NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife
Bureau of Law Enforcement
Lt. Williamson investigated a complaint of a large buck that
was hidden under a tree near a construction site. The officer
knew of an individual that was working on the building and had
heard he had shot deer at night in the area in the passed. The
CO, along with an officer from the municipal police department,
watched the area that evening. At midnight, the officers observed
a vehicle spotlighting along the road. The officers conducted
a motor vehicle stop and observed the individual and his 10
year old son in the vehicle. They also observed a bow and arrows
on the back seat. The son was operating the spotlight as his
father drove slowly along the road. A summons for spotlighting
with a weapon capable of killing a deer in the vehicle was issued.
Lt. Panico and CO Nestel responded to a request for assistance
from the National Park Service regarding an individual who shot
a bear while bow hunting. The officers arrived at the Walpack
area and interviewed the visibly shaken hunter. The hunter explained
that after he had walked through some heavy cover, he found
himself within 20 yards of two bears. He said the first bear,
a sow, immediately turned and charged him. He said he drew his
bow as he retreated back into the cover. He explained the bear
was approximately 6 feet away when he released the arrow striking
it in the chest. He said the bear then reared back and continued
towards him. He said he kept his bow out in front of his body
attempting to fend it away. He said as he fell straight back
the bear veered off and fell down approximately 70 yards away.
The officers examined the scene and documented the sequence
of events that the hunter had described. The officers also observed
droplets of blood on the hunters’ clothing and bow. The
dead bear was recovered and transported to the Forensics Laboratory
for examination. Upon conclusion of the investigation, it was
determined that the incident involved a Category I bear and
no charges were filed.
Upon observing extensive damage caused by off-road vehicles
at the Flatbrook-Roy WMA, CO Nestel decided to conduct early
evening patrols in an attempt to make apprehensions. After several
patrols, the officer was able to apprehend seven “mud
boggers” who were in the process of doing damage to a
flooded area of the WMA. All the individuals received summonses
and the damage to the area will be addressed in court.
Captain Fletcher conducted a Wildlife of NJ program at the Montague
Elementary School. The program was very well received by both
the students and teachers.
CO Hutchinson investigated a complaint of an individual taking
a “fork horn” buck in a QDM and registering it in
a different zone. The following evening, the officer interviewed
the hunter as he returned to his vehicle from his hunting location.
The officer advised the hunter that he was investigating an
on-going trespass complaint and asked if he had observed anyone.
The hunter said that he had hunted there everyday and had not
observed any other hunters. He also advised the officer that
he had not hunted anywhere else during the season. The officer
then questioned him concerning the buck he killed the previous
evening and the hunter said he killed it in a different zone.
The officer then reminded him that he just said he hadn’t
hunted anywhere else. The hunter then admitted taking the deer
in the QDM. The officer proceeded to the hunters residence,
seized the deer and issued the appropriate summons.
CO O’Rourke located a vehicle on the Assunpink
WMA in the area where a waterfowl hunter had complained about
hunters shooting over his head. The vehicle was also in the
area where he had received complaints of hunters shooting late.
CO O’Rourke listened and heard one shot at 1837 hours
and two more at 1846 hours. Sunset was 1823 hours that night.
At 1905 hours, CO O’Rourke walked into the field and observed
two hunters coming out of the woods near the lake. He asked
the hunters if their guns were loaded and both hunters stated
yes. The older man showed the officer his over-under shotgun
loaded with two shells, one of which was lead. CO O’Rourke
then found 5 more lead shells in an ammo belt. The younger hunter
had a semi auto loaded with one shell in the chamber and the
safety off. He stated that he kept it loaded because he was
afraid of coyotes. Further inspection of their licenses showed
that neither hunter had signed his state and federal duck stamps
or their HIP numbers. Both hunters were charged with hunting
waterfowl after legal hours, unsigned stamps and the older man
was charged with possession of lead shot.
