February 2007

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

Northern Region Highlights

CO Panico responded to a trespass complaint in the town of Belvidere in Warren County. The officer traced ATV tracks back to the suspect’s residence and found two partially butchered deer hanging in the garage. CO Panico determined that both deer were killed while trespassing and were not tagged or registered. Complaints were filed for the tagging violations and a complaint for trespass was signed by the landowner.

CO Hutchinson interviewed a New Jersey resident for the Saskatchewan Environment Enforcement Bureau. From information supplied by Officers in Saskatchewan and an interview of the subject by CO Hutchinson, it was determined that the subject had illegally purchased a set of white-tailed deer antlers with a gross score of 197 from an outfitter in the province for $3,000.00. Evidence secured by Hutchinson lead to a confession being obtained from the outfitter by authorities in Saskatchewan. Complaints are to be filed in the near future.

CO Applegate responded to an after hours call to assist Tewksbury Township Police, in Hunterdon County, with a night deer hunting incident. Police responding to a call of shots fired stopped three individuals, in a motor vehicle. The individuals were found to be in possession of a loaded shotgun in the passenger compartment and a recently killed deer in the trunk. Scene reconstruction was conducted the following day with the assistance of Lt. Cole and Wildlife Technician Steven Sutton. Pellet strikes, ballistic components and blood were found. Complaints were signed for hunt deer during hours of darkness, hunt with the aid of a motor vehicle, uncased firearm in motor vehicle, loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, hunt without license, hunt on Sunday, discharge from municipal roadway, have loaded firearm within 450 feet of building, possess untagged deer and careless discharge of firearm.

CO Nestel apprehended a trapper for trapping beaver in the wrong beaver management zone. A few weeks later, CO Nestel apprehended the same individual for setting snares within thirty feet of exposed bait. The appropriate complaints were signed.

Searching the E-Bay web-site for illegal sales of wildlife, CO Paul discovered an individual from Morris Township, Morris County, offering a mounted bobcat. CO Paul contacted the seller, advised him of the violation and seized the mount pending receipt of proper documentation for the possession of the bobcat. No documentation was provided by the seller and CO Paul signed a complaint for a violation of the Wildlife Commercialization Statute.

On the last day of the permit shotgun deer season, CO Williamson and Deputy Schliefer apprehended three individuals for trespassing on a property upon which they had received a similar complaint on the same day the year before. Although the hunters denied killing any deer, the officers discovered a hidden untagged deer while searching the area. Complaints were signed for trespass and untagged deer.

Senior Communications Operator Colao detected the misdirection of $3,956.00 in penalties by various courts during the recent report period. Information she provided to the appropriate Conservation Officers was instrumental in recovering these funds.

Captain Cussen attended the Hunterdon County Federation of Sportsman Clubs meeting.

Central Region Highlights

Lt. Lacroix located two vehicles parked on the west side of Carranza Rd. during the permit shotgun/muzzleloader season. Carranza Rd. is the dividing line between zone 23 which only has a one day permit shotgun season and limited permit muzzleloader season and zone 19 which has a very liberal shotgun/muzzleloader season. At this time, zone 23 was closed for everything but winter bow. Gun cases were observed inside the vehicle. Footprints in the mud near the vehicles went into the woods on the zone 23 side. Following the footprints, a hunter in full camouflage was observed sitting in a tree stand. He claimed he thought he was in zone 19. He called his two friends out of their stands which were also in zone 23. Three summonses for hunting out of zone and a no orange summons were issued.

CO McManus was on patrol in Hopewell Twp., Mercer Co. when he observed a pickup truck parked in a residential area with a dead, partially butchered, untagged doe in the bed. The vehicle belonged to a known violator. When the hunter was questioned about the deer, he stated he had shot the deer the previous Saturday and that he had checked the deer at the Sportsmen’s Center. When asked where the seal was, he stated it was at home with the meat. The ears on the doe were not cut, indicating that it had not been sealed. The Sportsmen’s Center is one of the best check stations and they indicated over the phone that there would have been no way that the deer had been sealed anywhere other than in the ear. A summons for possession of an untagged deer was issued. Several days later, CO McManus was contacted by Bristol Meyers-Squibb that they had caught five hunters trespassing on their property earlier in the week and wanted them issued summons for trespass. One of the individuals was the hunter with the untagged deer from Hopewell. Convictions from these two violations combined with a no orange summons earlier in the season will revoke this hunter again, his third revocation in the last 15 years.

