September 2007

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

Northern Region

CO’s Kuechler and Paul responded to a call from the Westfield Police Department in Union County, concerning an alligator in Gregory’s Pond. CO Kuechler, wading into the pond with a surf fishing rod and treble hook, was able to capture the alligator. The 3-foot alligator was observed for several weeks by local residents and will be placed with an out-of-state cooperator.

CO Williamson and Nestel investigated a complaint of a fawn being held in captivity at a horse farm in Stillwater Township in Sussex County. The farmer claimed to have found the fawn after its mother had been killed by a car. The fawn was removed and placed with a wildlife rehabilitator.

In Franklin Township Court, COs Paul and Martiak settled their case involving a Somerset County Seafood Market. A total of $ 1,750 in penalties was collected for sale of largemouth bass, sale of sub-legal marine fish, possession and sale of turtles and discharging a pollutant into a waterway.

Investigating an on-going OGT complaint from 2005, CO’s Panico and Applegate apprehended an individual in Allamuchy Township in Warren County, who was shooting deer from his vehicle. CO Panico, while on foot, stopped the individual after he shot at and missed a deer with a .17 caliber rifle. The individual was charged with an uncased firearm in a vehicle, a loaded firearm in a vehicle, hunting deer with a rifle, hunting deer with a firearm closed season, firearm capable of holding more than 3 rounds and hunting by use of a motor vehicle.

COs Kuechler and Hutchinson patrolled the Hudson and Hackensack River areas and issued summonses for sub-legal sized crabs, and crabbing in prohibited waters. A total of 10 complaints and 11 written warnings were issued.

CO Hutchinson responded to a call from the Nortvale Police Department concerning the possession of deer antlers. The Officer, responding to a complaint of a foul odor coming from a residential garage, found hundreds of fresh antlers upon entering. CO Hutchinson arrived and was able to identify the antlers as elk. The homeowner was contacted and explained the elk antlers were used in herbal medicines. CO Hutchinson was able to determine the antlers were purchased from an out-of state source and possessed legally.

Northern Region Conservation Officers conducted boat patrols on Round Valley, Spruce Run and Monksville Reservoirs, Greenwood Lake and Lake Hopatcong during the report period.

Northern Region Conservation Officers conducted ATV patrols at Wildcat Ridge and Pequest River WMAs during the report period.

Captain Cussen and COs Williamson, Hutchinson and Nestel attended the Morris, Passaic, Sussex and Hunterton County Federation Meetings respectively.

Captain Cussen assisted the Hunter Education staff with remedial Sportsman Training.

Northern Region Conservation Officers conducted Black Bear Feeding Enforcement Sweeps in the White Meadow Lake area of Morris County and Oxford Boro in Warren County during the report period. A total of 116 households were contacted and 4 verbal warnings were issued.

Captain Cussen and CO Panico attended a meeting with the NJ State Park Police. The main topic of discussion was on how to further mutual assistance between the two agencies.

Central Region

On two separate occasions, while attempting to curtail the illegal operation of ATV’s on the Greenwood Forest Wildlife Management Area, Officer Tonnesen recovered two stolen motorcycles. On the first occasion, Officer Tonnesen stopped several individuals and issued five summonses for the illegal operation of ATV’s on wildlife management property. While recording serial numbers, he noticed that the vehicle identification number on one of the motorcycles was defaced. The vehicle was subsequently impounded and the subject appropriately charged. A few days later, the motorcycle in question was stolen from the impound yard late in the evening. Lacey Twp. Police tried to apprehend the suspect as he fled from the scene on the stolen motorcycle, but unfortunately, the operator was able to elude police because he was traveling at a high rate of speed and operating the motorcycle without lights. On the second occasion, Officer Tonnesen stopped to inspect an unregistered truck that had transported a quad and motorcycle into the Greenwood Forest Wildlife Management Area. During questioning, the officer recorded the vehicle identification numbers on all three vehicles and ran them through Trenton Dispatch. He was subsequently notified that the 2005 motorcycle was recently reported stolen from Toms River. The appropriate action was taken.

On the Sunday prior to Labor Day, Officer Mutone working alone, encountered a large group of individuals illegally operating ATV’s on the Greenwood Forest Wildlife Management Area. When the officer attempted to stop them, they drove their vehicles recklessly around her patrol vehicle and fled the scene. Being familiar with the area, Officer Mutone was able locate a number of riders back at their transport vehicles. In all, a total of nineteen individuals were apprehended for wildlife management infractions.

Lt. Sich apprehended an individual fishing at Osborn Lake in Wall Township, who was in possession of six short and four striped bass over the legal limit. The officer found the fish hidden beneath a mesh bag inside the subjects’ creel. When first inspected, the fisherman was very cooperative and removed a mesh bag containing blue gills and crappie from a five-gallon bucket for inspection. When the officer requested to see what else was in the bucket, the suspect blocked the officers’ view, proceeded to close the lid and said there were only sunfish inside. The illegal striped bass were located hidden in the bottom of the bucket. When questioned, the subject admitted that he caught the fish earlier in the day while fishing on the Navasink River.