CO Szalaj responded to a request for assistance by Pat DiGangi,
DEP Hazardous Waste and Jackson PD regarding a burned vehicle
in Lake Success at the Colliers Mills WMA. Jackson PD had received
information that a group of local youths had towed a 1989 Honda
Accord out to Colliers Mills, filled it with gasoline and set
it on fire. They then pushed the car into Lake Success. The
vehicle had been loaned to one of the girls in the group by
her mother. The car had broken down and the girl decided to
take her mother’s suburban without permission and tow
the car to the WMA late at night with some friends, who then
torched the vehicle while the girl videotaped it on her cell
phone. Charges for Title 23 and 13 are pending. Jackson PD will
be pursuing charges for theft and arson.
Officers from the Central Region assembled on short notice to
respond to a tip that a Rave party was to take place on the
Greenwood Forest Wildlife Management Area. With only that information
in hand, Officers took up positions throughout the 30,000 acre
management area in an attempt to locate the event. At approximately
2 AM, Officer McManus located the group in a desolate and remote
section of the property. It was difficult to determine the total
number of participants, due to the fact that a number of them
chose to run and hide in the woods. The six officers that were
present ( McManus, Martiak, Mutone, Mascio, Tomlin, Sich) were
able to apprehend approximately sixty individuals. Citations
issued included: After hours on a WMA; riding off the established
roadway; holding an event without a permit; littering; illegal
possession of alcohol; illegal fire; and two arrests were made
for the criminal possession of narcotics.
Officers McManus and Mutone set up on a group of duck hunters
who were hunting in Jackson Twp. on the opening day of the north
zone. At a half hour after legal hunting time, two of the individuals
were still shooting at wood ducks. Unbeknownst to them, they
were under surveillance by the two officers and were apprehended
as they exited the woods.
On the opening day of the north zone duck season, Officers Martiak,
Szulecki and Tomlin conducted a boat patrol of the Raritan River.
During their patrol, they were able to apprehend three individuals
in a hunting party who were in possession of three boxes of
lead shot, even though the subjects had attempted to discard
the illegal shotgun shells before the officers could board their
boat. One individual even tried to hide the shells inside his
waders. Summonses for the possession of the illegal shells and
for interference were issued.
Retired Deputy CO Dave Bell contacted CO Risher at home after
responding to a motor vehicle accident in Buena Vista Township,
Atlantic County. Upon arriving on scene Dave Bell observed an
untagged deer with the head cut off. While assessing the driver's
injuries, the driver admitted to poaching the deer. COs Risher
and Vazquez responded to the scene and conducted an investigation.
It was determined that three of the four occupants were hunting
deer illegally. The fourth occupant was not hunting. Two of the
hunters were charged with trespassing and possession of an untagged
deer. The other person was charged with trespassing, fail to tag/register
deer, mutilation of deer to hide the identity or sex, and failing
to harvest a female deer prior to harvesting a buck.
COs Fox and Vazquez were acting on information CO Vazquez received
on possible deer poaching in Laureldale, Atlantic County, when
CO Fox discovered some marijuana plants. During the investigation
the COs discovered eleven large marijuana plants. COs Ely and
Kille and Lt Tonnesen also assisted in this operation. Both occupants
of the home were arrested and declined any comments. The bail
was set at $15,000. The wife made bail and the husband was transported
to the Atlantic County Jail. Charges were filed for manufacturing
and distribution of CDS (a class II criminal offense). The illegal
deer hunting complaint is still under investigation.
CO Ely responded to a complaint of a sunken truck at the Tuckahoe
Boat Ramp, Cape May County. The vehicle was almost totally submerged
and abandoned. The State Police were on the scene. Approximately
4 hours later the man returned to the vehicle from fishing. He
admitted to accidentally sinking his truck but stated he did not
want to waste the day so he decided to go fishing. Motor Vehicle
charges and charges of letting deleterious substance enter a stream
CO Toppin was notified by two sources about the illegal sale of
prairie dogs in Camden County. A short trip into the local pet
shop confirmed the possession and sale of the potentially dangerous
species. An interview with the shop owner confirmed the sale of
8 prairie dogs in the past 4 months and also implicated a pet
shop distributer who initially imported the animals from Texas.
