NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife
Bureau of Law Enforcement
While patrolling the Hackensack Meadowlands during the waterfowl
season, Lt. Applegate and COs Kuechler, Sutton and Holmes encountered
a group of hunters that included an individual had been apprehended
last season for waterfowl violations. The officers observed
the hunters shoot well beyond legal hours, and saw several Canada
Geese downed, although the season for geese was closed. Unable
to reach their location by boat, Lt. Applegate was able to locate
their vehicle parked on a rail road bed. The officer waited
as two individuals eventually approached the truck. As the officer
announced himself, one individual started shouting about throwing
everything in the water, fell to the ground, and clutched his
chest as he claimed he was having a heart attack. As the officer
was attending to the alleged victim, the second individual got
in the truck and left the area by driving down the narrow rail
bed. The first individual then admitted to the officer that
he was not having a heart attack at all. A third individual
and a 10 year old juvenile were then located at their boat.
The second individual was apprehended after he was contacted
via cell phone and convinced to return to the scene. This individual
had to be driven back to the scene, as all four tires and rims
on the truck were damaged and possibly a broken axle to the
vehicle. Complaints for hunting after hours, possessing 91 lead
shot rounds, taking 4 Canada Geese out of season, interference
and several boating violations were signed.
Lt. Panico assisted the Montville PD with the apprehension of
an individual who killed a deer with a bow and arrow at a municipal
ball field one evening. The PD received a call from a homeowner
who said he watched an individual use the headlights of his
vehicle to “spot light” the field, get out of his
vehicle and shoot at a deer. The PD responded and was able to
stop the vehicle several blocks away. Lt. Panico assisted in
recovering a 4 point buck from the scene. The individual denied
shooting the deer and claimed he was attempting to locate a
deer he had shot earlier in the day in another area. The officer
advised him the deer would be examined by a forensic pathologist
to determine where it was hit by the arrow. Upon examination,
it was determined that the deer had been hit in a vital area
and would not have been able to travel any distance. The individual
then admitted to shooting the deer and all the appropriate summonses
Northern Region COs were busy on the opening day of the Pheasant
Season, issuing a total of 24 summonses including hunting without
a license, possess unlawful missiles, unplugged firearm, shooting
across a roadway, over the limit pheasants, 450’ violations,
hunting during closed season, possess pheasants without a stamp
and procuring a resident license wrongfully.
Lt. Applegate and CO Paul investigated a complaint of a South
Amboy resident shooting a deer at night in Morris County. The
officers proceeded to the individual’s residence one evening
to interview him but found no one there. After a short time,
a vehicle with three occupants pulled into the driveway. The
officers approached the vehicle and observed an uncased shotgun
on the front seat and an untagged deer in the back. The officers
got the occupants out of the vehicle and proceeded to question
them concerning the deer and firearm. The homeowner and his
two cousins from New Hampshire all admitted to just killing
the deer in Morris County. The officers then noticed coolers
on the front lawn and asked about their contents. The individuals
told the officers they contained parts from three other deer
they recently killed. The officers located a set of antlers
from another untagged, unregistered deer. The officers were
then led to a tree in the backyard where the homeowner said
they had butchered the deer. Although no additional deer where
found, the officers observed a leg hold trap hanging from the
tree. The two New Hampshire residents told the officers they
had come to NJ “for the meat”. The individuals admitted
to shooting all the deer at night with a shotgun and not having
valid hunting licenses. Numerous summonses for all the violations
While patrolling the Flatbrook WMA late one rainy afternoon,
Lt. Panico and CO Sutton observed a vehicle traveling slowly
down an unpaved road with both windows open. Recognizing this
activity as being consistent with “road hunting”,
the officers initiated a motor vehicle stop. Two individuals
were apprehended with a cocked cross bow loaded with a bolt
in the front seat. Both individuals were charged with hunting
with the aid of a vehicle and having the cocked crossbow in
The night before Opening Day of the Pheasant season, Lt. Panico
and CO Sutton were patrolling the Delaware Water Gap area when
they stopped a vehicle for suspected night deer activity. Upon
approaching the vehicle, the officers observed a freshly killed,
untagged deer and a pheasant in the truck. All the appropriate
summonses including one for procuring a resident license wrongfully
CO Holmes investigated a complaint of a hunting club which attempted
to use a possession seal from a previously registered doe on
a buck they killed during a drive. The officer responded to
the club house and found several members in the process of butchering
the buck. Upon interviewing the members, it was determined that
two members had shot the buck during the drive and neither was
willing to use their buck tag to register the deer. They decided
to try to use the seal to cover themselves for possessing the
deer. Both hunters were issued summonses for possessing the
untagged and unregistered deer.
