The Central Regional Office received a phone call from the Mercer County Sheriffs Department after they executed a search warrant for a residence in the Trenton City. The Sheriffs found four American alligators and three large Red-eared slider turtles inside the home. Conservation Officer Mutone was dispatched to assist. CO Mutone contacted the Trenton City Animal Control and was advised that the animals were removed from the residence. Trenton Animal Control released the animals to CO Mutone. The four alligators were in a small plastic container. The water was black and had a strong foul odor. One of the alligators was not moving and appeared dead. The turtles were in a milk crate. CO Mutone transported the reptiles to the Northern Regional Office and relinquished them to Principal Biologist Linda DiPiano. The appropriate summons was issued.
Lt. O’Rourke responded to a call for assistance from Toms River Township Police Department. A patrolman inspected a hunter’s vehicle that was in an area of the township closed to hunting. In the bed of the vehicle was an untagged deer. Later that day the patrolman stopped at the hunter’s residence to speak to him about hunting in the closed area. The patrolman observed the same deer hanging in the hunter’s backyard, still untagged. Lt. O’Rourke arrived at 7:00P.M., and the hunter advised him the reason he did not fill out his tag immediately upon harvesting was because he did not have a pen and he didn’t want to get his truck dirty. After reviewing the hunter’s paperwork, his supplemental tag was missing. The appropriate enforcement action was taken.
Conservation Officer McManus was patrolling Colliers Mills WMA on the morning of the last pheasant stocking. He was flagged down by two hunters who had just been shot in the face. CO McManus provided first aid until Jackson Township EMTs arrived. The victims were treated on scene, but refused to be transported to the hospital. After being treated, they took CO McManus to the location where they were shot. While at the scene, the victims explained what had occurred. They also stated they had confronted the alleged shooter. The shooter denied responsibility and, at the urging of his hunting partner, quickly left the scene. Later, while still at the scene, two hunters approached CO McManus and said they had witnessed the incident. Several days later, CO McManus and the victims met with a New Jersey State Police sketch artist. The trooper drew a picture of the shooter based on the description given by the victims. The following week, CO McManus patrolled Colliers Mills WMA, passing out copies of the drawing of the shooter and searching for additional witnesses to the incident. CO McManus met two men that fit the description of the alleged shooter and his companion. When CO McManus questioned the two individuals, the one matching the description of the shooter blurted out, "Someone accused us of shooting them". CO McManus contacted one of the victims. He came out and positively identified the shooter. The investigation is still pending at this time.
Conservation Officer Sean McManus was on patrol in Millstone Township, Monmouth County, when he observed a muzzleloader hunter possibly within the safety zone of an occupied building. CO McManus inspected the hunter. He did not have a current hunting license, rifle permit or a Deer Management Zone 15 muzzleloader permit. CO McManus asked the hunter why he didn’t have a valid license and the required permits. The hunter stated he didn’t realize he needed a new license. He said he thought last year’s license was still good. The appropriate summonses were issued.
Conservation Officer Martiak was patrolling Assunpink WMA when he observed three individuals walking across the Assunpink Lake dam. All three were carrying shotguns, but only one individual was wearing hunter orange. When CO Martiak inspected the hunters, their guns were loaded and they admitted they were deer hunting. While checking their licenses, one of the hunters stated that he had lost his license a few weeks earlier, but he had his CID number. CO Martiak checked the CID number and found that the hunter had only ever had a 2008 fishing license. The hunter was issued summonses for no orange, no license and no shotgun deer permit. Another summons for no orange was issued to the other hunter.
Lt. Lacroix assisted NJ State Park Police after they stopped an individual wanted for questioning in relation to an attempted theft. The man had been stopped by a hunter who believed he was the same man the hunter had seen trying to break into his vehicle the day before in Wharton State Forest. When the State Park Police arrived on scene, the man admitted that he had been shotgun deer hunting earlier (zone was closed). He also admitted that he had "lost" one of his shotguns while out in the woods. Lt. Lacroix arrived on scene and issued the man summonses for hunting out of season and hunting without a permit. Former Deputy Conservation Officer Simmons was called to help assist searching for the "lost" shotgun with his K-9, Shelly. The gun was never located.
