CO Paul recently got a conviction in a Morris Township, Morris
County court for a resident who had offered a mounted bobcat for
sale on E-bay. The individual who had previously been charged
with a violation of the commercialization of wildlife statute
plead guilty to one count of NJSA 23:2A-6 Possess wildlife parts
listed as NJ endangered species. A penalty of $250.00 was assessed.
Additionally, Officer Paul, during the course of her investigation,
uncovered incidents of white-tailed deer antlers and heads offered
for sale on the popular website. The deer cases were turned over
to the appropriate area Conservation Officer for investigation.
Lieutenants Cole and Fletcher and Captain Cussen recently completed
background investigations of three individuals for possible recruitment
as new Conservation Officers.
CO Applegate made a presentation to twenty-five boy scouts at
a meeting in Baptisttown, Hunterdon County. The focus of the presentation
was the role of Conservation Officer within the Division of Fish
CO Applegate and Lieutenant Cole assisted with the search for
an escaped bank robbery suspect in Readington Township in Hunterdon
County. The manhunt was in conjunction with the accidental shooting
of an FBI Agent during the incident. The suspect had fled the
scene onto South Branch WMA, a swampy lowland, and was later apprehended
at a nearby motel.
CO Panico investigated a complaint of suspicious activity at Columbia
Lake WMA in Warren County and discovered two fish traps set in
the Paulinskill River. The traps were similar to large minnow
traps, except that they were three feet by eight feet in structure
and contained approximately 557 suckers. The fish were released,
traps removed and the investigation continues.
Northern Region Personnel recently took the lead in Black Bear
Feeding Enforcement Sweeps conducted in ten communities in Bergen,
Morris, Sussex and Warren Counties. The purpose of the sweeps
was to monitor compliance to NJSA 23:2A-14 which prohibits the
intentional feeding of black bears as well as improper storage
of bear attractants. Over the two day operation, 1661 households
were contacted by a force of thirty-five DEP representatives.
Thirty-eight verbal warnings were issued, and forty-three cases
were referred to Conservation Officers for further investigation
and possible issuance of written warnings. A written warning is
required by statute prior to the signing of a complaint. Bureau
personnel involved in the operation include: Senior Comm. Operator
Colao and Wildlife Technician Sutton - logistical support, COs
Hutchinson and Panico and Lt. Fletcher - team leaders, Lt. Cole
and COs Applegate, Nestel and Williamson, Deputies Mortensen,
Schliefer and Struble – inspectors. In addition, Sgt. Neate
and Officer Viggiano of NJ Park Police as well as twenty-three
DEP Enforcement and Compliance inspectors participated.
CO Panico detected an oily sheen accompanied by a strong chemical
odor on a recent patrol of the Musconetcong River in Bloomsbury.
The officer traced the discharge to its source; a malfunctioning
oil water separator at a nearby truck stop. CO Panico documented
the event and turned the case over for further investigation by
appropriate DEP authorities.
CO Nestel is investigating an Off Road Vehicle complaint at Walpack
WMA in Sussex County. The vehicle is a four wheel drive passenger
vehicle stuck in a swampy area far from existing roads. The vehicle
has been stuck on the property for several weeks. The officer
is working with the owner and Bureau of Lands Management personnel
to solve the problem. Complaints and property damage will be dealt
with upon completion of the extraction.
On the Opening Day of Trout Season, CO Kuechler and Lt. Cole investigated
a complaint of a Plainfield, Union County fish market offering
striped bass for sale. One twenty-eight inch fish was found in
the showcase and seized. The appropriate complaint was signed.
CO Paul assisted Emergency Response with a pollution complaint
on the Lamington River in Somerset County. A harmless dye was
identified as the cause.
Following up on a complaint received at the NRO regarding possible
bag limit violations at Seeley’s Pond in Union County, CO
Kuechler apprehended two individuals in possession of twenty-eight
trout. Complaints were signed for both fishermen.
A dumping complaint in Alexandria Township in Hunterdon County
involving deer parts and several pieces of mail was investigated
by COs Applegate and Panico and Lieutenant Cole. The person to
whom the mail was addressed was ultimately tracked down and admitted
that the deer had not been legally registered. CO Panico singed
a complaint for possession of unregistered deer parts.
Wildlife Technician Steven Sutton and Captain Cussen assisted
Lieutenant Brown with a Black Bear Response Law Enforcement training
class in Byram Township in Sussex County. The class sponsored
by the Stillwater Police Department was attended by nineteen officers
from five agencies.
Central Region Highlights
CO’s Szalaj and O’Rourke received information regarding
an individual in Willingboro who was collecting turtles from the
wild as well as collecting road kill animals. After compiling
all the information, CO Szalaj was able to obtain a search warrant
for the residence. CO’s Szalaj, O’Rourke, Martiak,
McManus and Mutone and Lt. Lacroix executed the search warrant.
The evidence seized included: 2 deer heads, 1 mounted Canada goose,
1 mounted wild turkey, 9 live Eastern box turtles, 14 dead Eastern
box turtles, and 4 live spotted turtles. The live turtles were
all in very bad health and were transferred to a licensed rehabilitator.
