Officer Ziegler responded to West Milford Township, Passaic County, at the request of the Police Department, in reference to two separate incidents of large Burmese Pythons being captured in the area of the same residence. Within a five day period, a 7 foot and a 20 foot python were found in the resident's yard. Officer Ziegler knocked on some doors in the neighborhood and was directed to one house in particular. Inside the residence, Officer Ziegler found a Ball Python breeding facility with 83 snakes in total. The resident did not have any of the proper permits and the proper summonses were issued. There was no indication that this resident was related to the Burmese Pythons found previously. Subsequently, a week later, a third Burmese Python was found roaming the same area. Officer Ziegler is continuing his investigation with some other possible leads at this time.
The Northern Region Office was contacted by an employee at a local clothing store in Franklin Township, Hunterdon County, who was concerned because a power washing company had removed the nests of some Cliff Swallows from underneath the awnings outside of the store. Officer Holmes responded to the store and advised the store manager in writing that the nests could not be removed until the birds had abandoned them, and offered some suggestions about using netting in the future to deter the birds from nesting there. A week later, the same employee contacted the Northern Region Office complaining that the power washing company had just destroyed another nest and two sub-adult Cliff Swallows were in the parking lot area. With the help of personnel from the Non-Game and Endangered Species Program, the birds were captured and taken to a rehabilitator for treatment. Officer Holmes is in the process of preparing a Notice of Violation for the clothing store and for the power washing company at this time in reference to these violations.
Officer Kuechler responded to the Town of Cranford, Union County, at the request of the Police Department, in reference to a resident killing a deer with a .22 caliber rifle. Officer Kuechler responded and was advised by the resident that he had shot the deer with the rifle out of his second floor bathroom window at 10:00 AM on a Saturday morning because it was eating his tomato plants. The deer was shot within the safety zone of a multitude of homes, the closest neighbor being 56 feet away. The suspect also did not possess a valid hunting license at the time of the shooting. The proper summonses were issued.
Northern Region Personnel attended multiple community outreach programs during the last month including: Officer Kuechler participated as an instructor at the Junior Police Academy in the Town of Kearny in Hudson County and the Union County Junior Police Academy. Officer Kuechler attended the National Police Night Out event in Rockaway Boro, Morris County. Officer Sutton attended the National Police Night out Event in Morris County, and Officer Sutton and Lieutenant Applegate attended the National Police Night Out event in Frenchtown Boro, Hunterdon County.
An anonymous tip was received at the Northern Region Office about a large 8-point buck being illegally shot with a rifle the previous night in the Town of Belvidere, Warren County. Officers Holmes and Sutton responded to the suspect's residence and observed fresh blood and deer hair in the bed of the suspect's truck. Upon questioning the suspect about the evidence, he admitted to killing the deer the previous night with a rifle, and butchering it at a friend's farm close by. The officers were able to recover the meat from the deer at the friend's farm, but the suspect claimed that he had thrown the antlers in the garbage because they were too "green" to have them mounted. While at the suspect's residence, the officers also noticed a shoulder mount hanging in the suspect's living room of a very large, 19- point, non-typical deer, which the suspect claimed to have shot in Illinois. Northern Region personnel had received information approximately 10 years ago about this same suspect illegally killing that deer with a rifle at night in the Town of Belvidere. Records checks with Illinois Fish and Wildlife revealed that the suspect has never possessed an Illinois Hunting License and has never registered a deer in Illinois. On Monday, August 13th, 2012, Officers Holmes, Sutton and Ziegler, Lieutenant Applegate, Captain Panico, along with officers from Belvidere Police Department, NJ State Police and the Warren County Prosecutors Office executed a search warrant at the suspect's residence. The Officers located the head of the trophy class 8- point buck in the freezer along with the antlers and skull cap from a second freshly killed illegally taken buck. Both sets of antlers were in the "Velvet" stage of development. The officers also confiscated the shoulder mount 19- point, non-typical deer as well as multiple other shoulder mounts, European mounts, and over 50 other sets of antlers, none of which had any proper documentation. Officers are still in the process of obtaining further information from the cell phone of the suspect that was confiscated during the search warrant which contains many more pictures of dead bucks and text messages about the suspect's illegal hunting activities. Officer Holmes has already charged the suspect with 9 Fish and Wildlife violations in reference to the killing of the 8-point buck, and other charges are pending the completion of the investigation.