CO O'Rourke located a large pile of debris consisting of tree cuttings and other landscaping debris in the parking lot of Stone Tavern Lake at the Assunpink WMA. While patrolling the area, he noticed a homeowner in the vicinity in the process of cutting some trees. The homeowner denied dumping on the WMA, but stated they had seen vehicles going into the property loaded with branches. Two days later, the homeowner contacted the Central Region Office to let the officer know that a pickup truck loaded with tree branches had just entered onto the management area. CO O'Rourke responded to the scene and apprehended two individuals after they had just emptied their truck. The two men admitted that they had been dumping their yard debris at the location. They were issued summonses for dumping on a wildlife management area and Title 13 violations.

CO O'Rourke was on patrol at the Assunpink WMA during a heavy rainstorm when he found two men swimming at Stone Tavern Lake. When he approached the swimmers, he observed two men with fishing poles hiding in the bushes nearby. The men claimed they didn't speak English and produced no identification. After some prompting from the officer, the men began speaking fluent English and admitted that they did not have fishing licenses. Several beer cans as well as a bottle of Cuervo were found lying in the bushes nearby and two largemouth bass, one of which was of sub-legal size were also found hidden nearby. The appropriate summonses were issued.

CO Martiak and DCO Wren were patrolling the Greenwood Forest WMA along with CO Szalaj and DCO Simons when they stopped a vehicle for an after hours violation. DCO Wren ordered the four occupants of the vehicle to put their hands up in view and CO Martiak observed the front seat passenger holding an open beer can. CO Martiak asked him to exit the vehicle and asked him if he had any weapons on him before beginning to pat him down. The passenger stated that he had a marijuana joint in his pocket, which the officer then located and secured. The passenger stated that there was another joint in the ashtray, which could not be found on subsequent search. The passenger finally admitted that he had eaten the joint as they were being pulled over. A search of the vehicle also produced more open containers of alcohol under the back seat. The appropriate summons were issued to the four individuals. The individual with the drugs was arrested and transported to Lacey P.D. for processing.

Southern Region

Conservation Officer Risher conducted a foot patrol along Muddy Run located in Parvin State Park, Pittsgrove Township, Salem County. He encountered a group of clammers from two different families that reside in the same area of Philadelphia as past violators. Conservation Officer Risher with the assistance of Park Police Officer’s Drawdy and Graham seized 3,600 clams and equipment as evidence. They were charged with clamming in prohibited waters and clamming without commercial clam licenses. A September court date has been scheduled.

Conservation Officer Ely prosecuted a case in Wildwood, Cape May County involving an individual who had been selling regulated wildlife without a permit from his storefront at the Seaport Aquarium on the boardwalk. Some of the regulated species included alligators, turtles and snakes which were purchased by undercover personnel. The undercover purchases culminated with the execution of a search warrant and information gathered from the search warrant was used to present the case. Additional information was obtained from an individual who had been attacked by his pet alligator purchased at the Seaport Aquarium. The defendant pled guilty and settled the case with CO Ely prior to a trial and agreed to pay $12,000 in fines.

District Six Conservation Officers have performed concentrated patrols in the Menatico Ponds Wildlife Management Area and the surrounding Nature Conservancy and Atlantic Electric Property adjacent to the WMA. During the report period CO’s have performed over 85 hours of patrol and issued over 40 fish and wildlife and criminal complaints in the area of the WMA.

Southern Region Conservation Officers have completed the last of their scheduled patrols of Champagne Island which is located in Cape May County and includes property in Stone Harbor, North Wildwood and Middle Township’s. The island is home to numerous nesting birds and the surrounding habitat is considered vital to their nesting success. Conservation Officers enforced a total moratorium on dogs on the island and ensured that people didn’t enter an area excluding the most critical habitat. Most individuals were receptive to the CO’s, however some individuals were upset that they had to remove their dogs from the island.

On August 18th Conservation Officer Risher assisted the Salem County Sportsman federation in making the 8th annual Youth Outdoor day a success. Over 142 children were given the opportunity to try canoeing, kayaking, fishing, fly tying and shooting various firearms.

Officer Risher attended Franklin Township, Gloucester County National Night Out Festivities. He set up a display and answered questions in regard to the law enforcement that the Division of Fish and Wildlife does.

Officer Vazquez is investigating a 17 foot fiberglass boat that was dumped on White Oak WMA in Monroe Township, Gloucester County. Also at White Oak WMA Officer Risher apprehended a man who was driving through the lake in his sports utility vehicle. The man had modified his vehicle with a snorkel so that the engine could operate when submerged under water. What he hadn’t taken into account was that the lake was formed in an old sand pit and he got stuck in a clay hole. While he awaited the tow truck CO Risher gave him the appropriate summonses.

