NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife
Bureau of Law Enforcement
CO Hutchinson responded to a complaint of an individual keeping
box turtles he caught in the wild in a pen on his property.
The officer observed the pen from the road and interviewed the
individual concerning the possession of the turtles. The individual
admitted to collecting the turtles and placing them into the
pen. The officer seized the turtles and the appropriate summonses
While patrolling the Columbia Lake WMA for fishing activity,
CO Sutton observed a pick up truck parked near the river. He
stopped and decided to observe the truck with binoculars to
determine if anyone was fishing at the river. The CO observed
an individual stack several coolers in the bed of the truck
and then stand on top of them. The CO then observed the individual
reach up and tie the end of a rope to a branch above him. The
CO observed the other end of the rope was tied around the individual’s
neck. Immediately, the CO raced around the other side of the
river and reached the individual as he was swinging by his neck.
The CO was able to pick the individual up on his shoulders and
untie the rope from around his neck before lowering him to the
ground. The CO contacted EMS who transported the victim to the
hospital in stable condition. The victim explained to the CO
that he was distraught over his wife leaving him.
Lt. Panico and CO Williamson responded to a complaint of trash
being dumped at the Paulins Kill River WMA. Upon inspecting
several pieces of debris, the COs were able to determine an
individuals name and address. The COs proceeded to the residence
and interviewed an individual who said the debris was hers and
she had given her son money to take it to the county disposal
site. She said her son had just left on a fishing trip and was
probably using the money she had given him to fund the trip.
The individual was contacted and the appropriate summons is
Northern Region COs actively responded to and approved deer
depredation permits and mechanical noise making permits to many
COs Kuechler and Ziegler participated in the marine fish operation
of the Raritan Bay area and adjacent tributaries. The CO’s
conducted a boat patrol of the lower Hackensack River and issued
summonses for clamming in condemned waters, clamming without
a license, sub-legal blue crabs and sub-legal summer flounder.
COs Martiak, Paul and Szulecki attended the NECLECA sponsored
Hunting Incident Investigation School in Windsor Locks, CT.
Conservation Officers from approximately 12 other States as
well as several officers from Canada participated in this week-long
COs Martiak and Mascio have been patrolling the marine waters
for recreational fishing violations and finding a lot of violations
in the areas around Keansburg, Morgan Creek and Sandy Hook.
During a two day period, they issued 10 summonses for violations
including: 1 undersize fluke, 13 undersize porgies, 1 undersize
black sea bass, 5 bluefish over the limit, interference and
Officers Szalaj, Mutone, McManus and Lt. Sich apprehended ten
individuals for various wildlife management and motor vehicle
violations on the Greenwood Forest Wildlife Management Area.
Violations included illegal possession of drug paraphernalia,
after hours, the illegal possession of alcohol and no registration
and insurance. One vehicle was placed in impound.
Lt. Sich working on information received, apprehended two individuals
in possession of six undersize and two over the limit striped
bass on the Rancoccas Creek. During the inspection it was also
determined that the two individuals had illegally purchased
resident fishing licenses after there identification proved
that they were Pennsylvania residents.
Officer McManus was able to track down a subject who had illegally
deposited a quantity of discarded furniture and trash on the
Greenwood Forest WMA. In a subsequent interview the officer
was able to obtain an admission by the suspect to the violation.
While on patrol in the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area,
Officer Mutone came upon two individuals that were in a desolate
section of the management area. With no means of transportation
visible the officer became suspicious and questioned them as
to how they got there. The two subjects were very apprehensive
about answering the question and vague in their response. With
no obvious violations and the fact that they were not in distress
the officer let them continue on their way. A short time later,
Officer Mutone located a campsite hidden in the woods. After
questioning a person at the campsite, it was determined that
these individuals had set up a detoxification site for recovering
addicts and alcoholics. Apparently the subjects are dropped
off and picked up at a predetermined time. The site was shut
down and the appropriate summonses were issued.