CO McManus received a call on January 29 at 2030 hours from Hamilton Township Police Department. They had rescued two men from the Crosswicks Creek several hours earlier after they had fallen out of their boat. The two men told the police officers that they had been duck hunting. The men also appeared to be intoxicated and empty beer cans and bottles were found in their boat. Their loaded guns were retrieved from the water was well. The hunters were transported to the hospital for treatment. This area is located within the south zone and had been closed to duck hunting since January 6th. Several days later, the brother of one of the suspects called CO McManus regarding the confiscated guns. According to the man, he loaned both guns to the suspects. The hunters were charged with hunting waterfowl during the closed season, unplugged gun, hunting under the influence, unlawful possession of a firearm, and possession of a loaned firearm without the owner present. Additionally, the boat owner was charged with operation of a boat under the influence. The brother who had loaned the guns was also charged with loaning a firearm without being present.

CO Martiak was on patrol in the Roosevelt Boro area of Monmouth Co. when he observed two men putting two dead bucks in a bucket loader. When he approached the hunters, it was obvious they were attempting to quickly fill out their transportation tags. The hunters were known to routinely kill deer and not check them in. In the next few days, CO Martiak and Lt. Lacroix checked area check stations, but located no records that indicated the deer had been checked in. The following Saturday, CO Martiak saw the hunters at their “clubhouse”. He and CO O’Rourke made an inspection and found several dead bucks hanging. When asked where they had checked in the other deer, one of the hunters stated that his was taken to a southern region check station near his home. The other hunter admitted that the deer that he had tagged on the previous occasion was actually his cousin’s deer. He took his tag off after being checked and crossed out the information. The same tag was now on a new buck taken that day. He was charged with interference and illegal possession of a deer. His cousin was charged with failure to tag and failure to register a deer.

CO Martiak was on patrol along Rt. 33 in Manalapan, Monmouth Co. when he observed a large group of hunters conducting a deer drive in the vicinity of a building. Three of the hunters were found to be within 450’ of the building and charged accordingly. CO Szulecki assisted.

Conservation Officers O’Rourke and Szulecki responded to a complaint in Howell Twp. regarding the illegal possession of an Alligator. When the homeowner was questioned, she acknowledged the fact that she had the gator but didn’t realize that it was a problem. Apparently she had just moved from Pennsylvania and wasn’t aware it was illegal to possess in New Jersey. The reptile was removed and placed with a rehabilitator.

CO Martiak and Lt. Sich assisted Pennsylvania Conservation Officers with the apprehension of four individuals who fled from them by boat after illegally hunting in Pennsylvania. CO Martiak received information that the suspects were heading for the Bordentown Municipal Boat Ramp and requested that the Bordentown Police detain the subjects matching the descriptions given. When officers Martiak and Sich arrived on scene, the four suspects denied any involvement or knowledge of the incident. As soon as the Pennsylvania Conservation Officers arrived, Lt. Sich interviewed the suspects. During the interviews, the subjects changed their story and provided written statements admitting their guilt. The violations included hunt no license; hunt no permit; trespassing; no hunter orange and interference.

During a recent patrol of a commercial game preserve, CO Szulecki observed three hunters off in the distance carrying firearms with no licenses visible. As he approached to make an inspection, he lost sight of the group for a short time. When he finally made contact, one hunter was missing and the other two were no longer in possession of guns. When questioned, the subjects denied that they were hunting and wouldn’t comment on the location of the third person. After a thorough interview, CO Szulecki was informed that when the three hunters saw him approach, one hunter ran away and the other two hid their guns in the woods. When the other hunter was finally located and all the guns were accounted for, the three hunters were issued summonses for hunting without licenses and interference.