A Division Notice of Violation was issued to both businesses totaling
$1500.00. At this time all the sold prairie dogs have been recovered.
Interviews of two New Jersey hunters conducted by CO Toppin during
the spring of 2009 concerning illegal hunting activity in Saskatchewan,
Canada aided Saskatchewan CO Peter Schulz and Crown Prosecutors
in the conviction of Randy Armstrong an Indian Outfitter. Mr.
Armstrong had taken two New Jersey hunters on a guided hunt on
Indian Nation lands and had illegally sold game tags to the men
for the areas they were hunting. Mr. Armstrong pled guilty to
the charges of aiding in the illegal taking of wild game outside
the prescribed time and place and attempting to export illegal
wild game across international lines. A $7800.00 fine was assessed
as well as an indefinite loss of outfitting license and a three
year hunting privilege revocation. The two men from New Jersey
lost trophy white tailed deer and elk antlers during an inspection
at the border in 2006. The cooperation and multiple interviews
conducted in New Jersey allowed the case to be prosecuted and
ultimately earned the New Jersey hunters an opportunity to receive
their trophy antlers back. A letter of appreciation was forwarded
from the Crown Prosecutor to Officer Toppin.
COs Toppin and Kille initiated an investigation in Gloucester
and Camden counties concerning archery hunters utilizing the same
doe in order to fulfill their "Earn a Buck" requirement.
In the course of their investigation the officers apprehended
three hunters that had shared the same doe. In addition, they
found a fourth accomplice who then interfered with their investigation.
All the individuals apprehended were attempting to circumvent
the “Earn a Buck” requirements in order to have an
opportunity to harvest a buck. The men were charged with unlawful
possession, improperly tagging/registering, and interference,
CO Vazquez apprehended an individual waterfowl hunting using duck
decoys two weeks prior to the opening of waterfowl season. After
CO Vazquez conducted his interview the man admitted to shooting
at several ducks and shooting late. Appropriate summonses were
CO Vazquez and CO Kille responded to a complaint from a private
citizen reference a man gutting a deer on his front yard. CO Vazquez
did a walk around the exterior of the home. CO Kille observed
antlers up in a tree. After the COs interviewed the defendant
he confessed to: not tagging the deer, failure to check the deer
in, not killing a doe first and killing the deer in the wrong
zone. The Officers issued the appropriate summonses.
9/14/09 COs Scott and Swift conducted an evening patrol in Perth
Amboy, Belmar, Avon and Point Pleasant Beach. The result of the
patrol netted six summonses for possession of 15 undersized tautog,
one summons for undersized crabs and a summons for an undersized
While responding to the seemingly endless complaints in Barnegat
Light, on 9/26/09 CO Swift set up a surveillance along a path
used by illegal fishermen and their accomplices. CO Swift observed
a female carrying a backpack walking to a vehicle. CO Swift then
observed two male fishermen walking up the path approximately
100 yards behind the female. He inspected the fishermen who possessed
one legal tautog. When questioned by CO Swift, the fishermen initially
denied knowing the woman with the backpack. CO Swift obtained
the backpack which contained 7 undersized tautog. As CO Swift
went back to his vehicle to write a summons, a local resident
alerted him that the woman made several trips back and forth to
the vehicle during the day. CO Swift went back to the subject’s
vehicle and found an additional 9 undersized tautog. All three
individuals were issued summons for possession of undersized tautog,
possession of over limit tautog and interference.
On 9/25/09 Lt. Fresco and CO Swift set up a surveillance on the
Point Pleasant canal in reference to many ongoing complaints.
One individual was observed running fish back to a vehicle and
was apprehended with four undersized tautog and one summer flounder
out of season. Another individual was also apprehended for running
fish back to their vehicle with undersized scup and tautog. Later
that day the officers met up with CO Dravis to conduct an inspection
of the FV Paramount in Brielle. An individual fishing on that
vessel contacted CO Dravis in reference to violations by patrons
as well as their descriptions. Two individuals were apprehended
with 27 undersized black sea bass.