The subject was charged with possession and collection of non-game
species as well as the possession of the wildlife species.
CO Martiak was on patrol in Manalapan Twp. when he encountered
two individuals fishing without licenses. Upon verification of
identification, it was determined that one of the individuals
had an outstanding warrant out of Freehold. Manalapan Twp. Police
Department assisted and took the individual into custody. The
appropriate summonses were issued by Officer Martiak.
CO’s Martiak and Szulecki assisted the Northern Region at
the Pequest Open House the last weekend in March.
CO’s Martiak and Mutone and Lt. Lacroix conducted a patrol
at the Colliers Mills WMA. Of particular interest was a “party
spot” that had been located a couple of months earlier where
a large number of trees had been cut down and burned. Upon approach
of the area, headlights were seen in the woods. When the officers
pulled into the area, there were three vehicles and five people
on scene. A very large pile of freshly cut tree branches and wooden
pallets were ready for a bonfire. One of the trucks was still
loaded with a large number of pallets. Moments after the officers
arrived, two more vehicles pulled in. Nine individuals were checked
and eight individuals were issued summonses for after hours, building
a fire, possession of alcohol, and motor vehicle violations.
CO McManus was on patrol during the closed waters when he observed
five individuals fishing at Dam site 5 on the Assunpink Creek.
The individuals were not cooperative and one tried dumping what
appeared to be fish into the water as the officer approached.
A total of 8 summonses were issued for closed waters, littering,
no fishing licenses and procuring a resident license wrongfully.
CO O’Rourke was on patrol at the Pemberton WMA when he encountered
two very intoxicated men. They were in possession of alcoholic
beverages and had built a campfire. Numerous bottles were observed
floating nearby in the lake. After initially denying that they
had thrown the bottles in the lake, the men finally admitted that
the bottles were theirs. The appropriate summonses were issued.
Lt. Sich apprehended three fishermen in Jackson Twp. who decided
to get a 5 day head start on trout season. After locating their
vehicle hidden in a wooded section along the Metedeconk River,
the officer followed tracks that led him to a remote section of
the river where he observed three subjects fishing in the closed
trout stocked waters. Two of the subjects had no fishing licenses
or trout stamps and the third individual had procured a NJ Resident
Fishing License wrongfully. All three subjects acknowledged the
fact that they were aware of the fishing laws as they relate to
trout stocked waters and in fact one of them worked at a local
bait and tackle store. The appropriate summonses were issued.
On the opening day of trout season Officer Szulecki and Deputy
Depierro conducted a foot patrol of a remote section of the Manasquan
River. As they proceeded down a small path that led to the rivers
edge, they noticed that a local resident had become very interested
in what they were doing. In fact, the woman began to follow the
officers down the trail. Just before reaching the area they were
intending to check, they were able to observe three individuals
fishing. When they looked back at the woman who was following
them, they noticed that she was now calling someone on her cell
phone. As the phone was ringing they observed one of the fishermen
in the group answer his cell phone, look around, walk over to
the woods, put down his fishing pole and then walk back over to
his friends. When the officers inspected the group, the subject
that they had been watching had no license or trout stamp and
claimed that he wasn’t fishing. When the officer confronted
him with his observations, the subject finally admitted to illegally
fishing and confirmed that the girl following them had warned
him of the officers approach. The appropriate summons was issued.
After receiving a complaint that a subject fishing at Hamilton
Park Pond located in Neptune was keeping over the legal limit
of trout, Officer Szulecki set up on the suspect and observed
him from a concealed location. From his position, Officer Szulecki
noticed that when the fisherman caught a trout he would then pass
it off to another person who was sitting on a bench. When CO Szulecki
approached and inspected the fishermen he found that the suspect
had his limit of trout hidden in a bucket. Any other trout caught
were quickly given away. According to witnesses, the subject had
given away a number of trout prior to the officers arrival. A
summons was issued for taking over the legal limit of trout.
Officer Tonnesen responded to a complaint from a local fisherman
that a foul odor was coming from a section of the Metedeconk River
located in Howell Twp. When the CO arrived on scene the smell
was over whelming and he noticed a trail of what appeared to be
raw sewage coming from a restaurants septic tank and draining
into the trout stocked waters of the Metedeconk. After documenting
and photographing evidence found at the scene he confronted the
owners of the restaurant. They acknowledged that they had allowed
the sewage to flow into the stream but said that it wouldn’t
happen again. The officer then contacted the Monmouth County Health
Department for assistance and was advised that the restaurant
owner had a long history of violations stemming from the faulty
septic system. Charges are pending and the two agencies are working
together to resolve the situation.
Southern Region Highlights
Conservation Officer Honachefsky and the Atlantic County Prosecutors
Office were able to secure an indictment on a Folsom Township,
Atlantic County man charged with commercialization of wildlife.
It’s yet to be determined if the commercialization case
and the associated illegal possession of deer parts charges will
be prosecuted by the county in superior court or if the case will
be remanded to municipal court.