Southern Region Highlights

A man charged as a result of an investigation conducted by CO Kille and Lt. LaCroix was in court recently. The defendant had stolen a buck deer from a 12 year old hunter, checked it in as his, and later won his club’s in-house “pool” for biggest deer. He faced charges of criminal mischief, theft, unlawful possession of deer, failure to properly tag a deer, and failure to properly register the deer. CO Kille and the defendant came to a resolution before court which resulted in the man pleading guilty to all charges and paying $5,000, including restitution to the youth for butchering and taxidermy fees.

CO Kille conducted an investigation into a number of properties controlled by a private hunting club that were taking unlawful advantage of the Green Acres “Tax Exemption” Program. Green Acres has declared that natural open space in NJ for public recreation is diminishing and that public funds for the acquisition and maintenance of public open space should be supplemented by private individuals/organizations. Therefore, Green Acres will afford private individuals/organizations the opportunity to own and maintain parcels of land for the benefit of the public without the burden of paying taxes. However, the properties must be open to the public on an equal and unbiased level as per their “Tax Exemption” regulations. This particular group used this program to own and operate these parcels of land in South Jersey for their own private hunting club without allowing public access and in fact unlawfully charging individuals with trespassing. All violations against those who were erroneously charged have since been dismissed and the hunting club is now facing the possibility of having to pay a substantial amount of roll back taxes due to their unlawful conduct.

CO Kille’s 2005 investigation into an individual who he charged with felony possession of a weapon was recently sentenced to 3 years in prison for his possession of a firearm while deer hunting.

Since 1991, a shooting preserve and game farm located in Pennsville, Salem County has operated in violation of its permits by allowing its’ captive mallards to fly freely between open pens and the marshes of Mannington Meadow. This situation has caused conflicts involving hunters and the shooting preserve, as well as present legal issues relating to hunting with the aid of live decoys, and hunting waterfowl within a baited area. Other issues related to increased potential for the spread of diseases and interbreeding were also components of the problem. Captain Eisenhuth, Lt. Leonard, Special Agent in Charge Carmine Sabia and Special Agent Dorothy Manera of the USFWS recently met with the owner of the shooting preserve and his legal representatives to discuss resolving the long standing problem. After a lengthy discussion, all parties agreed that the tens of thousands of mallards that they raise would be completely enclosed during the waterfowl hunting season. An interim draft agreement will be generated and reviewed in the near future.

CO Kille and DCO Fee conducted a covert investigation of a taxidermist in Pennsauken Township, Camden County. The investigation began after information received from Kansas Parks and Wildlife and information received independently by CO Kille indicated the taxidermist was allegedly mounting unlawfully possessed deer. DCO Fee, while acting in an undercover role and equipped with an audio surveillance device, delivered an unregistered deer to the taxidermist. The taxidermist subsequently took possession of the deer despite the fact he was informed the deer was unlawfully harvested and the seal affixed to it was not valid. A search warrant was executed by Captain Eisenhuth, Lt. Leonard, and District 5 COs shortly thereafter and a number of deer heads and records were seized. Charges are pending a further investigation.

