NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife
Bureau of Law Enforcement
Captain Fletcher responded to a complaint of shots fired from
a vehicle the previous evening near a farm in Lafayette Township.
He was able to locate a gut pile and drag marks in an adjacent
field and a spent shell casing in the roadway. The farmer provided
Captain Fletcher with the license plate number of a van he observed
on the road minutes after he heard the gunshots. Captain Fletcher,
CO Hutchinson and DCO Struble proceeded to the residence of
the van owner and located it parked on the street. The officers
noticed a drop of blood on the rear bumper and interviewed the
owner of the van concerning the complaint and the blood on the
bumper. She said she had no knowledge of the incident the previous
evening and wasn’t involved because she was at work. A
second individual came to the front door and said “I shot
the deer, fellows”. The individual admitted to shooting
a deer from the van the night before. He said the vehicle was
registered to his brother’s girlfriend because both he
and his brother’s driver licenses were suspended. CO Hutchinson
noticed a blood smeared cooler on the porch. When asked about
it, the individual said it contained parts of a second deer
he shot at the same location at night earlier in the week. The
appropriate complaints were signed.
CO Paul investigated a transaction on e-Bay involving the sale
of white-tailed deer antlers. Two individuals attempted to sell
three sets of deer antlers. One individual claimed responsibility
for the sale and was issued the appropriate summons.
During the six-day firearm season, CO Nestel assisted the National
Park Service Rangers with a complaint of hunting under the influence
of a Controlled Dangerous Substance. NPS rangers observed a
hunter sitting in his vehicle snorting a powder later identified
as heroin. The individual was arrested and submitted to a blood
test. CO Nestel charged the individual for hunting under the
influence when the test result was positive for heroin.
Todd Dicksen and Kyle Ziegler were appointed as Conservation
Officer III to fill vacant administrative areas in Hunterdon
and Sussex Counties, respectively. The new officers are a welcomed
addition to the Northern Region staff.
CO Nestel completed a trespass investigation that began during
the six-day firearm season in Wantage Township in Sussex County.
A landowner reported that he observed an individual not wearing
hunter orange trespass on his property and shoot an antlered
deer. The landowner recognized the individual and contacted
CO Nestel. The officer interviewed the individual who claimed
he didn’t realize he was trespassing and that he tagged
and registered the buck at his brothers check station. He said
he had eaten all the meat and threw the possession seal away.
A records check showed the individual obtained his hunting license
four days after the incident and hadn’t registered any
deer. The appropriate summonses were issued.
While conducting a foot patrol during the permit shotgun season,
CO Paul contacted a hunter who was part of a deer drive. The
hunter said there were four others hunters in his group and
they were about to return to their vehicles. The officer waited
for the hunters at the vehicles and one came out of the woods
without a gun. The individual claimed he wasn’t hunting
and was just helping with the drive. When questioned about an
extra gun case in the vehicle, the hunters said they always
bring an extra case with them. After a lengthy conversation,
the individual admitted hiding his shotgun and shotgun shells
in the woods because he didn’t have a permit. The appropriate
summons was issued.
CO Hutchinson assisted the Edgewater Police Department with
the prosecution of four individuals apprehended in the Bergen
County town. The individuals, members of a New York City street
gang, were using dip nets to capture nesting Monk Parakeets
in the eaves of an apartment complex. CO Hutchinson charged
the individuals for possessing a potentially dangerous species
without a permit and the PD signed criminal complaints. The
individuals claimed they sell the parakeets for $50.00 a piece
to a dealer who re-sells them on the street in NYC for $100.00.
A total of nine birds were found in their possession.
CO Nestel attended the January meeting of the Sussex County
Officers from the Central Region have received a number of complaints
of illegal ATV activity on wildlife management areas interfering
with hunting activities. With the help of sportsmen and women,
Officers Mutone, Tonnesen and Szulecki apprehended eighteen ATV
riders on the Colliers Mills and Turkey Swamp Wildlife Management
Areas during one weekend. One particular incident occurred when
two ATV riders ignored the officer’s instruction to stop
and fled from Officers Mutone and Tonnesen. After tracking the
two riders for over a mile, the officers found the suspects ATV’s
hidden in a swamp and the two riders hiding at a friend’s
nearby home. After some coaxing, the two twenty-five year old
riders exited the home and admitted to their involvement. The
appropriate summonses were issued.
