NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife
Bureau of Law Enforcement
CO Paul attended the IHEA- Hunting Accident/ Incident Training
at Windsor, Connecticut. The course of study included the investigation
of hunting accidents and non-target impact incidents. The officer
will use the skills and knowledge she attained at the training
during the upcoming hunting seasons.
CO Hutchinson successfully investigated an incident of an individual
harassing a timber rattlesnake. The individual was photographed
by a friend as he grabbed the snake and pried its mouth open
with a stick. The friend then posted the photographs on a hunting
web site. The officer was able to determine the identity of
the individuals and interview them concerning their actions.
The individuals admitted to harassing the snake and the appropriate
charges were filed.
CO’s from the Northern and Central Regions conducted Bear
Feeding Enforcement Sweeps at Wallkill, Panorama, Lenape, Forest
and Tranquility Lake Communities, Sussex County.
Lt. Applegate and CO Sutton responded to a call from Worthington
State Park involving an individual who was bitten by a timber
rattlesnake at his campsite. The victim had grabbed the snake
and was bitten on the wrist as his brother was taking his picture
with a cell phone camera. The victim was taken to a local hospital
by EMS but had to be transferred to a hospital in Pennsylvania
that had the anti –venom. A second individual, who was
camping at an adjacent site, located the snake and killed it
with an ax. The officers discovered four ax marks in the soil
indicating the individual had attempted several times to kill
the snake. Charges against both individuals are pending.
CO Hutchinson investigated and charged an individual with unlawful
possession of a black bear in Sparta Township. The individual
was in the process of loading a road killed black bear into
his truck when the local police stopped him. He explained that
he was going to take the bear to headquarters before someone
else came along and took it. CO Hutchinson was called and the
individual quickly admitted to trying to take the bear home.
While patrolling the Columbia Lake WMA, CO Sutton located large
piles of trash in the parking area. Upon inspection of some
of the debris, the officer found an item labeled with an address.
The officer proceeded to the residence, and although no one
was home, noticed some of the items in the yard matched some
of the discarded items at the WMA. After several returns to
the residence, the officer interviewed a woman who claimed that
she had paid her son and his friend to remove the trash to the
dump. The officer interviewed both individuals who admitted
to dumping the trash there. They agreed to remove the trash
and were both charged with dumping on a WMA.
CO Hutchinson responded to a complaint of individuals selling
Sugar Gliders at the NJ Fair Grounds in the Meadowlands Complex.
The 4 Tennessee residents admitted to selling the mammals for
$500.00 apiece without the proper permits. The officer asked
if they had anything else unlawful in their possession and one
individual said he had a .40 caliber hand gun between the seat
and console of their vehicle. The officer contacted the NJ State
Police who were patrolling the Fair Grounds who assisted in
seizing the firearm. All 4 individuals were charged with offering
for sale an exotic species without a permit and further action
involving the handgun is pending.
Late one afternoon, CO Sutton located a vehicle and trailer
parked on the Pequest WMA. Although the officer had to wait
2 hours, he apprehended 3 individuals on ATV’s when they
returned to their vehicle. All the appropriate summonses were
CO’s Mutone, McManus, and Martiak and Lt.’s Sich
and Lacroix conducted a late night patrol of the Greenwood Forest
WMA. In the Caruso Village section of the WMA, they located
a group of five individuals planning on spending the night on
the WMA. The three males and two females had their camping gear
all set up and a nice fire going at 0145 hours when the officers
located them. In addition to the fire and camping violations,
the officers also found alcohol and many empty beer cans floating
in the lake. All five individuals had been consuming the alcohol
and were unable to drive. One of the men stated that he had
never had a DL and gave a name that could not be verified. When
the parents of one of the girls arrived to pick up their daughter,
they gave a different last name for the individual. That name
came back with several outstanding warrants. He was arrested
and turned over to Dover Twp. Police Department. Sixteen summonses
were issued for violations including after hours, possession
of alcohol, littering, camping, building a fire, failing to
inspect and interference.
