October 2007

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

Northern Region

On Columbus Day, CO Panico apprehended an individual over the daily limit of trout in the Pequest Trout Conservation Area. In addition to the over the limit charge, the fishing privilege of the individual was also revoked. The fisherman had been previously apprehended fishing revoked by CO Panico and COs Nestel, Williamson, O’Rourke, Hawkswell and Cussen.

CO Nestel and Szulecki and Deputies Kahn and Mortensen participated in the Wildlife Heritage Festival at the Pequest Hatchery.

CO Paul apprehended an individual with five undersized small-mouth bass in the Raritan River in Somerset County. The appropriate complaint was signed.

CO Williamson, following up on information he had worked during the 2006 Fall Bow Season, apprehended three individuals hunting in a zone closed to hunting during the early season. The appropriate complaints were signed.

COs Applegate and Panico conducted boat patrols on Round Valley, Spruce Run and Merril Creek Reservoirs.

CO Panico apprehended three individuals at Pequest WMA in possession of a white powdery substance believed to be cocaine, and a green vegetative substance believed to be marijuana. Officer Panico charged each individual with use of State WMA contrary to regulation and turned them over to Mansfield Police for criminal charges. CO Applegate assisted with the apprehension.

CO Hutchinson gave a presentation on Wildlife Regulations to the North Jersey Animal Control Officers Association.

CO Panico apprehended an individual in the Pohatcong Creek in Warren County who had taken a small-mouth bass via the use of a spear gun.

CO Williamson apprehended an individual in a Sandyston Township, Sussex County junkyard, hunting deer with a .22 hornet rifle. The subject was found sitting on a lawn chair in the back of a box truck overlooking a bait-pile. Lieutenant Fletcher and Deputy Schaublin assisted in the apprehension.

CO Panico apprehended four individuals hunting together in Harmony Township in Warren County. Not one of the four possessed an archery license and one of the four was in possession of an untagged deer.

Lieutenant Fletcher attended the Sussex County Federation Meeting.

Captain Cussen and Lieutenant Cianciulli attended a meeting sponsored by the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission focused on starting a Northeast Natural Resource Investigator’s Association. The purpose of the organization is to promote training and cooperation among investigators in the region.

Central Region

CO Martiak received information from a local farmer who caught two men deer hunting with .22 rifles on one of his farms. The men had shot two deer by the time the farmer stopped them. The farmer was able to get identification off both men and determined that one did not possess a hunting license. The appropriate summonses were issued.

Officer Tonnesen was contacted by Little Egg Harbor Twp. Police to assist in locating a stolen 18 ft. aluminum Carolina Skiff stolen out of Barnegat Twp. Based on information received, Officer Tonnesen conducted a search of the lower Barnegat Bay and was able to locate the boat hidden behind Marshelder Island. Because of Officer Tonnesen's assistance the boat was returned to its rightful owner. The incident is currently under investigation and a possible suspect was questioned.

Officers Tonnesen and Mutone recently convicted two individuals in Little Egg Harbor Twp. Court that were illegally collecting indigenous non-game species from the wild. The two subjects were fined a combined total of $1900.

Officers Szulecki and Martiak recently responded to a complaint in Middletown Twp. and apprehended two individuals who were hunting illegally on private property. The two subjects (one a non-resident from Pennsylvania with no hunting license) hid their hunting equipment when they saw the officer approaching and then claimed that they were not hunting. During the following interview, the subjects became belligerent and refused to cooperate. The Officers later searched the surrounding area and finally located the hidden hunting equipment. The subjects were charged with the following violations: hunt no license and interference with the duties of a Conservation Officer.

In a continuing effort to control the damaging effects to the environment by the illegal use of ATV’s. Officers Tonnesen, Mutone and Szalaj conducted a recent enforcement action on the Greenwood Forest and Stafford Forge Wildlife Management Areas. Their efforts led to the apprehension of thirty-nine individuals for ATV and assorted wildlife management area infractions. One stolen ATV was recovered and six other ATV’s were impounded.

