NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife
Bureau of Law Enforcement
Lt. Panico responded to a call from the Hopatcong PD concerning
an individual who shot a deer from his back deck in a residential
area late one evening. When questioned by the police, the individual
denied shooting the deer, which died in his neighbor's yard.
Upon his arrival in daylight, Lt. Panico observed where someone
had attempted to hose blood away from the grass in the backyard.
When confronted with the evidence, the individual admitted to
shooting the deer several feet away from his deck. He said there
were 3 large antlered bucks in his yard regularly and after
having a "few" beers decided to shoot one. The deer
was seized and all the appropriate summonses were issued.
CO Nestel investigated a complaint from a check station of a
hunter checking a deer from a DMZ, not yet open to hunting.
When advised by the check station attendant that the zone was
closed, the hunter changed his mind and claimed that he shot
the deer in a zone which was opened. When interviewed later
in the day by CO Nestel, the hunter admitted to taking the deer
in the closed zone. The appropriate summons was issued.
CO's Paul, Kuechler and Ziegler investigated a complaint from
the Plainfield ACO concerning an individual possessing an alligator.
The ACO advised the officers that Fire Department personnel
observed an alligator and several snakes at a residence when
they responded to a fire. The resident admitted to the officers
to possessing the snakes without a permit and transferring the
alligator to his friend. The officers were able to seize the
alligator at the friend's residence and issued summonses for
possessing a dangerous species and possessing snakes without
a valid permit.
While checking data forms at several check stations on Opening
Day of the Archery season, CO Hutchinson and DCO Schaublin noticed
that 4 does had been registered by 4 individuals with the same
last name. The officers suspected that the hunters might have
re-registered the same deer to satisfy the requirement of an
anter-less deer being taken first. The hunters were eventually
contacted and 2 admitted to registering deer taken by their
relatives. Another hunter, a PA resident, admitted to taking
an unregistered eight point buck back to his residence. The
individual was interviewed at his residence by a PA Conservation
Officer and admitted to shooting the buck in NJ as well as a
second deer he killed unlawfully in PA. The deer were seized
and the officers from both states filed all the appropriate
CO Williamson attended the week long NRA Firearms Instructor
Course at the Colliers Mills Training Center.
While patrolling the Pequest River WMA on several different
occasions, CO Sutton apprehended and charged 6 individuals for
CO Kuechler and Ziegler actively patrolled the Newark Bay Complex
and issued 21 summonses for sub-legal marine fish and 14 written
warnings for crabbing in condemned waters.
recent weeks, Officer Tonnesen has been concentrating his enforcement
efforts on the growing number of complaints from horseback riders
and hunters concerning the illegal use of ATV's on the Greenwood
Forrest Wildlife Management Area. The local police department
has called for assistance on separate occasion's requesting
help with the latest of incidents which involved horseback riders,
who were thrown from their horses when startled by ATV's racing
through the wildlife management area. On two separate dates,
Officer Tonnesen was able to apprehend and issue a total of
thirty-six summonses for the illegal use of ATV's on the Greenwood
Forest WMA. Three ATV's were impounded, and it is interesting
to note that there were a number of repeat offenders.
Officer Mutone stopped to inspect a horseback rider on the Colliers
Mills Wildlife Management Area. When confronted, the rider informed
the officer that she had left her horseback riding permit in
her vehicle. The officer then followed the rider back to her
vehicle where she spent time searching for the permit. When
the rider couldn't find the permit, she then told the officer
that she must have left it at home. After further questioning,
the subject finally admitted that she had never purchased a
permit. When Officer Mutone informed her that she was in violation,
the woman became enraged, used abusive language, and then gave
the officer an offensive gesture. As Officer Mutone was gathering
information, the woman got into her vehicle, drove across a
field and proceeded to drive away. Officer Mutone then pulled
the driver over and asked to see her driver’s license
and other credentials. Unfortunately, the driver could not produce
the necessary documents. In conclusion, the diver was issued
summonses for: no horseback riding permit; operating a motor
vehicle off the established roadway and failure to produce the
required motor vehicle documents.
On a recent night patrol encompassing the Greenwood Forest Wildlife
Management Area, Officers Mutone, Martiak, Mascio, Lt.'s Lacroix
and Sich encountered a number of individuals in violation of
state wildlife management area regulations. During their inspections,
a total of nineteen WMA and one motor vehicle summons were issued.
The majority of violations issued involved the under age consumption
and possession of alcohol; littering; after hours; illegal fires
and operating a motor vehicle while in possession of an open
container of alcohol.
CO Martiak has been spending a great deal of time patrolling
the marine waters for recreational fishing violations. During
the past month, he issued 31 summonses for violations including:
illegal clamming and sub-legal porgies, fluke, sea bass and
crabs, over the limit bluefish, interference and littering.