On New Year’s Day Conservation Officer Trembley received an illegal hunting complaint in the Dix Wildlife Management Area in Fairfield Township, Cumberland County. Upon arrival CO Trembley noticed several individuals walking in a field. CO Trembley watched one hunter walking with a firearm and not wearing the required amount of hunter’s orange. CO Trembley apprehended the illegal hunter. The hunter was issued summonses for hunting without a valid hunting license, hunting deer during closed season and hunting without the required amount of hunter’s orange.
Conservation Officer Kille was off duty and waterfowl hunting when he observed a pair of hunters entering posted private property with an all terrain vehicle in Logan Township, Gloucester County. The two hunters drove up to CO Kille’s location and began a conversation with him. During their conversation the officer was telling the hunters about his decoys being stolen at the same location when he observed the stolen decoys in the cargo area of the ATV. At this point CO Kille identified himself as a Conservation Officer and the owner of the decoys. Lieutenant Ely and CO Stites responded to the scene as well as the Logan Township Police Department. The hunters were charged with hunter harassment and trespass for the purpose of hunting by the Conservation Officers and the remaining criminal charges of defiant trespass and receiving stolen property, in addition to motor vehicle summonses, were issued by the Logan Township Police.
Conservation Officer Toppin responded to a diesel fuel oil spill on the border of Camden and Gloucester Counties. A New Jersey Transit fuel farm developed a leak over night which spilled about 26,000 gallons into Grenloch Lake in Washington Township and Blackwood Lake in Gloucester Township. The immediate impact on the local wildlife populations appeared to minimal, probably due to the time of the year that the event occurred, however the long-term impact on the local ecosystems won’t be determined for quite some time. The investigation continues into what caused the leak.
Conservation Officer Toppin and Lt. Risher responded to a complaint of people living in tents within the restricted area around an active Bald Eagle’s nest along the Delaware River in the City of Camden. The officers were able to track down one of the residents that erected the tents and the small encampment. After an explanation of the laws that govern areas around the nest the residents agreed to move the tents off the property and outside of the restricted area.
Conservation Officer Toppin and Lt. Risher responded to a call about illegal hunting from the Franklin Township Police Department in Gloucester County. An off-duty police officer observed a spotlight actively shining a farm field and heard a rifle shot. The off-duty officer attempted to stop the illegal hunters in the field and they fled. He called the local police and they conducted a motor vehicle stop of the suspected vehicle. Franklin Township Police arrested both occupants of the vehicle and recovered a .300 WSM caliber bolt action rifle, ammunition, and the spotlight. Lt. Risher conducted the interviews while CO Toppin recovered the trophy animal. Both individuals were charged with possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, possessing an uncased firearm in motor vehicle, spotlighting with a weapon capable of killing deer, taking deer during the closed season, possession of a loaded weapon within 450’ of a residence, trespass for the purpose of hunting, possessing an illegal firearm and illegal ammunition to take deer and the shooter was charged with careless discharge of a weapon.
Conservation Officer Stites was patrolling an area in Upper Pittsgrove Township, Salem County after receiving complaints of waterfowl hunters shooting after hours and going over their daily bag limits. CO Stites observed the hunters shooting ducks a half hour after sunset as ducks attempted to land in the flooded corn field. CO Stites also observed them shoot across the road. The appropriate summonses were issued.
The struggling economy seems to be causing indirect pressure on our natural resources. Acting on information collected by the Bureau Land Management, Conservation Officer Fox responded to Ackley road in the Bevans Wildlife Management Area, Cumberland County. He located an area where someone had been cutting down trees and taking them away. A license plate was recorded by a Land Management employee and passed on to CO Fox, who went to the house to interview the owner of the truck. During the interview the subject admitted to damaging the vegetation because he was out of work and using the trees to heat his home. The appropriate summonses were issued.