On the opening day of North Zone duck season, Officer Szulecki apprehended an individual who had paddled his small boat through a narrow stream to gain hunting access in a marshy area located within a large industrial park in East Brunswick. The officer became concerned when he realized that the hunter was hunting well within 450 ft of the commercial buildings. Even after the encounter, the subject still couldn’t believe that he was found by the officer. The appropriate summons was issued.

Southern Region

Conservation Officers Batten and Honachefsky responded to a complaint of illegal hunting from the New Jersey State Police in Commercial Township, Cumberland County. The incident involved a hunter who had unlawfully shot a fallow deer that had escaped from a pen. During the course of the investigation the archery hunter told the CO’s that he had been hunting in a tree stand when he attempted to shoot the deer, however, evidence gathered at the scene proved otherwise. The deer, which was shot in the leg, had to be euthanized. During the interview the hunter was confronted with evidence gathered at the scene and eventually confessed. The hunter was charged with shooting within 450 feet of a home, hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle, careless discharge of a weapon, damage to property and shooting a nongame/exotic species. The subject is facing $10,000 in fines and restitution.

Conservation Officers Ely and Honachefsky investigated a dumping complaint on the Peaslee Wildlife Management Area in Maurice River Township, Cumberland County. During the course of the investigation the subject confessed to the dumping violation and agreed to meet the CO’s at the scene and remove the trash that had been dumped. A records search indicated that the individual had several outstanding warrants and he was taken into custody after the scene was cleaned.

Conservation Officer Batten was conducting a routine patrol in Fairfield Township, Cumberland County when he located what appeared to be a stolen ATV in the woods. CO Batten contacted the New Jersey State Police and continued surveillance of the ATV. During CO Batten’s surveillance he observed two individuals enter the area and attempt to start the ATV. The two individuals were taken into custody and additional stolen vehicles were located. More information was gathered during interviews and the two subjects were charged criminally.

Conservation Officer Massey recently finished a case in Atlantic County Superior court involving an individual he found in possession of an illegal handgun. The subject also resisted arrest when CO Massey attempted to take him into custody. The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office merged outstanding narcotics charges on the subject with CO Massey’s charges. The individual entered into a plea agreement with CO Massey’s charges as the primary counts with the recommendation that he be sentenced to eight years in prison with a minimum of five years served. The judge agreed to the recommendation and sentencing will take place next month.

District Six Conservation Officers assisted the New Jersey State Police in a case involving drag racing on the Bevans Wildlife Management Area in Cumberland County. The case revolved around three weeks of surveillance by NJSP at the location. Over 120 summonses were written before the operation was over. During the operation five CO’s and a deputy from District Six assisted over 25 troopers in containing the scene and physically arresting subjects. Approximately 30 vehicles and 60 individuals were apprehended during the evening of the operation. Everyone at the scene was charged with partaking in drag racing and those observed racing were charged accordingly. Eight vehicles were confiscated and impounded the evening of the operation. The State Police used a helicopter to apprehend vehicles that fled the scene and deployed a mobile command center to assist in the investigation. The State Police issued all of the appropriate motor vehicle and criminal complaints.

Conservation Officer Ely worked with Conservation Officer Nestel in Sussex County to observe a day in the life of a CO in the Northern Region.

Marine Region

Around mid-September, Conservation Officer Dravis developed information regarding a sport fisherman who moored his vessel in the Glimmer Glass section of the Manasquan River. Allegedly, this fisherman would land large quantities of striped bass in excess of the daily bag limit. During the early morning hours of Wednesday, September 26, 2007, Conservation Officer Dravis and Lt. Chicketano waited for this fisherman to enter port. At 0330 hrs., as the fisherman docked his vessel, the officers commenced the inspection. There were three fishermen aboard the vessel together with 10 striped bass, each fish weighing a minimum of 25 pounds. The captain of the vessel was issued summonses for possessing 4 striped bass in excess of the daily bag limit together with a summons for littering by discarding beer cans over the side of the vessel.

