During this report period, Lieutenant Applegate and Officers Holmes, Sutton, Kuechler and Ziegler have conducted numerous boat patrols on Lake Hopatcong, Spruce Run Reservoir, Round Valley Reservoir and the Newark Bay Complex. Multiple summonses have been issued for no fishing license, possession of trout without a trout stamp, over the daily bag limit of striped bass, possession of undersized striped bass, and littering while fishing.
While patrolling the Pohatcong Creek for fishing compliance on the last trout stocking day of 2012, Officer Holmes was approached by a fisherman complaining about a local resident who allows the division to stock fish on his property not allowing access. Officer Holmes went to see if he could find the property owner to resolve the issue, and saw him driving around his horse pasture on an RTV. When Officer Holmes approached him, he noticed an uncased rifle on the machine, as well as an uncased pellet gun on the front of the machine. When Officer Holmes got close, he also noticed that the man was sitting on an uncased shotgun which was pointed directly at the fishermen in the creek. All of the guns turned out to be loaded. The irate property owner stated that he was shooting groundhogs and birds that were causing damage on his farm. Officer Holmes was getting nowhere explaining the safety concerns involved with this incident to the farmer. The appropriate summonses were issued and the stocking point was removed for future seasons.
A call was received from an off-duty Hunterdon County Park Ranger regarding people fishing during the in season closure period on the South Branch of the Raritan River in the Town of Clinton, Hunterdon County. Officer Sutton responded and contacted the four fishermen, who had ten trout in possession at that time. While inspecting licenses, Officer Sutton determined that two of the licenses were loaned to these fishermen by the father and brother of one of the others. The appropriate summonses were issued and the trout were confiscated.
Northern Region personnel assisted with the Hackettstown Fish Hatchery's Centennial Celebration and Open House. The officers assisted with public relations and baited hooks at the kids fishing pond. All of the officers reported that the event was a great success and that they received a lot of positive feedback from the public.
Officer Holmes contacted an officer from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and arranged a joint boat patrol on the Delaware River during this report period. The officers made a lot of contacts on the river and both were able to issue some summonses and warnings for violations of freshwater fishing regulations and boating regulations. More joint patrols are being planned for the near future.
Officer Kuechler was contacted by the City of Orange Police Department in Essex County about a deer that had been shot by one of their auto repair business owners with a bow and arrow. Officer Kuechler responded to the scene, and was given surveillance footage from a neighboring business that showed workers from the auto repair shop driving the deer into the fenced yard of the repair shop, and then the owner shooting it and killing it. The workers were in the process of attempting to load the deer into a van when the Orange Police arrived. The business owner initially said that the deer was injured and that it was causing damage to vehicles on his lot, but when he was presented with the video evidence he admitted to having his workers drive it to him. The appropriate summonses were issued and the deer was confiscated.
Officers Sutton, Ziegler and Kuechler, along with Lieutenant Applegate, have been proactively patrolling the WMA boat ramp on Split Rock Reservoir in Rockaway Township, Morris County for compliance with WMA and fishing regulations. Multiple summonses have been issued for no license, possession of alcohol, swimming, no life jackets, over the limit of fish and area use contrary to regulations. The popularity of the area along with the lack of adequate parking make for a very challenging enforcement issue at the reservoir, but the officers have been doing a great job keeping the area open for the proper uses.
CO Mascio received information regarding individuals at the old Katmandu nightclub catching striped bass during the closed season. According to the complainant, the fishermen were running the fish back to their vehicles after catching them. CO Mascio was able to stop two men who had in their possession four sub-legal striped bass. The men were charged with the short fish as well as keeping bass during the closed season.
CO Mascio was at his station, when he received a call from a complainant that a fisherman had caught and kept a sub-legal striped bass at Katmandu during the closed season. CO Mascio responded from his station and was able to apprehend the fisherman before he could leave the area. The appropriate summonses were issued.
On another occasion while CO Mascio was inspecting fishermen at Katmandu , he observed a man throw a fish in the bushes as he approached. The fish turned out to be a sub-legal striped bass. The fisherman also did not have a license. The appropriate summonses were issued.
CO Szulecki received a phone complaint of an angler taking over the limit of fish in the Manasquan Reservoir in Howell Township. The caller described the angler and what gear he was using. CO Szulecki arrived at the reservoir and did not see the angler. CO Szulecki pulled around to the other side of the reservoir and observed an individual who matched the description provided riding on the bike path. CO Szulecki questioned the individual and found him to be in possession of twice the legal limit of panfish. The appropriate enforcement action was taken.
CO Szulecki attended the Monmouth County Sportsman Federation meeting and briefed the sportsmen on rules and regulations and answered questions they had regarding Title 23.
CO's McManus and Martiak conducted an evening patrol of Greenwood WMA in Manchester Township. They encountered multiple groups of people and dealt with after hour issues, operating off established roads and alcoholic beverage consumption. Multiple summonses were issued.
CO McManus observed two individuals fishing Lake Shenandoah in Lakewood Township. Upon inspection, one of the individuals handed CO McManus an expired 2011 fishing license. The angler proceeded to his vehicle to find his current fishing license. While at the vehicle, CO McManus asked the angler for his date of birth. The date was different from what was on his expired fishing license. Eventually, the angler admitted to taking an old fishing license from his neighbor's tackle box. The appropriate enforcement action was taken.