While on routine patrol Conservation Officers Ely, Batten and
Ciraolo had entered Menantico WMA. The officers observed two dirt
bikers operating on the WMA. Shortly afterwards they observed
a truck drive by them with the dirt bikes in the back and the
officers did a motor vehicle stop on the truck. In interviewing
the passenger Officer Batten observed that the subject was very
nervous and constantly asked if he was under arrest and why he
was being asked his name. It became clear that the subject was
not being truthful and he was handcuffed. After establishing his
true identity, it was determined that there were warrants for
his arrest. Meanwhile, Officers Ely and Ciraolo were dealing with
the trucks driver. It was quickly established that the driver
had a suspended driver’s license. At one point the driver
wanted to make a phone call to have someone drive his truck. He
stated that his phone was in a backpack in the truck so Officer
Ciraolo checked the backpack and next to the phone was a bag of
marijuana. Additional drugs were found by Officer Ciraolo in the
truck. A check of the two dirt bikes discovered that the passenger’s
bike had been stolen. Both subjects were arrested, transported
to Millville PD. Summonses for violating WMA regulations were
Officer Vazquez was patrolling Cedar Lake WMA when he observed
5 subjects swimming. As he drove up he observed a subject near
the vehicles attempt to hide something. Further investigation
uncovered a small pipe. The subsequent interview resulted in Officer
Vazquez locating a bag of marijuana and alcohol in one of the
vehicles. Summonses for swimming and alcohol were issued and the
subject with the pipe was transported to Monroe PD for criminal
Officer Vazquez was checking Penbryn Lake WMA when he observed
a truck backed in near the lake after legal hours. Officer Vazquez
drove up to the two subjects in the truck and discovered that
the driver was an individual that he had apprehended for swimming
earlier in the month. In interviewing the occupants Officer Vazquez
came to believe that there was CDS in the vehicle. Upon further
investigation the occupants admitted to possession of marijuana.
Officer Kille responded and assisted Officer Vazquez and both
subjects were transported to Winslow Police Department and charged
with criminal and Fish and Wildlife charges.
While on routine patrol Officer’s Batten and Fox located
two individual that appeared to be fishing on a railroad trestle.
As they exited the patrol vehicle they noticed one of the fishermen
pick up a bushel basket and start to run down the tracks. Officer
Batten chased the man down and prevented him from disposing of
all the contents of the basket. The basket was found to contain
short blue-clawed crabs. Both individuals were charged with short
crabs and the man that ran was charged with interference.
Officers Batten and Fox stopped in the Turkey Point WMA to conduct
inspections of fishermen. As they walked up to one man in a vehicle
the man immediately engaged the officers and repeatedly stated
that they had just arrived and the officers did not need to check
them. Officer Batten established a dialog with the man and in
short order the man agreed that the officers should “do
their job” and had no problem with the officers conducting
an inspection. A bucket containing 28 short blue-clawed crabs
was located under the man’s truck. He stated that he had
obtained the crabs earlier in the day at another location. The
appropriate summons was issued.
CO Kille and CO Vazquez were on patrol in Winslow WMA when they
encountered several individuals who were swimming and in possession
of alcohol. When the officers requested identification, all individuals
gave false names. The officers eventually were able to identify
all of these people and found that one of them had active warrants
for his arrest. At that point CO Kille informed the person with
the warrants that he was under arrest. The individual then fled
into the woods. CO Kille gave chase and was able to locate the
individual hiding in the woods. The subject was then arrested.
The appropriate criminal and Fish and Wildlife complaints were
CO Toppin was assigned to assist an Iowa conservation officer
who was investigating a New Jersey resident who had killed deer
illegally in Iowa. CO Toppin found the antlers at a local taxidermist
shop. Two sets of antlers were seized as evidence. Iowa will file
the charges in their case.
CO Kille and CO Vazquez were on patrol in Penbryn WMA, Camden
County. They encountered several individuals in the WMA after
legal hours. During the inspection of the 5 young men the officers
located suspected marijuana. One individual was arrested for possession
of marijuana, and charged by the officers the other 4 subjects
were released with Fish and Wildlife summonses. Once the officers
had completed processing the subjects at the Winslow PD, they
once again returned to the Penbryn WMA, where they encountered
another group of people in the area after hours. These people
were also found to be in possession of suspected marijuana, and
once again the appropriate criminal and Fish and Wildlife complaints
CO Risher was on patrol with CO Fox in Pittsgrove Township, Salem
County, in an area that has been a hotbed of illegal freshwater
clamming. The officers found a motor vehicle in the area in which
the officers could see equipment that is commonly used to harvest
clams. The officers had a Park Police Officer to sit with the
vehicle, while the COs went on a foot patrol in search of the
clammers. The officers located the clammers and arrested 3 individuals.
