February 2008
NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife
Monthly Highlights
Bureau of Law Enforcement

Northern Region

CO Paul gave a presentation at the Northern Region Bald Eagle Conference held at the Pequest River Education Center. The presentation focused mainly on law enforcement’s role in protecting Bald Eagle nesting sites. The program was well received by all in attendance.

CO Williamson conducted field scenario training for the CO Recruits at the Colliers Mills Training Center.

While conducting ice fishing patrols on Greenwood and Cranberry Lakes, CO Hutchinson and DCO Struble issued the following summonses: 3 fishing without a license, 2 over-the-limit chain pickerel, 1 sub-legal muskellunge, 1 sub-legal black crappie and 1 for using more than 5 devices.

CO Kyle Ziegler began the Basic Police Class at the Cape May County Police Academy.

CO Hutchinson responded to a complaint of a coyote in a leg hold trap in Franklin Lakes, Bergen County. The CO was able to locate four other traps, which were baited with deer parts, in the area. The investigation is on going.

CO Kuechler assisted Marine Bureau personnel with inspections of seafood markets in the Morris County area.

During the permit shotgun season, CO Paul and Lt. Applegate investigated a complaint of several hunters discharging their firearms too close to a residence. Upon completion of the investigation, CO Paul was able to determine that the individuals killed a deer within a safety zone and then moved it to another location without it being properly tagged. Numerous summonses for hunting deer out of zone, hunting without hunters orange, possessing an untagged deer and discharging a firearm within 450’ of an occupied dwelling were issued.

Central Region

Officer Szulecki working in conjunction with the Wall Township Police Department was able to identify and later charge a Wall Township resident for illegally trapping with steel leg hold traps on township property. The local police were notified by a resident when he noticed the taps set along a trail that he normally walked with his dog. Officer Szulecki was able to find the location where the traps were set, but the traps had been removed by the suspect prior to his arrival. The subject was later interviewed and admitted to the violation but refused to turn over the steel leg hold traps saying only that he got rid of them.

Officer Szulecki responded to a complaint in Millstone Township when a local resident noticed a hunter within 450 ft of his home. When the officer arrived on scene he noticed that the hunter had moved outside the required distance. Without actually seeing the hunter in violation he decided to set up on the homeowners’ property and wait. Sure enough, an hour later the hunter returned and was apprehended by the officer for hunting within 450 ft of the home. The appropriate summons was issued.

Officer Mutone has recently convicted a Dover Township resident in Lacey Township Municipal Court for the illegal dumping of a large quantity of trash on the Greenwood Forest Wildlife Management Area. This was a particularly difficult case involving numerous interviews and potential witnesses. The judge found the subject guilty of the violation and fined him a total of $2000.00 plus court fee’s.

After receiving a tip that a local pet shop was in possession of a “Snake Head Fish”, Officer McManus and Lt. Sich went to the store to investigate. After inspecting the establishment, no potentially dangerous species were located. The inspection did reveal that the store owner had been selling non-game and exotic species for two years without the necessary permits. The next day, officers received information that the Snake Head Fish was still at the facility. With the additional information, Officers Tonnesen and Mutone returned to the store and found the fish hidden in a plastic tub filled with feeder fish. The fish was confiscated and the owner was later summonsed for a variety of permit violations and interference.

Lt. Sich responded to an incident in Barnegat Township involving a large group of hunters who were allegedly hunting illegally on the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Unfortunately the local police had to release the subjects prior to his arrival, but were able to provide all the necessary information relevant to the incident. Officer Tonnesen took over the investigation and with the information provided was able to determine that the group had been illegally hunting during a closed season and on a restricted portion of the refuge. Summonses are pending.

The Central Region Office received a call from the NJ Audubon Society regarding ongoing illegal trapping at the South Jersey Beagle Club in Southampton Twp. The Audubon Society had received an anonymous complaint that there were leghold traps set in the trees on the property and baited with dead chickens to kill raptors. The complainant also reported that there was an injured turkey vulture in the area that appeared to have been injured by the traps. CO O'Rourke spoke with the complainant who gave detailed information as to the location of the traps and also had information regarding the suspect involved. CO O'Rourke and Lt. Sich investigated and located a stake set in the ground with three leghold traps anchored to it. Chicken meat was wrapped around the stake. They also observed three dead cats and one dead raccoon nearby. CO's O'Rourke and Szalaj met with the suspect, an elderly gentleman who is a member of the Beagle Club. The man admitted to setting the traps and stated that he was trying to get rid of the groundhogs that were burrowing under his fence. The man was charged with three counts of possession of leghold traps and the taking/attempting to take wildlife with leghold traps. The SPCA is investigating the killing of the three cats.

