Officer Mascio issued a summons for hunting without a license after a woodchuck hunter was found illegally hunting in Burlington Township. A Burlington Township police officer had located a vehicle parked near a field in their town. Inside the vehicle was an open gun case. The officer checked the hunter and found that he did not have a hunting license. The police officer turned the case over to Officer Mascio.
Lt.'s Lacroix and O'Rourke and Officers Mascio, Martiak and Szalaj attended a meeting with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. The purpose of the meeting was to meet the officers in the adjoining state and to discuss possible joint patrol efforts.
Officer Szalaj attended the March meeting of the Burlington County Sportsmen Federation.
Due to the unseasonably warm weather conditions, Conservation Officers have been working freshwater fishermen in Monmouth and Ocean County, resulting in positive contacts and educating the public with regard to fishing regulations.
Officer McManus and Lt.'s Lacroix and O'Rourke responded to a complaint of an individual lost, stuck and out of gas in the Forked River WMA. Officer McManus was able to speak with the individual via cell phone and pin point the area where he believed her to be. The vehicle was located off the main roadway and found stuck in sand on an ATV trail in the woods. A credentials check revealed the registration of the vehicle was suspended. The appropriate enforcement action was taken.
Officer McManus was patrolling Lake Carasaljo in Lakewood Twp, Ocean County, when he observed two anglers fishing across the lake. When he arrived to make an inspection, one individual had left the water's edge. Officer McManus searched the area and found the angler sitting in his friend's truck. Officer McManus asked to see the individual's fishing license. The angler stated he was not fishing. Officer McManus advised the individual that he observed him fishing with his friend. The angler pulled out a summons and handed it to Officer McManus. The summons was issued by Officer Mutone one week ago for fishing without a license on the same lake. The appropriate enforcement action was taken.
Officer Szulecki received a call from Chief Chicketano requesting his assistance for two lost individuals in Allaire State Park, Howell Township. Officer Szulecki was the first to arrive on scene and was able to locate the lost individuals and provide assistance to the State Park Police.
Conservation Officer Stites responded to a report of illegal harvesting of timber in the Thundergut Wildlife Management Area in Alloway Township, Salem County. The piece of property adjoining the wildlife management area is controlled by the Boy Scouts of America and was currently being cut for a forest management program. Unfortunately, the contractor continued to cut timber off the property controlled by the Boy Scouts and onto the wildlife management area. CO Stites apprehended and interviewed all parties involved. Under advisement from the Salem County Prosecutors office, criminal charges won't be pursued; civil charges are pending the outcome of the investigation.
Lieutenant Risher attended the South Jersey Bass Club Association's annual fishermen's flea market in the City of Millville, Cumberland County. The event was attended by nearly 500 people. Lt. Risher answered numerous questions regarding the recent closure of river herring and other regulatory issues.
Conservation Officer Fox received a call that someone had shot a turkey from the road in Weymouth Township, Atlantic County months ahead of the legal season. The caller had only gotten a partial plate number but had a good description of the truck. With the aid of Trenton Dispatch, CO Fox was able to track down the likely owner of the vehicle. When CO Fox and Lt. Ely went to the registered owner's house, they were met by a juvenile that they have had numerous negative encounters with in the recent past. After a short interview, the juvenile acknowledged that he and another adult individual had shot a turkey with a .22 caliber rifle. The investigation became quite lengthy because of the problems in dealing with both a juvenile and an adult. After the case was released from the Atlantic County Prosecutors Office, the adult was charged with the appropriate Fish and Wildlife complaints, which he pled guilty to, and had his privileges suspended for two years. The juvenile and his guardian entered into a Stationhouse Adjustment which suspended his privileges for a two year period as well.
Acting on a complaint, Conservation Officer Vazquez responded to Hamilton Township, Atlantic County regarding a trapper that was trespassing. CO Vazquez retrieved six snares from the property with the trapper's identification on it. Apparently, the trapper had previously asked permission to trap at the location but had been refused by the landowner. When the landowner witnessed the trapper's truck on the property this season, he called CO Vazquez. When confronted, the trapper initially denied being on the property and was very agitated. CO Vazquez remained calm and professional, and the trapper eventually calmed down and admitted his mistake. The appropriate summonses were issued.
Conservation Officer Vazquez has been patrolling in the latter part of the day and into the evening with varied encounters and violations. While patrolling Makepeace WMA in Weymouth Township, Atlantic county, CO Vazquez encountered a number of individuals who were there after legal hours. As he spoke to them, he noticed the strong smell of burnt marijuana. When he asked them if they had anything illegal with them, one of them produced a pipe and a small bag of marijuana. Upon further questioning, they produced a larger bag of marijuana. CO Vazquez contacted Trenton Dispatch to request the State Police for backup. Upon arrival, the State Police agreed to take the case based on CO Vazquez's observations. The State Police transported the subject to their station and CO Vazquez provided the necessary information for them to further the investigation.