One notable case involved an individual that took 61 short porgies
in Morgan Creek.
Lt. Lacroix received a complaint from State Park Police at the
DNR Canal about individuals suspected of illegal clamming in
the Millstone River in the area of the Kingston Locks. They
had stopped an individual driving a black Toyota 4 Runner twice,
issuing a warning the first time and a summons for digging on
State property the second time. The following week, a private
citizen called the CRO and reported that a group had just arrived
at the river and were clamming. Lt. Lacroix contacted State
Park Officer Joe Jackson and asked if he could respond as it
was going to be about 45 minutes before she could get there.
SPO Jackson arrived just as the black 4 Runner was leaving and
stopped the vehicle. Lt. Lacroix arrived on scene and when the
vehicle was opened up, a total of 13 5-gallon buckets filled
with small clams were found inside. While Lt. Lacroix was dealing
with three individuals in the vehicle, SPO Jackson went up stream
and located four more individuals clamming. They had 3 buckets
in their possession, but another 2 buckets were found in their
vehicle after further questioning. A total of 12 summonses were
issued for violations of clamming in condemned waters, clamming
without a commercial license and interference. SPO Jackson also
issued numerous park violations to the 7 individuals as well.
CO Risher has acted as Chairman for the South Jersey Youth Outdoor
Day event for the last 9 years. This year's event was held at
the Salem County Sportsman's Club. Youth Day was open to children
from 7 to 17 years of age, and 160 kids participated this year.
Instruction and demonstrations were offered in archery, and firearm
target shooting, fishing, fly tying, falconry, wilderness survival,
decoy carving, , and retrieving dog handling. The event's goal
was to introduce another generation into an appreciation of the
outdoors, and environment.
CO Stites recovered an immature bald eagle, from the area of Pilesgrove,
Salem County. The bird exhibited burns to both feet, and was apparently
electrocuted on nearby power lines. The bird was turned over to
the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Southern Region held two special operations to interdict ATV
and 4-wheel drive trespassing on environmentally sensitive ground
in and adjacent to Menantico WMA near Millville, Cumberland County.
The property adjacent to the WMA belongs to Atlantic Electric
and Nature Conservancy. The operation detailed units from both
districts of the Southern Region, and included units from Millville
City police and the State Police. Both operations had a Conservation
Officer and State Trooper acting in an undercover role on ATV's
to identify and assist in the apprehension of trespassers. Fish
and Wildlife uniformed officers and uniformed officers from Millville
and the State Police were used to stop and cite the offending
operators. Additionally, everyone found trespassing were checked
for wants and warrants. In the first operation, held on a Sunday,
19 subjects were written for trespassing by Conservation Officers,
State Troopers and Millville police. In addition, two subjects
were arrested; one for warrants and one for possession of marijuana.
The second operation, held on a Saturday, resulted in 6 people
being cited with one taken to county jail with a warrant. These
two operations highlighted the excellent interagency cooperation
that the Southern Region enjoys with local and State Police.
During a night WMA patrol CO Fox and Lt. Massey entered Menantico
WMA and located two empty cars in the parking lot. The officers
started to search the surrounding woods and located two groups
camping inside the WMA. A subject with the first group the officers
approached was observed with marijuana. This group had three adults
and three juveniles. The group had a large fire burning, had erected
three large tents and was in possession of a large quantity of
alcoholic beverages. While taking this group into custody, the
second group was observed further in the woods. This group of
four adults was found with an active fire, three tents and alcohol.
The subject with the drugs was handcuffed and everyone else was
escorted to the parking lot for processing. Millville police responded
and assisted the officers with crowd control. The suspect arrested
for the marijuana was also found to have a $5,000.00 warrant for
failing to comply with his probation which he received in 2005
for possession of marijuana. Both groups were required to break
down their camp sites and four summonses were issued to each adult.
In April of this year four subjects were apprehended for possessing
over 500 Herring over the limit. One of the suspects had provided
false information the night of the apprehension. That suspect
was able to give the officers a current Virginia address and an
old NJ address off the top of his head. He made a call to his
wife and got his VA drivers license number from her. All the information
the suspect provided checked out that night, but when the summons
was mailed to the VA address the real resident contacted the Southern
Regional Office and stated that there was a mistake, he had not
been in NJ. It became obvious that the suspect that had been apprehended
in April had stolen the identification of the person from Virginia.
District 6 officers began an intensive search to identify and
locate the real suspect. After several weeks of looking the original
suspect was identified and located. CO Batten and other District
6 officers continuously checked the suspects' true residence but
it became clear that the suspect had gone into hiding. In August,
COs Batten and Fox finally located the suspect at his residence.