CO's Martiak and Szulecki were on patrol in Upper Freehold Twp. when they observed two men small game hunting near a fertilizer company. One of the hunters possessed a loaded firearm within 450 feet of the building and the other possessed an uncased firearm on an ATV. The appropriate summonses were issued. While investigating the hunting violations, CO Martiak smelled a strong chemical odor and observed a yellowish residue near a storm drain. An illegal discharge violation against the company is currently under investigation.

CO Martiak was on patrol in S. Brunswick Twp. when he checked a group of hunters affiliated with a local hunting club. Of the six hunters, only one had the proper zone permit for the area they were hunting. That individual admitted that he had told the other hunters that they were in zone 50, a zone they all had permits to hunt, when they were actually in zone 14. The illegal hunters were charged with a "manner and means" violation and the hunter not in violation stated that he would pay the penalties for the other hunters.

Lt. Lacroix was on patrol in the Pole Brook section of Colliers Mills WMA, when she observed two large piles of household debris dumped in the road. Among the pieces of furniture and mattresses were a number of new cardboard boxes. All the boxes had shipping labels on them for the same motorcycle business in a neighboring county. One other box had the name "Doug" handwritten in black marker on all sides of the box. Surmising that the responsible party had recently moved and possibly worked for the motorcycle business, she contacted the company and asked for "Doug". She was told that Doug wasn't working until later that day. CO Martiak stopped by that afternoon and gathered license plate information from the vehicles in the parking lot. A search of the DMV database showed that one of the plates was registered to a woman who had a son named Doug. Lt. Lacroix met with the woman who admitted they had just moved and that if her son had dumped anything it "was because the town wouldn't pick it up at the curb". She was more than willing to just pay the fines. Her son Doug called the next day and admitted to dumping the garbage and stated that his mother had told him to "just get rid of it". The son was charged with dumping on a State WMA.

Southern Region

Conservation Officer Ely received information about an illegal white-tailed deer hanging in the back yard of a residence. Officer Ely was able to secure an 8pt buck that had not been tagged or checked in. The subsequent investigation and interview established that the hunter had not tagged the deer because he had failed to obtain a buck tag. Additionally, CO Ely found close to 30 additional deer racks scattered in and around the house. It has been found that some of the racks were found after the season, but others were obtained illegally. Some of the heads were taken from road-killed deer but others were probably taken by the hunter. Appropriate summonses will be issued.

Conservation Officer Batten was contacted by Millville Police Department regarding ATV’s in Menantico WMA. Officer Batten arrived and assisted Millville Police in the apprehension of multiple subjects riding in and around the WMA. Appropriate complaints were signed.

Conservation Officer Vazquez assisted Conservation Officer Snellbaker regarding trash that was dumped on the Great Egg Harbor WMA, South River section. Both officers conducted an interview with the suspect, whose mail was found in the pile. After a lengthy interview the suspect finally admitted to the dumping. Appropriate summonses were issued.

Lt. Mike Massey attended the Cumberland County Eagle Festival and spoke with the volunteer group. The major topic of conversation was the destroyed eagle’s nest.

CO Stites began a foot patrol on a farm in Woolwich Township Gloucester County. He watched a large group of waterfowl hunters take over the daily limit of Canada geese on their morning hunt. CO Kille and Lt. Honachefsky responded to assist CO Stites. Surveillance of the blind continued for another 4 hours, at which point Stites decided that the hunters were likely to return to their ground blind for the evening hunt. This decision would ultimately keep Stites in position for 10 hours. Stites continued to report on the activities of the hunters. CO Stites watched them hide some of the birds in a burlap sack about 300 yards from the blind. Later Stites reported that one of the hunters was leaving the farm with geese. CO Kille responded to and followed the hunter. CO Kille determined that the registered owner of the vehicle was not a licensed hunter in NJ; however he did not stop this person who was on an errand to a convenience store and would soon return to the farm. Later in the afternoon all the hunters including our unlicensed hunter returned to their blind to continue the goose hunt. Within an hour the unlicensed hunter ceased hunting and again left the farm. At this time he was stopped on the highway and returned to the area where all CO’s were staged (CO’s Risher and Vasquez had also responded). The hunter was found to be in possession of a shot gun, geese and rabbits but he denied hunting at all on this day, claiming someone had given him the game. At this point CO Kille asked the hunter which of his hunting dogs was named Buster, and which was named Ace. The hunter seemed stunned that CO Kille knew the names of his dogs, at which point he was further told that his activities had been observed all day. The hunter was charged with hunting w/o a license, interference, possession of untagged waterfowl, unlawful possession of waterfowl, and hunting within 450 feet of a dwelling. His firearm and game were seized.