At Pembryn Lake WMA in Winslow Township, Camden County Officers Kille, Massey and Vazquez arrested two men for drugs and motor vehicle charges. Both men were sitting in an unregistered and uninsured vehicle smoking marijuana and using prescription pain medication. One of the men also had a warrant out for his arrest.

Marine Region

On 8/22/07, Conservation Officers Jones and Soell were patrolling Shark River at approximately 2200 hrs. when they inspected a bait seiner returning to the dock. When the fisherman’s truck was inspected, 7 sublegal striped bass were discovered having been caught by the netter earlier in the day. The individual received a summons for 7 sublegal striped bass. Also, at this time, the individual was advised to have running lights installed on his boat. The next evening, this individual was inspected again and unfortunately did not heed CO Jones’ warning from the previous night. Therefore, the individual received a summons at this time for operating a power vessel during the hours of darkness without navigational lights.

On 8/25/07, Conservation Officer Shannon Martiak assisted the Marine Region by working in plain clothes at various select violation hotspots along the Arthur Kill and Raritan bayshore. Fishing at the Carteret Public Dock, Morgan Creek and then Pews Creek, CO Martiak made five apprehensions for persons harvesting in excess of 15 bluefish. These apprehensions, and the persons apprehended, could not have been caught through traditional observance methods due to their savvy and the locations where they were fishing. After documenting the violations, CO Martiak contacted Lt. Chicketano and Conservation Officer Szulecki to issue the appropriate summonses. In total, 5 persons received summonses for exceeding the limit on bluefish. One of these 5 persons also received a summons for Interference for hiding the bluefish as they were caught in nearby weeds.

On 8/26/07, Conservation Officer Dravis and Lt. Chicketano were on boat patrol in the Atlantic Ocean 2 miles off of Deal when they stopped to inspect 3 individuals who were fishing for black sea bass. As the officers approached, the owner of the vessel could be seen shuffling something around with his feet along the starboard side of the boat. Upon boarding, CO Dravis discovered 14 sublegal black sea bass which had been kicked to the side of the boat contained in a plastic bag. Additionally, 3 shredded fluke were discovered in the vessel’s cooler. The owner was issued a summons for 14 sublegal black sea bass, 3 “parts” of fluke, and for interference.

On 8/29/07 Conservation Officers Petruccelli and Trembly responded to a complaint concerning Schellenger’s Restaurant in Wildwood illegally purchasing sea scallops. When the officers arrived at the restaurant they met with the owner who provided them access to the walk in freezers. In the freezer were several packages of sea scallops as well as filleted summer flounder. The owner provided accurate records for the summer flounder but could not produce records for the sea scallops. The scallops were weighed and there was a total of 370 pounds of sea scallops in the freezer. Further interviewing the owner it was revealed that the scallops were purchased directly from fishermen for $5.00 per pound. Summons will be issued to the owner and restaurant for inaccurate record keeping which carries a maximum penalty of $3,000.

On 8/29/07, CO Jones and Soell were patrolling at night in the Point Pleasant Area. At approximately 2000 hrs., they apprehended the commercial trawler Lydia J as it docked at the Point Pleasant Co-Op. The vessel was in possession of 118 pounds of monkfish over their landing limit. This case will be prosecuted under National Marine Fisheries Service guidelines. Later in the evening, both officers also apprehended an individual fishing beneath the Route 35 Bridge in Point Pleasant Beach with a 16” Striped Bass.

On Thursday 8/30/07 Lt. Yunghans, CO Canle and DCO Gabries inspected the F/V Knot Easy in Atlantic City. The F/V Knot Easy is a general category scallop permit holder which is allowed a daily harvest of 400 pounds of shucked sea scallops. On board the F/V Knot Easy was 8 bags of shucked sea scallops. Lt. Yunghans located another 38 pounds hidden under ice and groceries. Officer Canale then weighed the 8 bags which had a total weight of 434 pounds. The combined weight was 472 pounds which resulted in a federal violation and full seizure of all 472 pounds. The 472 pounds of sea scallops was sold to the highest bidder. The F/V Knot Easy logbook was also inaccurate which was resulted additional federal changes.

During the weekend before and of Labor Day, District 7 personnel together with Conservation Officer Martiak, have apprehended 15 persons illegally harvesting shellfish from the Special Restricted waters of Sandy Hook Bay. All of these individuals were issued summonses for harvesting shellfish from restricted waters and clamming without licenses.

On 9/2/07, Conservation Officers Jones and Martiak received a tip concerning Shop-Rite in Aberdeen Township selling sublegal lobsters. Upon inspection, 19 American lobsters were found to be in violation of New Jersey’s size possession law, having originated from the State of Maine which has a smaller possession size limit. The officers issued a summons to the corporation for a reduced quantity of lobsters and educated the store’s seafood management concerning New Jersey’s larger size limit.


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Last Update January 23, 2008