The clammers were found to possess over 4,800 clams and mussels.
They were charged appropriately and released.
In another clamming case, CO Risher recently prosecuted a previous
illegal clamming case in Pittsgrove Township Municipal Court.
The Court approved CO Risher’s complaint for forfeiture
of the vehicle used by the clammers and signed a court order turning
it over to the Division.
COs Risher, Fox, Stites, and Risher were on patrol in Cedar Lake
WMA were they found a group of individuals in possession of alcohol
and suspected marijuana. The officers were assisted by the Monroe
Township PD. The CO’s issued the appropriate complaints
for wildlife violations and the Monroe PD filed the criminal drug
charges. A short time after processing these first individuals
the officers observed 6 more motor vehicles enter the management
area. The officers stopped all 6 vehicles simultaneously and once
again the appropriate Fish and Wildlife charges were filed. On
the following day CO Kille was on patrol in Penbryn WMA when he
encountered several people operating ATV’s illegally. He
was able to stop one of the riders who claimed that he did not
know the identity of the other riders. CO Kille asked CO’s
Risher and Stites to assist him. An interview resulted in an admission
that all of the riders were together. The Officers were led to
the location of all the riders, and to one ATV which had been
hidden. That ATV had a defaced serial number, and its operator
admitted that it was indeed stolen. In an interesting twist one
of the riders was a person that had been charged the night prior
in the Cedar Lake incident. All of the riders gave full written
statements and the appropriate criminal and Fish and Wildlife
charges were filed.
Jones, Scott and Lt. Fresco conducted a surveillance of the Belford
Co-op at the end of the July – August commercial fluke season.
Fishing vessels were observed returning to the dock to determine
if any vessels would off load prior to the legal 6:00 a.m. off
load time. No vessels were observed off loading prior to that
time. At 6:00 a.m., Lt. Fresco and CO Scott inspected all off
loading vessels. Two violations were observed; land in excess
of 500 pounds fluke, and possess for sale fluke measuring less
than 14 inches. The appropriate enforcement actions were taken.
On 8/10/08 COs Dravis and Swift were inspecting vessels returning
to the Belmar Municipal Ramp. A vessel with four fishermen aboard
came to the ramp. They had three coolers containing a mix of 10
legal fluke and black sea bass, 3 short fluke and 2 short black
sea bass. These individuals stated that the fish in the coolers
were the only fish in their possession. CO Swift feeling suspicious
that there were more fish, inspected the remainder of the vessel
and uncovered an additional 15 short black sea bass in a plastic
bag hidden under several life jackets. Each individual was issued
summonses for the undersized fish.
While patrolling Morgan Creek in Old Bridge Township, COs Jones
and Scott observed an individual using a cast net. This individual
would remove fish from the net and place them in a backpack carried
by his 10 year old daughter. After watching this individual for
some time, the officers conducted an inspection. When asked, the
individual stated he did not have any fish in his possession.
CO Jones inspected the backpack and found undersized blue-claw
crabs, 7 undersized porgy and 1 striped bass measuring 10 inches.
Summonses were issued for the porgy and striped bass.
On August 17 Districts 2,3, 4 and 7 conducted a joint recreational
marine fisheries enforcement operation on the Hackensack River,
Newark Bay Complex, Raritan Bay, Sandy Hook Bay and the Atlantic
Ocean. This operation involved 16 conservation officers and 3
deputy conservation officers in patrol vessels and on land. A
total of 703 recreational fishermen and 12 recreational clammers
were inspected, with a total of 49 summonses issued. A breakdown
of the numbers and types of summonses are as follows: 15 –
undersized fluke (for a total 35 fish), 5 – undersized striped
bass (5 fish each), 4 – undersized black sea bass (for a
total of 10 fish), 4 – undersized porgy (for a total of
23 fish), 2 – over limit bluefish ( 1 fish each), 1 –
undersized tautog (1 fish), 1 – undersized weakfish (1 fish),
2 – undersized crabs (1 crab each), 3 – possession
of mutilated fish, 2 – interference, 8 – clam without
license, 1 – clam in condemned waters, 1- undersized clams.
