main beam broken. The suspect
entered the deer in their club’s Big Buck contest. The deer
tied with another six point buck. Later in the week, the suspect
came in with a piece of antler that he stated he found under his
stand. The piece made the deer an eight pointer. However, two
of the tines were partially shot off. The suspect ended up winning
$270 in the contest. The story and description of the stolen deer
had been in the Atlantic City Press and the informant became suspicious.
He provided several pictures of the suspect holding the deer.
The suspect was well known to CO Kille and DCO Fee. They interviewed
the suspect at his residence where he finally admitted to stealing
the deer, checking it in under his name and entering it in his
club’s contest. He provided the broken piece of the antler
which appeared to have been hacked off using a hatchet (a hatchet
was also missing from the clubhouse). He told the officers that
the deer had been taken to a local butcher. Lt. Lacroix seized
the deer head, antlers and cape and meat from the butcher. The
suspect was charged by CO Kille with theft of moveable property,
criminal mischief, unlawful possession of deer, possession of
deer not legally tagged/registered, and unlawful transportation
CO Szalaj and Lt. Lacroix received information from DCO Fee that
a known convicted felon was deer hunting with his club in Southampton
Twp. The officers responded to the scene at which time, the hunters
were all gathered around their vehicles with no weapons in sight.
Lt. Lacroix had inspected the felon along with one of the other
hunters in November while goose hunting. At that time, she had
been unaware of his status. She decided that since she had checked
him earlier, he might feel comfortable being checked by her again.
She conducted the inspection, keeping the mood non-threatening.
The felon admitted to her that he had shot a doe during their
drive. He showed her the doe and a shotgun stating he had used
buckshot to kill the deer. The hunter was taken into custody for
possession of a firearm. He was processed at the Red Lion State
Police barracks and transported by CO Szalaj to Burlington County
Jail on a $50,000 bail, no ten percent.
Lt. Lacroix wrapped up a several year old case involving a bird
store possessing and selling numerous Indian Ringneck Parakeets,
a potentially dangerous species as Australian Parakeets. The owner
of the store admitted to having the illegal birds and selling
them. A Notice of Violation was issued for $7500 to the owner.
Southern Region Highlights
The Southern Region Office has received several complaints about
individuals harvesting over their limit of woodcock on the Higbee
Beach Wildlife Management Area in Cape May County. Several attempts
have been made to apprehend the individuals over the last two
hunting seasons without success. The woodcock season is shortened
on the Higbee Beach WMA due to a delayed start imposed by the
Nongame and Endangered Species Program. During the last two seasons
cold weather has minimized the number of birds available; this
year was different because there was a large concentration of
birds on the area for the opening day. Lt. Cianciulli and Conservation
Officer’s Ely and Honachefsky planned an operation on the
opening day of the second split of the woodcock season. Conservation
Officer Honachefsky stayed in the main parking lot of the WMA
and relayed his observations to Lt. Cianciulli and Conservation
Officer Ely who were waiting down the street. Conservation Officer
Honachefsky stated that two individuals were leaving with what
appeared to be over their limit of woodcock. During an inspection
the two hunters were only found to be in possession of five woodcock.
After they were released an additional nine woodcock that they
had secreted in a bag and disposed of were located. Shortly after
the first two hunters were released they must have contacted a
second group of hunters. Conservation Officer Honachefsky observed
the second group come running from the field where they had been
hunting, with one individual still talking on a cell phone. They
loaded their dogs and equipment and drove away in their van without
taking the time to place their firearms in cases. Lt. Cianciulli
and CO Ely performed a motor vehicle stop on the van just as one
individual was observed jumping from the moving vehicle with two
bags of woodcock in his hands. Lt. Cianciulli apprehended the
individual running from the vehicle and CO Ely apprehended the
driver who was attempting to leave the scene. After several interviews
and CO Ely contacting the original two hunters and having them
return to the scene, the appropriate summonses have been issued.
The first two hunters admitted to throwing the bag of woodcock
from the vehicle and were charged with littering, interference
and possessing eight woodcock over their limit. The second group
had four hunters and they were charged with possessing 21 woodcock
over their limit, possessing uncased guns in a motor vehicle,
interference and littering.
Conservation Officer Honachefsky coordinated a case involving
the unlawful sale of 213 sets of antlers by a Folsom, Atlantic
County man. Assisting in the operation were Captain Eisenhuth,
Lt. Leonard, Lt. Cianciulli, Conservation Officer’s Batten,
Ely, Massey, Kille, Stites and Vazquez in addition to Special
Agents Manera, Jordan and Sabia from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service. The case started when the suspect offered to sell his
collection of whitetail deer antlers and was put in contact with
Special Agent Jordan who was posing as a large antler dealer.
