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

Northern Region

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 issued.

Central Region

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 motor vehicle.

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.

Southern Region

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 appropriate summonses.

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.

Marine Region

On 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 Fisheries Service.

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 fluke.

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 same violations.

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.

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Last Update August 12, 2008