Officer Tonnesen has been very busy patrolling the Barnegat Bay
during the past month and has made a number of illegal duck hunting
apprehensions. One noteworthy incident occurred while inspecting
two duck hunters on the bay in Barnegat Township. The first subject,
the owner of the boat, readily produced the necessary credentials.
When the officer asked the second hunter for his license, he hesitated
and then stated that he didn’t have a hunting license, state
duck stamp, H.I.P number or federal duck stamp. In his defense,
he claimed that he only shot one duck, which later was identified
as a Dunlin shore bird. The subject was summonsed appropriately.
Officers McManus and Tonnesen had their hands full on two separate
occasions while conducting inspections. While Officer McManus
was issuing summonses to two individual for fishing without valid
fishing licenses at Dove Mill Pond in Jackson Township, he was
notified by the DEP Communication Center that one of the subjects
had active warrants out of Howell Township. Officer McManus placed
the subject under arrest and transported the subject to the appropriate
authority. Officer Tonnesen apprehended a suspect for illegally
operating an ATV on wildlife management property and was informed
that there was an active warrant out of Ringwood, New Jersey.
Ringwood Police requested that the subject be held until one of
their officers could drive down and take him into custody. Officer
Tonnesen transported the subject to Lacey Township Police Department
where he was later met by Ringwood Police Officers.
Officer Szulecki responded to the sounds of shots being fired
close to a road in Upper Freehold Township. When the officer arrived
on scene, he noticed that three hunters had set up a blind in
a field approximately four hundred feet from the road. During
his investigation, he had determined that two of the hunters,
while shooting at geese, had shot across the road. The two individuals
were issued the appropriate summonses.
CO Szalaj was on patrol in Medford Twp. during the six-day firearm
season, when he stopped to check a group of hunters. During the
inspection, he found a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle and an
untagged deer. The appropriate summonses were issued.
CO McManus received information that several known waterfowl poachers
had been shooting geese after hours in the Crosswicks Creek on
the border of Hamilton Twp. and Bordentown on a regular basis.
CO McManus relayed the information to CO O'Rourke who contacted
NJ State Marine Police out of Burlington. They provided a trooper
and a jet boat for the enforcement detail. CO McManus rode with
the trooper while CO O'Rourke found a location on land to observe
the area. At 1650 hours a small boat with one occupant was seen
motoring up the creek. Geese began flying into the area well after
sunset and numerous shots were heard. CO McManus and the trooper
approached the area by boat. CO McManus spotted the eye shine
from the hunter's dog, but the hunter would not respond to orders
to come out of the reeds. CO McManus jumped out on land and located
the hunter who was trying to dismantle his firearm. Charges are
pending, but will include hunting after hours, unplugged firearm,
interference and attempting to take over the limit. The State
Police charged the individual with operating an unregistered vessel.
CO Batten decided to check several special stands on Christmas
day. This diligence resulted in the apprehension of an individual
hunting deer closed season. Officer Batten observed the subject
without orange in a stand with a bait pile made up of various
vegetables. The hunter insisted that he was legally hunting coyotes,
because they kill “his” deer. During the interview
the hunter admitted that the bait pile was for deer, but he would
only shoot at coyotes that happen by. Officer Batten advised him
that the use of buckshot was illegal for coyotes. The hunters
parting words provided the cap on the day. “If I’d
seen ya coming I’d jumped down and run away. You’d
never have caught me.” Appropriate complaints have been
While conducting operations on woodcock hunters in Higbee Beach
WMA Officer Vazquez had occasion to inspect a hunter who was missing
his HIP #. The hunter was able to rattle off his DOB and address
but stated that he had left his DL at home. A routine check of
his data showed Officer Vazquez that there was a height difference.
When questioned, the hunter stated that it was a mistake but then
got hung up on his address when asked again. Similar results occurred
with other questions, at this point the hunter admitted that the
license had been loaned to him and he was on the revoked list.
Appropriate summons have been issued to the hunter and the subject
that loaned him the license.
CO Ely worked Atlantic Co. coastal waterfowl season with SA Manera
and Lt. Massey. During this operation four hunters were observed
making repeated runs to and from a pair of lay out boats. A pair
of hunters would exchange places from the lay out boats to the
powerboat. On three occasions Officer Ely and SA Manera observed
the powerboat making runs around the bay after the exchange. All
these trips around the bay resulted in the powerboat pushing rafts
of ducks and Brant toward the hunters in the lay out boats. After
several hours of observation the officers approached the group.
