January 2007

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

Northern Region Highlights

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 hours.

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. Court.

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 of deer.

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 summonses.
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 dockside enforcement.
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 landed.

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.

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Last Update April 18, 2007