August 2007

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

Northern Region

Northern Region Conservation Officers conducted boat patrols of Spruce Run and Round Valley reservoirs and Lake Hopatcong during the report period.
CO’s Sutton and Toppin have entered the Morris and Gloucester County Police Academies, respectively and will be Police training Commission (PTC) certified by mid December.

CO Kuechler recovered a three-foot long alligator during the course of an investigation in North Bergen. The appropriate complaint was signed for possession of potentially dangerous wildlife. CO Paul assisted with the removal of the animal. Additionally, two other alligators were recovered from the wild, one in a pond at a country club in Sussex County.

COs Applegate, Nestel and Williamson, assisted by Deputies Mortensen and Schleifer apprehended twelve individuals riding ATVs at Pequest WMA. The apprehensions were made in response to a complaint that ATVs from a trailer parked at a local residence had entered the WMA. Complaints were signed for operating off road vehicles on a WMA. During the report period, the following additional ATV apprehensions were made: CO Panico - eight at Pequest, CO Applegate - two at Clinton, CO Kuechler - five at Wildcat Ridge.

CO Hutchinson negotiated a plea agreement in West Milford Court, Passaic County, for a violation of improper storage of trash, relating to a Black Bear feeding complaint. A penalty of $1,000.00 was paid by the business, a nationally known donut establishment.

CO Applegate coordinated a Black Bear Feeding Enforcement Sweep in Oxford Borough in Warren County. During the course of the sweep, 112 households were contacted and 4 verbal warnings were issued for minor problems. COs Kuechler and Williamson and Deputy Kahn and Captain Cussen assisted with the operation.

Two additional complaints of Black Bear Feeding were received and investigated during the report period. Verbal warnings were given in both instances.
Northern Region Conservation Officers conducted inspections of fifteen businesses during the report period regarding proper storage of trash to prevent Black Bear Feedings.

During the report period CO Kuechler made the following apprehensions for crabbing violations in the Newark Bay Complex: 10 written warnings for crabbing in condemned waters and 24 summonses for possession of undersized blue crabs.

CO Panico and Captain Cussen participated in the National Night-Out in Allamuchy Township in Warren County. The event focused on law enforcement outreach to local communities.

CO Paul assisted COs Martiak and O’Rourke on an investigation of illegal sales of large mouth bass at the Great Wall Supermarket in Franklin Township Somerset County. The business was also found to be selling turtles contrary to State and Federal regulation, in possession of improperly labeled shellfish and allowing deleterious substances to enter waters of this State from their dumpster. The appropriate complaints and NOV’s were issued.

CO Kuechler apprehended an individual for possession of a fawn removed from the wild in Denville in Morris County. The deer was turned over to a cooperator and the individual charged with unlawful possession of wildlife.

CO Panico, while on vacation, investigated a complaint in Mansfield Township Warren County of unlawful possession of regulated non-game and potentially dangerous wildlife. Recovered at the scene and removed was a 2-_ foot long cane break rattlesnake. A ball python was also found which was not lawfully possessed. Complaints were signed for possession of potentially dangerous wildlife and possession of regulated non-game species. The officer was assisted by Linda Buono of Non-Game Permits, officers from Mansfield PD and Captain Cussen. Drug paraphernalia was also recovered at the scene and is being investigated by Police.

COs Applegate and Paul, Lieutenant Brown and Captain Cussen assisted with security at the public hearing for the Comprehensive Black Bear Policy at the State Museum.

Central Region

CO McManus was conducting inspections of fishermen at Assunpink Lake when he came across an individual he had charged the month before for taking short largemouth bass. Upon inspection of the fisherman's creel, CO McManus found that he was again in possession of short bass. He was charged with a second violation of taking short bass.

CO O'Rourke was patrolling the Rancocas Creek in Delran when he came across two fishermen striper fishing. One of the fishermen was in possession of a short (10 1/2 inch) striped bass. The appropriate summons was issued.

CO's O'Rourke and Martiak conducted a night patrol at the Colliers Mills WMA recently. The focus of their patrol was the highly used "party spot" in the Pole Brook section of the WMA. When they arrived in the area, they noticed a large bonfire burning but there was nobody around. The officers waited and a short time later vehicles began pulling into the area. Twenty individuals were inspected at the scene, with 17 individuals being charged with various wildlife management area and motor vehicle violations including: after hours, possession of alcohol, failing to inspect, and failure to exhibit documents.

CO Martiak received a complaint regarding largemouth bass being sold at an Asian Food Market in Plainsboro. Upon inspection of the market, a total of 95 largemouth bass were seized after being offered for sale. The owner of the store indicated that the fish had come from a warehouse in New York City. CO Martiak contacted NYSDEC and arranged to meet with them in NYC to conduct several inspections of facilities there. The warehouse where the bass had come from was vacant, but several other locations were inspected. A tip from NYC led CO Martiak back to the market in Plainsboro, where a total of 68 undersized porgies were seized. On another tip from NYC, an inspection was made of another Asian Market in Franklin Twp., Somerset County. CO O'Rourke and CO Paul from the Northern Region assisted with the inspection that netted several undersize fluke, sale of ten bass, untagged shellfish, and failure to provide shellfish records. The market was also found to be selling bull frogs and soft shell turtles. CO Paul seized the frogs and turtles and initiated investigation into those animals as well as a pollution complaint regarding a leaking dumpster behind the market.