CO Martiak investigated a non-target impact involving a residence struck by a sabot slug shot on a Permit to Kill Wild Deer in Millstone Township, Monmouth County. NJ State Police had been dispatched to the residence after the incident had occurred and had identified the shooter. Officer Martiak responded the following day and interviewed all the involved persons. The shooter was cooperative and admitted to shooting multiple times in the direction of the residence. Charges for careless discharge, damage to property and shooting across a roadway were issued to the shooter.
CO Mascio responded to a complaint from the Mercer County Parks Commission after an incident that occurred at the Mercer County Park in West Windsor. According to the park employees, a man had driven into the park and proceeded to pull a live woodchuck out of his vehicle. The man then ran down to the lake and threw the woodchuck into the lake. This occurred right in front of the County Naturalist and a group of 9-10 year old children attending camp. The employees contacted the park rangers who stopped the man as he tried to leave the park. The man was argumentative with the rangers. After speaking with the park rangers, the man drove off in a rage and ended up hitting the park ranger's vehicle. The County Park charged the man with motor vehicle violations and asked Officer Mascio to charge the suspect with a Title 23 violation. A charge of releasing an indigenous species without a permit is pending.
Conservation Officer Sean McManus responded to a complaint of an endangered species killed in a residential backyard in Manchester Twp. Upon arrival, Officer McManus observed a headless timber rattlesnake lying next to the backyard fence. Apparently, the homeowner observed the snake moving through his yard and made contact with the animal by poking it with a stick. The homeowner realized right away that it was a rattlesnake after it coiled and began to rattle. He then ran into his home and retrieved his shotgun. He shot the animal in the head with buckshot as the animal was leaving his premises. The case is still under investigation and charges are pending.
Lieutenant Tom O'Rourke responded to a complaint of a skunk caught in a leg hold trap in Manasquan Twp. During the course of the investigation, it was determined the trap used was a 110 Duke conibear kill type trap and the setting of the trap was illegal. Unfortunately, the Division was not notified until sixteen days after the incident occurred and Lt. O'Rourke could not determine where the trap was initially set or who was responsible.
At the Cedar Lake Wildlife Management Area in Monroe Township, Gloucester County Conservation Officers Kille and James were dealing with a party with a fire, alcohol, and after hours violations when another vehicle approached and stopped. CO Kille identified himself and shouted, "Police stop." The driver immediately disobeyed verbal and hand signals given by CO Kille and fled the location. CO Kille attempted to stop the driver with lights and siren as he exited the Wildlife Management Area. The driver refused to stop and immediately crashed through private property to avoid capture. CO Kille later located another vehicle on that same adjoining piece of private property where the suspect's vehicle was lost. The field interview provided clues to the elusive driver's identity. Officers Kille and James set up surveillance at a local WaWa and waited for the rest of the participants in the illegal party to arrive. Finally, the suspect's vehicle arrived and he was arrested without incident. The suspect, a juvenile, was charged with resisting arrest, defiant trespass, and obstructing administration of law under the criminal code as a juvenile in addition to reckless driving and failing to observe the directions of an officer under motor vehicle law. This same individual has a similar arrest with an ATV.
Lieutenant Risher was patrolling the Muddy Run section of the Maurice River in Pittsgrove Township, Salem County when he observed a sport utility vehicle parked in the Rainbow Lake Wildlife Management Area. Upon inspection of the vehicle, Lt. Risher determined that the occupants were illegally harvesting freshwater clams downstream based on plain view observations of the vehicle. While attempting to relocate his patrol vehicle, a clammer exited the woods and entered the suspect vehicle. The clammer moved the vehicle to the east side of the stream and parked in a grassy area. Lt. Risher followed closely and observed 5 additional clammers exit the woods and place clams into the vehicle and try to leave the area. Lt. Risher conducted a motor vehicle stop with emergency lights on when one of the rear passengers fled on foot. The remaining clammers followed Lt. Risher's verbal directions and remained with the vehicle. CO's James and Vazquez provided assistance and backup. All of the clammers were issued summonses for taking shellfish from prohibited waters, clamming without a commercial clam license, trespass for the purpose of taking wildlife and littering while clamming. The investigation is ongoing as the CO's try to identify the individual who fled on foot and forfeiture of vehicle may also be possible since over 11,000 clams were harvested.
