NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife
Bureau of Law Enforcement
CO Hutchinson investigated a call from Wildlife Services concerning
a missing snare that was set for an adult bear in West Milford.
Wildlife Services personnel advised the officer that the snare
was missing and there was a large amount of blood in the area
of the snare set. After a thorough investigation, the officer
determined a bear had been captured in the snare and then shot
by a group of individuals who were cutting firewood on the property.
One individual claimed that he brought his new rifle with him
because he wanted to do some target shooting after they finished
cutting wood. He advised the officer they came upon the bear
in the woods and thought that it was injured. He said that he
and another individual shot the bear with the .9mm rifle. The
individuals then approached the bear and discovered that it
had been trapped in the snare. They removed it and dumped it
on another part of the property. Complaints for killing a black
bear are pending.
While patrolling the Hackensack Meadowlands area during waterfowl
season, Lt. Applegate and CO Kuechler apprehended a group of
individuals for numerous violations. The group, two adults and
a juvenile, didn’t start shooting until 1⁄2 hour
after sunset. The officers counted a total of 66 rounds being
fired after hours. When inspected, the officers determined that
all the rounds fired were lead and they still had another 44
lead shells in possession. The boat owner did not have a valid
operator’s license; the boat was unregistered and did
not have any of the required safety equipment including life
jackets. It was also determined that the individuals had transported
their firearms in their vehicles uncased. Despite all the shooting,
the individuals had only one duck in possession. All the appropriate
complaints were issued.
COs Sutton and Kuechler continued to apprehend more ATV operators
by charging 5 individuals riding on the Berkshire Valley WMA.
CO Williamson continued to assist the Training Unit by providing
instruction to the Basic CO Class, Bear Training for Police
Officers and the Fall Firearms Re-Qualifications.
While patrolling the Newark Bay Complex for fishing activity,
CO Kuechler apprehended an individual in possession of 21 sub-legal
striped bass. The individual had the fish stuffed into the carry
case of his fishing chair.
CO Nestel assisted a National Park Service Ranger with the apprehension
of an individual hunting raccoons unlawfully. The individual
was found to be in possession of illegal missiles and had transported
his firearm without a case. The CO signed complaints for both
COs Ziegler and Holmes attended the Basic Training Program for
COs from both the Northern and Central Regions conducted a Bear
Feeding Enforcement Sweep of the Lake Stockholm area of Hardyston
receiving a complaint about illegal fishing on the trout stocked
waters of the Manasquan River, Officer Szulecki responded and
set up surveillance on two suspects that matched the complainant’s
description. During that time, Officer Szulecki observed one
individual use a cast net to catch trout. The other individual
was observed throwing trash into the river while fishing. When
confronted, they were found to be in possession of three illegally
caught trout. The fisherman who littered, readily admitted to
the violation. When Officer Szulecki checked their credentials,
one individual was identified as a non-resident who had procured
a resident fishing license illegally. Summonses were issued
for the illegal license, illegally taking trout with a net and
Officer Martiak received a complaint about a man and boy fishing
at Peddie Lake in Hightstown taking everything that they were
catching. Officer Martiak responded and after inspecting the
pair determined that the man was using someone else’s
fishing license based on the age description on the license.
The man was also in possession of 12 short largemouth bass,
two bass over the limit for the pair and 8 panfish over the
limit. The boy’s mother was contacted and it was determined
that the man who was her father, was using his son-in-law ’s
license. The appropriate summonses were issued, including a
summons for loaning the license.
Officer Martiak assisted at the Monmouth County Police Academy
teaching a First Responder course to their new recruits.
Officers O’Rourke and Martiak received a complaint regarding
a group of fishermen illegally fishing below the dam at Gropp’s
Lake in Hamilton Twp. They responded to the lake and found all
the individuals fishing without licenses and keeping undersize
largemouth bass. Six summonses were issued for fishing without
licenses, five summonses were issued for undersize bass and
one summons for littering. These same individuals were charged
last year by Officer McManus for the same violation.
Officer Szalaj received a complaint from Officer Tonnesen regarding
an individual selling a full black bear mount at the Columbus
Market. Officer Szalaj responded and issued the appropriate
summons. The mount was confiscated.
Officers O’Rourke, Martiak, Mascio, Tonnesen and Szulecki
assisted at the Division booth during the Tuckerton Decoy Show.
An ongoing case regarding illegally obtained and held captive
deer has heated up. The Attorney General’s office has instituted
legal action against the individuals holding White tailed deer
in this case, which dates back to spring of 2007. Officers from
the Southern Region were required to maintain coverage of the
small deer herd while legal papers were filed. These officers
were also required to assist Wildlife Control agents in counting
and tagging the deer.
