NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife
Bureau of Law Enforcement
CO Paul apprehended two individuals on the North Branch of the
Raritan River using a cast net to catch fish. The officer observed
one individual casting the net as the second was acting as a
“look out”. Once the officer stepped down to the
riverbank, the second individual alerted the first of her presence.
The first individual attempted to conceal the net before he
was confronted by the officer. The officer was able to locate
a bucket containing two sub-legal largemouth bass and four trout.
The individuals, who possessed valid fishing licenses and trout
stamps, told the officer they were tired of not catching any
fish with their fishing rods so they decided to use a net. All
the appropriate summonses were issued.
CO Jordan Holmes graduated from the Morris County Police Academy
and received the prestigious Police Training Commission Merit
Award. The award, voted by the Police Recruit Class, is given
to the most outstanding recruit.
CO Sutton received the DEP Heroism Award for preventing an individual
from committing suicide at White Lake WMA in August 2008.
CO Kuechler volunteered as an event assistant for the Law Enforcement
Torch Run for the New Jersey Special Olympics.
CO Sutton issued 14 summonses in a 2 week period at the Pequest
River Trout Conservation Area for over the limit, use of bait
and undersize trout violations.
Sich observed two individuals with no licenses displayed fishing
at Millhurst Lake in Manalapan. When the officer approached
to make an inspection, one of the individuals dropped his fishing
pole, climbed over a barrier and attempted to leave the area.
He was intercepted prior to reaching his vehicle. When confronted,
the subject stated that he wasn’t fishing and was just
leaving. He even told the officer that he didn’t know
anything about fishing regulations because he didn’t fish.
A quick check of bureau records revealed that the subject was
currently revoked for previous fishing violations. The appropriate
summonses were issued.
Over the Memorial Day weekend, officers from the central region
conducted a patrol of the Forked River Wildlife Management Area
in order to curtail illegal off road activity. Officers encountered
a lighter than usual crowd that day due to an accident that
had occurred the previous day on an adjoining property. The
subject, who wasn’t wearing a helmet, flipped his ATV
and sustained severe head and neck injuries which required him
to be air lifted to a nearby hospital. It was very apparent
that the adjacent property owners, concerned about liability,
were now prohibiting riders from entering their property. Officers
utilizing the bureaus ATV’s and those stationed at strategic
locations throughout the management property were able to apprehend
a total of twenty illegal riders that day for various all-terrain
Officer Martiak was on patrol on the Assunpink WMA when he came
across a vehicle parked in the middle of the road. As he pulled
around the vehicle, he noticed the driver and passenger looking
at him very closely. When Officer Martiak stopped to see if
everything was okay, he observed open containers of alcohol
in the front seat of the vehicle. A records check of the driver
showed that he had a suspended driver’s license. The appropriate
summonses were issued and the vehicle was impounded. The following
week, Officer Martiak was again on patrol in the Assunpink WMA,
when he observed a vehicle with an expired inspection sticker.
After stopping the vehicle, it was determined that the vehicle
was unregistered and the operator’s driver’s license
was suspended. The appropriate summonses were issued and the
vehicle was impounded.
Officer Martiak and Lt. Lacroix were on patrol in the Colliers
Mills WMA during one of the recent rainy days when they observed
fresh vehicle tracks that swerved all over the road throughout
the WMA. They also observed fresh beer cans thrown along the
road. Following the tracks, they came across a vehicle with
five occupants at the back of the property. The passengers in
the vehicle were found in possession of alcoholic beverages
and after interviewing them, two admitted to throwing cans out
of the vehicle. The driver was not wearing a seatbelt and the
vehicle was not in regulation concerning inspection. The front
seat passenger was also well known to Fish and Wildlife, as
he has been written numerous WMA violations in the past several
years including dumping and after hours. Knowing that he had
failed to show up in court in the past and had not paid summonses
on time, he was run for any outstanding warrants. It was determined
that he had two warrants out of Jackson. He was placed in custody
and taken to Jackson PD. The appropriate summonses were issued
to the driver and other passengers.
Officers Martiak and Szulecki participated in the Torch Run
for the Special Olympics and also attended the Medal’s
Ceremony during the Special Olympics.
Officer O’Rourke was called out one evening for a complaint
of a large group of people using a cast net at Dam Site 5 on
the Assunpink Creek. When he arrived at the scene, he could
not locate any net, but did find four fishermen in possession
of large mouth bass during the closed season. They were charged
accordingly. Several days later, Officer O’Rourke and
Lt. Lacroix checked a group of fishermen at Dam Site 5. As Officer
O’Rourke walked down to the fishermen, he observed a man
throw a net down into the water and begin stepping on it to
push it under the mud. The fishermen were found in possession
again of four large mouth bass. None of the fishermen had licenses,
but it was during the free fishing weekend. Summonses for possession
of bass and interference were issued.
