Conservation Officers Kyle Ziegler and Lt. Doug Applegate apprehended 12 individuals riding four wheelers on the Rockaway River WMA in Jefferson Township, Morris County. The Officers heard the vehicles on the opposite of the Rockaway River and were unable to reach them with their patrol vehicle. Undeterred, the Officers crossed the river on foot and were able to apprehend the individuals without incident. The appropriate summonses were issued.
Conservation Officer Jordan Holmes responded to complaint of an individual shooting a deer with a bow and arrow in Raritan Township, Hunterdon County. The Officer took statements from a witness and then went to the scene. CO Holmes located a fresh bait pile under a tree stand in the backyard of the suspect's residence. There was a bow and hunting arrows hanging in the tree as well. The individual responsible stated to Officer Holmes he had just completed hunter education and wanted to "practice" shooting a deer. The individual was issued four summonses for deer hunting violations and is being required to take hunter education again.
Conservation Officer Steve Sutton got a tip from a retired Conservation Officer that an individual had illegally shot and killed a black bear in Blairstown Township, Warren County. The information was that the individual had shot and killed a black bear the previous evening. He then hid the bear in a woodlot near the residence he was renting and was going to remove the hide from the animal and take it to a taxidermist when he returned home from work later that day. Conservation Officers Steven Sutton and Lt. Douglas Applegate, along with Officers from Blairstown Police Department, responded to a small wooded area in the Skunktown section of Blairstown. Here they were able to locate a recently killed black bear hidden in some underbrush and then traced the blood trail back to a nearby residence. The officers collected the evidence in the field and continued their investigation with the aid of the Blairstown Police Department. While waiting for the suspect to return from work it was discovered that he was a convicted felon and a person who was not allowed to possess weapons pursuant to the State Criminal Code.
Later that day Blairstown Police and Conservation Officers stopped the suspect, 25 year old Kevin Young, as he was returning to the residence where he rents a basement space. After a brief interview the officers were given consent to search and Young was placed under arrest. Inside the basement residence, officers located a 12 gauge auto loading shotgun, a pellet gun, a compound bow, and the crossbow used to kill the bear. Young admitted to shooting the bear with the crossbow the previous evening. He also admitted to shooting a deer with the same crossbow a few hours prior to killing the bear.
Conservation Officers charged Young with six counts of criminal weapons offenses for the illegal possession of firearms and other weapons and nine Fish & Game violations for the illegal killing of the bear and deer. He was transported to Warren County Jail where he will be arraigned on $50,000 dollars bail with no 10%.
Conservation Officer Joe Kuechler was patrolling WMA property in Rockaway Township, Morris County when he noticed a vehicle hidden near some old buildings. As the officer approached he saw two individuals fleeing the area. One individual took off running towards the woods while the other ran toward the vehicle where he was apprehended. CO Kuechler detained the first individual and was able to determine the identity of the second who ran into the woods. CO Kuechler then determined that the two were in the process of breaking into the buildings on the WMA. He was able to track down the individual that fled and have him return to the scene where both suspects were arrested and transported to Rockaway Township Police for processing. Charges included both Title 23 charges for WMA violations and 2C Criminal Charges.
CO Mascio responded to a complaint at the dam on Carnegie Lake in S. Brunswick regarding the illegal taking of fish. When he responded, he found two men and a number of small children using cast nets to take fish. The two men were issued summonses for using a net and taking a total of four undersized largemouth bass.
CO Martiak has been assisting the Marine Region with patrols of recreational fishermen along the Raritan and Sandy Hook Bays. He has made a number of short fluke cases. He also encountered a vessel at the Leonardo State Marina with three fishermen aboard one Sunday afternoon. When asked if there were any fish aboard, the fishermen pointed to a white cooler on the boat deck. Inside was a 42 inch Mako Shark that they claimed they had caught 17 miles off shore. CO Martiak contacted CO Brian Scott for clarification of the shark regulations and was informed that the shark must be at least 54 inches in length. The fisherman also needed to have a Highly Migratory Species Permit. The fisherman did not have the permit. The shark was seized and the fisherman was issued a summons for possession of an undersized marine fish. CO Martiak contacted NOAA regarding the lack of the HMS permit.
CO Martiak received a complaint from a US Postal Inspector regarding a package that had come through their facility and had opened in transit. Inside was a small alligator. The addressee was notified and picked up the alligator from the post office. He told the postal inspector that it was a monitor lizard. CO Martiak contacted the owner and removed the alligator from the residence. The man was issued a summons for possession of a potentially dangerous species.
