NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife
Bureau of Law Enforcement
CO Sutton, while patrolling with FTO Timothy Williamson, had
a busy first week of the Trout Season. The officer apprehended
3 individuals for over-the-limit trout violations and 3 individuals
for fishing without a valid license.
COs Williamson and Sutton apprehended 4 individuals on opening
day of the Turkey Season for numerous violations. While conducting
a foot patrol on a hunting clubs property, the CO’s encountered
a blind with 2 individuals hunting over bait. One individual
was hunting without a valid permit and was in possession of
a .222 rifle. The CO’s continued their patrol and encountered
a second blind with 2 other individuals hunting over bait. Neither
individual had a valid permit and one individual was also hunting
without a valid hunting license.
On opening day of the Turkey Season, Lt. Applegate apprehended
an individual hunting over bait.
CO Hutchinson and DCO Struble investigated several complaints
of a Vernon Twp. resident who was feeding black bears. The resident,
a long time advocate of the bear feeding statute, was observed
and video taped hand feeding and tossing bags of sunflower seeds
to numerous bears from her home. The officers had aggressively
acting bears come within ten feet of their locations and observed
2 bears attempt to enter the house through the front door. The
individual was issued a written warning for feeding the bears
and was charged with Disorderly Conduct for creating a hazardous
condition for the residents in the neighborhood.
Captain Fletcher, while patrolling the Ramapo River before the
5:00 PM starting time, observed an individual underneath a bridge.
The officer observed the individual for several minutes before
he walked up to the roadway. The officer stopped the individual
on the road as a vehicle was traveling to his location to pick
him up. The individual was in possession of 7 trout. The appropriate
summonses were issued.
Lt. Panico participated in the Trout Season Open House at the
Pequest Trout Hatchery.
CO Nestel participated in the Law Enforcement Career Day at
Sussex County Community College.
On opening day of the Trout Season, Chief Cussen, Captain Fletcher
and Lt. Applegate patrolled the Round Valley Reservoir Access
Area during the protest rally for the proposed closing of the
nearby state park.
While patrolling the Pequannock River, CO Hutchinson observed
an individual walk up to his vehicle and hide on object in the
trunk. Suspected the individual was hiding fish, he approached
the individual and observed a plastic bag filled with a material
that appeared to be marijuana. The officer interviewed the individual
who admitted it was marijuana and he had returned to his vehicle
to retrieve some to smoke. The officer removed an 8x8 inch plastic
bag full of the substance including many smaller bags packaged
for sale. The individual was arrested and charged with possessing
the marijuana and possessing it for sale.
CO Martiak had a productive opening day for trout. He started
his morning with a no license case at Farrington Lake. While
watching fishermen at Lake Pappainni in Edison, he observed
a fisherman walking around the lake asking people for trout.
The man then got into his car and drove away. CO Martiak made
a motor vehicle stop and found the fisherman in possession of
eight trout. The appropriate summons was issued. DCO Wren fished
undercover for CO Martiak and observed a number of people fishing
without licenses. CO Martiak then made the inspections and wrote
six fishermen for fishing without licenses. One of those fishermen
was also arrested for an outstanding warrant. One woman denied
that she had been fishing until CO Martiak had DCO Wren explain
that he had been watching her fish. She then admitted the truth
and said that she was surprised that they would go to that effort
to catch people.
CO's Martiak and O'Rourke assisted at the Pequest Open House.
CO's O'Rourke and Szalaj investigated a complaint regarding
a couple in possession of an alligator and other regulated reptiles
in Tabernacle. The couple was found to be in possession of a
small alligator, several chinchillas, iguana and a double yellow
parrot. They also admitted that they had a boa constrictor that
had gotten loose last winter and had never been found. They
stated that they had been issued the temporary permits from
the pet store when they bought the parrot, but they had never
applied for the hobby permit from the State. They were issued
the appropriate summons and the alligator was removed from their
Lt. Lacroix apprehended a fisherman fishing early on the opening
day of trout season on the Stony Brook in Princeton. She observed
the fisherman wade into the brook about 7 am and begin casting
as he walked upstream. After donning hip boots and walking upstream,
she was finally able to catch up to him at 7:35am. After explaining
how long it took her to reach him, he stated "I guess I
deserve the ticket then."