Lt. Lacroix responded to a complaint of a large pile of construction
debris on the Assunpink WMA. She was able to retrieve several
names and addresses from the pile after an hour of searching.
She was able to track down the responsible party by the end
of the day. The woman’s name found in the pile had moved
into a new home and had done some remodeling. A man with a trailer
had offered to remove the pile of construction debris from her
driveway for $600. Luckily she had gotten his cell phone number.
She contacted him and he contacted Lt. Lacroix. He stated that
he had removed the debris from the homeowner’s residence,
but that he had subcontracted out the dumping. He claimed he
didn’t know how to get in touch with the sub contractor,
but he stated that he would take responsibility for the violation
and pick up the pile. He paid $1500. for the violation in court
two weeks later.
Lt. Wayne Tonnesen and CO Risher conducted an afternoon fishing
patrol of the Elmer Lake Wildlife Management Area in the municipalities
of Pittsgrove and Elmer Boro, Salem County. CO Risher called in
a canoe with two fishermen. After some strange looks from the
rear fishermen and a delay to come ashore the fishermen complied
with Officer Risher. Neither of the fishermen possessed valid
fishing licenses and were in possession of beer. Because the canoe
did not have life jackets and the operator did not have a valid
registration or valid boating credentials CO Risher returned with
the fisherman to the pickup truck. Lt Tonnesen remained with the
second fisherman at the Elmer Lake boat ramp. The fisherman provided
false information to Lt. Tonnesen at the boat ramp. CO Risher
began to interview the other fisherman and the true identity of
the second fisherman was ascertained. As the CO's conducted their
field interview at the ramp the Elmer Police stopped by and assisted.
It was determined that one of the fishermen had approximately
$2500.00 worth of outstanding warrants. He was charged for fishing
without a license, interference with the duties of a conservation
officer and possession of alcohol in a wildlife management area.
The second fisherman was only charged with fishing without a license
and released. Elmer Boro Police Department arrested the individual
for his outstanding warrants and transported him to the county
An Atlantic County Sheriff Officer serving a warrant located two
raptors being held in an outside aviary. The officer contacted
the Southern Region Office and Conservation Officer Fox started
an investigation. Officer Fox located the birds and determined
that the location was the same one that southern region officers
had signed complaints on in 2004. Officer Fox applied and received
a video surveillance warrant and placed a remote camera at the
aviary. The surveillance established that the woman that was charged
in 2004 with the unlawful possession of raptors was back in business.
The camera caught her tending a Cooper’s hawk and a Great
Horned Owl. Officer Fox received a search warrant to enter and
seize the birds and served it while the suspect was tending the
birds. At the time of serving the warrant the Cooper’s hawk
was missing and the women denied being in possession of the bird.
Rehabilitator Don Bonica assisted the case by taking possession
of the Great Horned Owl and documenting the condition of the bird
for court testimony.
Captain Tod Eisenhuth, Southern Region Captain and Lieutenant
Greg Honachefsky, Southern Region Investigator have retired effective
July 1, 2009. Both contributed greatly to the Bureau during their
twenty-five plus year careers and will be missed. Everyone wishes
them a long and active retirement.
Conservation Officer Batten received information that a large
group of people were riding ATV’s at Menantico WMA. Upon
arrival Officer Batten located four families that were riding
together. There were a total of 15 people, mostly juveniles, riding
illegally. The three adult males were cited for illegal operation
of ATV’s on a Wildlife Management Area.
Conservation Officer Ciraolo received information regarding a
woman in Egg Harbor City that was in possession of a large amount
of turtles. After several days of investigation Officer’s
Ciraolo and Ely stopped at the residence and interviewed the women.
The investigation revealed that there were 26 different species
of animals in possession without the proper permits. The woman
had 3 species of birds, 10 species of reptiles and one species
of amphibian. The woman will be cited for her extensive illegal
5/15/09 CO Dravis set up a surveillance of the FV Jamie Mae, a
commercial otter trawl vessel, as it offloaded its catch at the
Point Pleasant Fishermen’s Cooperative. For ten minutes
the offload was uneventful until CO Dravis observed the captain
emerge from the vessel’s cabin with a fish basket and place
it on the co-op dock. He then observed one of the mates also exit
the cabin carrying a plastic shopping bag and a zip lock bag.
The plastic bag was transferred to a non-crewmember standing on
the dock. This individual momentarily disappeared into the co-op
building and then reappeared empty-handed. The zip lock bag, which
seemingly contained fillets, was handed to another individual
on the dock. CO Dravis then proceeded to the loading dock at the
co-op and found the plastic shopping bag inside the building in
a box containing ice. The bag contained 12 lobster tails and claws.