Acting on a complaint about illegal night hunting activity, Conservation Officers James, Kille and Vazquez responded to a property bordering Belleplain State Forest. There have been increased complaints of night hunting, but there was a legal night coyote season in effect. The officers arrived at the location and observed corn and sugar beets spread in front of a ground blind as well as five or six deer carcasses piled in other shooting lanes from the blind. There was also a deer carcass in that farmer's field. After midnight, the officers (equipped with night vision gear) observed a person in one of the out-buildings. That person appeared to be aiming a scope out of one of the windows toward the deer carcass. As the officers announced themselves and approached, the individual came out of the building. He had been hunting with a .22 caliber long rifle fitted with a night-vision riflescope. Although he was properly permitted to hunt coyotes at night, he was in violation for using a rifle and also for using the deer carcasses as bait. The appropriate summonses were issued.
CO Brian Scott and CO Klitz recently completed the Marine Law Enforcement Training Program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) located in Glynn County (GLYNCO) Georgia. This program consists of 19 class days focusing on the safe and proper operation of marine patrol vessels, with specific training in law enforcement operations. Some specific areas of study covered were nautical chart interpretation, pursuit, stop and approach of a vessel, boarding procedures and officer survival afloat. This is a rigorous, in-resident course. Both of these officers had cumulative averages above 90%
On March 9, 2012 CO Moscatiello was patrolling around the Shark River Inlet in Avon when he noticed several fishermen at the end of the jetty. CO Moscatiello conducted surveillance of the fishermen and observed one individual catch a short striped bass and hide it in the rocks. After a short while one of the fishermen placed the striped bass in a soft pack cooler and attempted to leave the jetty. As CO Moscatiello attempted to apprehend the fisherman he ran to the end of the jetty and dumped the fish into the rocks. CO Moscatiello gained control of the three fishermen at which time CO Klitz arrived to provide assistance. CO Moscatiello was able to locate the striper in the rocks and issued the appropriate summonses.
On February 16, 2012, COs Trembley and Stites conducted a boat patrol on the Cohansey River. While checking some smaller creeks for fishing and trapping activity, two staked/anchored gill nets were discovered. The nets appeared to have not been tended for a while and contained several dead and decaying white perch. Neither net was marked properly with the identification number of the owner as required by regulation. After pulling both nets for evidence, COs Trembley and Stites were able to get a three digit crab pot license number from two of the floats. Upon further investigation, the crab pot number came back to a local fisherman who had not renewed his commercial crab pot license or his gill net license for several years. On February 19, 2012, CO Trembley interviewed the individual with the expired licenses. The individual said that the nets were not his and that his father may have used some of his old crab pot floats to set gill nets in late November 2011. On February 25, 2012, COs Trembley and Swift interviewed the father at his residence. After speaking with him for a few minutes, the father admitted to setting the gill nets in late November 2011. He explained that the nets were not tended for several months because his boat motor had broken down, leaving him no way to tend the nets. He gave a voluntary, written statement and was charged with having gill nets set without a 2012 gill net license, not properly marking his nets, and wanton waste of marine fish.
On February 16, 2012, CO Petruccelli conducted an inspection of two commercial otter trawl vessels, in response to a call from the vessels' owner stating that they landed and offloaded directed harvest amounts (over 100 lbs.) of black sea bass without possessing NJ Black Sea Bass Landing Permits. CO Petruccelli determined that the Captains of the F/Vs Fishermen's Dream B and My Girl were told by the vessels' owner, through email on the Vessel Monitoring System that they could land up to 1500 lbs. of black sea bass. The F/V Fishermen's Dream B landed and offloaded 650 lbs. of black sea bass and the F/V My Girl landed and offloaded 150 lbs. of black sea bass. The black sea bass were accepted by Atlantic Cape Fisheries which possesses a NJ Black Sea Bass Dealer Permit. When the owner of the two trawlers realized he made a mistake, he called the Marine Region Office. CO Petruccelli also investigated Atlantic Capes Fisheries to find out why they purchased directed harvest amounts of black sea bass from vessels that did not possess NJ Black Sea Bass Landing Permits. A representative from Atlantic Capes Fisheries stated that they were not aware they could only purchase directed harvest amounts of black sea bass from vessels possessing a NJ Black Sea Bass Landing Permit. The black sea bass were seized and sold for fair market value. The appropriate charges were issued.
In response to information received from other Atlantic Coast states regarding increase of illegal elver (juvenile American eel) harvesting activity in their states, Marine Region Conservation Officers have been conducting patrols along traditional elver habitats. The officers have observed dense concentrations of elvers in certain areas; however they found no evidence of violations. This information also reported that buyers were paying approximately $1000.00 per pound for the elvers.