Officers McManus and Mutone posing as potential buyers of Eastern box turtles, responded to an ad placed in a local pet shop. When they arrived at the suspect’s home, they observed other non-game and exotic animals throughout the home. During their investigation officers noticed a homemade pen built in the suspects backyard that contained a number of Eastern box turtles. They were able to photograph some of the animals and record their conversation with the suspects. It was interesting to note that the subjects were fully aware of the laws relevant to the possession of the species. In fact, one of them had even applied to be a wildlife rehabilitator. The suspect told the officers that it was illegal to possess some of the animals without a permit, but permits weren’t necessary, just as long as you don’t tell anyone! Officers documented fifteen Eastern box turtles and three diamond back terrapin that were illegally collected from the wild. Officer Tonnesen followed up on the information gathered during the encounter and issued the appropriate summonses.

While patrolling a section of the Greenwood Forest Wildlife Management Area located in Lacey Twp, Officer Tonnesen came upon an unattended vehicle parked in a desolate section of the management area. When the officer approached the vehicle, he noticed a small bag of what appeared to be marijuana lying on the drivers side front seat. He later located the two occupants of the vehicle standing near a pond. When they saw the officer approach, one individual quickly placed something in his pants pocket. During the ensuing investigation, more marijuana was found in their possession and both were placed under arrest then transported to the Lacey Twp. Police Department. It was later determined that the duo had warrants for their arrest on other narcotic violations. The appropriate charges were filed.

Officer Mutone recently completed a thorough investigation of an illegal dumping case that occurred on the Greenwood Forest Wildlife Management Area located in Lacey Twp. The dump site contained a large quantity of household debris and furniture. After interviewing a number of township employee’s, realtors and the current homeowner from where the trash had originated, Officer Mutone was able to identify the responsible party. Charges were filed for violations of Title 23:7-9 and 13:1E-9.3.

Officer Tonnesen recently responded to a non-game complaint in Pt. Pleasant Beach. A homeowner called the police when he noticed a three foot alligator swimming in his swimming pool. The animal was captured by the township animal control officer and later turned over to Fish and Wildlife. Officer Tonnesen is investigating.

Lt. Sich investigated an incident in Long Branch where an individual was taken to the hospital after being bitten by a pet Lemur. After speaking with the mother of the teenage victim, it was determined that the family had just moved from Florida with the intention of relocating to New Jersey. They brought their pet Lemur with them. Apparently, while handling the animal, her son was bitten on the hand and needed immediate medical attention. Because they had no veterinary records showing the animal had been vaccinated, her son was required to undergo a series of rabies shots and their Lemur was quarantined for ten days. Charges are pending.

Officer Szulecki inspected a fisherman at Deal Lake in Monmouth County, who presented him with a 2007 fishing license. Unfortunately for the fisherman, it wasn’t his license. When Officer Szulecki question him about the conflicting identifiers on the license, the subject finally admitted that he found the license and was going to turn it in later. He was charged with fishing without a valid fishing license and the illegal transfer of a license.

Southern Region

Conservation Officer Scott Risher with the assistance of Park Ranger Drawdy apprehended two men taking clams clamming in freshwater in Parvin State Park Pittsgrove Township, Salem County. The men were from Philadelphia Pennsylvania and had over 1200 clams. Both men were charged with claming in prohibited waters and claming without a license.

Two brothers from Vineland were prosecuted for possession of 66 sets of deer antlers and two turkeys. Officer Risher investigated the case. During the course of his investigation he obtained a search warrant and with the help of officers from the southern region the warrant was served at the brothers home. The antlers and turkeys were suspected to be the product of years of poaching. Each brother was assessed $2,500 in fines and forfeited the illegally possessed wildlife.

Lt. Leonard and Conservation Officer Vazquez helped serve a search warrant in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania along with officers from Pennsylvania and New Jersey attorney generals office and New Jersey and Pennsylvania Environmental Protection Personnel. The warrant was part of a large-scale investigation concerning dumping of construction debris in Camden County, some of which was on Winslow Wildlife Management Area. Numerous pieces of evidence were taken along with written statements. The investigation is on going.

While on patrol in Winslow Wildlife Management Area, Camden County, Lt. Leonard and CO’s Risher and Vazquez encountered a group of 30 people having a birthday party. Some members of the group were swimming, barbecuing and riding all terrain vehicles. All of which are in violation of state regulations. On further investigation it was determined that the ATV’s were stolen. The riders were arrested for possession of stolen property. The ATV’s were confiscated and the appropriate fish & wildlife summonses were issued.

Officer Vazquez received a complaint of someone who had dumped some household trash in the White Oak Wildlife Management Area. CO Vazquez went to the site and collected some evidence from within the trash pile; he also took a picture. He continued his patrol and when he came back to where the trash was he noticed that it was all picked up. CO Vazquez then interviewed the owner of the trash who claimed to have hired someone else to dump the trash. The man was charged with dumping on a wildlife management area.