All of the tails were undersized. This shopping bag also contained
another zip lock bag with winter flounder fillets. The fish basket
(from the captain) contained whole winter flounder. The other
zip lock bag that was handed off at the dock was missing, along
with the individual. The captain, who is also the owner, was charged
with possession of mutilated lobster parts, undersized lobster
tails and possession of winter flounder during closed commercial
season. It should be noted that this vessel has an extensive past
violation history and this is the second time this year the vessel
has been caught in violation by CO Dravis.
On 5/16/09, Lt. Fresco and CO Swift inspected the FV Theresa,
a commercial lobster pot vessel in Point Pleasant. CO Swift inspected
the vessel’s fishing vessel trip report and found it to
be blank, a federal violation. CO Swift also discovered 10 black
sea bass fillets on board the vessel. A summons was issued for
possession of mutilated fish, and a warning was issued for failing
to complete the fishing trip report.
On 6/6/09 and 6/14/09 CO’s Jones and Scott, along with Lt.
Fresco and CO Martiak conducted boat patrols in the Raritan and
Sandy Hook Bays. On 6/6/09 five summonses were issued for possession
of undersized summer flounder for a total of 15 fish and 6 summonses
and 7 written warnings were issued for clamming violations. One
6/14/09 the CO’s issued 7 summonses for undersized summer
flounder that included 21 illegally possessed fish. On of the
boats inspected possessed 14 shorts. Another vessel was inspected
earlier in the day with no violations and the two fishermen were
handed a copy of the marine fish regulations. The fishermen were
also verbally reminded of the fluke size limit. Prior to departing,
CO Jones said “We may be back to check you later”.
Later on, the same vessel was encountered and the fishermen were
asked if they caught any fish and one of the fishermen replied,
“just sea robins”, and held up a sea robin. A quick
inspection of their cooler revealed 3 undersized summer flounder
measuring no larger than 13.5 inches that were concealed under
sea robins. The regulation cards were buried in the cooler along
with the fish.
FV Paramount, a party boat out of Brielle was inspected on two
occasions this month. During the first inspection as the vessel
moored to the dock, CO Swift observed an individual holding a
tautog on the far side if the vessel. Tautog season is presently
closed. CO Swift ordered the individual not to throw the fish,
but was ignored. Also, a total of 19 sub legal black sea bass
were recovered from other fishermen and a total of six summonses
issued. At the later inspection it was almost déjà
vu when CO Scott ordered an individual on the far side of the
vessel, not to throw any fish over board. The individual ignored
the command and dumped the entire contents of his cooler overboard
which included 10 black sea bass and 11 ling. This individual
was written a summons for interference and wanton waste of 21
On 6/13/09 CO Jones was conducting a paper work investigation
at the J T White hard clam depuration plant in Highlands. He observed
a clammer landing clams and whom he had developed information
on for several months. CO Jones approached the clammer as he was
leaving the dock and summoned him to stop. CO Jones asked the
clammer if he had off loaded all of his clams. The clammer stated,
“yes”. CO Jones observed a stack of 4 fish baskets
nested inside each other in the bow of the vessel. CO Jones also
saw something black in between the bottom two baskets. On further
inspection CO Jones found 381 hard clams sandwiched in the bottom
two baskets. The clammer claimed that he was going to dump the
clams back into the water because the plant refuses to buy the
very small clams, referred to as “little, little necks”.
CO Jones sorted the clams in the plant and was advised by the
plant manager that 195 of those clams would have been purchased
by the plant. Only 3 out of the 381 clams were of sub legal size.
This particular clammer had been caught numerous times in the
last 20 plus years for similar bootlegging violations and has
also served jail time as well. The appropriate summonses were
issued and the clammer’s depuration permit was suspended
indefinitely, with a permanent revocation being sought.
Lt. Fresco was watching sport boat fishermen in the Shark River
on 6/13/09. He observed a fisherman in a vessel catch and keep
what appeared to be a “questionable” sized summer
flounder and made a mental note of the incident. Later in the
day at the Belmar Municipal Ramp, this vessel having three occupants
came to the ramp. The fishermen had their summer flounder in a
cooler and all of the fish were of legal size. This boat had large
rubber mats covering its floor. Lt. Fresco lifted a corner of
one of the mats and observed a summer flounder tail sticking out.
The fish measured 17.5 inches. Lt. Fresco continued lifting the
remainder of the mats and found 10 sub legal summer flounder in
total. The owner of the boat was written summonses for possession
of 10 undersized summer flounder.
On June 1st, NMFS contacted the Marine Enforcement Office about
a Limited Access General Category permitted sea scallop vessel
which had entered the closed Elephant Trunk Sea Scallop Access
Area (ETAA). Through their Vessel Monitoring System on board,
the vessel was ordered to terminate their trip and immediately
return to port. Under direction of SA Gilmore of NMFS Office of
Law Enforcement, CO Petruccelli boarded the vessel upon its return
to Atlantic Capes Fisheries in Lower Twp. CO Petruccelli seized
the sea scallops landed due to the incursion and obtained all
documentation required for processing the federal violation. As
part of the seizure process, CO Petruccelli auctioned off the
sea scallops taken from the vessel.