CO Martiak was on foot patrol in Colliers Mills WMA when a motor
vehicle approached him. When the vehicle slowed down, CO Martiak
spoke with the driver and observed open containers of alcohol
on the floor of the vehicle near the two passengers. He charged
the driver, who was over 21 with possession of alcohol on a
WMA. The two passengers who were both under 21, were charged
with underage possession of alcohol and open containers in a
Lt. Lacroix was on patrol on the Assunpink WMA when she located
5 individuals walking out of the woods near Stone Tavern Lake.
They were coming out of the trail that leads to the illegal
rope swing and were wearing bathing suits. When asked if they
had been swimming they denied it. Lt. Lacroix observed that
several of them were still wet and that their swim trunks were
dripping. They finally admitted that they had been using the
rope swing. While she was getting their information, she heard
more voices coming from the woods. She watched as 7 more wet
people came walking out. The last one in the group was carrying
a large section of rope. Summonses were issued for swimming
on a WMA.
The Central Region welcomes Bryan Mascio to our ranks. CO Mascio
successfully completed the Cape May Police Academy at the end
of June. He will be training under CO’s Martiak and O’Rourke
for the next 12 weeks.
CO McManus and Lt.’s Sich and Lacroix assisted the State
Park Police at Liberty State Park on the 4th of July.
CO Mascio had an exciting and busy first weekend in the field.
He and CO Martiak were on patrol at the Prospertown WMA when
they observed three people fishing from a boat on the lake.
They called the boat in and found that there were no pfd’s
aboard. Two of the fishermen had no fishing licenses and the
third had a NJ resident fishing license, but it was determined
that he was not a resident of NJ. They denied having any alcohol
on the boat. A search of a backpack for possible fish produced
a bottle of vodka. Four summonses were issued for no pfds, fishing
without licenses and procuring a resident license wrongfully.
While they were issuing those summonses, the officers observed
a group of individuals barbecuing and consuming alcohol. CO
McManus arrived on scene and assisted by checking this group.
During his inspection four summonses were issued, three for
the illegal possession of alcohol and one for littering.
Later that same night, CO’s Martiak and Mascio and CO
McManus and Lt. Lacroix were on patrol on the Colliers Mills
WMA. One motor vehicle was stopped with four occupants after
they were observed driving through one of the fields. The driver
was issued a summons for after hours. Four other individuals
were found at Lake Success setting off fireworks. This group
was also in possession of alcohol and a beer can was found floating
in the lake nearby that had been thrown when the officers pulled
up. CO Martiak observed in plain view a bowl typically used
for pot. The driver/owner of the vehicle was questioned and
admitted to being in possession of marijuana. A search of the
vehicle also produced a paint ball gun and a BB gun. The driver/owner
did not possess a FID card and the BB gun was seized. A total
of ten summonses were issued for violations including after
hours, littering, and possession of alcohol. In addition, the
driver was issued a summons for possession of under 50g of CDS.
He was fingerprinted, photographed and ROR’d.
The following day, CO’s Martiak and Mascio were on patrol
at the Assunpink WMA when they observed three vehicles parked.
As they approached, one of the vehicles sped off. The first
vehicle had three occupants including a two year old child.
The officers noticed that the child was not seated in a car
seat and there was a sealed container of alcohol in the console.
The driver was issued a summons for possession of alcohol on
a WMA and a motor vehicle summons for the child seat violation.
As they approached the second vehicle, CO Mascio observed the
passenger throw something out of the window. He found an open
container of alcohol in the weeds next to the car. Summonses
were issued for open container in a vehicle, possession of alcohol
on a WMA and littering.
Officer Mutone working alone on the Greenwood Forest Wildlife
Management Area managed to apprehend ten individuals that were
operating unregistered motor vehicles off the established roadway
within a short two-hour period. Even though a number of individuals
fled the area during her attempt to apprehend them, those less
fortunate were issued summonses for the illegal activity. The
damage caused by operating vehicles off the established roadway
in the area is becoming more and more extensive.