CO McManus was patrolling the Assunpink WMA when he observed three males fishing along the dike of the main lake. Upon inspection, all three fishermen produced a fishing license. Officer McManus noticed that the individuals were trying to hide a six pack of alcoholic beverages, so he told the anglers to meet him back at their vehicle. After closer examination of their credentials, Officer McManus realized that the driver of the vehicle was using someone else's fishing license. The fishing license was seized and the appropriate enforcement action was taken.
Conservation Officer's James and Fox were assisting CO Kille on the Winslow Wildlife Management Area, Camden County when they observed a vehicle driving recklessly through the area. It was bouncing so violently that the tailgate became dislodged as it drove past them. CO Fox attempted to stop the vehicle. When the driver saw him, he fled. CO Fox followed him as the driver swerved his vehicle back and forth across the rural road sometimes completely across the road onto the opposite shoulder narrowly missing a telephone pole. The driver also ran two stop signs. CO Fox contacted the Monroe Township Police for assistance as CO James continued to follow the vehicle because the driver was putting the public at significant risk. They followed the truck into a residential neighborhood where the driver slowed to about 25 mph. He finally pulled down a dirt road and exited the vehicle where he was physically apprehended by CO James as he fled the vehicle. Monroe PD arrived to assist and transport the subject. The vehicle was stolen from a construction area in the vicinity. Because of a possible exchange of bodily fluid (blood) between Officer James and the subject, they were both taken to the nearest hospital for a rapid blood borne pathogen test. Due to the fact that the subject was a juvenile, parental permission was obtained from the subject's mother who met the officers. After the test, the subject was served with criminal charges for aggravated assault, resisting arrest and eluding as well as civil charges for the WMA violations. Monroe PD charged the subject with various motor vehicle offenses including possession of a stolen motor vehicle.
While patrolling Menantico Wildlife Management Area, Cumberland County, Lt. Ely and Conservation Officer James drove to a popular illegal swimming spot called the "rope swing." There has been a lot of activity in the area due to the excessive heat. As Lt. Ely arrived, there were 8 people standing around the swing. When he walked up to them, one of the swimmers attempted to conceal a red plastic bag in his hand behind a tree. When Lt. Ely told him to slowly show him his hands, the subject fled into the woods wearing nothing but a bathing suit. CO James attempted to stop him but was unable to although he did find the red bag which smelled of marijuana. Lt. Ely interviewed the remaining subjects and eventually learned the identity of the person who ran and he was contacted by phone and agreed to come out of the woods if he wasn't charged with trespassing. The subject met CO's Fox and Vazquez, who arrived to assist, on a nearby road and was taken into custody. He was very hot and exhausted and was given water. After Miranda, he told officers that the red bag was his and that it contained five "nickel bags" of marijuana. He was transported to Millville Police Department, processed and then released. He was charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance, resisting arrest and swimming on a WMA.
Conservation Officer's Vazquez and Toppin made a dumping case in the Great Egg Harbor River Wildlife Management Area, Hamilton Township, Atlantic County. While sifting through the trash they were able to locate an address. They arrived at the residence and questioned the occupants. After a short interview, they were able to obtain a written confession from the son of the owners stating that he dumped the trash on the WMA. The appropriate summonses were issued.
Conservation Officer Toppin was patrolling the Blackwood Lake spillway section of the Big Timber Creek in Washington Township, Gloucester County when he apprehended eight individuals illegally clamming in freshwater. There were approximately 12,000 clams in three five-gallon buckets. All the individuals were cited for clamming in prohibited waters and clamming without a commercial clam license.
While patrolling the Cedar Lake Wildlife Management Area in Monroe Township, Gloucester County, Conservation Officer Toppin apprehended an individual operating an all-terrain vehicle. CO Toppin attempted to confirm his identity and located several warrants for $3300.00 from Deptford Township, Gloucester County. The subject was arrested for the outstanding warrants and issued a summons for unlawfully riding an all-terrain vehicle on a state wildlife management area.
Conservation Officer's Kille and Mascio conducted an investigation that originated in Gloucester County and concluded in Mercer County. A local turtle harvester contacted CO Kille about his traps being tampered with and stolen at Gropp's Lake in the Yardville section of Hamilton Township. He informed CO Kille that he had hidden a trail camera on site since he was having problems with his equipment. The camera showed several individuals tampering with traps. CO's Kille and Mascio conducted successful interviews of all parties. Charges are still pending the completion of the investigation.
Conservation Officer Kille was patrolling Cedar Lake Wildlife Management Area in Monroe Township, Gloucester County when he apprehended several swimmers unlawfully using the management area. CO Kille confirmed one swimmer's identity and located several warrants out of West Deptford Township, Gloucester County. The subject was arrested for the outstanding warrants and issued a summons for swimming on a wildlife management area.