While patrolling for waterfowl hunters, Conservation Officer Fox observed two hunters near the marina district of Atlantic City, Atlantic County. He parked his patrol vehicle near the Brigantine Bridge and went out onto the marsh to observe the hunters. After a short time, he heard a shot and was able to pinpoint the hunters’ location. By keeping in the shadows cast by the casino buildings and slipping through the phragmites, he was able to get very close to the hunters. From his vantage point he could see that they had shot Brant during the closed season. He also observed one of the hunters shoot and kill a seagull. CO Fox contacted Lt. Ely for assistance and when the hunters emerged from the marsh, they separated them and questioned them about their hunt. Both hunters initially denied shooting at Brant or a seagull and acknowledged that doing so would be unlawful. Eventually both hunters came clean and admitted to shooting at both. One of the hunters just got off of the revocation list for a careless discharge conviction. Summonses for hunting Brant during the closed season, failing to retrieve harvested waterfowl and shooting a non-game species were issued.
Conservation Officer Vazquez received information about a hunter in Millville, Cumberland County boasting about his hunting prowess and admitting to not tagging or checking deer. CO Vazquez recorded the man’s information and researched deer check data. There was no record that the hunter had checked-in any deer. When CO Vazquez knocked on the man’s door, he answered it wide-eyed. When he was asked about the deer, the man unsuccessfully tried to concoct an explanation. His story quickly fell apart as CO Vazquez questioned him and he admitted that he had shot a 5 point buck and a doe and failed to check both. The hunter commented that he never imagined that something he had done over a year ago would still be investigated. The appropriate summonses have been issued.
On January 9, 2012 CO Klitz was patrolling the Point Pleasant Beach commercial fishing docks and observed the commercial fishing vessel Blue Diamond II returning to port from a scallop fishing trip. CO Klitz inspected the vessel at the Fishermen’s Dock Cooperative. During the inspection CO Klitz discovered 13 American lobsters out of the approximately 100 that measured less than the legal size limit of 3 3/8 inches carapace length. The appropriate summons was issued.
On January 16, 2012 CO Moscatiello received a complaint of a newly opened fish market in Marlboro Twp., Monmouth County possibly selling live, undersized tautog. CO Moscatiello conducted an inspection of the market which revealed several undersized tautog and 46 undersized conchs. The appropriate summonses were issued.
On December 21, 2011 CO Petruccelli conducted a dockside commercial fisheries inspection of the F/V Rufus in Sea Isle City. The F/V Rufus has a NJ Summer Flounder Permit which is gear specific for the use of gill nets. The F/V Rufus had landed 130lbs. of summer flounder and 200lbs. of spiny dogfish. The owner/operator of the F/V Rufus declared on the vessel’s Fishing Vessel Trip Report (FVTR) that the fish were landed by hook and line. Vessels engaged in the directed summer flounder fishery, may only have onboard the gear types listed on their New Jersey Summer Flounder Permit. CO Petruccelli determined that a combination of gillnet, rod and reel, and hand lines were used to target summer flounder for this fishing trip. CO Petruccelli then inspected the F/V Rufus’s FVTRs for the months of October, November, and December. CO Petruccelli found instances of eight additional fluke landings where the F/V Rufus possessed gear other than listed on the NJ Summer Flounder Permit. In addition to the gear violations, the F/V Rufus landed summer flounder and spiny dogfish during the closed season on two occasions. CO Petruccelli also determined that the F/V Rufus had failed to submit mandatory monthly summer flounder reports to the Division and failed to notify the department eight times prior to offloading summer flounder as required when participating in the directed summer flounder fishery. The owner/operator of the F/V Rufus is also the owner of Carmen’s Lobster Pool which was the summer flounder dealer listed on the FVTRs. CO Petruccelli later determined that Carmen’s Lobster Pool had failed to submit six weekly landing reports to the Division and had accepted summer flounder and spiny dogfish during the closed season. The appropriate summonses were issued to the owner/operator of the vessel and the dealer.
CO Tomlin used his laptop computer to access dealer reports on the Standard Atlantic Fisheries Information System or SAFIS, which is an electronic reporting system that has been developed by the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program and the National Marine Fisheries Service. SAFIS provides seafood dealers with an online form that satisfies multiple state and federal reporting requirements. While examining dealer reports on SAFIS, CO Tomlin observed eleven landings of bluefish during the closed season for otter trawl by six commercial draggers in Cape May. Landings ranged from 42lbs. to 1123lbs. Two dealers, Lund’s Fisheries Inc. and Cold Spring Fish and Supply Co., accepted the bluefish during the closed season for otter trawl. The Captains, the vessels, and the dealers were issued summonses for landing/accepting bluefish during the closed season for otter trawl.