March 2007

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

Northern Region Highlights

Northern Region Conservation Officers helped man the Division booth at the Suffern Outdoor Show. The officers answered questions from the hunting and fishing public. Lieutenant Fletcher and COs Hutchinson, Kuechler and Nestel participated.

CO Kuechler attended the Essex County Federation of Sportsman Clubs Meeting.

CO Hutchinson investigated a fish kill in a pond at Bergen County Community College. The cause of the die-off was attributed to winter-kill.

CO Williamson apprehended two individuals operating ATV's at Wildcat Ridge WMA in Morris County. The appropriate complaints were signed.

Northern Region Officers have been monitoring a Bald Eagle nest at Little Swartswood Lake in Sussex County. To date the birds seem to be adapting to the ice fishing activities common in the area in late winter.

CO Williamson assisted with a Bear Awareness Seminar conducted by the Division in Mendham Township in Morris County. The purpose of the seminar was to teach residents to co-exist with black bears.

Senior Communications Officer Colao detected the misdirection of $2,071.00 in penalties by various courts during the report period. Information she directed to the appropriate Conservation Officers was instrumental in the recovery of the misdirected funds.

Northern Region Conservation Officers have been busy interviewing 34 residents who obtained turtles from an Arkansas Dealer, at the request of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Central Region Highlights

Lt.’s Lacroix and Sich attended the Burlington County Detectives meeting as well as the Tri-State Investigator’s meeting.

CO’s Mutone and Szalaj and Lt. Lacroix conducted a night patrol at the Colliers Mills WMA during one of the recent warm spells. During the previous weeks, several new “party spots” had been located with significant damage done to the property. During their patrol, they located a group of 15 individuals at 11:45pm with a large bonfire and copious amounts of alcohol. It was apparent from the pile of unburned wood and unopened cases of alcoholic beverages that the group had just recently arrived. In all 18 summonses were issued for after hours, alcohol, and several motor vehicle violations.

During one warm weekend, Lt. Lacroix patrolled the Colliers Mills WMA due to increased ATV and off-road activity. Numerous ATV's and dirt bikes were observed riding on the property. She was able to stop and make inspections of 11 individuals and issued 6 Title 23 violations and 8 Title 39 violations. One group of three riders fled from her after she attempted to stop them. She was able to locate their transport vehicle parked outside the WMA and waited for them to return. Upon their return an inspection was conducted and it was determined that one of the dirt bikes was reported stolen from a bike shop in East Windsor two days earlier. The rider, a 16 year old, was arrested and transported to Jackson Police Department. Lt. Lacroix charged the juvenile with receiving stolen property and was released to his parents. East Windsor after interviewing the juvenile, charged him with burglary and theft.

CO Mutone was on patrol in Colliers Mills WMA when she observed 4 individuals on ATV's. Lt. Lacroix arrived to assist. While they were busy writing summonses, they observed two motor vehicles driving through the woods on a small trail that ended at a pond. The vehicles, undeterred by the water, drove right through the pond and came out right in front of the officers. Both drivers were stopped and issued summonses.

Lt. Lacroix and Captain Herrighty assisted NJ State Police after receiving a call late one Friday night regarding two ice fishermen who had not returned home after fishing at the Assunpink. Their open vehicle was found near the western shore of Lake Assunpink. Their tip-ups were set up just off shore. A suspicious hole was observed not far from their fishing equipment. Hope Fire Department and First Aid from Allentown responded, but recovery of the bodies was put off until daylight. State Police divers were able to recover both bodies the next morning.

Officer Tonnesen apprehended a group of individuals carrying a shotgun, handguns and a switchblade while walking through the Stafford Forge Wildlife Management Area located in Warren Grove. Even though the three subjects stated that they were just target practicing, no targets were located. Fish and Wildlife summonses were issued for target shooting at an unauthorized range and criminal charges are pending for the illegal possession of a handgun without the proper permits.

CO Mutone apprehended an individual collecting a variety of fish and aquatic plants while in the Greenwood Forest Wildlife Management Area. The subject tried to conceal the fact that he was illegally collecting by telling the officer that he had just purchased the fish and plants at a local store, but could not provide a receipt or remember the place of purchase. The fact that the subject was using the net when the officer caught him and that the species were indigenous to New Jersey resulted in the Ohio resident receiving summonses for fishing without a license and removing vegetation from a wildlife management area.

Officer’s Mutone and Szulecki were recently called out to assist the Jackson Township. Police in locating an individual who was lost and stuck somewhere within the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area. Ocean County Dispatch received the 911 call and explained that they were concerned for the subjects safety because the caller sounded intoxicated and disorientated while on the phone. The subject was finally located stuck in a mud hole in a remote section of the wildlife management area. After all was said and done, one of the occupants in the vehicle was arrested by State Police on a warrant.