Officer’s McManus and Tindal observed two individuals
who were fishing from a small inflatable raft on Turn Mill Pond
within the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area. After seeing
them catch a number of small fish they called the two fishermen
ashore in order to conduct a field inspection. The inspection
revealed that the two subjects had undersized fish and no life
preservers in possession. While issuing summonses, a friend
of theirs who was fishing from shore, came over in their defense
and became verbally abusive to the officers. When Officer McManus
finished with the two fishermen, he noticed that the other individual
had stripped down to his underwear and was heading towards the
lake. Officer McManus explained to him that swimming was prohibited.
The subject replied, “this is America and I can do what
ever I want” with that said the subject jumped into the
water and swam out about 25 yards. The subject taunted the officer
and told him to come in and get him, at one point even pretending
that he was drowning and calling for help. Once the subject
was safely ashore, a search of the area next to his fishing
equipment revealed an empty quart bottle of vodka and a small
cooler containing what appeared to be small vials of drugs with
Russian writing on them. With none of the subjects claiming
ownership, the cooler was confiscated. The unruly subject was
charged with: interference; possession of alcohol; illegal swimming
and disorderly persons.
Late one afternoon, while patrolling the trout stocked waters
of the Manasquan River in Howell Township. Lt. Sich located
two individuals illegally fishing on the river, even though
it was properly posted with the rules and regulations. The two
fishermen had no fishing licenses or trout stamps and were in
possession six trout. The two individuals explained that they
had never fished before and didn’t know that it was illegal
to fish without a license and were completely unaware of the
regulations pertaining to fishing for trout. While back at the
patrol vehicle a local fisherman stopped and informed the officer
that he had told the two fishermen earlier that evening that
the river was closed to fishing and they responded “we
will take our chances”. A check of division records confirmed
that one of the subjects was a seasoned fisherman and the appropriate
summonses were issued.
Officer Tonnesen observed a young gentleman fishing at Holiday
Lake in Stafford Township without a license displayed. When
he approached to investigate he noticed that the subject was
drinking beer and had discarded his trash into the brush. When
confronted, the subject became unruly and verbally abusive.
A check of his credentials revealed that there was a $500 warrant
for his arrest. The subject was taken into custody and summonses
for fishing without a license, littering and underage drinking
Officer Tonnesen was recently dispatched to assist the Barnegat
Township Police and the N.J.S.P.C.A investigate a hideous animal
cruelty case. Sixty-four dogs and cats were found dead of starvation
in an abandoned home. The homeowner lost the house due to foreclosure
and never went back to retrieve the animals. Officer Tonnesen
is investigating whether the homeowner had the proper permits
for the possession of three African Tortoises found dead in
cages at the site. Fish & Wildlife charges are pending.
After the Central Region Office received numerous complaints
about fishermen illegally fishing the closed waters of Lake
Takanasee located in Long Branch, Lt. Sich patrolled the area
during the times reported in the complaints and was able to
apprehend three individuals fishing illegally. Summonses for
fishing during the closed season were issued.
Lt. Sich apprehended three individuals netting game fish under
a bridge in Lakewood. While observing the three subjects for
a period of time he noticed that they all had fishing poles
but were having better luck with the cast net. After observing
them catch a number of pickerel and bass with the net, he approached
to investigate. They were in violation of fishing without licenses
and illegally netting fish.