Officer McManus encountered a husband and wife fishing on the
Assunpink Lake. While conversing with the couple, he was informed
that they had no fishing licenses. Something seemed familiar
about the two and a review of his records revealed that they
had been issued summonses for fishing without licenses the year
before. A check of the husbands credentials also revealed that
his drivers license was revoked. Summonses for fish no license
was issued and they were instructed not to drive their vehicle.
They informed the officer that they would call a friend to come
and pick them up. Officer McManus then drove to the other side
of the management area to complete some paperwork. Imagine his
surprise when he observed the husband driving the vehicle after
just being warned. A summons for driving while revoked was issued.
On July 5th, Conservation Officers Ely and Fox were conducting
a routine night patrol of Union Lake WMA when they encountered
several vehicles in the area after closing time. They quickly
discovered that they had several very distraught mothers who were
looking for their children. A friend of theirs had taken the several
young children for a ride in the woods earlier in the day and
had not yet returned. Conservation Officer Ely and Fox were able
to calm the moms and discovered that they had received a phone
call from the driver earlier stating that they were stuck, but
they were not sure exactly where. Taking several clues from the
description that the moms had received the officers were able
to locate the stuck vehicle in the woods and assist in reuniting
the children with their worried moms. The vehicle had gotten stuck
when the driver had tried to back up to allow another vehicle
to pass on a narrow road. The children had been separated from
their moms for over 5 hours.
Conservation Officer Jennifer Ciraolo and Conservation Officer
Fox successfully completed the Cape May Police Academy on June
24th. Conservation Officer Fox received an award for his conduct
and service throughout the academy. Both officers have started
their trainee program with Conservation Officer Batten and Conservation
Ely acting as their respective FTOs.
Conservation Officers Batten and Ciraolo along with Conservation
Officer Trembly conducted an extended boat patrol on the Delaware
Bay. During their patrol they observed the operator of a vessel
throwing items overboard as the patrol vessel approached. Conservation
Officer Trembly, as coxswain, brought their vessel in fast and
Conservation Officer Batten boarded the boat in question. An inspection
discovered three undersized fluke and what appeared to be similar
items floating in the water. A routine check of identification
resulted in the operator being escorted to the dock and taken
into custody for bench warrants. Conservation Officer Batten and
Ciraolo transported the subject to the Cumberland County Jail.
Conservation Officer Toppin began his 4th of July patrol at Penbryn
Lake WMA. He conducted surveillance of several individuals. Two
subjects were observed swimming and using a throw net to catch
fish. When he inspected these two individuals one was obviously
drunk and tried to discard items in a bucket by throwing the bucket
into the water. Lt. Massey arrived and assisted Conservation Officer
Toppin. A search of the area turned up alcohol, many empty bottles
that had been thrown into the woods and 37 sunfish and one small
largemouth bass were located on the bank. Despite the language
barriers they were able to determine who was responsible for each
of the illegal items and Conservation Officer Toppin issued both
Conservation Officer Toppin was conducting uniform patrol at Penbryn
WMA one weekday evening and was inspecting several fishermen when
he saw dirt bike riders approaching. He yelled to the operators
to stop and they turned around and sped away. A short while later,
the officer was leaving the area and heard one of the dirt bikes
slowly approaching. CO Toppin exited his vehicle and walked toward
the sound along a wide open area. When he first observed the dirt
bike rider a short distance away, he commanded the rider to stop.
After a second or two, the rider gunned his bike toward CO Toppin,
striking him in the abdomen. The rider then struck a telephone
pole. Toppin handcuffed the individual and notified Dispatch and
Southern Region COs. EMS and Winslow Township Police responded
quickly. The rider, a Camden City resident was taken into custody.
Both Toppin and the suspect were transported to a local hospital’s
emergency room. All Southern Region COs responded to the accident
scene, the police department and the hospital and assisted as
needed. CO Toppin received trauma to his abdomen, internal injuries,
and was kept overnight for observation. The suspect, who broke
his right arm during the encounter, was stabilized and transported
to Camden County Jail with bail set at $55,000. Criminal, motor
vehicle and fish and game charges are pending.