CO Mutone stopped a motorcycle rider on the Pole Brook section of the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area after noticing that the vehicle had no license plate visible. When confronted, the subject had no driver's license, insurance or registration for the motorcycle. The officer then checked the vehicle identification number on the motorcycle and noticed that it had been defaced. The subject was issued motor vehicle summonses and the motorcycle was towed to a garage where the New Jersey State Police Auto Theft Unit will try to identify the legal owner. Additional criminal charges are pending for the possession of a vehicle with an altered or defaced vehicle identification number.

Southern Region Highlights

Conservation Officers Tracy Stites and Wesley Kille gave a talk on New Jersey Fish & Wildlife Laws at South Harrison Police Department in Gloucester County. Three State Police barracks and three local police departments sent officers to learn more about how they can assist conservation officers in enforcing wildlife law.

A taxidermist in Pennsauken, Camden County was charged with unlawful possession of deer as a result of the search warrant issued on his place of business last month by district 5 officers. Further investigation into his records revealed 18 discrepancies between his paperwork and state check station forms. Officer’s Kille, Vazquez and Leonard investigated these discrepancies further. As a result of the investigation, three people were charged with unlawful possession of deer. Each individual was in possession of a buck that they didn’t register at a check station.

CO Risher gave a talk to Boy Scout Troop 38 in Pittsgrove, Salem County.

CO Kille successfully prosecuted two men for unlawful possession of deer in East Greenwich, Gloucester County. They had left the remains of the deer that they killed hanging in trees. The men agreed to pay $2000 in fines.

CO Risher apprehended a trapper in Stow Creek who had set two snares without tags or the proper loop stops. Additionally, the trapper had never taken a snare course. The man was charged and is currently enrolled for a trapper education course.

A convicted felon who was apprehended by Officers Stites and Kille this past fall was recently convicted and sentenced to two years in prison.

CO Risher attended the annual fisherman’s flea market in Vineland, Cumberland County. He entertained the public with his responses to their various questions regarding the Division of Fish & Wildlife.

CO Kille investigated a Franklin Township, Gloucester County man regarding a complaint that he had stolen someone's deer. The investigation uncovered three deer that went to a taxidermist that had not been properly registered. With this information officers from District 5 executed a search warrant on the mans home and seized 77 sets of antlers that were not labeled. The suspect didn’t have possession seals or the numbers for all his deer and said that at least 50 of them were given to him. He was charged with unlawful possession.

Captain Eisenhuth addressed residents and the town council of Gloucester Township, Camden County at a recent public meeting. Township residents have prompted local officials there to propose a law, which would effectively prohibit hunting in the township.

Captain Eisenhuth attended the South Jersey Bald Eagle Conference again this year and fielded questions from Division eagle volunteer observers.

After 12 years as a Deputy Conservation Officer, Chuck Fee is retiring from the program.

Since February of 2003, Bureau staff has spent time compiling information, writing text and taking photos to create a non-lethal force-training manual. COs Applegate, Canale, Fresco, Mutone, Sennick and Szulecki, Lt.'s Brown, and Fletcher, and Captains Boyle and Eisenhuth all contributed to the manual, which was just recently finalized. Each Region will be issued a color copy.

Conservation Officer Batten investigated a dumping complaint on the Peaslee Wildlife Management Area in Maurice River Township, Cumberland County. The pile of trash contained a mattress and numerous other household items in addition to a pile of hay. Conservation Officer Batten was able to recover several items with addresses on them that led him to a physical address. The home was occupied by several young men and run like a fraternity house. Two individuals admitted to dumping the trash in a spot where they used to party. The appropriate summonses have been issued.

Conservation Officers Batten and Ely responded to a hunting accident reported by the New Jersey State Police on the Bevans Wildlife Management Area in Commercial Township, Cumberland County. The incident occurred on the final day of the coyote season and the victim had been transported to a hospital before the CO’s arrived. The victim told the State Police that he had been hunting and his firearm became entangled in brush and accidentally discharged striking him in the shoulder. As he tried to exit the area he had an accident and totaled his vehicle. When the CO’s arrived they noticed numerous freshly killed swans and black ducks in the bed of the truck and the investigating trooper told them that there were more snow geese and a turkey just down the road. There were still five firearms in the vehicle, including the shotgun involved in the incident. Conservation Officer Batten was looking for additional evidence involving the wildlife violations when he observed several buckshot pellet strikes on the roof of vehicle. The path of the pellets was from the interior front passenger seat of the vehicle. There were several other pellet strikes in the vehicle’s headliner in addition to blood and tissue fragments. At this point in the investigation the incident was determined to be a suicide attempt and the case was turned over to the state police. Summonses for possible wildlife violations are pending an interview when the subject is released from the hospital.