Meanwhile, at the goose blind, the goose hunt continued until dark, at which point all CO’s converged on the farm, and an inspection was completed. In total 19 geese were seized and 7 hunters were charged with interference, gunning under the influence of alcohol, possession of over limit geese, giving untagged waterfowl to another person, and attempting take over limits of waterfowl. The case was a result of CO Stite’s determination to stay with the hunters for many hours. Of the 19 birds most appeared to be Ungava Bay geese, and not the local greater Canadas.

CO’s Kille, Vazquez and O’Rourke responded to a trespass complaint on Petty’s Island, in Pennsauken, Camden County. CO Kille was dropped off on the island to conduct a foot patrol. Shortly after CO Kille was dropped off he observed a boat approach the island and drop off a hunter. CO Kille soon located the hunter who was found to be deer hunting and not wearing the required hunter’s orange. The CO’s found the boat and its operator. Three firearms were found in the vessel. The boat operator was found to be unlicensed and was arrested for a warrant out of Gloucester County, with the required bail of $37,000.00. Criminal trespass, and appropriate Fish and Wildlife charges were filed against the hunters.

Lt. Honachefsky and Special Agent Manera of the USFW Service responded to a complaint in Millville, Cumberland County in regard to the eagle nest at Laurel Lake being destroyed. The officers found that a person or persons had indeed chain sawed the nest to the ground. Since that discovery a reward for information was offered by the USFW Service. To date 14 people have been interviewed about their knowledge or participation in felling the nest. It appears that 8 people were present when the eagle nest was cut. CO Batten has been assisting in the interviews of all of the NJ resident subjects, and working with CO Vasquez in mapping and photographing the nest site. CO Batten and Lt. Honachefsky have collected evidence from the scene. USFW Service Agents either have or are conducting interviews with out of State witnesses. At this time NJ F&W officers are working with the Major Crimes Unit of Criminal Justice, the US Attorney’s Office, and other USFW Service agents to prepare the case for prosecution.

No charges have been filed at this time, however it is expected that those responsible will be formally charged in this matter, as soon as the investigation is completed

Marine Region

CO’s continued their inspections of seafood retailers in Essex, Somerset, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties. To date, 30 businesses have been inspected. While most of these businesses were in compliance, 4 written warnings were given and two seafood markets were in violation. Lt. Fresco and CO Jones inspected Woolley’s Seafood Market in Howell Township and discovered hard clams that were purchased directly from a clammer. Neither the clammer nor the market possessed a Shellfish Dealer’s Certificate, which is a violation of New Jersey State health regulations. The State Health Department was contacted and five bags of hard clams were embargoed and eventually destroyed. Three summonses each were written to the clammer and seafood market. On another inspection of the Great Wall Supermarket in Franklin Township, Somerset County, Lt. Fresco and CO Soell encountered striped bass offered for sale. The striped bass had jaw tags showing they were legally caught in Virginia and sold to this supermarket’s seafood buyers in New York. The store did not have any written documentation on the premises. There were also hard clams in a display case and no shellfish tags for these clams or written documentation of their origin. The store was ordered not to sell the striped bass and a summons was issued for failing to keep accurate records for the shellfish and striped bass. Another summons was issued for failing to have shellfish tags in possession. This same supermarket was cited for similar violations in the summer of 2007.

Lt. Canale and CO Snellbaker conducted inspections of LaMonica’s Fine foods located in Millville, NJ and Surfside Packing located in Bivalve, NJ. The purpose of these inspections was to track Surf Clams which had been shipped from New York. The Records relating to a Long Island interstate shellfish shipper, who in addition owns and operates the two suspect Commercial Surf Clam vessels, were seized and transferred to Federal Agents from The National Marine Fisheries Service. NMFS is assisting New York DEC Officers with a Lacy Act investigation and violations stemming from the shipment of food clams commingled with bait clams. These clams taken from condemned waters off of Long Island, NY were suspected to have been shipped to various out of state processors. NMFS requested assistance from New Jersey CO’s to secure the records involving the two vessels apprehended by NY Conservation Officers. The Investigation of the records is an important safeguard in the protection of New Jersey’s shellfish industry as well as a protection of the food supply. All of the Shellfish records obtained are required to be kept as part of FDA regulations.