After several telephone conversations the sale and the associated
buy-bust operation were set in motion. On the day of the sale
Special Agent Jordan was equipped with a wire and went to the
suspect’s home while the remaining officers waited a short
distance away. On Special Agent Jordan’s signal the remaining
officers converged on the home when the sale was completed. The
suspect was taken into custody without incident. At the completion
of the sale Conservation Officer Honachefsky, who was waiting
at the Atlantic County Prosecutors office, obtained a search warrant
for the suspect’s home and property. The remaining officers
executed the search warrant when Conservation Officer Honachefsky
returned with the required paperwork. In addition to 213 sets
of antlers recovered from the sale, officers also recovered possession
seals, hunting licenses, video tapes and venison from two freezers.
The videos that were recovered from the home document a hunting
and fishing trip made to Alaska. Evidence of illegal hunting and
fishing charges will be passed along to the Alaska Fish and Wildlife
Service. New Jersey’s charges are pending the criminal indictment
for the commercialization of wildlife charges and will include
civil charges for the unlawful possession and transfer of the
whitetail antlers and parts. The suspect has been convicted of
several deer act violations in the past and the maximum fines
associated with this case could be over $300,000.
Conservation Officer Massey responded to a complaint from Trenton
Dispatch about a hunter unlawfully taking a buck in the Atlantic
County Park, Egg Harbor Township. The complainant stated that
he talked to the hunter just after he had shot and that the hunter
planned to return later to recover the deer. Conservation Officer
Massey and Lt. Cianciulli waited at the location for a few hours
without observing the hunters vehicle. As the Conservation Officers
were leaving they observed the hunters vehicle pull into the small
subdivision and leave. After waiting several more hours the Conservation
Officers called-off the surveillance. Conservation Officer Massey
returned the following morning and waited for the hunter to return.
After a short wait CO Massey apprehended two individuals entering
the park property. Conservation Officer Canale responded to the
scene and assisted Conservation Officer Massey. One individual
had a loaded shotgun and was charged for being within 450 feet
of a home. The second individual was the hunter from the previous
evening and after a short interview he admitted to unlawfully
hunting in the park. The appropriate summonses have been issued.
During a routine patrol Conservation Officer Batten observed two
deer hanging behind a shed in Heislerville, Cumberland County.
From a distance there weren’t any tags visible. During an
interview the homeowner stated that his son was responsible for
bringing the deer to the residence. After numerous interviews,
because the deer had changed hands several times, Conservation
Officers Batten and Honachefsky were able to locate the two individuals
who were responsible for killing the deer. One individual stated
that he had killed a deer during muzzleloader season and failed
to tag the deer. The second individual stated that he shot a doe
with buckshot and failed to tag the deer before transferring it
to the homeowner’s son. The wounds on both deer were consistent
with the statements given. The individual who shot the deer with
the shotgun was a juvenile. The individual who harvested the deer
with the muzzleloader was charged for not tagging it and the homeowner’s
son was charged for the unlawful possession of the untagged deer.
Conservation Officer Risher responded to a trespassing complaint
in Hopewell Township, Cumberland County. He didn’t find
anybody trespassing however he did catch someone hunting without
orange within 450’ of a building after legal shooting hours
had passed. The appropriate summonses were issued.
A man was driving home from work one morning in Hopewell Township,
Cumberland County when he witnessed someone shoot at a deer from
the roadway within 450’ of several houses.
Conservation Officer Risher found the suspect and issued several
Lt. Leonard was on routine patrol in South Harrison Township,
Gloucester County when he came across two rabbit hunters in possession
of 24 rabbits. Neither hunter would say how many rabbits they
killed. Both men will be coming to court for being 16 rabbits
over the limit.
Marine Enforcement Highlights
On January 19, 2007, at approximately 0100 hrs., CO’s Sennick
and Soell were patrolling the Point Pleasant Beach area for commercial
At approximately 0110 hrs., CO Soell, dressed in plain clothes,
observed the F/V Nautilus as it docked at Red’s Lobster
Dock in Point Pleasant Beach. The Nautilus was rigged for harvesting
scallops. CO Sennick approached the vessel and immediately noticed
two totes of summer flounder on the stern of the vessel.
At this time, the NJ Directed Summer Flounder Fishery was closed
except for the possession of up to 200 pounds which could not
represent greater than 10% of all species by weight which was
The total weight of scallops and monkfish which were aboard the
F/V Nautilus amounted to 287 pounds, which would allow the vessel
to possess up to 28.7 pounds of summer flounder under State law.
However, the vessel also failed to possess a Federal Summer Flounder
Moratorium Permit which therefore prohibited it from landing any
summer flounder except for 4 fish per person aboard the vessel.
When weighed, the summer flounder aboard the F/V Nautilus weighed
234.7 pounds. All of the illegal summer flounder were seized and
subsequently sold with the check retained by the Division pending
adjudication. The vessel will also be prosecuted under federal
fisheries law by the National marine Fisheries Service. State
penalties will range from $300 to $3000.