The officers were able to follow him into Millville City where
he was stopped and apprehended. The man was jailed for identity
theft and other warrants. The suspect subsequently pled guilty
to all charges and after spending several weeks in jail was fined
$750.00 for the criminal charges and over $1500.00 for the fish
and wildlife charges.
While on routine patrol COs Ciraolo and Batten had entered Menantico
WMA. CO Ciraolo saw something shiny in the woods and upon checking
discovered a stolen Harley Davidson street bike. The motorcycle
which was in good condition had been stolen from Wildwood the
day before. The owner of this classic motorcycle was very happy
to have his property back.
CO Ely and Ciraolo were patrolling Tuckahoe WMA when they observed
some garbage bags thrown into the woods. The officers went through
the trash and were able to gather evidence as to the owner of
the trash. The officers started an investigation and determined
that the trash came from a Connecticut family that had stayed
in Ocean City the week prior. Officer Ely made contact with the
CT family who insisted that they did not dump anything in the
woods. Officers Ely and Ciraolo then targeted the person that
cleaned the rental property. They located the women that cleaned
the house and determined that she not only lived less then a mile
from where the trash was found, but she admitted that she had
brought trash from the rental house to her home. She stated that
she did not dump anything but admitted that the trash dumped most
likely came from her truck. She stated that she did have a "good
for nothing son" but she did not think he would do such a
thing. The cleaning woman was issued a dumping summons.
Fresco's and CO Soell's case involving two depurator clammers
employing unlicensed, non-permitted clammers was adjudicated in
Keansburg Borough Municipal Court. Each of the unlicensed clammers
received a $500 fine; and each of the depurators received a $200
fine. The unlicensed clammers have both obtained commercial clam
licenses and depuration permits.
The Marine Region Office received a complaint from a commercial
lobster fisherman in reference to a diver at the Shark River Inlet
with a "bag full" of lobsters. The lobsterman made this
observation as he was entering the inlet at approximately 10:30
p.m. Lt. Fresco and CO Soell worked the information the following
evening at slack high tide. The strong currents in the inlet only
allow divers about an hour of dive time during the slack tide.
CO Soell while in plain clothes patrolled with the use of a bicycle
to make observations of the divers. There were approximately a
dozen divers who entered the water at two locations. Lt. Fresco,
who was in uniform, was able to observe one group of divers. After
one hour, all of the divers emerged with no more than 2 lobsters
in their possession. Lt. Fresco inspected all of the divers and
issued summonses for undersized lobsters and possession of mutilated
On 8/23/08 Lt. Fresco was located at the Manasquan Inlet in Point
Pleasant Beach and was approached by a fisherman who claimed there
were a group of individuals with stringers of tautog. The fisherman
only gave a location and a general description. Lt. Fresco proceeded
to that location and encountered many fishermen matching the description.
Lt. Fresco did not find any fish. Later in the day, Lt. Fresco
returned to the inlet and observed an individual carrying a bucket
containing fish. Further inspection revealed five under-sized
tautog. This individual was not in possession of his fishing equipment.
The fisherman advised Lt. Fresco that his equipment was still
on the jetty. Lt. Fresco proceeded to the jetty with the fisherman
and retrieved the equipment located within a group of fishermen
observed earlier in the day. All of these fishermen were fishing
for tautog, as they were using fiddler crabs for bait. None of
the fishermen claimed to know the suspect and vice-versa. CO Dravis
arrived to assist and was able to get a Chrysler vehicle key from
the suspect. When the fisherman went to show CO Dravis where the
vehicle was located, however the vehicle was missing. He claimed
it was a key to a friend's car that had left. A summons was issued
for the illegal tautog. Shortly thereafter, the fisherman was
joined by a companion. CO Dravis and Lt. Fresco watched these
individuals from a distance as they made their way on foot, several
blocks to a Dunkin Donuts on Rt. 35. One of the individuals was
observed talking on a cell phone as they were walking. Lt. Fresco
proceeded to the Dunkin Donuts and observed a Chrysler vehicle
containing three individuals observed earlier at the inlet, where
the suspect's fishing equipment was found. Lt. Fresco stopped
the vehicle and asked for a driver's license from the driver.
The driver did not possess a driver's license and Point Pleasant
Beach Police were contacted. CO Dravis proceeded to the Dunkin
Donuts parking lot. Inside the trunk of this vehicle was a cooler
containing an additional thirteen tautog, eleven of which were
under-sized. The three individuals were all issued summonses for
possession of undersized tautog and over bag limit of tautog.
The vehicle belonged to a friend of the driver, but was not present.
None of these individuals possessed a driver's license and the
vehicle was towed by the police. The driver was issued a summons
for being unlicensed. All of their fishing equipment was seized.
One of the seized poles was a custom rod with the rod maker and
owner's name. CO Dravis recognized the name as a local rod builder.
