NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife
Bureau of Law Enforcement
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.