December 2007

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

Northern Region

During an inspection at a taxidermy shop, CO Hutchinson and DCO Hutchinson discovered that an individual had brought in four large deer heads to be mounted. All four heads had tags and possession seals from other hunters as well as other states including Wyoming. After an extensive investigation, which involved officers from New York, Pennsylvania, Kansas and Wyoming, CO Hutchinson determined the individual shot the deer locally and used his friend’s tags and seals to cover him for possession at the taxidermist. CO’s Hutchinson, Kuechler and DCO Struble apprehended the individual at the taxidermy shop when he came to pick up the mounts. The individual, a person unauthorized to possess a weapon, admitted to shooting the deer and using tags and seals he borrowed from two friends. The individual, who has numerous arrests, including robbery, burglary and eluding arrest has served six years in state prison. The individual admitted to having a firearm, a .22 Black Hawk Rifle with a crossbow bolt-barrel attachment in his vehicle. A spent .22 cartridge was also recovered from the floor of the vehicle. The individual was charged at the scene with numerous Title 23 violations and released. An arrest for possessing the firearm is pending upon a review of the case by the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office. CO Hutchinson charged the two other hunters with loaning a tag and one will be charged with similar offenses by the states of NY and Wyoming.

CO’s Kuehler and Williamson, continuing an investigation that began 2 years ago, apprehended two individuals for numerous deer violations during the six-day firearm season. The individuals, hunting from a boat on the Passaic River, would shoot deer they observed on the small islands in the river and along the riverbanks. CO Williamson observed the individuals, who were not wearing hunters orange; hide three untagged bucks upstream from the boat launch in the afternoon and continue to hunt. After dark, CO Kuechler observed the individuals spotlighting the riverbanks as they approached the boat launch. CO Kuechler apprehended the individuals at the launch and found them to be in possession of another untagged deer and a loaded firearm. The appropriate summonses were issued.

CO Panico responded to a call for assistance from the Blairstown Police Department involving an individual shooting a buck in the roadway during the six-day firearm season. Six witnesses watched the individual block the roadway with his vehicle, take out a shotgun, use the hood of the vehicle as a rest and shot the buck across Rt. 94. CO Panico interviewed the individual at his residence who claimed he killed the deer because it was already injured. The appropriate summonses were issued.

CO Applegate investigated a complaint of an eight- point buck being shot from the road with a muzzleloader before legal hunting hours in Delaware Township. CO Applegate interviewed the witness who claimed he was sitting in his tree stand as he watched a van drive up the road, shine a light into the woods and shot out of the window before driving away. The witness said the van returned an hour later and he watched two men recover the deer. The witness was able to give the officer the license plate number of the van that was registered to a Pennsylvania resident. CO Applegate, who was accompanied by two PA Game Commission Deputies, interviewed the owner of the van who admitted to shooting the deer as the witness described. All the appropriate summonses were issued.

On December 6th, CO Steven Sutton successfully completed the 20-week Police Class and graduated from the Morris County Police Academy. Upon completion of the Field Training Program, CO Sutton will be assigned to the Northern Warren County area.

During the archery season, CO Hutchinson received a call from a hunter who said he witnessed two individuals on an ATV shoot at two bears with a firearm. The hunter said that neither individual was wearing hunter orange as they rode passed his tree stand. CO’s Hutchinson and Williamson responded to the scene the following morning and located a dead bear cub. The officers also tracked and observed a second, larger, injured bear. The bear cub was recovered and examined by Dr. Roscoe who determined the cub had been shot and killed by a small caliber projectile. On the last day of the six-day firearm season, CO Hutchinson received a call from the same hunter who said the individuals on the ATV were back in the area and just shot at a deer. Capt. Fletcher and DCO Struble also responded to the area and the two individuals were apprehended after they fled the area on the ATV. One individual admitted to shooting an antlerless deer during the closed season, not wearing hunter orange and having a loaded, uncased firearm on the ATV. The second individual was apprehended with an uncased, loaded firearm on the ATV. Both individuals had blood stained knives in their possession and both claimed it was blood from deer they shot during the 2006 muzzleloader season. CO Hutchinson read both individuals their Miranda Rights and interviewed them concerning the dead and injured bears. Both denied any involvement although they said they had heard about the incident. The antlerless deer was recovered from the scene. A records check the following week determined that neither individual registered any deer during the 2006 season or had a valid 2006 muzzleloader permit. CO Hutchinson requested to meet the individuals at their residences to serve them with their summonses. Upon arriving at the one residence, CO Hutchinson advised the individual that he was still under Miranda and asked why there was no record of him registering any deer the previous year. The individual admitted to killing and not registering two deer the previous year. Upon arriving at the second residence, CO Hutchinson advised the second individual that he was also still under Miranda and that a records check showed he didn’t register any deer the previous year. CO Hutchinson then noticed a six-point buck head, a spike buck head, fresh blood and parts from three other deer in plain view in the garage. The individual and his brother, who was also present, admitted to killing and not registering the deer. CO Hutchinson continued to interview the brothers who admitted to shooting the bears. The one brother said he was overwhelmed with guilt and needed to clear his conscience. He told the officer they shot the bears with a .22 Magnum Winchester rifle. They said the rifle was hidden at the auto repair shop they owned but they would surrender it for testing. At the conclusion of the investigation, the additional charges will be issued.