On September 16th, 2007, CO Petruccelli and CO James boarded the F/V Family Pride at Cold Spring Fish Company in Cape May, NJ. The F/V Family Pride is a general category sea scallop permit holder which allows a 400 lb. trip limit per day. Onboard the vessel were eight 50 lb. bags of sea scallops and the fishing vessel trip (FVTR) accurately reflected 400 lbs. of sea scallops. Upon further canvassing the vessel CO Petruccelli found an additional 190 pounds (4 bags) hidden underneath a bed in the bunkroom. All 590 lbs. of sea scallops were seized and sold at fair market value. Federal Enforcement Action Report (EAR) was issued to the F/V Family Pride for landing in excess of 400 pounds of shucked sea scallops and also failing to accurately fill out the FVTR.

On September 17th, 2007 CO Petruccelli and CO Snellbaker made a regulatory inspection of Little Italy Restaurant in Wildwood, NJ. The officers explained to the owner the regulations concerning purchasing marine fishery products from properly permitted dealers and harvesters and how accurate records should be kept for these purchases. The owner allowed entrance into the walk-in freezer located at the rear of the restaurant. Inside the walk-in freezer the officers found several frozen sea scallops packaged in 5, 10 and 20 pound plastic bags. The officers weighed all the scallops and there was a total of 750 pounds of sea scallops. The owner advised the officers that he had to obtain records from his accountant and that they would be made available the following day. On September 18th CO Petrucelli met with the owner and the owner provided accurate records for 600 pounds of sea scallops. Further interviewing the owner, the owner admitted to purchasing a few bags directly from fishermen that showed up at his restaurant. Summonses were issued for inaccurate record keeping.

On Monday October 3, 2007 Officer James was checking fishermen on the Anglesea Jetty in North Wildwood. One fisherman was acting suspicious and Officer James instructed him to move up to the top of the jetty while he inspected his catch. Officer James found a bag with 15 undersize live tautog. When Officer James turned around the fisherman had disappeared. Officer James saw the fisherman running through the bush on the dunes and pursued by foot. Officer James called North Wildwood Police for back up and help from local citizens located the fisherman a few blocks away. The fisherman was apprehended after a several minute chase and both fish and wildlife and criminal charges were filed.

On Monday, October 8, 2007, Lieutenant Chicketano received a phone call from an individual complaining about a small tin boat fishing off of Lake Takannassee in the Atlantic Ocean in the borough of Long Branch. Allegedly, this vessel had three scuba divers aboard and had taken over the limit on tog. CO Soell was dispatched to investigate. CO Soell set up surveillance at the Shark River inlet and waited for the vessel to come in. After entering the inlet, the vessel stopped at several bridges where the men again began scuba diving. CO Soell continued his surveillance as the vessel finally began heading into the main part of Shark River. Upon passing the last inbound bridge, the vessel veered toward shore at which time CO Soell observed the men unload a cooler from the vessel prior to heading toward the Belmar Municipal Ramp. At this time, CO Soell retrieved the secreted cooler, finding it filled with 9 tog, 2 of which were less than 14" in length along with 1 striped bass less than 28" in length. CO Soell now went to the Belmar Municipal Ramp to "inspect" the vessel. The captain and owner of the vessel stated that they had been unable to spear any fish due to the poor clarity of the water. This story of course changed when CO Soell showed the captain his very own cooler in the back of CO Soell's vehicle.
A total of 6 summonses were issued by CO Soell for the violations, specifically, a summons for Interference to the captain of the vessel, 2 summonses to another scuba diver for sublegal tog and over the limit tog, and 3 summonses issued to the last scuba diver for sublegal striped bass, sublegal tog, and 5 tog over the possession limit.

An interesting postscript is that the owner of the vessel was apprehended by CO Dravis 2 weeks prior with possessing sublegal fluke.

On the morning of Tuesday, October 9, 2007, CO Soell received a complaint relayed through Trenton Dispatch regarding an individual fishing along the Point Pleasant Canal who was retaining sublegal tog and over the limit tog. CO Soell responded and apprehended an individual as he was leaving with 5 sublegal tog and 4 over the limit tog. A summons for each violation was issued.


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Last Update January 24, 2008