Lt. Risher attended Salem County's 12th Annual Police Camp which is held at Ranch Hope in Alloway Township, Salem County. Police Departments from all over Salem County participated in the week-long event sponsored by the Carney's Point Police Department. Lt. Risher gave presentations on Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement and HOFNOD Fishing Programs.
Lt. Risher gave a presentation on Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement to Boy Scout Troop 60 from Daretown, Salem County.
On 7/5/12, DEP Assistant Commissioner Boornazian and DFW Assistant Director Herrighty accompanied Chief Chicketano, Lt. Dravis, CO Scott and CO Moscatiello on a boat patrol which departed from the USCG station located in Sandy Hook National Park, Monmouth County. The patrol covered a wide variety of activities including hard clam depurators harvesting in Sandy Hook Bay, pound nets set in Sandy Hook Bay, menhaden boats purse seining for bait purposes in Raritan Bay, recreational and charter boats fishing in the Bays and Atlantic Ocean, and lobster pot enforcement within two miles of the shore line in the Atlantic Ocean off of Monmouth County. On one inspection in particular, a well-known charter vessel with prior violation history out of Shark River, Monmouth County, was observed fishing for fluke and sea bass in the Atlantic Ocean in the area known as the Shrewsbury Rocks off of Sea Bright. As the patrol vessel approached this vessel, the captain proceeded directly to the fillet table/cutting board and began to throw freshly cut summer flounder parts back into the sea. These parts were slated to be used as bait and were subsequently determined to be from sub-legal summer flounder that were just harvested prior to the officer's arrival. The captain was not able to destroy the evidence that remained on the end of the lines of the five charter patrons that were currently fishing. The patrons were asked to reel in their lines, which revealed freshly cut summer flounder parts. Summonses were issued for interference and for the possession of mutilated flatfish.
On 6/21/12, CO Klitz inspected a recreational fishing boat in the Glimmer Glass area of Manasquan Borough, Monmouth County. The three fishermen on board stated that they possessed one Bluefin tuna. One fisherman opened a hatch and removed the tuna and placed it on the dock. After inspecting the vessel, CO Klitz found an additional Bluefin tuna and a fillet from a third tuna. The vessel at the time of this inspection could only retain one Bluefin tuna and additionally no parts of tuna are permitted to be possessed. Additionally the vessel did not possess a Highly Migratory Species Permit which is required to harvest and retain Bluefin tuna. A Special Agent from the National Marine Fisheries Service, NMFS, was contacted. All information turned over to the NMFS for prosecution.
On 7/7/12, CO's Soell and Klitz conducted a boat patrol in the Atlantic Ocean outside the Manasquan Inlet in Point Pleasant Beach, Ocean County. The CO's attempted to conduct a fisheries inspection as a recreational fishing vessel returned to the inlet. One male on board told the CO's that he was having bilge issues and wanted to get their boat back to the marina. CO Soell asked if he had any fish on board. The man stated he had two 18" summer flounder on board. The CO's decided to follow the vessel to the marina to ensure they returned safely and to complete the fisheries inspection. When the vessel finally exited the Point Pleasant canal, the fishermen stopped and told the CO's that the bilge now seemed to be working properly and an inspection followed. On board the CO's found one legal summer flounder and three undersized summer flounder. The appropriate summons was issued.
On 7/18/12, CO Klitz was patrolling the Shark River area of Belmar and Neptune Township, Monmouth County. He noticed a male and female clamming and some other members of the group fishing under the railroad bridge. The harvest of shellfish is prohibited in these waters. CO Klitz crossed the railroad tracks and made contact with the individuals. CO Klitz found some hard clams, and 16 undersized black sea bass. An additional plastic shopping bag full of hard clams was found in their vehicle. The appropriate summonses were issued.
On 6/22/12, CO Moscatiello was inspecting local boat ramps in the Keyport area in Monmouth County. During the patrol he noticed a small boat entering the Matawan Creek heading towards a cluster of marinas. CO Moscatiello went to the first marina along the creek to see where the boat was going to land. The vessel continued up the creek past CO Moscatiello underneath the Front Street Bridge, at which point CO Moscatiello crossed the road to the next marina believing that they were going to land there. The men on the boat then spotted the patrol vehicle and turned their boat around and quickly headed back from where they came. CO Moscatiello turned around and went back to the first marina, and jumped on top of his truck and watched the men pull out several fish and measure them again to make sure they were legal. The boat then stopped in the creek and CO Moscatiello ran to the end of the dock to make contact with the men. After several attempts to have them pull the boat over to the dock, they took back off towards the Raritan Bay. CO Moscatiello got back in his patrol vehicle and headed the men off at a gas dock. They again turned their boat around and went back towards the marinas. CO Moscatiello was then able to get the men to pull over at an empty dock at the marina. Upon inspection of the boat, CO Moscatiello found a fillet from a fish that the men claimed was a sundial that they had gut hooked and used for bait. Summonses for possession of a mutilated flatfish and for interference with the duties of a Conservation Officer were issued.