CO Ciraolo and Lt. Massey responded to information that a store
front in Bridgeton, NJ was offering for sale a mounted head of
a white-tailed deer. Officer Ciraolo interviewed the store owners
and learned that they had purchased the deer head from the Berlin
Farmers Market. The officer was able to get the name of the seller
at the Berlin Market from the store owner. With additional information
obtained from the mount itself and the officer has started an
investigation into the selling of deer parts at the Berlin Market.
Marie DiMatteo and additional officers of the Southern Region
Office maintained a booth at the Cumberland Co. Sportsman’s
Jamborees. They offered handouts and information to the attending
public. Over one hundred attendees stopped by the booth.
CO Ely attended a special firearms training which was held over
a week’s time by the National Rifle Assoc. This training
was held at the Colliers Mill WMA police range for a variety of
outside police and enforcement agencies.
CO Kille learned that an individual in Monroe Township in Gloucester
County was alleged to have killed a large buck illegally with
a rifle. He and CO Vazquez interviewed the hunter at his home
where the violation was alleged to have occurred. The CO’s
did not locate the antlers from the animal; however they did find
deer hair on a lawn mower. The subject was questioned about the
origin of the deer hair, and after an extensive interview he produced
two sets of deer antlers one of which he admitted was never registered.
The subject was charged with possession of unregistered deer parts.
Since the deer antlers that were present did not match the description
of the deer that was alleged to have been killed, that investigation
CO Toppin was on patrol at Cedar Lake WMA, Monroe Township, Gloucester
County, when he observed a pick –up truck being followed
by an ATV on the WMA. He attempted to stop both vehicles; however
the ATV operator fled the scene. The driver of the truck was interviewed
and he identified the operator of the ATV. The driver was arrested
on an active bench warrant. The truck was towed from the scene
due to lack of insurance. Officers from District 5 and 6 responded
to assist CO Toppin in his search for the ATV rider. The ATV was
found parked at a nearby house; unfortunately the rider had already
left the scene. The case remains open and officers hope to locate
the ATV rider in the near future. It is interesting that that
rider also has an active warrant for his arrest, stemming from
charges filed by NJFW in a recent case.
Sunday September 21 CO Petruccelli received a call about the recreational
fishing vessel “Good as Gold” which was targeting
fluke during the closed season. CO Petruccelli received numerous
complaints about this vessel in years past but was unable to apprehend
the vessel. With assistance from CO James, CO Petruccelli set
up surveillance, to board the vessel upon its return from offshore.
Late in the afternoon he and CO James boarded the vessel inspecting
the coolers of the five fishermen stowed on the deck of the vessel.
One cooler containing the collective legal possession limit of
bluefish was located. Based on the information he obtained, CO
Petruccelli pressed the owner of the vessel about additional fish
hidden on board the vessel. The owner repeatedly denied that more
fish were on board the vessel. A more thorough inspection of the
vessel, concentrating on the compartments in the forward portion
of the vessel, yielded a bag of filleted fish concealed under
a hatch. The fillets were identified as parts from four summer
flounder and nine undersize black sea bass. CO Petruccelli and
CO James issued the appropriate summons for possession of fluke
during closed season, filleting at sea, and interference with
Conservation Officer for making false statements.
On 10/1/08, acting on a call received by the Marine Region Office,
CO Petruccelli observed a small inflatable “Zodiac”
style boat tautog fishing along the jetties in Cape May inlet.
CO Petruccelli watched the occupants of this vessel; a husband
and wife catch and retain several tautog. After hours of fishing,
the vessel’s operator pulled the anchor and beached the
boat near a clam processing plant adjacent to the Two-Mile Bridge.
The couple stopped to collect green crabs for use as tautog bait.
CO Petruccelli took the opportunity to approach the fishermen
on foot. As he approached, the woman immediately ran for the vessel
while the man attempted to obstruct CO Petruccelli’s view.
CO Petruccelli ordered the individuals to stop their attempt to
discard fish from the vessel. The female suspect ignored his orders
and threw a bag containing illegally harvested fish into the bay.
CO Petruccelli was able to recover the bag of fish and apprehend
the individuals. The bag contained 30 tautog; 20 measured less
than the legal size limit. He issued the appropriate summons for
possession of over the limit and under size tautog and for interference
with the duties of a conservation officer.