One hunter was found with unsigned stamps. And the use of the
boat to drive birds to the hunters was discussed. Appropriate
summonses have been issued.
Working information CO Batten and CO Stites conduct surveillance
in the Bevans WMA. A vehicle was observed driving slowly and methodically
using a spotlight. Upon stopping the motor vehicle an uncased
shotgun was observed in the back seat and both occupants were
taken into custody. The shotgun was found loaded with buckshot.
An interview at the police station resulted in an admission that
the suspects were going to sell the deer for $40.00, which they
were going to use for gas money. When asked by a trooper whether
they were hunting deer the suspect honestly answered, “No
we were poaching a deer.” Appropriate summons were issued.
Officer Vazquez had a busy Saturday, during the late muzzleloader
deer season. Working Camden Co. in the morning Officer Vazquez
inspected a hunter as he exited the woods. The hunter provided
a Bow and Arrow license but finally admitted that he was hunting
with a muzzleloader. The hunter was also hunting without a valid
permit for the zone and he failed to bring any orange with him.
Officer Vazquez next found an ATV operator in Cedar Lake WMA.
Finally, Officer Vazquez located a hunter in the Hamilton section
of Egg Harbor River WMA hunting without a valid permit. Appropriate
summonses were issued.
Officer Batten received information regarding illegal waterfowl
hunting on Delaware Bay. With CO Ely and Lt. Massey’s assistance,
Officer Batten was able to apprehend three hunters with multiple
violations. An adult and two juveniles were found hunting late.
Lead shot and buckshot was found on the two juveniles and the
adult was hunting without a valid license. The trio shot a Ruddy
duck and Snipe. The adult was found with an unplugged gun and
finally, had driven his truck onto the marsh of the WMA. Appropriate
summons will be issued.
CO Stites led an investigation involving the use of dogs to hunt
deer in Winslow Twp., Camden County. CO Stites assigned Lt. Honachefsky,
CO Risher, and CO Batten to positions at various locations in
about 500 acres of mixed woodland, and agricultural farm land.
The officers arrived at the patrol area in the pre dawn darkness.
No activity took place until approximately 9:00 AM. CO Batten
watched two hunters attempt to start their hounds on a bait pile.
Other officers watched hunters take up stands in the surrounding
woods and fields. At about 1130 AM the CO’s decided to attempt
to round up the hunters. In total 4 hunters were apprehended.
The charges filed include hunting without a license, failure to
wear orange, hunting deer closed season, possession of illegal
missiles, pursuing deer with dogs, and uncased firearms in a motor
vehicle. The hunters charged were part of a group that had generated
complaints from legal hunters for years. CO Stites believes that
2 of the hunters apprehended were the ringleaders in these illegal
CO Stites investigated a complaint from a farmer in Lower Alloway
Creek Township Salem County. The farmer claimed that he had just
watched hunters in a pickup truck shoot at a doe from the window
of their truck. The farmer in fact was in pursuit of the hunters,
in his own vehicle. CO Stites contacted the Lower Alloway Township
Police and asked if they could assist the farmer. The police officers
were able to locate and stop the hunters. CO Stites conducted
an interview with the hunters who initially denied shooting at
a deer. They next stated that they might have shot at a deer,
but they did so because they had hit the deer accidentally with
their truck and wanted to put the deer out of its misery. CO Stites
inspected the hunter’s truck and found that there was no
damage to the vehicle. Finally the hunters ran out of excuses
and admitted to shooting the doe just as the farmer who complained
said. The appropriate complaints were issued and a firearm was
CO Batten received information that a trophy class buck had been
killed illegally in Pittsgrove Township, Salem County. Lt. Honachefsky
and CO Batten went to the field where the kill was alleged to
have been made. The Officers found the animal’s blood trail,
associated foot prints, truck tire tracks, the hunter’s
lost flashlight, and cigarette butts. While Honachefsky and Batten
were in the field CO Risher went to nearby registration stations
to determine if the deer had been checked in. CO Risher did find
that the deer had been registered but not by the person who had
claimed to have killed the deer. CO’s Stites, Batten, Risher,
and Lt. Honachefsky conducted simultaneous interviews with the
subjects who were of interest in the case. The first hunter admitted
he had lent his buck stub to his friend, who did not have a muzzleloader
permit. The actual shooter admitted that he had killed the deer
after legal hunting hours, hunting without a permit, and illegally
registering the deer. Both hunters could not believe that the
investigating officers knew exactly what happened in that field
on that night, saying “I can’t believe that you know
that.” CO Batten established a new world record by getting
his hunter to confess in a blazing 2 minutes and 8 seconds. Subsequently
a 10-point buck was seized from the gun club. The rough estimate
is that this buck will score 140 +. Appropriate summonses were
CO Risher and DCO Alteri responded to a complaint in Harrison
Township, Gloucester County. A home owner contacted the Harrison
Township Police reporting that his neighbor had just shot a wild
turkey out of season. Harrison Township Police Officers responded,
but the alleged shooter would not come to the door. Officers Risher
and Alteri responded to the alleged violator’s home. On
the second try at contacting the subject, the local Police went
to the front door while the CO’s went to the back door.