Lieutenant Risher assisted Berlin Township Police Department in Camden County with the removal of an alligator from a residence. As part of a domestic disturbance investigation the police observed the alligator in the bedroom. The owner of the alligator was charged with unlawful possession of a potentially dangerous species.
Lieutenant Risher attended the 13th annual Youth Outdoor Day held at the Salem County Sportsmen's Club in Carney's Point, Salem County. Lieutenant Risher, who works as an event coordinator, has been involved with the event since its inception and assisted 186 youth sportsmen and women who attended the free event this year. Activities include fishing, target shooting with both firearms and archery equipment, fly tying, fly casting, canoeing and kayaking, bass boat demonstrations and mountain biking.
While patrolling the Cresse Lane Wildlife Management Area in Lower Township, Cape May County for freshwater fisherman, Conservation Officer James observed two men enter the parking area and stop. They were parked next to CO James, but didn't notice him. They were focusing much of their attention to the console area of their vehicle as CO James approached. When he was next to their window, he observed them loading two hypodermic syringes. He got both individuals out of the car, secured them and then retrieved the syringes and some glassine packets from the front seat. CO James called Lower Township Police for assistance and upon their arrival, the men admitted that they were using heroin. They were transported to the Police Station and processed for possession of CDS.
Acting on a call, Conservation Officer James responded to a consignment shop in Woodbine, Cape May County that was unlawfully offering for sale some mounted deer heads. Upon questioning the proprietor, CO James learned that he had gotten them from a local individual to sell. As one of the heads had a possession seal, he was able to trace the owner of them. He then learned that the owner of the mounted heads did not know that they had been taken by a family member and sold to the shop. When CO James interviewed the person who had taken the heads, he learned that the subject had a drug habit and had sold them to buy narcotics. The subject is being charged with selling deer parts and the State Police are charging him with theft.
Conservation Officer Fox represented the Bureau of Law Enforcement at the Annual National Night Out at the Absecon Police Department, Atlantic County. CO Fox set up a table with informational material and various mounted species of wildlife for the public to see. In addition to the display he also answered many questions about our local wildlife and the Division.
Lieutenant Risher responded to an active "911" call about a swimmer in distress at the Winslow Wildlife Management Area, Winslow Township, Camden County. Upon arrival at the area Lieutenant Risher was advised that the individual in distress had not made it out of the water and was given a description of where the individual was last observed. At this time Lieutenant Risher donned some basic safety and rescue gear and entered the water with two other first responders in an attempt to rescue the missing victim. As time passed it became apparent that the rescue was changing to a recovery mission and Lieutenant Risher stayed late into the evening to see this portion of the operation through in its entirety. The Camden County Prosecutors Office has ordered an autopsy and Fish and Wildlife charges are pending for the other members of deceased victim's party.
On 7/22/12 at 0145 hours, CO's Trembley and Swift received a call from Trenton Dispatch in reference to a group of five people using a cast net to catch striped bass from the Fortescue Creek Bridge in Downe Twp., Cumberland County. After receiving a vehicle description from the complainant, the CO's set up surveillance on the only road leading out of Fortescue. At 0215 hours the suspect vehicle was observed leaving Fortescue. CO's Swift and Trembley conducted a motor vehicle stop to inspect their catch. The inspection revealed a cast net and 11 undersized striped bass. One individual claimed to have caught all the fish while the other members, who were friends and relatives on vacation, just watched. Summonses were issued for 11 undersize striped bass and take/possess 9 striped bass over the daily limit. During the inspection the CO's ascertained that the individual in question owned the Fu Leen Meng Restaurant in Bridgeton. Later that morning at 1100 hours, CO Trembley and CO Swift conducted a fisheries inspection at the Fu Leen Meng Restaurant. During the inspection CO Trembley inspected a freezer and discovered a bag containing 74 undersize striped bass. Summonses were issued for possess 74 undersize striped bass, possess 68 striped bass over the daily limit, possess striped bass for the purpose of sale, and fail to provide accurate records of fisheries resources. Maximum penalties for all charges exceed $19,000.