During a routine patrol Conservation Officer Massey observed a vehicle parked at an abandoned building on a parcel of private property adjacent to the Hammonton Creek Wildlife Management Area in Egg Harbor City, Atlantic County. As CO Massey approached the vehicle an individual exited the building and was very surprised to see the officer. The individual was very nervous and kept pulling at his jacket as if he was trying to conceal something in his pocket. The subject said that his identification was located in his vehicle. As the individual reached in his vehicle for his wallet CO Massey observed the grip of handgun protruding from the subject’s rear pocket. Conservation Officer Massey drew his service pistol and ordered the individual to the ground, but the subject refused his commands and proceeded to back pedal with his hands out to his side. Eventually the subject turned and ran. Conservation Officer Massey returned to secure the subjects identification which had fallen on the ground. The subject was wearing a bright colored jacket and CO Massey never lost sight of him as he ran through the woods. As the subject tried to exit the woods CO Massey apprehended and handcuffed him, but the subject was no longer in possession of the handgun. As CO Massey was trying to call additional units for back-up the subject tried to escape in handcuffs. Four departments responded with approximately 12 units. After a cursory search of the area without locating the handgun, two K-9 units were called. Deputy Conservation Officer Harley Simmons and the Galloway Township Police Department’s K-9 units responded. The Galloway K-9 unit located the handgun a short distance from where the subject had entered the woods. The subject was charged with the following nine criminal complaints: unlawful possession of a weapon, possessing a handgun without a permit, possesses a handgun for an unlawful purpose, resisting arrest, making terroristic threats, disposing a defaced firearm, unlawfully possessing a knife, fleeing the scene while in handcuffs, and obstruction.

Conservation Officer Batten conducted a covert investigation of a taxidermist in Mullica Township, Atlantic county. The case, sparked by an investigation started in Kansas, led CO Batten to a taxidermist who was allegedly mounting unlawfully possessed whitetail deer. After making several phone calls to the taxidermist CO Batten made arrangements to deliver a deer with a fictitious tag. The taxidermist agreed to take the deer despite the fact that CO Batten told him numerous times that the deer was unlawfully harvested and that he didn’t possess a valid tag. The taxidermist told him that he didn’t care what tag was on the deer as long as he had a tag to show the Conservation Officers if they came to do an inspection. Approximately a week after CO Batten delivered the deer Lt. Cianciulli, Conservation Officers Batten, Ely, Honachefsky, Massey and Deputy Conservation Officer Mullins served a search warrant on the taxidermy shop. During the search approximately 20 deer heads or antlers were seized pending a records search in addition to a frozen hawk and a frozen rattlesnake. Several sets of antlers have come back as having invalid tags with them and the records search is still on-going. Charges are pending a full investigation.

CO Kille responded to a complaint of 10-15 dead deer hanging in trees behind a Daycare Center in East Greenwich, Gloucester County. As luck would have it, CO Kille entered the wooded area behind the Daycare Center to begin his investigation and observed two men with shotguns. Upon inspection and subsequent interviews, the men admitted that all of the deer which were suspended in trees belonged to them, however, offered no sensible reason for doing it. The hunters were both charged with hunting without licenses, hunting out of season, hunting without orange, having a loaded firearm within 450’ of the daycare center, possession of illegal missiles, fail to tag and fail to check-in the deer in the trees.

CO Kille accompanied Franklin Twp. Police and NJ SPCA on two search warrants that were executed on the homes of suspects believed to be involved in the killing of a horse earlier this month with a bow and arrow. One suspect was arrested after being in possession of the bow that fit the description of the weapon used in killing the horse. Subsequently, two additional people were arrested that evening. After five hours of interviewing, CO Kille, Franklin Detectives and the SPCA Animal Cruelty Investigator received confessions from all of the individuals involved. A number of charges were issued based on their admissions that they were attempting to shoot deer that night prior to shooting the horse which included injury/damage to property while hunting, possession of spotlight & weapon capable of killing within motor vehicle, hunting on Sunday, possession of loaded weapon within 450’ of a building, hunt with aid of motor vehicle, hunt without a license, and hunt at an unauthorized time. Criminal and animal cruelty charges were also issued the killing of the horse. Bail was set for the two individuals who shot the horse at $100,000 full cash and $50,000 for the third accomplice.

Information received from a Kansas Department of Parks and Wildlife indicated that a Pennsauken, Camden County resident had in his possession two trophy whitetail deer mounts that had been illegally shot in Kansas in since 2004. Work by CO Vazquez resulted in a search warrant being issued by a Camden County Superior Court Judge. Lt. Leonard and District 5 COs served the warrant recently and seized the two deer heads. The evidence will be turned over to Kansas for prosecution. NJ charges are pending the outcome of the Kansas case.