On September 23, CO Petruccelli observed the FV Helen W. Smith
offloading croakers at Cold Spring Fish Co. in Cape May. He learned
that the vessel had landed its weekly limit of summer flounder
under New Jersey regulations on the 22nd and boarded the vessel
to inspect the vessel’s paperwork. In the wheelhouse of
the vessel, CO Petruccelli noticed that the Captain appeared uneasy.
In addition, the crew hastily finished its offloading and closed
the lid to the fish hold. Sensing that they were hiding something,
CO Petruccelli insisted on inspecting the hold of the vessel.
On initial inspection it appeared as if the bins only had ice
in them. CO Petruccelli dug down below the top layer of ice, approximately
two feet, and discovered a load of summer founder which had not
been offloaded. In addition to the fluke was not being listed
on the vessel’s Federal Fishing Vessel Trip Report; which
is a federal violation, it was landed in excess of the NJ weekly
limit. CO Petruccelli ordered that the vessel offload all of the
concealed fluke. A total of 2,114 lb of fluke was removed from
the vessel’s hold. The captain stated that it was his intention
to land the fluke in his home state of Virginia. CO Petruccelli
documented the violations, issuing a state summons to the vessel
for landing more than their trip limit of fluke and a federal
warning for the failure to accurately complete its FVTR. Upon
conviction the vessel faces up to a $3,000.00 penalty and 60 day
suspension of its New Jersey Fluke landing Permit.
On 10/3/08 Lt Yunghans, CO James and CO Petruccelli assisted NMFS
in apprehending FV Capt Charlie in Sea Isle City for harvesting
sea scallops from the Elephant Trunk limited access area which
is presently closed. NMFS Agent are completing the case package.
CO Snellbaker with the assistance of other District 8 officers
has concentrated on the inlet area of Atlantic City to reduce
the widespread disregard for the recreational tautog fishery.
CO Snellbaker has written numerous summonses for violations of
the 14” size limit and the one fish bag limit. The fall/winter
is typically the time of year when the tautog recreational fishery
becomes very active and is especially popular within the Asian
cultures highly valuing the white meat.
On 9/30/08, while patrolling alone, CO Snellbaker encountered
a large number of recreational violations. While engaged in an
apprehension on one of the finger jetties in the inlet section
of the city, CO Snellbaker observed a woman dump a bucket of illegal
tautog when she saw him. CO Snellbaker ordered her to stop and
began retrieving the fish. While collecting the discarded fish
a male fisherman on the same jetty also began dumping his illegal
fish. CO Snellbaker ordered the man to stop and when his attention
was momentarily diverted to him, the female tried to finish her
destruction of evidence. CO Snellbaker took both individuals into
custody removing them from the jetty to issue several summonses
for over the limit tautog, undersize tautog and interference with
the duties of a conservation officer. During the interview of
the individuals, CO Snellbaker encountered a language barrier.
The woman’s daughter helped translate for CO Snellbaker.
During translation, the little girl told him that they didn’t
have a vehicle in the area.
An hour later, CO Snellbaker noticed that the woman and her daughter
appeared to be acting as lookouts for the other fishermen who
were on the jetties. When they began to pack up their gear and
leave, they loaded up a car which was parked on the street. CO
Snellbaker returned just as they were finished loading the car.
Through their daughter, they made another false claim that no
fish were in the vehicle. CO Snellbaker recovered a cooler concealed
between the front seats of the vehicle which contained 9 under
sized tautog and one summer flounder. He issued the additional
summonses to the male individual. On 10/13/08 CO Snellbaker prosecuted
the individuals in Atlantic City Municipal court. The couples
plead guilty to most of the violations and were sentenced to a
collective penalty of $1200.00
On 10/19/08 District 8 Officers assisted by CO Vasquez and CO
Swift conducted a plain clothes operation for compliance with
the tautog regulations in the inlet area of Atlantic City. Despite
the 20+ mph winds and the tidal surge associated which made the
inlet jetties inaccessible, the operation yielded eleven violations.
Six individuals were issued nine summonses for violations of the
tautog size and bag limit.
On October 4, CO Dravis and Lt. Fresco inspected the F/V Dauntless,
a party boat which docks at Point Pleasant Beach. This vessel
was filled with patrons as it returned from a bottom fishing trip.
The COs were able to apprehend five individuals. Three fishermen
were apprehended with between 28-30 undersized black sea bass
each, including several fish over the bag limit. The two other
fishermen had 10 shorts each. The appropriate summonses were issued.