On the first day of the six-day firearm season, CO Kuechler apprehended two individuals who made and used farmer tags on two bucks they attempted to register. Both tags were made out to female members of the farmer’s family who weren’t present at the check station. Both women were contacted and offered little information concerning the deer they allegedly killed. One of the women, who is 70 years old, said she was home cooking all day. Both hunters admitted to killing the deer and making the tags so they didn’t have to use their buck stubs on the first day. The appropriate summonses were issued.

In Vernon Township Court, a plea agreement was reached with the individual who was arrested in July 2007 for tampering with a bear trap by spreading human urine around it. The individual pled guilty to resisting arrest, obstruction and interference with a Conservation Officer. He was sentenced to serve 30 days at the Sussex County Jail ordered to pay $ 2,400.00 in fines and was placed on probation for one year.

Central Region

Officer Tonnesen observed three individuals on the Great Bay Wildlife Management Area who were actively shooting at a flock of small birds that were flying over their hunting party. After seeing a number of the birds fall to the ground and no attempts made by the hunters to retrieve them, Officer Tonnesen went to investigate. After retrieving as many of the birds as possible, he made contact with the hunters. It was their assertion that they were hunting snipe, but upon further identification, they were informed that they had killed over 38 Dunlin shore birds. When their weapons were inspected, the officer noticed that they were also hunting with lead shot. The appropriate summonses were issued.

Officer Tonnesen set up on two individuals who were hunting the sedges on the Great Bay Wildlife Management Area. After a short while, the officer observed one of the hunters jump into their boat and intentionally drive through a raft of waterfowl, guiding them to his partner, who then shot and harvested a number of birds. When the group returned back at the marina, Officer Tonnesen made an inspection and found that their guns were still loaded. When confronted with his observations, the two hunters admitted to the violation of rallying birds in addition to having a loaded firearm within 450 ft of an occupied dwelling.

Officer Mutone and Deputy Altieri responded to a complaint of individuals hunting to close to a senior residential complex located in Manchester Township. When the officers arrived on scene, they were able to locate and apprehend one subject who was thoughtlessly hunting within 450 ft of the complex while in plain view of the residents.

Lt. Sich apprehended two individuals who were trespassing on posted property in Upper Freehold Township. The first subject encountered was wearing a Ghillie suit with no hunter’s orange visible. When confronted, the subject initially ignored the officer’s commands to stop and attempted to run from the officer. Prior to being apprehended, the subject was able to inform his friend by radio to leave the area. With the assistance of Deputy Sprague the second suspect was tracked and located approximately 400 yards from the tree stand he was hunting from. During the interview, the second subject admitted to the fact that he knew he was trespassing and that he had been warned by his friend to run. Trespassing, no orange and interference summonses were issued.

Lt. Sich and Deputy Sprague apprehended a subject who was hunting without hunter’s orange in Lacey Township. While being interviewed, officers noticed that there were inconsistencies with the information obtained from the subject and what was printed on his license. After checking records, it was determined that the subject was a Florida resident who had given false information to a license agent in order to obtain a New Jersey resident hunting license.

After receiving a complaint of hunters trespassing on posted land in Jackson Township, Lt. Sich went to investigate. Although the hunters in question weren’t trespassing, they were subsequently issued citations for hunting without hunters orange, no valid deer permit and using slugs in a firearm without iron sights.

Officer Szulecki working on information received was able to locate and apprehend a hunter who had harvested a deer in the wrong deer management zone and failed to bring it to a deer check station in an attempt to conceal the violation from law enforcement. When confronted, the subject hesitated, but finally admitted to the violation and cooperated with the investigation.