Much to their surprise, the homeowner came bursting out of the
backdoor and headed for the woods. He did not get far before being
arrested. He eventually gave a video taped confession, and turned
over two firearms to the officers. The appropriate fish and wildlife
and criminal charges were filed.
Dravis settled his case against a fisherman charged with the sale
of 93 striped bass fillets (47 whole fish) to the Seville Diner
in East Brunswick. In addition to the sale of striped bass, this
individual was also charged with filleting prior to preparation,
possession of 45 striped bass over legal limit, and possession
of 47 striped bass measuring less than 28 inches. On 1/8/08 the
defendant appeared in East Brunswick Municipal Court, entered
into a plea agreement and paid $6,000.00 in penalties plus court
costs. The Seville Diner separately paid a penalty of $800.00
On 1/13/08 Lt. Fresco and CO Dravis inspected the scallop dredge
vessel F/V Nautilus, in Point Pleasant. Under a Federal General
Category Scallop Permit, this vessel was allowed to land a maximum
of 400 pounds of shucked scallops per trip. The inspection uncovered
a total of 484 pounds of scallops. The vessel also possessed 111
pounds of monkfish tails, in violation of allowable maximum by
catch for that species (100 pounds). The captain failed to complete
a fishing vessel trip report, also a violation of the federal
permit. The entire catch valued at $3404.00, was seized by the
officers and sold to a seafood dealer. The maximum fine for these
violations is $180,000.00. The case file will be turned over to
the general counsel of NMFS for prosecution.
CO Dravis has completed an investigation of the F/V Skimmer, a
state licensed bait clam vessel. The owner of the vessel was contacted
many weeks ago by Shellfisheries for failing to submit the weekly
bait clam harvest report and landing fee, as required by regulations.
The owner continued to neglect the warning and 26 summonses were
issued for failing to file reports for 26 weeks. Penalty is $300
- $3,000 for each summons.
On 1/5/08 Conservation Officer Petruccelli received a call from
the captain of a Cape May Charter Boat, Adam Bomb. The captain
told CO Petruccelli that he was landing a tautog which was close
to world record size. CO Petruccelli met the vessel at the dock
and inspected the 33 inch tautog. The fish was initially weighed
at 23.3 lbs., 1.5 lbs. shy of the world record. CO Petruccelli
facilitated the transfer of the fish to Division biologist Peter
Himchak for aging and other data collection.
On 1/6/08 New Jersey’s commercial summer flounder season
opened with a daily trip limit of 7500 lbs. Conservation Officer
Snellbaker boarded the F/V Little Sammie as it offloaded its catch
at Cold Spring dock in Cape May. CO Snellbaker observed the vessel
offload 8200 lbs. of summer flounder, 700 lbs. over their landing
limit. CO Snellbaker issued one summons each to the Captain of
the vessel and the owner of the vessel for violations of New Jersey’s
commercial summer flounder regulations.
Conservation Officer Petruccelli prosecuted the F/V Jessica J
I for its violation of New Jersey’s commercial summer flounder
regulations. The vessel’s owner plead guilty in Lower Twp.
Municipal Court to landing 100 lbs. of summer flounder during
New Jersey’s closed season. To settle the state violations,
the owner accepted a penalty of $1000.00 and 60 day suspension
of the vessel’s privilege for a NJ Landing Permit. Federal
violations issued by CO Petruccelli for violation of the sea scallop
regulations and for failing to accurately complete a vessel trip
report encountered during the boarding of this vessel are still
On 1/12/08 Conservation Officer Petruccelli conducted an inspection
of 10 patrons of the party boat Capt. Robbins as they left the
vessel. CO Petruccelli apprehended two individuals who were in
violation of New Jersey’s recreational tautog regulations.
CO Petruccelli issued two summonses and a warning.