On 09/25/09 CO Jones was watching a fisherman on a jetty in Deal.
The fisherman eventually packed up his gear and started to come
off the jetty. At this time another fisherman arrived and started
to walk onto the jetty. The original fisherman gave the new fisherman
a wide berth and hid his bucket on the side opposite this fisherman's
view so the new fisherman could not see into the bucket. CO Jones
watched the fisherman walk onto the beach and then proceed up
the beach passing the normal access location and go to a more
remote access location further up. CO Jones arrived at the second
access site and climbed out of his patrol vehicle. When the fisherman,
who was now climbing stairs towards the parking lot, saw CO Jones
standing at the top of the access, he quickly turned around, ran
down a flight of stairs, and threw the bucket over the railing
and into the weeds. CO Jones advised the individual to retrieve
the bucket. At this time the fluke season had been closed for
21 days. CO Jones inspected the contents of the bucket and found
five fluke. The fisherman was issued a summons for having five
fluke during closed season.
On 09/26/09 CO Jones walked the Keansburg Pier inspecting fisherman
as he went. He encountered a father and teenage son who were attempting
to leave. Both men walked past CO Jones as he tried to inspect
them. CO Jones now had to get in front of both fisherman and stop
them so he could conduct the inspection. The father kept his teenage
son on the far side of him away from CO Jones. The father then
showed CO Jones an empty bucket and said "no fish".
The men then tried to walk away. CO Jones again got in front of
both men and asked to see the contents of the soft-bodied cooler
which the teenage son had strapped across his shoulder. The teenage
son said "its' only drinks". CO Jones had the teenage
son remove the top drink and plastic bag. Underneath the plastic
bag CO Jones observed scup. Upon inspection CO Jones found the
soft-bodied cooler held 40 porgies of which 39 were short. The
father took responsibility for all the fish and the appropriate
summonses were issued.
On 10/01/09 CO Jones conducted surveillance of a fisherman fishing
along the Arthur Kill in Perth Amboy. CO Jones observed the individual
catch two porgies before the fisherman packed up his gear to leave.
CO Jones arrived at the parking location as the fisherman was
approaching his vehicle. Upon seeing CO Jones the fisherman walked
to the passenger side of his vehicle and threw his bag of fish
under the vehicle. CO Jones had the fisherman retrieve his bag
of fish and upon inspection found that the bag contained 5 bluefish,
and 37 porgies (scup). All 37 porgies were short. The appropriate
summonses were issued.
On 10/5/09 COs Soell and Swift set up surveillance on exits used
by fishermen fishing on the Barnegat Light jetty. CO Swift observed
two individuals with fishing equipment dragging a cooler to their
vehicle. CO Swift inspected the cooler and it container 17 undersized
tautog. Summonses were issued to both individuals for possession
of undersized and over limit tautog. Meanwhile, CO Soell received
a call from a local resident on another exit that a male and female
were returning to their vehicle. The resident observed the female
carry two buckets to their vehicle during the course of the day.
The COs stopped the vehicle as they were leaving the area. When
asked if they had caught any fish, the individuals showed the
officers two buckets containing approximately 30 bergalls. CO
Swift spotted a backpack in the vehicle and asked to inspect it.
The backpack contained 10 undersized tautog. The male admitted
to catching all of the fish and received a summonses for possession
of 10 undersized tautog and 9 over bag limit. That same evening,
CO Swift observed a female walk to a vehicle with a backpack.