District 5 CO’s have been starting the spring addressing
the illegal riding of ATV’s on WMA’s in Camden and
Gloucester Counties. CO’s Risher and Kille alone issued
18 complaints to illegal riders this month. Lt. Honachefsky and
CO Kille responded to Winslow Wildlife Management Area to assist
the Monroe Township Police in their investigation of a fatal ATV
crash. In this case 5 friends and relatives were illegally riding
on the management area when one rider on a dirt bike lost control
of his bike and struck a tree. The rider was wearing a helmet
but sustained significant injuries to his chest and leg. All attempts
to revive the rider failed and he died at the scene.
The Division’s deer management program recently sent several
deer registration forms to the Southern Region Office for investigation.
The data sheets indicated some of the hunters took deer during
the closed season, failed to utilize a buck stub, or took sub
legal animals in antler point restriction zones. Many of the possible
violations were honest mistakes, or were committed by juveniles.
In one case however CO’s Risher and Toppin found that a
hunter had killed an 8 point buck during the permit bow season,
and tagged the animal with his regular fall bow tag. An interview
with the hunter resulted in the forfeiture of the antlers, and
an admission from the hunter that he had attempted to circumvent
the regulations. The appropriate complaints were issued.
CO Toppin is now working with his second field training officer,
CO Risher. The two officers were just beginning their patrol day
when they were asked to respond to a complaint of an injured Bald
Eagle. Personnel from the State Department of Transportation (DOT)
reported an eagle lying along side the South bound lanes of Route
55 in the city of Vineland. DOT personnel stood by until the CO’s
could arrive. The officers safely captured the bird and transported
it to Tri- State Bird Rescue in Delaware. The mature female Bald
Eagle, which had injuries consistent with a collision with a vehicle,
was ultimately euthanized.
All District 5 CO’s have been assisting District 6 CO’s
with enforcement of regulations protecting river herring. The
herring run has been somewhat spotty, however two fishermen were
apprehended with over limits of 27 and 97 fish. The run should
peak this coming week heading into the full moon tidal cycle.
While patrolling Union Lake WMA, CO Batten encountered three subjects
in a motor vehicle. All three individuals were smoking marijuana
and were in possession of alcohol, while in the area after hours
and littering. Appropriate summons were issued.
CO Vazquez and CO Risher were able to obtain a $1500.00 court
settlement from a ATV case where one subject tried to flee and
had to be physically removed from the ATV and restrained.
Officers from both District 5 and District 6 have been working
long hours on the current herring run in Atlantic County. Working
the tides to have the best impact when the herring are spawning,
as many as eight officers from both districts have been working
the Mays Landing and Head of the River areas Two of the largest
cases had one fisherman and four fishermen with over the limits
of 97 fish and 528 fish, respectively.
1,2 and 7 CO’s conducted regulatory inspections of fish
markets, restaurants and grocery retailers in Bergen, Essex, Morris,
Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean and Somerset Counties during the months
of January and February. A total of 36 facilities were inspected.
The inspections resulted in the following violations: possess
4 undersized black sea bass for sale; possess 19 undersized scup
for sale; offer striped bass for sale; fail to maintain accurate
records; untagged shellfish (4 counts); fail to maintain shellfish
tags (2 counts); wholesale of clams without possessing Dept. of
Health certificate; and receiving clams as a wholesaler without
possessing Dept. of Health certificate. Two cases have been settled:
Great Wall Supermarket paid a $1,000.00 penalty for failing to
maintain records; and Woolley’s Fish Market and hard clam
supplier paid a total of $600.00 in fines for Dept. of Health
The spring striped bass run along the Raritan Bay shore has heated
up with numerous complaints received. On 4/8/08 Lt. Fresco and
CO Soell apprehended four individuals for possession of 6 short
striped bass and 1 fish over daily limit at the Keansburg Fishing
Pier. A surveillance of these fishermen revealed them hiding their
illegal catch in the trash cans on the pier. Earlier that day
Lt. Fresco apprehended an individual with 4 short striped bass
on the beach in Keansburg. This fisherman was observed concealing
the fish between rocks and covering them with flotsam from the
bay. In the early morning hours of 4/13/08, CO Jones apprehended
four fishermen with 8 undersized striped bass in Cliffwood Beach.