CO Stites, with the assistance of Lt. Leonard and CO Vazquez, has been working an illegal dumping case in Oldmans Township, Salem County, on the DOD Ponds Wildlife Management Area. Four large, separate piles of trash and remodeling debris was dumped along the main thorofare within the wma recently. Information contained within the piles came back to a particular residence that was advertised as being available for rent. Posing as a prospective renter, CO Vazquez met with a representative of the owner and observed that the interior of the home had recently been remodeled. Solid waste and fish and game charges are pending.

Marine Enforcement Highlights

On January 24, 2007, while on patrol in the Point Pleasant Beach area, CO Sennick observed an individual selling fluke out of the tailgate of a pick-up truck. CO Sennick observed the operator of the truck sell 4 jumbo fluke for $20 to an individual near the Manasquan Inlet. Upon inspection, CO Sennick found that the individual selling the fish was a deckhand aboard a commercial scalloper called the Amanda Ashley and that the fluke had been harvested from the vessel during their last trip. The mate was charged by CO Sennick with selling summer flounder to a non-permitted summer flounder dealer. On February 6, 2007 a penalty of $300 was paid by the mate for this violation.

On January 22, 2007 Conservation Officers conducted an early morning operation to apprehend any oyster tongers over the line in condemned waters. A land based Officer observed two boats with three tongers that appeared to be in condemned waters. At this time he radioed a patrol vessel of his observations. When the patrol vessel rapidly approached the two vessels they immediately tried to pull anchor and leave. They were instructed to drop the anchors back down and a GPS position was taken at this time. This position was plotted out and the three tongers were harvesting oysters in condemned waters. Four pairs of tongs were seized and forfeiture summonses will be issued for the tongs, outboard motor and vessel. Each tonger was charged with harvesting shellfish from condemned waters and if convicted they will lose their privilege to commercially harvest shellfish for a mandatory 3 years and a fine of up to $500.00.

During a blowout tide in the Great Egg Harbor Bay and Patcong Creek area, Officer Snellbaker noticed several crab pots that were left out after the season closed. A few days later on January 29th Officer Snellbaker conducted a boat patrol and retrieved 11 crab pots that belonged to one commercial crabber. Upon inspecting the crab pots, there were no biodegradable panels present. Summonses will be issued to the commercial crabber for no biodegradable panels, closed season and no 2007 license.

On February 2, 2007, while on patrol in Barnegat Light, CO Fresco inspected the F/V Francis Anne, a monkfish boat. This inspection revealed 3,600 lbs. of whole monkfish and 396 lbs. of monkfish livers to be aboard. Based upon the vessel’s DAS allocation, only 1,494 lbs. of whole monkfish and 149 lbs. of livers were permitted aboard. CO Fresco is prosecuting this case under Federal law with the assistance of Special Agent Ray. Additionally, the NMFS seized the value of the vessel’s entire catch; valued at $5,000.

On February 4, 2007, COs Fresco and Soell were patrolling docks in Barnegat Light when they began inspecting the F/V Karen L. This inspection revealed 1,800 lbs. of black sea bass and 355 lbs. of bluefish were aboard. All of these fish were harvested by hook and line. However, the commercial hook and line season for bluefish was closed as of August 8, 2006. As a result, the vessel was issued a summons for landing bluefish for the purpose of sale harvested by hook and line during the closed season. Additionally, regulations require vessels harvesting black sea bass to notify the Marine Regional Office two hours prior to offloading. When COs Fresco and Soell inspected the vessel the black sea bass had already been offloaded. Therefore, the vessel received an additional summons for this violation. Each ticket has a penalty range of $300 to $3,000. Additionally the value of the bluefish via a check made to the Division of Fish and Wildlife was seized.

Training Highlights

Firearms training for the winter quarter got underway during this period. The emphasis during this period will be on low light shooting.

Wildlife control representatives requalified with their rimfire rifles and shotguns.
Conservation Officers in the Central, Southern and Marine regions attended a refresher block of instruction on impact weapons.

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Last Update April 18, 2007