Conservation Officer Toppin was patrolling Penbryn Lake Wildlife
Management in Winslow Township area when he observed four ATVs
operating illegally. The four riders were apprehended without
incident and were issued the appropriate summonses.
Conservation Officer Toppin has been receiving complaints from
other bass fishermen about the illegal use of large outboard motors
in Penbryn Lake Wildlife Management Area. Conservation Officer
Toppin has issued multiple summonses to bass fishermen using gas
engines over the last several weeks.
Lt. Honachefsky along with Conservation Officers Kille and Toppin
were patrolling the Broad Lane section of the Winslow Wildlife
Management Area in Monroe Township when Lt. Honachefsky attempted
to stop ATVs. All the ATV’s fled the area and Conservation
Officer Toppin followed the trail on foot to a residence off the
Black Horse Pike and observed the ATV’s and riders. Lt.
Honachefsky and CO Kille responded and all the riders were issued
the appropriate summonses for illegal riding.
Conservation Officer Risher conducted a foot patrol along Muddy
Run, a small stream that runs through Parvin State Park in Pittsgrove
Township, Salem County. He found evidence that freshwater clammers
were in the area. One afternoon Conservation Officer Risher found
a vehicle in an area of the park where he had made prior arrests
for clamming in prohibited waters. The vehicle inspection proved
Conservation Officer Risher’s suspicions. The officer conducted
surveillance and waited for Conservation Officer Toppin’s
assistance. Several hours later the two suspects exited the woods
and placed four bags of clams into the trunk of the vehicle. Conservation
Officer Toppin stopped the vehicle prior to leaving the parking
lot. Both suspects were in possession of 2,330 clams taken from
prohibited waters. They are being charged for clamming without
a license, clamming in prohibited waters and the Division is seeking
forfeiture of the vehicle in Pittsgrove Township Court.
Lt. Honachefsky was dispatched to Bevans Wildlife Management Area
in Lawrence Township, Cumberland county to assist in the removal
of a jet which crashed shortly after take off at the Millville
Airport. The craft’s pilot and passenger were killed when
the jet crashed into the forest about _ mile from the airport.
The jet was removed and spilled jet fuel was collected for disposal.
6/27/08 CO James responded to a call for assistance from the Middle
Twp. Police Department who apprehended three individuals in the
Reeds Beach section of the township illegally taking diamondback
terrapins. The individuals, who were from Philadelphia, were in
possession of thirty diamondback terrapins. CO James discovered
that they were harvesting the turtles for commercial purposes.
CO James issued the individuals the appropriate summonses for
harvesting diamondback terrapins during the closed season.
On 7/8/08 CO Snellbaker responded to a complaint about the F/V
Sea Tractor, a General Category Scallop vessel. The complaint
indicated that the F/V Sea Tractor landed over its daily trip
limit of 400 lbs. Following the offload and sale of the vessel’s
trip limit, the crew was observed offloading several additional
bags of sea scallops from the vessel and placed them into a cooler
in a vehicle located in the parking lot. CO Snellbaker boarded
the vessel and met with the captain at Cold Spring Fish and Supply
in Cape May. His investigation revealed that the vessel landed
and sold 369 lbs. of sea scallops to Cold Spring Fish Co. and
possessed an additional 85 lbs. in a vehicle, which was intended
to be delivered to an undisclosed individual in Virginia. The
additional quantity recovered from the vehicle put the vessel
54 lbs. over its daily landing limit. CO Snellbaker believed that
the Captain of the vessel had an order to fill in his home state
of Virginia. CO Snellbaker seized the entire load, 454 lbs., of
sea scallops landed by the F/V Sea Tractor and is preparing the
case package for prosecution of the violations by National Marine
District 8 Officers responded to numerous complaints in relation
to the closed season on tautog. In all, officers issued 13 summonses
for the taking of tautog during the closed season and 7 summonses
for taking undersize tautog. In one particular contact, CO Petruccelli
inspected ten individuals on the north jetty of the Cape May Inlet
at Two-Mile Beach National Wildlife Refuge. CO Petruccelli issued
ten summonses to five of the individuals, each receiving two summonses
for violating the tautog regulations. Individuals received a summons
for possession of five tautog during the closed season, and a
summons for the possession of three undersized tautog.