When she returned to the path the backpack appeared empty. Approximately
fifteen minutes later a male carrying a backpack and no apparent
fishing equipment, returned to the same vehicle and proceeded
to leave the area in his vehicle. The COs followed the vehicle
which then stopped at a gas station. The COs questioned the male
if he had been fishing and he replied that he did. When asked
if he possessed any fish he stated, “no”. CO Soell
asked if he had a cooler and permission to inspect it, to which
the male consented. The cooler contained 40 tautog which were
hidden under a jacket inside the cooler. The backpack he was observed
carrying contained another 9 tautog. Out of a total of 49 tautog,
30 were undersized. The male was issued summonses for possessing
48 tautog over the limit and 30 undersized tautog. It turns out
that all of these fish were caught utilizing hand lines. As a
side note, the woman originally observed going to the vehicle
was apparently left behind by the male and was observed by COs
walking down the main roadway on Long Beach Island. Over the course
of that patrol, 84 illegal tautog were seized.
The National Marine Fisheries Service made a closure of the black
sea bass recreational harvest season to federally permitted party
and charter vessels, effective October 5th . On October 4th, prior
to the federal recreational black sea bass season closure, CO
Snellbaker organized a boarding of the charter vessel Capt Collet
in Atlantic City. At 1600 hrs, CO Snellbaker, CO Nicklow and Lt.
Canale boarded the vessel as they returned to the dock on Maryland
Ave. The Conservation Officers encountered 15 patrons from Maryland
and Washington, DC. When the inspection was complete, Officers,
Snellbaker, Nicklow and Lt. Canale documented a total of 613 undersize
black sea bass, 404 black sea bass possessed over the daily bag
limit of 25 fish per person, 5 undersize scup, and 5 undersize
fluke which were also possessed during the closed season for the
charter. Although individual totals varied, violations per patron
averaged 40 undersized fish and 26 fish over the limit. Officers
issued a total of 32 summonses to the patrons of the CV Capt Collet
for their violations. All of the seized fish were donated to the
Atlantic City Rescue Mission.
CO Petruccelli, assisted by NMFS Special Agent Jason Couse, apprehended
the F/V Sonja H with several violations of New Jersey’s
Commercial fishing regulations. On the evening of September 23,
CO Petruccelli observed FV Sonja H enter its dock area in Cape
May Harbor. While observing the vessel from an adjacent dock,
CO Petruccelli was seen by the owner of H&H Fisheries LLC,
Blair Hansen. H&H Fisheries is the documented owner of the
FV Sonja H. Mr. Hansen was able to warn the captain of the vessel,
Jasen Hansen, about CO Petruccelli’s presence. Jasen Hansen
immediately dumped illegal black sea bass and tautog overboard
into the harbor. CO Petruccelli arrived to find black sea bass
and tautog from the FV Sonja H floating in the water. With the
assistance of the vessel captain, Jasen Hansen, CO Petruccelli
retrieved most of the discarded fish. CO Petruccelli documented
that the FV Sonja H landed 70lb of black sea bass during the closed
commercial season, 35lb of tautog during the closed commercial
tautog season, 17 undersize lobsters and the possession of 2 egg
bearing lobsters. Additionally, a federal violation for failing
to complete a Fishing Vessel Trip Report and a State violation
for interference for the attempt to discard the illegal fish were
documented. CO Petruccelli issued 9 summonses: four to the Vessel
owner and five to the captain. Federal Charges for the logbook
violation are pending.
Lt. Williamson and Captain Brown conducted an in-service training
class for the Morris County Police Academy on Fish and Wildlife
related issues. The training provided the students an overview
of New Jersey’s laws pertaining to Fish and Wildlife, as
well as the common problems associated with these situations.
The topics discussed include ways for the responding officer to
handle nuisance wildlife complaints, common hunting related complaints,
handling calls relating to pollution of the State’s waterways,
the State’s laws on possession of exotic animals, along
with an overview of the State’s licensing requirements for
hunting/fishing related activities. The class was attended by
40 officers from the Morris County area.
Lt.’s Williamson and Applegate conducted a training class
at Morris County Police Academy on Black Bear Incident Response
for Law Enforcement Officers. This was the 28th training class
on this subject with a total of 29 officers from various Municipalities,
State and Federal Agencies attending.
Lt. Leonard conducted a 5 hour block of instruction in Defensive
Tactics for the officers of the Central Region. Topics covered
included use of the expandable baton, handcuffing and take-downs.