Conservation Officer Massey received an indictment on an individual
that he charged for unlawfully possessing a handgun, resisting
arrest and numerous other charges. The subject has been held because
this was a violation of his parole and he is currently involved
in a case where he was charged with the distribution of narcotics.
Conservation Officer Ely was able to apprehend two trappers in
Dennis Township, Cape May County for trapping after the legal
season and failing to tend traps. The first subject admitted that
the traps belonged to him and stated that he must have forgotten
the location of the traps. Before the interview started CO Ely
was able to identify similar stakes located adjacent to the trapper’s
trailer that matched those located on the meadow. The second trapper
lived quite a distance away from the area where the traps were
located. The second trapper again admitted that the sets were
his and became irate when CO Ely informed him that he was going
to be charged. The appropriate summonses have been issued.
During a routine patrol in Downe Township, Conservation Officer
Honachefsky observed a juvenile carrying two turkeys in his driveway.
When he was approached, the juvenile stated that he shot one bird
and that another juvenile shot the second bird. When the licensed
adult on the hunt, the subject’s uncle, was interviewed
he stated that the juvenile had shot both birds by accident. Decisions
regarding prosecution are pending.
While on routine patrol at Shaws Mill Pond, Bevans Wildlife Management
Area, Lawrence Township, Cumberland County, Conservation Officer
Batten observed a vehicle being operated in a reckless manner.
After observing the vehicle skid and throw rocks on two pedestrians
CO Batten pulled the vehicle over. As CO Batten approached the
driver, he could smell alcohol and as the driver of the vehicle
exited the truck it was very apparent the driver was under the
influence. The driver was immediately taken into custody and the
New Jersey State Police responded. The State Police charged the
operator with the DWI and CO Batten charged him with motor vehicle
violations and WMA charges. The female passenger of the vehicle
was also intoxicated and was charged with WMA violations.
CO Risher responded to a call about an injured osprey in a backyard
in Elmer, Salem County. He captured the bird and transported it
to a rehabilitator. The bird didn’t have any broken bones
but was dehydrated and extremely thin.
One night after a long day of patrol CO Vazquez received a call
from Winslow Police Department, Camden County. The police had
a complaint of a party at Penbryn Lake WMA. CO Vazquez responded
and apprehended 30 young people who were having a party. They
had thrown the keg of beer in the lake when they saw him coming.
They also had a bonfire and were on the management area after
9:00 PM. CO Vazquez issued the appropriate summonses.
On routine patrol in the Winslow Wildlife Management Area CO Vazquez
discovered a man who had used his car to commit suicide by carbon
Lt. Leonard gave a talk to the Street Law Class at Schalick High
School in Salem County. The topic was on Conservation Officers
and Wildlife Laws in New Jersey.
Marine Enforcement Highlights
On the evening of March 25, 2007, 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.
On April 14, 2007, Conservation Officer Joseph Soell received
a phone call from a Bayville resident regarding crab pots set
illegally in a man-made lagoon. Upon investigation, CO Soell found
two crab pots which were indeed set in a man-made lagoon contrary
to law. Having retrieved his grappling hook from his patrol boat,
CO Soell was able to pull both crab pots to shore. Then returning
to patrol, he found another similar pot set in a nearby area.
While attempting to retrieve that crab pot, he observed an individual
in a boat approach the pot. The individual asked him (Soell) if
he was with the “Marine Police”. Upon finding out
that CO Soell was a State Conservation Officer, this individual
told him that he had just had two crab pots stolen in a nearby
lagoon. CO Soell asked the individual for his personal information
and then informed him that he had taken his crab pots because
they had been set illegally. Further investigation and interview
by CO Soell revealed that the individual was fishing these crab
pots with a 2006 recreational license and that besides being expired,
he would only be allowed to fish two crab pots, not three. Additionally,
the individual’s boat registration was expired. CO Soell
issued the individual one summons for setting crab pots in a man-made
lagoon and requested that the individual buy a 2007 recreational
crab pot license and fax a copy to the Marine Regional Office.
On Saturday, April 14, 2007 Officers Canale and James conducted
a boat patrol in Lakes Bay, Atlantic County. The officers noticed
several crab pots set by two different commercial crabbers that
had already tended their pots that day. The officers randomly
tagged four crab pots from each crabber to determine when the
crabbers next tend was. On Wednesday, April 18, 2007 Officer Canale
and Lt. Yunghans checked all eight pots and the tags were not
removed. Commercial crab pot regulations require that crab pots
be tended at least once every 72 hours. The investigation determined
that the crabbers returned on April 19th which meant the crab
pots were not checked at all in a 120 hour timeframe. Summonses
will be issued to each crabber for failure to tend crab pots in
a 72 hour period.
Lt. Brown and Captain Boyle assisted with a basic firearms course
at the division of Criminal Justice Academy at Sea Girt.
The Bureau hosted a two day seminar by Armor Holdings at the Colliers
Mills Training Center. Armor Holdings is the world's largest producers
of body armor, holsters, batons and chemical agents. The focus
of the seminar was the application of their products for the law