Written warnings were also issued for crabbing in the Newark Bay
Complex. One notable incident involved CO’s Dravis and Swift
inspection of a boat containing two fishermen. The fishermen stated
they only had skates in the boat. When CO Dravis informed them
that the officers would be inspecting their boat, one of the fishermen
attempted to surreptitiously remove fluke from a bucket and mix
them in with 10 skates that they had in a cooler. The officers
found 13 undersized fluke. The fishermen had no legal sized fluke.
On July 29th 2008 Conservation Officers Petruccelli and Nicklow
boarded the F/V Two Brothers as it landed a general category Sea
Scallop trip at Dock Street Seafood in Wildwood. The officers
discovered a 71 lb. overage stored in several buckets hidden in
various locations on the vessel. For this violation, CO Pettruccelli
and Nicklow seized the entire catch from the vessel and are preparing
the case package for prosecution by National Marine Fisheries
Service. Conservation Officers are charging the owner and operator
for harvesting over the daily trip limit of sea scallops and the
falsification of their Fishing Vessel Trip Report. CO Pettruccelli
in June of this year, warned the captain of this vessel not to
land over their daily trip limit of 400lbs. In addition, District
8 officers and NMFS agents apprehended this vessel, captain and
owner in 2004 for the blatant abuse of federal sea scallop landing
limits. The vessels owner and captain were charged and later plead
guilty in federal court to using this vessel to harvest the limit
of another vessel, which remained at the dock. The FV Two Brothers
landed the quota of another vessel and since the owner of both
vessels possessed a dealer’s permit, he attempted to conceal
the overages by falsifying landing and dealer reports. Due to
these new charges, this vessel owner and operator face enhanced
penalties and the imposition of penalties suspended from 2004.
On August 12th Conservation Officer James observed the FV Brenda
K land at Cold Spring Fish and Supply Co in Cape May. CO James
conducted an inspection of the vessel, which landed scallops loose
in a large plastic container and needed to bag them prior to offloading
to the dealer. While aboard the FV Brenda K, CO James observed
FV Capt Alec enter port and tie up at Cold Spring Dock. Since
everything aboard the FV Brenda K appeared to be in order, CO
James left the FV Brenda K to board FV Capt Alec. Upon boarding
FV Capt Alec, CO James observed that the captain failed to complete
the Fishing Vessel Trip Report. CO James also observed eight 50lb
bags of shucked sea scallops along with additional scallops loose
in a large plastic container. The loose scallops indicated a possible
overage by the vessel. CO James maintained observation of both
vessels pack out activity and documented overages from both. The
FV Brenda K landed 422lbs, 22lbs over their limit of 400lbs. The
FV Capt Alec landed 425lbs 25lbs over their landing limit of 400lbs.
CO James seized the overages from both vessels and donated the
seized product to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission in Atlantic
City. CO James will be completing federal case packages for both
vessels charging them with Summary Settlement violations with
the National Marine Fisheries Service. In addition, charges for
previous violations of the sea scallop landing limit issued by
District 8 officers are pending on the FV Capt Alec.
On August 13th CO Trembley inspected a recreational vessel as
it returned to a slip at Anchor Marina located on the Maurice
River in the Matts Landing section of Cumberland County. The three
occupants possessed three undersize striped bass, four undersize
weakfish, 78 summer flounder of which 77 were undersize and 54
undersize blue crabs. The operator of the vessel admitted that
all of the fish were caught using a compact net configuration,
which resemble a collapsible fish pot with collection bag at one
end. The operator of the vessel admitted that they had set the
gear illegally in the Maurice River Cove section of the Delaware
Bay. All six nets were stowed on the vessel. The operator of the
vessel took responsibility for all of the violations. CO Trembley
is issuing appropriate summonses for the illegal use of a net
without a license, possession of undersize striped bass, weakfish,
summer flounder and crabs, and the possession of over the limit
of summer flounder.
In addition, CO Trembley seized the illegally used nets.
Quarterly Firearms qualifications and training recently concluded
for all Bureau Law Enforcement Personnel. This session consisted
of plains clothes/off duty training with the firearm. Several
Regional Firearms Instructors assisted with the training.
Quarterly Scoped Rifle qualifications were recently conducted
for all Division certified Precision Rifle shooters.
Captain Brown assisted with the recent round of Conservation Officer
III interviews in which three candidates were given offers of
employment. As part of the process, all arrangements were made
for the State mandated medical and psychological testing to be