Officer Szulecki responded to an O.G.T. report alleging that two individuals were deer hunting in Howell Township in a closed deer management zone. When he arrived on scene it was too dark to enter the woods and instead set up on their vehicle. At approximately 20 minutes after legal hunting time the two hunters were confronted as they exited the wooded area. Both hunters’ guns were still loaded and their shotgun permits were for a different zone. Summonses for hunting after hours and closed season were issued.

While on boat patrol, Officer Tonnesen stopped to inspect a duck hunter who was returning home from a day of hunting on the Barnegat Bay. During the inspection he found the hunter to be in possession of thirteen Brant. Just a few birds over the legal two bird daily bag limit. The subject tried to claim that someone else had given him the birds, unfortunately they were not tagged as required by law. The appropriate summons was issued.

Southern Region

CO Kille was on patrol in Pilesgrove Twp., in Salem County when he found a deer hunting club that had just killed a deer on a drive. It appeared that the deer had been shot by a stander who was on a public roadway. The hunters denied shooting from the road. CO Stites arrived and assisted in the investigation. The officers located 3 fresh shotgun shell wads lying in the roadway. It appeared that the shooter had fired down the roadway twice, and across the roadway to finally kill the deer. The hunter was subsequently charged with careless discharge of a weapon. While this investigation was occurring the officers received a trespass complaint in Mannington, they responded to the second location with Capt. Eisenhuth. The officers did not encounter a trespassing hunter but did find hunters with uncased guns, an improperly tagged deer, and the driver of a vehicle was cited for driving while suspended.

DCOs Bowen and Shivers were in plainclothes patrolling near Pennsville, Salem County when late in the day they encountered 2 deer hunters. One of the deer hunters told the deputy that he had killed an 8 pointer and a 6 pointer. The hunter went on to tell the officer that he was planning on hunting again the next morning. The DCO’s suspected that the hunter claiming the kills would not tag his deer and eliminate himself from the rest of the season. CO Stites and Honachefsky decided to proceed to the nearby check station while DCO Shivers would go to the 2nd nearby check station. DCO Bowen was left at the scene. The CO’s made their way to the check stations in a heavy snow storm. Stites and Honachefsky encountered the hunters at their check station; where as suspected they found that the hunter claiming the kill had not registered the deer. An extensive interview followed. The person who claimed the kills maintained that he did not kill the 8 pointer as he earlier told Deputy Bowen. His partner continued to claim the 8 pointer and said he knew nothing about the 6 pointer. The officers inspected the subjects’ cell phones where both hunters were posed with the two deer. In these photos the 6 pointer was actually a 4 pointer. At this point one hunter said that he had killed the 4 pointer, and illegally registered it in a non antler restriction zone. Both hunters face illegal possession charges. The 4 pointer was confiscated. Two hours later a very chilly snow covered Deputy Bowen was dismissed from the original scene where the case had begun.

CO Kille received a trespass complaint in East Greenwich Township, Gloucester County. A landowner told Kille that when he went into his deer stand he found an unknown bow hunter in the stand. Kille found the hunter’s personal information from the automated system. He called the alleged trespasser, and inquired about the complaint made. Kille also had asked the alleged trespasser whether he had an extended season bow permit for that zone. The hunter called Kille back and told him that he did not need an extended permit for deer, since he was actually hunting squirrels on that day. CO Kille next interviewed the hunter at his home. Kille determined that the hunter had only broad head arrows with him on the day the complaint was made. Next Kille told the hunter that there was a fairly fresh pile of deer entrails near the deer stand. The hunter initially said he had no knowledge of the origin of the entrails. The interview continued and the alleged trespasser admitted he was trespassing, hunting deer without a permit, and had in fact killed a button buck, which he failed to register. The accused was issued the appropriate complaints including a charge for interference.

CO’s Kille, Stites, and Honachefsky, along with DCO Bowen responded to a 450 foot violation made in Woolwich Township Gloucester County. On arrival the CO’s found one hunter from the club in violation of the 450 foot restriction. The club members told the officers that they had killed 4 bucks the day before. Two of the deer were killed on this property and the other 2 bucks came from some “other spot”. The two deer from the “other spot” became the focus of an extended interview by CO Kille. One hunter in the group finally admitted that he killed both deer, and both were deer that were sub legal with less than 3 points on one side. He stated that he tagged one of the animals falsifying the data sheet, and then took the second buck to his uncle’s house who tagged the animal in as his kill. Both the deer were confiscated. Seven complaints were signed against the hunters for deer act violations.