Conservation Officers Stites and Toppin were patrolling the Mannington Meadows section of the Salem River Wildlife Management Area in Mannington Township, Salem County when they observed a vehicle parked on a private piece of property with an out of state vehicle registration. CO Stites knows the owners of the property and did not recognize the vehicle as the owner's. Upon further inspection of the vehicle the officers determined that the occupants were fishing a small pond behind a barn. As the officers went past the barn they heard a noise coming from the barn and located an individual attempting to burglarize the barn for copper. CO's Stites and Toppin took the suspect into custody without incident. CO Stites went to the pond and located the rest of the individuals fishing while CO Toppin remained with the suspect in custody. Upon CO Stites' arrival with the man's family he became aggressive and had to be controlled. While attempting to control the subject CO Toppin sustained an injury to his hand. The State Police were called to back-up the officers and transport the suspect back to the Woodstown State Police Barracks. While CO Toppin was completing the criminal complaints at the State Police Barracks, the suspect who was shackled to the bench, attempted to commit suicide and once again had to be controlled by CO Toppin and members of the State Police. CO Toppin was injured in the scuffle. CO's Stites and Toppin transported the suspect to hospital for evaluation and then processed him into the Salem County Jail. All were issued fish no license tickets and trespass for the purpose of fishing. The suspect that attempted to burglarize the barn was also charged for trespass, resisting arrest and burglary. Aggravated assault charges are being reviewed by the Salem County Prosecutors Office.
Conservation Officer Toppin was watching a fisherman in the Penbryn Lake Wildlife Management Area in Winslow Township, Camden County, when he observed the fisherman litter as he fished out of a kayak. When the fisherman returned to the ramp he was inspected by CO Toppin. CO Toppin checked his credentials and needed to verify his New Jersey Driver's License number since he did not have it with him. It was determined that he had a warrant outstanding in West Deptford Township. CO Toppin charged him with littering while fishing and issued a written warning for not possessing a life jacket. The suspect was taken into custody and arrested for the warrant without incident. The suspect was turned over to West Deptford for processing.
Lieutenant Ely assisted the Millville Police Department in a search and rescue near the Menantico Wildlife Management Area property in Millville, Cumberland County. A group of lost individuals had accessed private property through Division property and gotten their vehicle stuck at about 10:00 PM. There was a two year old present, which remained at the vehicle with four adults, while another individual walked to town for help. That individual couldn't remember how to get back to the stranded members of his party and called the police for help. Millville police, EMS, Fish and Wildlife and the NJ Forest Fire Service were contacted at about 1:00 AM and arrived at the scene. After a brief description of the location, Lt. Ely understood where the others probably were and drove into the property with members of the Forest Fire Service. The stranded partygoers were quickly located and the child was assessed and found to be healthy but very tired and cold. Lt. Ely transported eight individuals out of the woods and then transferred the lost individuals to the Millville Police.
Conservation Officers from District 6 have continued to patrol Wildlife Management Areas for illegal use. They are making various apprehensions for dumping violations, swimming, ATV use, unauthorized use of our ranges and possession of alcohol. Partly due to increased public contacts, CO's are gathering additional information which is aiding in the apprehension of additional individuals. In most cases, the complainant is re-contacted to advise them of the outcome of their complaint and they are usually very appreciative for the follow-up.
On 6/9/12 CO Klitz observed two individuals clamming in the special restricted waters of the Shark River in Belmar. After issuing summonses to these individuals, CO Klitz observed four additional clammers also harvesting hard clams in the Shark River and again issued the appropriate summonses. In both cases, none of the individuals were licensed.
On 6/16/12 Lt. Dravis and CO Klitz received a call from an informant regarding a vessel that had just landed two sharks at Hoffman's Marina in Brielle. This vessel was entered into a Mako/Thresher shark tournament based out of that marina. The vessel possessed an approximately 350 pound Mako and approximately 175 pound Thresher shark, both to be entered into the marina's tournament. Lt. Dravis and CO Klitz arrived to a small crowd of people around the two sharks. A quick interview was conducted with the captain and crew of the vessel. The Thresher was seized and a summons was issued for possessing one shark over the possession limit. An attempt was made to donate the fish to two local food banks with no interest in a whole fish. Three separate shark dealers were contacted with again no interest in purchasing. The shark was disposed of.
On June 3rd, 2012 all District 7 COs were conducting boat patrols from Sandy Hook south to Barnegat Bay. A complaint was logged into Trenton Dispatch by a patron on the Party Boat Dauntless out of Point Pleasant regarding four men keeping illegal tautog and black sea bass. CO McManus, hearing the call go out to COs Klitz and Scott, and knowing they were unable to immediately respond, offered his assistance. A plan was developed between the COs and a short time later CO Scott dropped CO Klitz off at the USCG Station Manasquan inlet where he and CO McManus waited for the party boat to return. CO Scott then went a short distance off shore to watch for the vessel. CO Moscatiello cut his boat patrol short so he could assist where needed. Within about an hour, the party boat was observed by CO Scott heading into the inlet. CO Moscatiello maintained visual contact with the vessel as it headed to its dock, and COs McManus and Klitz made contact with the subjects. CO Moscatiello immediately joined them. A dozen undersize black sea bass and one winter flounder, which were possessed out of season, were discovered by the inspecting COs. The appropriate summonses were issued to the subjects who fully admitted to the ownership of the fish.
COs Nicklow and Harp inspected the Party/Charter vessel Miss Atlantic City out of Gardner's Basin in Atlantic City. Six out of the twelve patrons on board the vessel were issued summonses for a total of 33 undersize black sea bass.
CO Nicklow and CO Harp made good use of the newly acquired Ribcraft patrol vessel by inspecting vessels in the Atlantic Ocean coming back from offshore wreck fishing. The officers inspected ten fishing vessels while off shore and issued six summonses for possession of undersize black sea bass, undersize summer flounder, tautog closed season, and scup closed season .
CO Petruccelli completed the Marine Law Enforcement Training Program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) located in Glynn County (GLYNCO) Georgia. The 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 nautical chart interpretation, pursuit, stop and approach of a vessel, boarding procedures, and officer survival afloat.