Congratulations to COs Nicklow, Scott and Swift who have successfully
completed their basic police officer training at Cape May County
Police Academy. They are currently working with their respective
FTO’s. Welcome aboard and wish them each a successful career
as NJ Conservation Officers.
District 7 COs have been assisting NMFS in the enforcement of
the Marine Mammal Protection Act. There has been a group of approximately
15-20 Bottlenose Dolphins, including at least 2 juveniles, living
in the Shrewsbury and Navesink Rivers. During the Fourth of July
weekend, COs patrolled these areas with NMFS Special Agents advising
boaters to stay clear of the dolphins. These areas generally have
high boat traffic; and with the additional interest in the dolphins,
made for a challenging task for the COs. This incident has attracted
huge crowds of onlookers as well as the attention of the media.
The COs presence was well received by the public and received
positive media coverage.
COs Dravis and Swift responded to Schupp’s Marina in Highlands
in reference to a complaint from a fisherman, that three individuals
in a rental boat were keeping every fluke they caught. The complainant
provided detailed identifying information on the suspects and
the COs waited for the boat to return to the marina. The three
individuals returned and possessed 20 fluke, of which 18 were
undersized. Summonses were issued to each of the fishermen for
possession of undersized fluke.
COs Dravis and Swift responded to a complaint of three fishermen
in a rental boat in the Shark River keeping every fish they caught.
The COs who were currently on a land-based patrol boarded their
patrol vessel located in the Manasquan River to avoid shore traffic
and proceeded to that location. The suspects had already disembarked
the boat and were spotted by CO Swift’s keen eye at the
boat rental office. The COs interviewed the suspects and then
uncovered 14 undersized fluke still located in the boat. Summonses
were issued to all three individuals for possession of undersized
Lt. Fresco and CO Soell finished up a case involving two depurator
clammers employing unlicensed, non-permitted individuals on their
vessels to harvest clams. Operationally it was difficult to observe
the suspected clammers on the same day, making it necessary for
Lt. Fresco to set up surveillance on two separate days. This was
needed because the suspects clamed in different areas of Raritan
Bay and not allowing enough time for the COs to observe both in
the same day. The first day’s surveillance involved observation
from a private vessel’s cabin, including the video recording
of the violation. CO Soell conducted a routine inspection of this
vessel when it returned to the Clean Water Clam Purification Plant.
It was necessary for CO Soell not to alert the depurators since
the operation was to continue on another day. To later identify
the unlicensed clammer, CO Soell ingeniously faked a telephone
conversation on his personal cell phone camera and snapped a photo
of this individual and also verified the identity of the depurator.
The second surveillance occurred approximately a month later when
Lt. Fresco and CO Szulecki posed as fishermen in a small vessel,
located the suspected depurator and observed an unlicensed, non-permitted
individual harvesting clams. This activity was also video recorded.
CO Soell apprehended the depurator and the unlicensed individual
at the Clean Water Plant, and issued a summons to the depurator
for violating the conditions of the depuration program. The unlicensed
individual was issued a summons for not having a commercial clam
license and for harvesting clams from the special restricted waters
of Raritan Bay without a permit. The individuals from the first
surveillance were later apprehended and issued summonses for the
After the surveillance, Lt. Fresco and CO Szulecki returned to
the Keyport Borough municipal ramp to load their boat and they
inspected two fishermen who had also returned to the ramp. The
inspection revealed 26 summer flounder including 21 undersized
fish. The majority of these fish were in the 14 to 16 inch range
even though one of the fishermen believed the limit to be 16.5
inches. Each of the fishermen were issued summonses for 10 undersized
fluke and 5 over the bag limit.