CO Jones strategically set up observation in a bayside parking
lot and caught one of the fishermen running the fish to his vehicle.
District 7 CO’s have responded to numerous fish kill complaints
in the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers during March and April.
The kills were limited to menhaden. Physical water data collected
by the Monmouth County Health Department were within normal parameters.
CO’s collected live fish samples and delivered them to Bill
Stansley, Division Wildlife Pathologist. Mr. Stansley sent the
fish samples to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fish Health
Center in Lamar, PA for necropsy and culture. The preliminary
results from the lab indicate a bacterial infection, Vibrio ordalii,
which is more common on the west coast in wild and cultured salmonids,
although it can affect a wide range of marine species. The fish
samples have been forwarded to the National Health Center for
On 3/29/08 CO Petrucelli organized an inspection of Party/Charter
Vessel Atlantic Star out of Wildwood Crest. COs James, Snellbaker
and Lt. Canale assisted in the boarding of the vessel as it returned
to the dock from an offshore trip targeting black sea bass. The
boarding was in response to non-specific information received
through various sources on the illegal sale of black sea bass
by patrons of party and charter vessels during the winter seasons.
As one of only two party vessels which was running trips during
the winter season in southern New Jersey, patronage was high.
Approximately 45 paying customers were inspected at the close
of the 15-hour trip. Although compliance was high Conservation
Officer’s issued one summons to a patron for possession
of 15 black sea bass over the daily limit of 25 fish and one summons
to another patron for interference by attempting to discard evidence
of his violations. In addition, the patron was in possession of
46 black sea bass, several conger eels and parts of other black
sea bass which had been legally filleted by the vessel under their
NJ Fillet Permit. One of the vessel’s mates claimed to have
caught and retained 21 of the patron’s fish. Through interview
of this patron, COs discovered he was intending to sell the eels
and transfer the parts of black sea bass to a Chinese restaurant
but denied any intent to sell any of the black sea bass he caught.
In addition, he had an agreement with the captain of the vessel
to sleep overnight in the wheelhouse in anticipation of the next
day’s trip. The patron was informed that he was only legally
allowed to possess one day’s bag limit for each day he fished.
The Federal permits of the vessel were subsequently inspected
and the captain interviewed. Lt. Canale documented that the vessels
captain didn’t possess a valid NMFS operator permit as required
by federally permitted fishing vessels. The captain also failed
to have on board the vessels’ Federal logbook and therefore
had failed to complete a fishing vessel trip report upon landing.
In addition, mates on board the vessel caught and retained fish,
which were commingled with fish possessed by patrons of the vessel.
On 3/30/08, based on the previous days boarding and prior contacts
with the patron of the Atlantic Star, COs Petruccelli, James,
Snellbaker, Lt. Canale and Deputy Gabries set up surveillance
of the patron’s vehicle as the F/V Atlantic Star landed
their final trip for the season. The COs observed the patron meet
another patron from the vessel at a local Wawa parking lot. While
there, this individual transferred a cooler of fish to the patron.
While traveling North on Rte. 47, COs continued to monitor the
patron’s activities and observed him go to the mate’s
home where he was given another cooler of fish caught on the vessel.
Following that contact, the COs followed the patron from Cape
May County to his home town of Cherry Hill, in Camden County.
In Cherry Hill, the patron went directly to the back door of a
restaurant on Rte. 70 to attempt to sell his catch. He was unsuccessful
since this restaurant, which had a sign advertising a black sea
bass special, was closed. Following that attempt, the patron proceeded
to his home leaving the several coolers of fish in the back of
On 3/31/08, COs Petruccelli, James, Snellbaker and Lt. Canale
returned to Cherry Hill in the early morning hours to continue
surveillance of the patron’s activities. After several false
alarms, COs were able to follow him to Café Aldo Lamberti
on Rte. 70 in Cherry Hill. COs observed the delivery of Black
Sea bass into the restaurant by the patron. Thinking that other
restaurants may be involved, COs continued following the patron
as he entered a local auto repair shop. There, officers apprehended
Mr. Birchmeier. Upon interview, the patron disclosed that he had
sold Black Sea bass illegally to two restaurants and had received
fish illegally from the mate and another patron on the vessel.