Lt. Applegate responded to a complaint of an individual being
in possession of an untagged buck in the back of his pick up
truck one evening. As the officer was attempting to locate the
vehicle on an unpaved road, he was met “head on”
by the truck. The officer exited his vehicle and observed the
untagged deer in the truck bed. The driver of the vehicle admitted
to killing the deer and attempting to possess it without tagging
and registering it.
Lt. Applegate and CO Paul investigated an individual who was
allegedly shooting deer during the archery season with a shotgun.
The officers waited for the hunter at his vehicle one afternoon
and found him to be on possession of a shotgun loaded with 3
rounds of buckshot within 450’ of a residence. Upon questioning
the individual about some hair and blood they observed in the
bed of his truck, the officers determined he was also in possession
of an untagged and unregistered deer. All the appropriate summonses
CO Kuechler gave a presentation to the Secaucus Boy and Cub
Scout Troops on the duties of a Conservation Officer. The program
was well received by all who attended.
CO Paul assisted the Bridgewater PD with apprehending an individual
for trespassing, having a knocked arrow within 450’ of
a residence and hunting without a valid archery permit. The
individual will be revoked upon conviction of these charges.
Martiak received a call from a deer hunter that he had just
witnessed a man on a tractor shoot a deer with a rifle while
utilizing a spotlight. The complainant stated that he was almost
hit by the bullets. CO Martiak, assisted by Lt. Lacroix, located
the suspect who at first denied shooting at deer, but admitted
to the act after interview by the officer. Two rifles, a .22
and a .223 were located in a trailer on the property that appeared
to have been recently fired. The man stated that he had used
the .223 which corresponded to the witness statements. Twenty-two
casings were found on the floor of the tractor. Both guns were
seized as evidence. Lt. Lacroix retrieved the dead 6-point buck.
Eight charges for various illegal hunting violations were issued.
COs O’Rourke and Martiak were on patrol in Burlington
County when they received information about late waterfowl hunting
on the Rancocas Creek. The officers responded to a local marina
where they could observe the three hunters across the river.
A number of shots were fired after legal hours, all witnessed
by the officers. The hunters came back into the marina and at
first denied shooting late. After, CO O’Rourke indicated
times for all the late shots, the hunters admitted to shooting
late. Charges for hunting after hours and failure to provide
pfd’s on a vessel were issued.
CO Martiak received information regarding a known revoked hunter,
seen walking through private property dressed in camouflage
and carrying a bow. COs Martiak and Tomlin searched the area
but could not find the suspect. They decided to wait near the
suspect’s home. Shortly after dark, the suspect came walking
back to his home carrying a bow, tree stand and a backpack.
The officers confronted him and he denied that he had been hunting,
stating that his brother had been out hunting and had chest
pains and left all his equipment, including his license, in
the woods. The suspect stated that his brother had called him
and asked him to retrieve his equipment from the woods. Based
on the witness statement, the suspect was charged with hunting
while revoked. While on the property, the officers also observed
a 10-point buck that wasn’t tagged. The appropriate summons
was issued for that violation also.
CO Martiak was on patrol on the Assunpink WMA on the opening
of small game season when he recognized a hunter that he had
revoked. He contacted the CRO to find out when the hunter had
come off the revocation list. He was told that the hunter had
received a lifetime revocation for two violations of 23:4-16(d).
The man stated that his lawyer had told him he could continue
Officer Mutone investigated an illegal dumping incident that
occurred on the Howardsville Wildlife Management Area located
in Barnegat Twp. With evidence recovered from the scene, Officer
Mutone was able to identify a potential suspect. After locating
and interviewing the subject, he finally admitted to dumping
approximately two cubic yards of household trash on the property.
He was charged with dumping trash on a wildlife management area
and then required to clean up the site.