On June 1st, CO Petruccelli and CO Nicklow served Charles Burke
III with a Notice of Permit Sanction issued by NOAA’s Office
of General Counsel for repeated violations of federal sea scallop
regulations. The notice initiates a three year permit suspension
under the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation Act of Mr. Burke’s
NMFS operators permit and the FV Two Brothers scallop permits.
NOAA General Counsel required that this notice be hand delivered
due to Mr. Burke’s repeated refusal to accept delivery by
mail or FedEx.
On June 12th, CO James responded to request for assistance from
NMFS. Agents from the New Jersey Field office received a report
of a Great White Shark landed by a vessel participating in a Shark
tournament in Cape May. The shark was caught offshore and misidentified
as a Mako. When the captain and crew landed the shark at South
Jersey Marina, the tournament’s weigh master pointed out
the fisherman’s mistake. The captain of the vessel immediately
reported his error to NMFS and turned himself in for his illegal
harvest. CO James met with Cape May Coast Guard officers who had
escorted the vessel to their station in Cape May Harbor. CO James
interviewed the captain and crew of the FV Miss Ellie, double
checked the accuracy of shark’s identification, and seized
the 83 inch 300lb specimen. CO James also made arrangements for
the cold storage of the shark at Cold Spring Fish and Supply CO.
until NMFS biologists could be contacted for retrieval.
During his regular day off on 5/12/09, CO Trembley observed three
individuals illegally hunting turkeys. Shots were fired within
close proximity of CO Trembley’s location and two of the
individuals killed three birds. In addition to ruining a local
farmer’ s legal pursuit of a turkey, the two hunters’
did not possess a permit for the zone that they harvested the
turkey in. CO Trembley with the help of CO Stites was able to
apprehend the individuals for their violation. The appropriate
summonses were issued.
On May 27 th, CO Nicklow investigated the illegal possession of
horseshoe crabs by a commercial fisherman. The individual was
fishing 17 miniature fyke pots he set in Roundabout Creek in Little
Egg Harbor Twp. The individual did not possess a valid 2009 license
for the gear and subsequently did not have his gear properly marked
with a gear identification number. The fisherman could not produce
written documentation of his legal source of the horseshoe crabs
he possessed for bait. Without a valid mini-fyke license and bona
fide documentation of the legal purchase of the horseshoe crabs,
the fisherman could not legally possess the crabs. CO Nicklow
issued the individual summonses for failing to possess a mini-fyke
license, and for illegally possessing horseshoe crabs without
a license and the receipt of purchase. CO Nicklow issued a warning
for the failure to mark his gear. The individual plead guilty
to both violations in Little Egg Harbor Municipal court and was
sentenced to a penalty of $600.00 plus court costs.
CO Nicklow continues to document high violation rates on the Charter/Party
Vessels Miss Atlantic City and Capt Collet. The vessels are based
out of the same dock located on Maryland Ave in Atlantic City
and are owned by a husband and wife who operate the vessels for
hire. On three separate occasions this month alone, CO Nicklow
has boarded one of the vessels as it returned from offshore recreation
charter trips. CO Nicklow is documenting a near 75% violation
rate of patrons on these vessels. On June 3rd, CO Nicklow inspected
the patrons leaving the Miss Atlantic City. He issued 8 summonses
for the violation of the Black Sea Bass size and Bag limits. He
seized and subsequently donated to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission,
200 illegal Black Sea Bass harvested on that trip.
On 6/13/09 CO James responded to a complaint involving the illegal
harvest of tautog on the 8th St. jetty in Avalon. When he arrived,
CO James observed two fish in a vehicle and proceeded to inspect
fishermen on the jetty. CO James located the responsible party
on the jetty and returned to the vehicle to inspect the fish.
In the vehicle, CO James located a cooler which contained an additional
8 fish. In all, 10 fish were possessed illegally. CO James issued
summonses for 9 undersized tautog and 10 possessed during the
closed season. During his investigation one individual was unwilling
to provide CO James identification. When facing arrest he eventually
complied and was issued an additional summons from CO James for
On 5/29/09, CO Snellbaker assisted by CO Vasquez conducted surveillance
of the “T” Jetty along the Absecon Inlet in Atlantic
City. Officers observed as a group of three individuals illegally
harvested tautog, placed them in red onion bags and hid them deep
in the crevices between the rocks that make up the jetty. Even
with knowledge of where the fish were hidden, officers had a very
hard time retrieving the stash of fish. CO Snellbaker and CO Vasquez
apprehended the individuals and issued 5 summonses for taking
tautog during the closed season and the possession of 23 undersized