COs subsequently inspected Café Aldo Lamberti in Cherry
Hill and Luna Rosa Lamberti in Washington Twp. Gloucester County.
In both cases the black sea bass purchased from Mr. Birchmeier
was seized and the restaurants were issued a summons for purchasing
black sea bass without having a New Jersey Black Sea Bass Dealer’s
license. In addition both restaurants were given written warning
for failing to keep accurate records of the purchase of marine
resources. Officer’s seized $660.00 in proceeds from the
sale of the fish from Mr. Birchmeier and over 175 lbs. of black
sea bass. The patron was issued an additional 6 summonses in two
jurisdictions. The patron was charged with: two counts of selling
black sea bass to a non-permitted dealer, one count of selling
black sea bass during closed commercial season, one count of purchasing
black sea bass without having dealers permit, one count of failure
to maintain accurate records of fish sold, and one count of possessing
100 black sea bass over recreational bag limit. The mate of the
vessel was issued a warning and the patron of the vessel who transferred
his catch to the patron was issued a summons for selling their
recreational limits to him. In addition the /FV Atlantic Star,
its owner and Captain face federal charges for the transfer of
black sea bass to another person for commercial purposes and for
the failure to comply with federal reporting guidelines on 3/29/08.
On 4/19/08 CO Trembley set up a plain clothes operation along
the Delaware River in Carney’s Point targeting illegal harvest
of striped bass. Lt. Yunghans and CO Petruccelli posed as fishermen
along the bank while CO Trembley and Lt. Canale awaited their
call. Although fishermen were complying with the striped bass
regulations, CO Petruccelli contacted CO Trembley in reference
to two fishermen who were consuming alcohol in the DOD Wildlife
Management Area in Salem County. When the plainclothes officer’s
moved their position, CO Trembley and Lt. Canale apprehended the
two individuals. Both individuals were highly impaired and although
admitting to driving their van into the WMA, neither man possessed
a driver’s license. Upon conducting a look up through Trenton
Dispatch, the one individual was wanted on 10 warrants out of
various municipalities in Camden County, each requiring $750.00-$1,500
bail without the option of 10% payment. CO Trembley and Lt. Canale
took the individual into custody without incident and requested
response from the State Police for transportation to Salem County
Jail. Both men were issued summonses for the possession of alcohol
on a State Wildlife Management Area.
Later in the evening while leaving the DOD WMA Lt. Canale’s
vehicle was almost struck head on by two vehicles being operated
at high rate of speed. Both vehicles were stopped. Lt. Canale
and CO Trembley determined that both vehicles were together. One
vehicle was carrying wood debris for a campfire while the other
had a case and a half of beer. CO Trembley and Lt. Canale issued
two more summonses for the possession of alcohol in a State WMA.
On 3/28/08 while fishing on the bank of the Great Egg Harbor River
at Jefferies Landing in Egg Harbor Twp., Deputy Leeds observed
an individual retaining undersized Striped Bass. DCO Leeds contacted
CO Snellbaker who responded and apprehended the individual with
9 undersized Striped Bass on the bank. Further investigation by
CO Snellbaker revealed three more undersized stripers retained
during a previous trip hidden in the individual’s vehicle.
The appropriate summonses were issued. In an unrelated case at
the same location on 4/8/08, DCO Gabries contacted Co Snellbaker
with information he received about individuals keeping undersized
Striped Bass. Once again CO Snellbaker responded and apprehended
another individual with 4 undersized Striped Bass. Again the appropriate
summons were issued.