CO Vazquez was on patrol in Winslow Township, Camden County. He found a parked pick-up truck with fresh blood in the bed. CO Vazquez then inspected the records of all nearby check station and found that the registered owner of the truck did not register any deer kills. An interview was conducted at the hunter’s home. During the interview CO Vazquez found that the hunter had killed a doe, and had not registered the animal. The appropriate complaints were issued.

CO Vazquez and CO Massey responded to trespass complaint at the Lakeland County complex in Gloucester Township, Camden County. They encountered two deer hunters on the property both without orange, trespassing and one without a hunting license. Five complaints were issued.

CO Vazquez was responding to a 450 foot violation complaint in Camden County. On his way to that complaint he observed a car on fire on the AC Expressway. He was the first responder at the scene. The 3 occupants in the vehicle were out of the vehicle. CO Vazquez fought the car fire with his extinguisher until a fire fighting unit arrived on the scene. Not to be deterred from his initial complaint he continued. The hunter was on the opposite side of a deep stream, so Vazquez had a short but refreshing swim in full uniform, in order to make the apprehension. The hunter, who was charged for a 450 foot violation, was startled to see a soaking wet CO appear under his deer stand.

Conservation Officer Massey responded to a trespassing complaint from Egg Harbor Township Police Department in Atlantic County on the Thursday of the six day firearms deer season. When CO Massey arrived a patrolman had eight individuals in custody that he had observed exiting a parcel of municipal property that was posted against trespassing and hunting. The parcel of property was located at the end of a cul-de-sac in a large development and several residents called the complaint in. All of the individuals were conducting a deer drive and possessed firearms when they were observed exiting the parcel of property. Conservation Officer Massey issued the appropriate fish and wildlife summonses.

During a routine patrol on Thanksgiving, Conservation Officers Massey and Vazquez encountered several small game hunters in Hammonton, Atlantic County, that were hunting adjacent to several residential and commercial dwellings. An inspection of three hunters yielded loaded firearms. Conservation Officer Ely responded and used a certified laser rangefinder to calculate the distances and they were all well within 450 feet. When Conservation Officer Massey informed the hunters that they were going to be issued summonses one hunter abruptly told CO Massey that he hopes that he chokes and dies on a turkey bone. The appropriate summonses have been issued.

Conservation Officer Batten and Deputy Conservation Officer Mullins were conducting a routine evening patrol during the six day firearms season on the Dix Wildlife Management Area in Fairfield Township, Cumberland County when they observed a vehicle spotlighting. As they performed a subsequent motor vehicle stop they observed the three occupants in the vehicle hastily moving in the cab of the truck. When they approached the vehicle there were two uncased firearms in the cab of the truck and rounds of buckshot loose on the seat and the floor. During an interview the individuals stated that they initially started shooting on a shoot to kill permit and wandered off the permit on to the WMA. The appropriate fish and wildlife summonses have been issued.

Conservation Officer Vazquez responded to a complaint about an individual who allegedly possessed ‘illegal game’ in Egg Harbor Township, Atlantic County. When CO Vazquez arrived at the residence there were two deer and a turkey hanging in the backyard. The homeowner was located at a small hunting clubhouse adjacent to the area where the deer and turkey were hanging and agreed to allow CO Vazquez to inspect them. None of the animals had tags affixed. CO Vazquez conducted a short interview. The homeowner said that he hunts, but he hadn’t killed any of the animals and gave CO Vazquez the names of the two individuals who were responsible for killing the deer and the turkey. Conservation Officer Vazquez, with the assistance of CO Massey, conducted interviews the following day and got confessions from both hunters. All three animals were killed during the early muzzleloader season. The appropriate summonses were issued and the hunter responsible for killing the spike forfeited his muzzleloader buck stub.

Conservation Officer Batten received a complaint about trappers starting early on the Dix Wildlife Management Area property in Fairfield Township, Cumberland County. With the assistance of CO Trembley and DCO Mullins, CO Batten was able to conduct surveillance of the area and apprehend three trappers tending over 100 muskrat sets and snares. The appropriate summonses have been issued.
While on a routine patrol on Seabreeze Road in Fairfield Township, Cumberland County Conservation Officer Batten observed a van moving slowly down the road. During a subsequent inspection CO Batten observed an uncased firearm in the vehicle and when he asked the driver of the vehicle if the weapon was loaded he responded that it was. During a short interview the driver admitted to hunting and the appropriate summonses were issued.