Marine Enforcement Highlights

F/V Emily A: On December 11, 2006, CO Sennick inspected the vessel Emily A as it docked and offloaded at the Point Pleasant Co-Op. This vessel was permitted to possess a total of 1,494 pounds of whole monkfish. The inspection resulted in the vessel being 243 pounds of whole monkfish over the daily possession limit. The value of this overage was seized and CO Sennick is pursuing federal fisheries charges against the vessel.

F/V Francis Anne: On February 2, 2007, Conservation Officer Dominick Fresco inspected the monkfish boat Francis Anne after docking at the Lighthouse Marina in Barnegat Light, N.J. At approximately 3PM, CO Fresco contacted the captain and crewmen and began his inspection. Pursuant to the vessel's "Category B" federal monkfish permit, combined with the time at sea poundage allocation, the vessel would have been permitted to land a total of 1,494 pounds of whole monkfish. Additionally, the vessel also would have been permitted to land a total of 10 % of that weight in monkfish livers or 149 pounds. After inspecting the vessel, CO Fresco found that 2,998 pounds of whole monkfish were aboard together with 314 pounds of monkfish livers. After documenting the violation, CO Fresco seized, pursuant to federal law, the value of the catch which was set at approximately $5000.00. CO Fresco, over the next several weeks, then prepared the federal case package for prosecution of the vessel by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

F/V Miss Emma: On February 11, 2007, Conservation Officer Adam T. Sennick inspected the F/V Miss Emma at the Point Pleasant Co-Op. The F/V Miss Emma has a "Category D" monkfish permit which allows the vessel to land, given his time at sea allocation, a total of 1,494 pounds of whole monkfish. Initially, the vessel offloaded 1,268 pounds of whole monkfish and 130 pounds of monkfish tails. Federal law allows for the conversion of monkfish tails to whole monkfish via a mathematical formula which results in the 130 pounds of monkfish tails becoming equivalent to an additional 431 pounds of whole monkfish. This quantity of 431 pounds when added to the 1,268 pounds of whole fish equaled 1699 pounds of whole monkfish, or 205 pounds over the vessel's possession limit. During the entire offloading, CO Sennick observed that the Captain of the vessel seemed nervous and uneasy. After the offloading was complete, CO Sennick asked the Captain if there were anymore fish aboard the F/V Miss Emma to which the captain replied "no". At this time, CO Sennick asked the captain to open a fish tote along the port side of the vessel which he (CO Sennick) had been unable to see into prior to this moment. At this time, the captain uttered "this is what I was not being honest about". Upon inspecting this tote, CO Sennick discovered an additional 199 pounds of whole monkfish, thus making the F/V Miss Emma a total of 404 pounds over the federal possession limit of whole monkfish. CO Sennick seized the value of the entire catch of monkfish and over the course of the next several weeks, completed the federal case package necessary to prosecute the vessel under federal law.

On February 27th Officer Snellbaker and Lt. Yunghans were patrolling Cape May Harbor for recreational vessels returning from offshore black sea bass fishing trips. At approximate 4:45 p.m. the charter vessel Clean Sweep docked at Hinches Marina with 8 persons on board. The Captain originally indicated to Officer Snellbaker that he had his limit of 200 black sea bass. As Officer Snellbaker and Lt. Yunghans began to count the black sea bass located in several different coolers and holds the Captain indicated that he might be a few fish over the daily limit of 25 per man. A final count revealed a total of 221 black sea bass which was 21 fish over the limit. The captain was issued a summons for possessing 21 fish over the bag limit. In addition, any charter vessel that carries passengers for hire in Federal waters targeting any regulated species must obtain a Federal Charter and Party Boat Permit. The F/V Clean Sweep did not have this permit as well as 5 other charter and party boat vessels that were inspected. Federal warnings were issued to these particular vessels.

On the evening of March 25th, Conservation Officers Fittin and Sennick apprehended an individual illegally harvesting hard clams under the cover of darkness from the polluted waters of the Shark River. The individual, an owner of a seafood business, was apprehended on his way back to his refrigerated van with approximately 50 hard clams contained in an onion skin bag. The individual was charged with harvesting and possessing shellfish from a prohibited area, clamming without a license, clamming on Sunday and clamming between the hours of sunset and sunrise.

During March 1st through March 15th the Elephants Trunk access area was open to General Category vessels for harvesting Atlantic sea scallops. There was a total allotment of 865 general category trips coast wide, which allowed for the daily harvest of 400 pounds of shucked sea scallops per day. Approximately 50 inspections were made from Atlantic City to Cape May by District 8 officers. A total of two violations were found involving logbook and overharvest infractions. Federal summary settlement charges were filed against these two vessels.

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Last Update May 22, 2007