The State Police dive team recovered a vehicle from a pond in Winslow Wildlife Management Area. Officer Vazquez investigated and determined the owner of the vehicle. Summonses were issued for dumping the vehicle and polluting the water.

While on patrol in Cedar Lake Wildlife Management Area, Monroe Township Gloucester County CO Risher observed a man remove several empty beer cans from his vehicle and toss them in the bushes. When Officer Risher approached the man and spoke to him the suspect said that he and his friend had camped on the management area over night. When officer Risher got in his patrol vehicle to write the man a summons the suspect fled on foot leaving behind his friend and his vehicle. After further investigation it was determined the suspect had an outstanding warrant for drug possession. He still has that warrant along with one for fleeing from a police officer along with the wildlife offenses. His vehicle was impounded.

Conservation Officer Kille apprehended a man on a warrant that was convicted of stealing a young boys deer last fall. The man was found guilty and fined $5,000 for his various offenses. He never paid his fine and a warrant was issued. After CO Kille apprehended him the fine was paid in full.

Conservation Officer Kille completed prosecution of a man in Deptford Township for possession of 34 exotic turtles. The man paid $2,000 in fines.

Conservation Ely responded to alligator complaint in North Wildwood, Cape May County. When CO Ely initially responded the subjects mother invited him into the house and showed him an alligator that her son had as a pet. Conservation Officer Ely later met with the subject and told him that he was not allowed to possess the alligator because it’s considered a potentially dangerous species. The subject advised CO Ely that it wasn’t potentially dangerous and said that it was absolutely dangerous while showing CO Ely lacerations on his had from the bite he sustained from the three foot long alligator. During an interview the subject, like many others, told CO Ely that the alligator was from Seaport Aquarium in Wildwood. The appropriate summonses are pending as are the charges for the former proprietor of the Seaport Aquarium. Conservation Officer Ely is scheduled to start a separate trial with Seaport Aquarium in October.

While on a routine evening patrol Conservation Officers Batten and Honachefsky encountered a large party on the Peaslee Wildlife Management Area in Maurice River Township, Cumberland County. Fish and Wildlife violations for maintaining an open fire, possessing alcohol, littering, and entering after legal hours were observed. Criminal violations for the possession of CDS were also observed. The appropriate summonses have been issued.

Conservation Officer Batten provided information to the New Jersey State Police about an individual who was manufacturing fully automatic weapons. The information resulted in the execution of a search warrant and a criminal arrest.

Marine Region

During the first week in July a commercial crabber who was not actively fishing noticed that 43 crab pots that were never used were stolen from his back yard in Galloway Township, Atlantic County. The crabber notified local police and Conservation Officers of the stolen property and gave a description of the crab pots that were missing. The crab pots were never rigged with any irons, floats, line or biodegradable panels and were made out of uncoated hex wire.

During the second week in July Conservation Officers received an anonymous tip that the crab pots stolen were being fished in the Patcong Creek and Great Egg harbor Bay area. Conservation Officers conducted a boat patrol and found 18 crab pots in Patcong Creek that matched the description of the stolen pots. One crab pot was taken and shown to the commercial crabber who positively identified the crab pot as his. The crab pot was rigged with irons, line and floats with a valid commercial crab pots number, but no biodegradable panels were installed. On July 14th Conservation Officers recovered the other 17 crab pots in Patcong Creek but could not locate the other 27 crab pots. On July 15th Conservation Officers conducted another boat patrol and found an additional 18 crab pots in the Great Egg Harbor Bay. A total of 35 crab pots of the 43 that were stolen were recovered and stored as evidence. Galloway Township Police Department and CO Canale interviewed the commercial crabber who was actively fishing the stolen pots and both criminal and Fish and Wildlife summonses were issued.

On Sunday 7/22/07 Officer Petruccelli received a complaint through Trenton Dispatch of 4 fishermen illegally taking tautog on the Cold Spring Inlet jetty. When Officer Petruccelli arrived there were several fishermen on the jetty. After several minutes of observation Officer Petruccelli determined who the fishermen were and waited for them to finish fishing and come off the jetty. When Officer Petruccelli approached the fishermen they showed Officer Petruccelli 4 legal size tautog and some trigger fish. A further inspection led to Officer Petruccelli finding an additional 28 tautog, all of which were undersized. All four fishermen received summonses for over the limit and undersized tautog.

On Tuesday July 31, 2007 Lt. Yunghans and CO Canale were conducting a nighttime condemned water patrol in Atlantic County. In the Beach Thorofare area off Wellington Avenue in Margate the officers observed one clammer treading clams using an innertube and basket. After about 20 minutes the clammer made his way back to the dock to dump his clams into mesh bags. At this time the officers apprehended the clammer with approximately 300 clams. The clammer possessed no identification and was dropped off by his girlfriend. Using his cell phone the clammer called his girlfriend who returned with his identification. The clammer was issued summonses for clamming at night and condemned waters.


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Last Update January 23, 2008