On a recent Sunday, Officers McManus, Mutone and Tomlin were
dispatched to the Forked River Wildlife Management Area to assist
Lacey Twp Police with an ongoing problem involving the illegal
use of off road vehicles. Within a short period of time the
officers were able to apprehend twelve individuals for a variety
of wildlife management violations including the illegal possession
of alcohol, unregistered motor vehicle and driving off the established
Officer Tomlin encountered a non-resident bow hunter in Manalapan
Twp who had no valid hunting license or bow permit in his possession.
The subject tried to convince the officer that he had the proper
credentials, but had lost them while hunting that day. A quick
check of ALS records revealed that he had no valid license.
Upon further inspection, it was also determined that the subject
had illegally obtained a resident 2008 bow license. The appropriate
charges were filed.
While checking Bevans WMA Conservation officer Ely encountered
an individual standing by a car near one of the stocked fields
of the WMA. Officer Ely observed that the man was wearing hunting
clothes and when he approached him the man quickly tried to drive
away. Officer Ely asked to see his license and was told that the
individual had not started to hunt yet and he had left his license
at home. Upon checking the hunters gun Officer Ely observed that
it had been recently fired. The hunter quickly stated that the
gun had been used by his brother earlier in the day. Officer Ely
found fresh pheasant feathers in the man’s jacket and was
told that the man’s uncle had been using the jacket earlier
in the day. Officer Ely found this difficult to believe especially
when the hunter’s 2008 license was on the back. After a
more detailed interview the hunter admitted to hunting without
a license or pheasant stamp. The appropriate summonses were issued.
Conservation Officer Vazquez received a call from Trenton Dispatch
regarding the unlawful killing of a wild turkey. Officer Vazquez
contacted the complaint and learned that the man’s 16 year
old son had come home from school and upon hearing a shot observed
a man on the adjacent property walking to his truck with a still
flopping turkey. The complainant felt that the man his son observed
was the owner of the property but only had the first name, and
was concerned that the boy’s observations remain anonymous.
After using his blackberry to check the tax records to obtain
the man’s name and address, Officer Vazquez went to man’s
residence and obtained a written confession. The appropriate complaint
will be issued.
Last month Conservation Officer Vazquez had seized what was suspected
as peyote cactus, a schedule 1 drug, from a pet shop that was
also violating the nongame and endangered species permit regulations.
Recently, Officer Vazquez received confirmation from the State
Police lab that the cactus was in fact peyote; something that
has not been seen by the lab for several decades. Officer Vazquez
has filed criminal complaints for illegal possession and possession
with intent to distribute a schedule 1 drug. The pet shop owner
has fled the state and an arrest warrant has been issued.Conservation
Officer Toppin investigated a large boat that was dumped on the
Cedar Lake WMA in Monroe Township. He located the boats registered
owner and after speaking with several other individuals finally
located the party responsible for the boat being dumped. Officer
Toppin had the individual clean up the site and the appropriate
summonses were issued.
While on patrol with Lt Tonnesen, Conservation Officer Toppin
found construction material dumped on Winslow WMA. Officer Toppin
found paperwork that led him to a contractor who in turn gave
him information on the person who was hired to cleanup the jobsite.
After interviewing the subcontractor the appropriate summonses
While stocking pheasants a wildlife worker spotted a fire on the
Glassboro WMA and radioed for assistance. Conservation Officer
Toppin responded to the area and was assisted by the Monroe Township
Police Department. When he arrived he apprehended three individuals
who admitted to starting camp fire that had gotten out of hand.
While handling the fire case Officer Toppin intercepted a number
of vehicles coming into the WMA for some night time entertainment.
Several cases of beer were seized and the appropriate summonses
Conservation Officer Toppin responded to a residence to check
on the report of a person illegally possessing an alligator. The
local police department, who had handled a domestic violence complaint
at the residence, called the division upon seeing the alligator.
Officer Toppin was able to verify the information and removed
the alligator from the home. Action is pending.
Conservation Officer Stites returned to the scene of a night deer
complaint from last hunting season because he received information
that the same group of individuals were illegally hunting again.
When he arrived just before dark he apprehended a person hunting
rabbits with a .22 rifle. The individual was hunting without a
license, a rifle permit and was not wearing hunter’s orange.