On September 21 COs Soell and Swift received a complaint in reference
to individuals keeping many undersized blackfish in the Point
Pleasant Canal. CO Swift encountered the individuals at the canal,
but found no violations. Meanwhile, CO Soell knowing the motis
operandi of intentional violators looked inside the suspect’s
vehicle and observed bags containing fish in the vehicle. The
suspects were called to their vehicle and seven undersized blackfish
were recovered from the bags. The two violators were issued summonses
for possessing five blackfish over the limit, and possession of
seven undersized blackfish.
On October 7, COs Soell and Swift set up a surveillance of Barnegat
Inlet at the south jetty in response to a history of complaints
of undersized fish being kept. There were several fishermen on
the jetty. When the COs decided to inspect the fishermen, it created
quite a stir with individuals moving in all directions. Individuals
on cell phones were calling for rides to be picked up so they
wouldn’t get inspected by the COs. The COs staked out two
individuals waiting for a ride and was able to apprehend them
as they were being picked up by two other individuals. The illegal
fish were located in the vehicle. The two individuals in the vehicle
were issued summonses for possession of nine undersized blackfish
and four over bag limit. In a separate incident at the Barnegat
Inlet, CO Soell apprehended two individuals in possession of sixteen
undersized scup, three undersized black sea bass and six undersized
blackfish. The appropriate summonses were issued.
CO Jones investigated a complaint of the Pathmark Supermarket
in Middletown was selling undersized lobster tails. CO Jones confirmed
that the tails were from American Lobster and were undersized.
The store was issued a summons for possession of undersized American
Lobster. The out of state seafood distributor supplying these
tails was contacted and advised to stop deliveries to any businesses
in New Jersey.
An informant called CO Dravis in reference to an individual catching
several blackfish and having his female partner take the fish
away in blue bags and walk out of sight with the fish. This was
occurring at Manasquan Inlet at Pt. Pleasant Beach. CO Dravis
was unable to respond as he was involved in the Governor’s
Surf Fishing Tournament at Island Beach State Park. He relayed
this information to Lt. Fresco and DCO Wotton who responded to
the complaint. DCO Wotton set up a surveillance of the inlet jetty
while Lt. Fresco searched for the female. While driving around
Lt. Fresco observed a female sitting in a vehicle in the general
direction of where the female was last seen walking and matching
the description given by the informant. Lt. Fresco watched this
vehicle while keeping in contact with CO Dravis who was communicating
with the informant. The female left the vehicle and was observed
by the informant picking up a bag of fish from the fisherman.
Lt. Fresco observed the woman walking back to the vehicle with
a large purse over her shoulder. Lt. Fresco observed the woman
place the contents of the purse in the rear of the vehicle and
proceeded to make an inspection. There were seven blackfish wrapped
in blue plastic bags in a cooler, in the rear of the vehicle.
The woman attempted to call the fisherman on her cell phone, but
was thwarted by Lt. Fresco as the informant observed another fish
kept by the fisherman. Lt. Fresco apprehended the fisherman who
had another blackfish in possession on the jetty. The fisherman
was issued summonses for possession of seven blackfish over the
limit and taking two undersized blackfish. Meanwhile, DCO Wotton
observed a separate group of two fishermen take and possess five
undersized blackfish. The appropriate summonses were issued.
CO Soell, while returning back from a boat patrol in the Forked
River, observed a sheen in the water in the vicinity of Silver
Cloud Marina. CO Soell contacted marina personnel who assisted
in locating the source of the sheen. The sheen was traced to a
bilge outlet of one of the vessels docked at the marina. CO Soell
and the marina owner boarded the vessel and discovered a leaking
steel fuel tank. The tank was badly rusted and contained diesel
fuel. They also observed a roll of paper towel placed near the
leak in the tank. NJDEP Emergency Response was contacted, but
the marina had the spill contained and removed the vessel from
the water prior to them arriving on scene. CO Soell contacted
the vessel’s owner who admitted that he was aware of the
leak, stating it was “only leaking a cup to a cup and a
half a day”. He also admitted that the leak had been occurring
for several weeks. A summons is pending.
The fall firearms qualifications for Conservation Officers and
Deputy Conservation Officers began this period. Topics of training
included low light and adverse lighting conditions.
The training unit, with the assistance of several northern region
firearms instructors, conducted the annual firearms qualification
for the Division’s wildlife services section.
A training class was conducted at the Morris County Police Academy
for area police officers in response to black bear incidents.
Mike Madonia from the Bureau of Wildlife Management assisted.
Approximately 25 officers attended the training.
Basic Conservation Officer training commenced for 9 newly hired
Conservation Officers. Basic instruction in fish and wildlife
laws, Constitutional law, programs within the Division and field
operations were covered.