The individual in possession of the rod stated he purchased it
at a flea market in Lakewood Township. CO Dravis later contacted
the rod maker who had made the rod for his son. The rod had been
missing for approximately one year, but was not reported stolen.
Arrangement is being made to return the rod to its owner.On 9/14/08,
COs Jones, Scott and Lt. Fresco received a complaint about a group
of individuals in the Shrewsbury River in Highlands keeping many
undersized marine fish. When the COs arrived, they observed five
of the individuals clamming in the special restricted waters.
The COs apprehended the five clammers as well as another individual
in possession of 40 undersized scup. One of the clammers also
had a cooler containing 20 undersized scup. The five clammers
were issued summonses for clamming without license and clamming
in special restricted waters. Two of the individuals were issued
summonses for the undersized scup.
In May of this year, Conservation Officer Snellbaker observed
the FV Ruthless, a permitted commercial black sea bass vessel
enter the Absecon inlet following a fishing trip. As a condition
of their New Jersey permit, black sea bass harvest vessels are
required to "call in" to the Marine Enforcement Office
two hours prior to their offloading and declare their offload
time and location.
This vessel raised CO Snellbaker's attention since it continued
past its normal offload location. CO Snellbaker was unable to
locate the vessel's final destination. In the course of his search
for the vessel, he contacted Lt. Canale to check the "call
in" list at the MRO for black sea bass landings. The owner/operator
of the vessel had made his call in as he entered the inlet and
declared an offload time of 1700hrs but failed to provide the
offload location. After approximately one hour of searching, CO
Snellbaker located the vessel tied up at a dock in Atlantic City
at 1600hrs. At this time there was no activity and no one was
on the vessel which indicated that the vessel had offloaded prior
to their declared time. CO Snellbaker attempted to contact the
owner/operator of the vessel but he was unsuccessful. For the
next several weeks CO Snellbaker monitored the vessel's activity
and observed numerous occasions where "call in" requirements
were not observed.
In an attempt to determine if the underlying reasons behind the
"call in" violations were accidental or intentional,
CO Snellbaker and CO Nicklow boarded the vessel as it landed in
early July. An inspection was conducted and the Fishing Vessel
Trip Reports, which detailed landings as well as the dealer to
whom the product was sold, were reviewed. CO Snellbaker and Nicklow
compared the vessel reports with dealer reports submitted to the
state. One occasion in May raised a red flag. Under New Jersey's
regulations all black sea bass must be sold to a New Jersey permitted
dealer so landings can be counted against the quota. On May 11,
2008 a large quantity of black sea bass were landed by the FV
Ruthless and not documented by a dealer. There was no record of
the fish beyond the vessels trip report. COs Snellbaker and Nicklow
conducted a thorough investigation of all of the records gathered
and revealed that a dealer, not directly involved in the purchase
or sale of the sea bass landed by the FV Ruthless, appeared to
be reporting to the state. The owner/operator of the FV Ruthless
had actually been selling all of his black sea bass landed directly
to a fish broker, RM and Sons located in West Chester, Pa. RM
and Sons did not possess a New Jersey Black sea bass dealers permit
therefore they were not permitted to legally purchase black sea
bass directly from a New Jersey harvester.
In late August, CO Snellbaker and CO Nicklow completed their investigation
and charged the owner/operator of the FV Ruthless with four counts
of selling black sea bass to a non-permitted dealer, two counts
of failing to comply with call in requirements, and one count
of failing to provide accurate records for sales of fisheries
resources. In addition, CO Snellbaker charged RM and Son's with
one count of purchase of black sea bass without having a dealers
permit. Each violation carries penalties in the range of $300.00-$3,000.00
and possible permit suspension for first offense. The call in
violations would constitute a second offenses for the owner of
FV Ruthless and would therefore carry penalties which range from
$500.00-$5,000.00 and an enhanced permit suspension.
An annual firearms training session was conducted for all Bureau
personnel issued patrol rifles. Instruction was presented in multiple
threat assessment, long range engagements and low-light operations.
Quarterly Scoped Rifle qualifications were recently conducted
for all Division certified Precision Rifle shooters.
Captain Brown along with Chief Cussen, attended a training seminar
on K-9 emergencies. This seminar was hosted by the PA Game Commission
and held at its Law Enforcement Training Academy in Harrisburg.
This training provided a good basis for what maybe potential issues
with the implementation of a law enforcement K-9 program.
Conservation Officer's Tim Williamson and Douglas Ely, both Bureau
Firearms Instructors, attended a 5 day course of instruction in
Handgun/Shotgun instruction. The course was presented by the NRA
in conjunction with their Law Enforcement Training Division. The
course provided both instructors a valuable opportunity to develop
and fine tune their coaching ability as well as learn new teaching