The hunter was one of several people Officer Stites has gotten
complaints on from last year. The appropriate summonses were issued.
Swift recently settled a case in Highlands Borough Court stemming
from fillet permit violations observed by undercover officers
on the party FV Elaine B II on 7/31/09. The mate and captain pleaded
guilty and paid a total of $600.00 in penalties plus costs. The
vessel also had its fillet permit suspended for a period of 60
days. CO Scott also settled a case in Middletown Township Court
involving a commercial conch pot fisherman. The individual pleaded
guilty to this second violation for placing of conch pots in a
marked or charted channel. He paid a penalty of $750.00 plus costs.
On 11/7/09, CO Soell settled a case in Barnegat Light Municipal
Court involving an individual who was apprehended with 48 tautog
over limit and 30 undersized tautog. This individual pleaded guilty
and was assessed a penalty of $2340.00 plus court costs.
On 11/15/09 District 7 COs conducted a plain-clothes operation
at Barnegat Light SP jetty in response to complaints from local
citizens of unlawful activity. The officers posing as fishermen,
observed several instances in which fishermen deliberately attempted
to conceal their illegal catches and avoid detection. Groups of
fishermen would send out illegal fish with individuals in backpacks
with no fishing equipment, while the rest of the group brought
out legal fish and all the equipment. The carriers of the illegal
catch would walk out to side streets along the beach to be later
picked up by their counterparts or go to separate vehicles. A
total of 15 individuals were apprehended by the officers with
a total of 23 summonses issued. Summonses issued included: 2 summonses
for possession of a total of 23 winter flounder out of season;
8 summonses for possession of a total of 23 tautog, over bag limit;
4 summonses for possession of a total of 10 undersized tautog;
and 9 summonses for interfering with the duties of a CO.
On 11/22/09 COs Scott and Swift observed a fisherman returning
to the Neptune City ramp. They recognized this individual as a
habitual marine fish violator who is currently awaiting trial
on another case involving 47 summer flounder out of season. An
inspection of the vessel revealed 6 undersized striped bass. Summonses
were issued for 6 short striped bass and 2 over limit. CO Scott
later inspected the charter fishing vessel, Right of Way II that
just returned to the Belmar Municipal Marina in the Shark River,
from a tautog fishing trip. The inspection was uneventful. A short
time later, CO Swift while driving through the Belmar Marina parking
lot, observed a well-dressed individual carrying a bag of three,
large tautog. When questioned by CO Swift, this individual claimed
he bought the fish from the Right of Way II. CO Swift took the
individual back to the vessel to point out the seller, who turned
out to be one of the patrons. A summons was issued to the patron
for sale of tautog without a permit. Earlier that day while on
boat patrol with USCG Sandy Hook, CO Scott inspected a sport fisherman
in possession of 12 tautog, 6 over the daily possession limit.
A summons was issued for the overage.
CO Dravis conducted a dockside inspection of a sport fishing vessel
in Brielle on 11/22/09. As he approached this vessel, he observed
some of the three occupants scurrying around to fill out striped
bass bonus tags. CO Dravis asked what they had caught and one
of the fishermen stated they had 8 striped bass. At the time they
had not filled out any of the bonus tags. When CO Dravis told
them he was going to inspect the vessel’s fish holds, one
individual told them they were also in possession of a summer
flounder. The holds contained 8 striped bass and a 24 inch summer
flounder. A summons was issued to the captain for not filling
out the bonus tags and possession of summer flounder during the
Quarterly Firearms qualifications and training was recently conducted
for all Bureau Law Enforcement Personnel. This session consisted
of low level light training with the firearm. A block of instruction
was given in the use of firearms in dim light shooting conditions.
Several Regional Firearms Instructors assisted with the training.
Lt. Leonard conducted a 5 hour block of instruction in Defensive
Tactics for the officers of the Northern and Southern Regions.
Topics covered included use of the expandable baton, handcuffing
Quarterly Scoped Rifle qualifications were recently conducted
for the Wildlife Control personnel Precision Rifle shooters.
A biannual inspection of the Bureau’s Training Center was
conducted by the Police Training Commission. As a result of passing
this inspection, the Training Center was once again certified
as a Satellite Police Academy under the direction of the Division
of Criminal Justice Academy located in Sea Girt.