Conservation Officer Batten received information that an individual currently on the revocation list was hunting in the Belleplain area of Cumberland County. During his patrol CO Batten encountered the repeat offender who was in possession of a muzzleloader. The individual informed CO Batten that he was only carrying the muzzleloader for his friend, however the friend didn’t possess caps for the muzzleloader and the revoked hunter did. The appropriate fish and wildlife summonses have been issued.

As Conservation Officer Batten was clearing a stop with an individual on the revocation list in Belleplain, Cumberland County, he observed a vehicle drive by with a deer in the bed of the truck. When CO Batten stopped the vehicle to inspect the deer an individual exited the vehicle with a pen and attempted to fill out the tag. The hunter was with a club that was in the process of conducting a drive. The hunter initially stated that he had just killed the deer and didn’t have a pen; however CO Batten quickly noted that the deer was very stiff and started to interview the hunter. The hunter eventually admitted that the deer had been killed on a prior drive. While the club continued its drive two tagged, but not properly checked, deer were located in the back of another vehicle. Those hunters were located as the drive finished and admitted to continuing to hunt without properly checking their deer. The appropriate summonses have been issued.

Conservation Officer Batten was conducting a routine patrol in Hamilton Township, Atlantic County, when he observed a tagged but unchecked deer in the back of a truck without a hunter present. Believing that the hunter was unlawfully continuing to hunt in an ongoing deer drive because the tag on the deer was his second tag, CO Batten entered the drive in an attempt to locate the hunter. The head woodsman in the club stated that the hunter, who was from Alabama, left with someone to go to Atlantic City after he killed the deer. Not believing the story CO Batten continued to interview hunters and was eventually told that the hunter from Alabama was never present during the six day firearms season and that the head woodsman retained his license after they had turkey hunted together in the spring. The head woodsman eventually admitted to using the tags unlawfully and was issued the appropriate summonses.

Acting on a tip that an individual possessed an untagged deer in Commercial Township, Cumberland County, Conservation Officers Batten and Honachefsky started an investigation. Conservation Officer Honachefsky was able to locate blood and drag marks in a wooded area behind the alleged subject’s home leading to a barn. The CO’s waited for the subject to return to the residence and conducted an interview. When asked, the homeowner took them to his barn and showed them a large nine point whitetail deer that he admittedly harvested unlawfully. During the confession the subject stated that he had observed the large deer for two days and when he attempted to purchase a buck stub he was advised that the system had locked him out because he already possessed a muzzleloader permit. The subject stated that when he observed the deer for the third day in a row he decided to shoot anyway. The appropriate fish and wildlife summonses have been issued.

Conservation Officer Batten, with the assistance of Captain Eisenhuth, Lieutenant Cianciulli and Special Agent Manera, was able to apprehend three individuals exiting a wooded area with an untagged deer. Conservation Officer Batten conducted an interview and was able to get the three hunters to admit to hunting on posted property owned by the Nature Conservancy. The hunter who had harvested the deer said that he didn’t have a pen to complete the tag, however the officers were able to provide him with a pen located on dashboard of the vehicle that he had just exited. Conservation Officer Batten has had numerous complaints about this group of hunters not tagging bucks that they harvest. The appropriate fish and wildlife summonses have been issued.

Marine Region

On Sunday 12/2/07, the captain and owner of the charter boat “Barb Gail IV” which fishes exclusively out of Brielle, NJ, was apprehended at the Seville Diner located in East Brunswick, NJ. Clint Dunham who resides in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ is being charged with selling 93 striped bass fillets or 47 whole striped bass to the diner. He is also being charged with filleting striped bass other than immediately prior to preparation or being served as food, and possession of 45 striped bass in excess of the legal possession limit of 2 striped bass. All of the striped bass fillets were less than 28 inches in length. The sale of striped bass in the State of NJ carries a penalty of $300-$3,000 for a first offense. Filleting of striped bass other than immediately prior to preparation or being served as food, possession of striped bass in excess of the possession limit and possession of striped bass less than 28 inches, all carry a penalty of $100 per fish. Minimum penalties for these violations total $14,200 plus court costs with a maximum potential penalty of $16,900 plus court costs.

The Seville Diner had in addition to the previously mentioned striped bass fillets an additional 110 frozen striped bass fillets or 55 whole striped bass on the premises. The diner is being charged with selling striped bass in the State of NJ. This violation carries a penalty of $300-$3,000 plus court costs.


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Last Update January 23, 2008