On 6/23/12, CO Moscatiello observed a boat go past him on a small creek in Hazlet and proceed to a dirt ramp. CO Moscatiello made contact with the boat owner and everything appeared to be normal. When CO Moscatiello was about to inspect the boat, the owner then warned him that he had one fish he thought may be a bit small that he had gut hooked and that he felt bad about letting it go if it was dead. The man then pulled out three keeper fluke and a 16 inch fluke that he stated was the gut hooked one. At this time the man continued to pull out fluke for a total of ten fish with two being at 12 inches. The appropriate summonses were issued.
On 7/4/12, CO Scott sent CO Moscatiello a text message that he heard people were keeping short fluke in Long Branch. CO Moscatiello went to the location and saw about 20 fishermen fishing off the bulkhead and five kayakers about a hundred yards off the beach fishing in the ocean. After watching the individuals fishing on land for a short while, CO Moscatiello determined they were all returning their sub-legal fish back into the water. He then turned his focus onto the kayakers and saw one of them keep a sub-legal fluke. CO Moscatiello continued to watch the kayakers and saw the same individual keep another sub-legal fluke. After a while of watching the other kayakers throw short fish back, they suddenly began keeping short fluke themselves. CO Moscatiello counted about seven short fluke go into various kayaks. After approximately an hour the men pulled up to the beach. CO Moscatiello then inspected the kayaks and found a total of 31 fluke between four of the kayaks. After measuring each one it was determined that 29 of the fluke were undersized. A total of ten summonses were issued for undersized and over limit fluke.
On 7/18/12, CO's Scott and Moscatiello were conducting early morning, at sea surveillance of depuration clammers in the Sandy Hook and Raritan Bays targeting clammers who were beginning their harvest prior to sunrise. The CO's, who started their surveillance well before sunrise, noticed the running lights from a boat coming across the Sandy Hook Bay. This vessel then began making its way closer to where the officers were located. CO Scott noticed a boat show up on radar that was even closer. CO Moscatiello spotted that vessel and another that had no navigational lights illuminated. The CO's maintained a visual of the vessel with no lights until it came to a stop within two hundred yards of their patrol boat. The CO's observed two men putting together their clam rakes, and organizing their gear. After a few minutes the clammers made their way to within a hundred yards of the patrol boat and came to a stop. The CO's then observed both men harvesting hard clams a half hour before sunrise. The appropriate summonses were issued.
CO Petruccelli and CO Harp conducted a plainclothes 4th of July shellfish patrol utilizing a smaller aluminum vessel more suitable for this type of patrol. The COs inspected numerous recreational clammers in both Atlantic and Cape May counties. The COs issued summonses to five individuals harvesting hard clams without shellfish licenses and apprehended two individuals harvesting shellfish from condemned waters.
Previous field activity conducted by CO Nicklow and CO Harp in Atlantic City's Absecon Inlet indicated that many undersize summer flounder were being caught. On July 14th the COs enlisted the assistance of CO Swift to fish in plainclothes to apprehend violators that were otherwise difficult to observe. The COs issued five summonses for undersize summer flounder, undersize weakfish, and over the limit weakfish.
During a vessel patrol in Little Egg Harbor Inlet, CO Nicklow and CO Harp attempted to inspect a vessel returning from an offshore fishing trip. The vessel's operator failed to immediately comply and facilitate a safe boarding, even after they activated the patrol vessel's emergency lights and siren. As the fishing vessel continued to make way, the officers observed the operator converse with one of three persons onboard the vessel. That individual exited the cabin of the vessel with a bucket. The individual then proceeded to the stern of the vessel and attempted to discreetly transfer fish into the bucket. The individual then went back into the cabin of the vessel with the bucket. The vessel then came off plane and the operator quickly turned the vessel hard to starboard. As the vessel turned hard to starboard the individual with the bucket of fish went out the port side cabin door and dumped all the fish. The operator and his accomplice were each issued a summons for failure to immediately comply with the instructions and signals issued by a Conservation Officer to facilitate a safe boarding and inspection of the vessel and its catch. The penalty for this violation is $300 to $3,000.