On 2/4/08 CO James observed two vessels engaged in the harvest of oysters inside of a condemned area within the Maurice River Cove in the Delaware Bay. From his surveillance position, CO James observed three individuals in the two vessels actively tonging for oysters at a location which he plotted the previous day using a GPS unit. While maintaining his observations, CO James contacted Bivalve State Police Station and requested their assistance. While personnel for NJSP marine unit responded in their patrol vessel, CO James observed individuals, who were on the vessels but not engaged in harvesting oysters, use binoculars to scan horizon in an attempt to detect law enforcement patrols. As personnel from the State Police Marine unit attempted to make contact with the suspect vessels, CO James observed the two vessels flee into approved areas of the cove. State Police personnel made contact with the violators outside of the condemned area and escorted them back to the docks in Maurice River. There CO James assisted by CO Petruccelli interviewed the three individuals and obtained statements from them regarding their violations. In addition CO James and Petruccelli seized all of the oysters which the suspects possessed since they were taken from condemned areas. Appropriate summons to the three harvesters will be issued for taking shellfish from condemned waters and for forfeiture of the violators’ equipment: boat, motor and tongs. On 2/8/08 CO James and CO Trembley with assistance from Lt. Yunghans Apprehended an individual harvesting oysters from condemned waters of the Maurice River Cove in the Delaware Bay. CO James conducted surveillance of the cove area from the shore and observed vessel with one harvester tong oysters for 30mins within condemned waters; approximately the same location individuals were observed on 2/4/08. CO James contacted CO Trembley, who was waiting along with NJSP marine unit personnel to respond by boat. CO Trembley, with assistance of NJSP marine personnel boarded and apprehended the individual who was already in possession of 3 bushels of oysters harvested in 30 min. from the condemned area. Appropriate summons will be issued for taking shellfish from condemned waters and for forfeiture of the violators’ equipment: boat, motor and tongs.

On 2/15/08 CO James observed another individual who was harvesting oysters in the condemned area of Maurice River Cove. On this occasion, CO James only observed the individual for a short time and was unable to mobilize assistance. CO James attempted to contact the individual at the dock but due to the distance between his observation point and the dock, he was too late. CO James was able to locate and track the oysters and the harvester to a local dealer. CO James located the oysters at the dealer and discovered that the illegal oysters had been commingled with oysters taken from approved waters. Based on his knowledge that the load of 12 bushels of oysters had been mixed with oysters taken form condemned waters CO James seized the entire load in the interest of protection of the public food supply. An interview of the suspect by CO James yielded a confession. Appropriate summons will be issued for taking shellfish from condemned waters and for forfeiture of the violators’ equipment: boat, motor and tongs.

On 2/4/08 CO Snellbaker located recently dumped trash in South River WMA. After some digging he located a bank statement in the pile belonging to a local resident. CO Snellbaker forwarded the information to CO Vasquez who found a recent address for the individual. CO Snellbaker assisted CO Vasquez apprehend the responsible person on 2/10/08.

Training Unit Highlights

Quarterly Firearms qualifications and training was recently conducted for all Bureau of Law Enforcement personnel. This session consisted of low level light training with the firearm. A block of instruction was given in the use of firearms in dim light shooting conditions. The unit was assisted by all regional firearms instructors.

The Training Unit, assisted by Region Firearms Instructor’s, conducted Basic Firearms Training for the eight newly hired recruit Conservation Officers, Jennifer Ciraolo, Todd Dicksen, Keith Fox, Bryan Mascio, Brett Nicklow, Brian Scott, Thomas Swift, and Kyle Zeigler.

Lt Leonard initiated the 6 week Basic Conservation Officer training for Conservation Officers Paul Toppin and Steve Sutton. Topics of training included: All State and Federal Fish and Wildlife Law, Extensive instruction in evidence collection procedures, Bureau Policies and Procedures, Field inspection procedures and techniques, Handling of Nongame and Exotic species. The Officers were also given an overview of all Division related programs, presented by the various Bureau or Unit personnel.

CO Williamson and Lt. Leonard presented a three day block of instruction in the art of Woods and Field craft to Conservation Officers Paul Toppin and Steve Sutton.

Captain Brown and Lt. Cianciulli attended a Career day held at Unity College in Maine. Unity College is one of a few secondary educational facilities with a dedicated conservation law enforcement program. The career day was well attended and contact was made with 8 potential law enforcement graduates who would be interested in working for New Jersey.

Seven of the Eight newly hired recruit Conservation Officers started their 20 week Basic Police Officer training at the Cape May County Public Safety Training Center in Cape May Courthouse.







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Last Update March 15, 2008