While monitoring Absecon Inlet fishermen from the streets of Atlantic City, COs Nicklow and Sutton observed one of two fishermen catch and fillet an undersized black sea bass for bait. CO Nicklow and CO Sutton decided to conduct an inspection of the two individuals before the evidence was gone. In addition to the filleted undersize black sea bass, the COs found the individuals to be in possession of 3 undersize summer flounder and a container labeled "river herring". Inside the container the COs discovered 13 river herring, which is currently illegal to possess in New Jersey. The label on the container had the current date and name of a seafood store in Trenton, NJ. The individuals had purchased the river herring from the store in Trenton earlier in the day. All of the illegal fish were seized and the appropriate summonses were issued. CO Harp used his skills learned as a NMFS observer to dissect one of the herring to confirm the species based on peritoneum color (lining of the abdominal cavity). District 8 officers are currently working with officers from the central region to file additional charges at the market where the river herring were purchased.
On two separate occasions CO Nicklow came upon several family groups of recreational clammers harvesting shellfish from the shellfish leases in the Cape Horn section of Great Bay in Little Egg Harbor Twp. CO Nicklow determined that the 14 individuals he inspected were unaware that they were on leased ground and handled the situation accordingly. Additional violations included harvesting shellfish on Sunday and failure to obtain shellfish licenses. The appropriate summonses were issued.
While on patrol along the Manasquan Inlet on 7/28/12, CO's Scott and Moscatiello observed two spear fishermen fishing on the Point Pleasant side of the inlet. They were able to note that the two fishermen were placing multiple undersized fish into a green mesh bag linked to a stringer. CO Klitz was notified and staged a few blocks away from the inlet and waiting for the fishermen to exit the water. Before pulling the mesh bag from the water, CO's Scott and Moscatiello observed the two men walking into the parking lot and looking around before returning to retrieve the mesh bag. When they did, CO Klitz performed an inspection and found 14 summer flounder, 11 of which were undersized and 3 undersized tautog. The appropriate summonses were issued.
On 7/28/12 an inspection was performed on the party fishing vessel Dauntless in Point Pleasant Beach. For this trip the boat had approximately seventy individuals onboard and they had targeted mostly ling and black sea bass, with a small assortment of other bottom species. As the vessel returned to dock, CO's Klitz, McManus, Moscatiello and Scott approached the vessel from the starboard side while Lt. Dravis watched fishermen on the port side. As the CO's approached, Lt. Dravis observed multiple fishermen dumping black sea bass and winter flounder off the port side of the vessel. Once the inspection was completed, black sea bass and winter flounder were discovered in abandoned coolers on the vessel along with individual fish left under the bench seats of the vessel. Seven summonses were issued for sub-legal black sea bass and interference.
On 7/25/12 CO Moscatiello was patrolling the area around the Atlantic Highlands Municipal Harbor and observed a clammer participating in the depuration program just outside of the harbor breakwater. After watching the clammer for several minutes, CO Moscatiello noticed that the vessel was moving in circles against the tide. After switching locations, CO Moscatiello was able to obtain video surveillance of the clammer as he continued to use the motor from his vessel to aid in his clamming activities. CO Moscatiello later met with the clammer and issued the appropriate summons for taking shellfish with the use of a power boat.
On 7/26/12 CO Moscatiello conducted an early morning patrol of the Sandy Hook Bay to conduct surveillance of local clammers participating in the hard clam depuration program. CO Moscatiello was able to obtain video footage of two clammers harvesting prior to sunrise. CO Moscatiello met with the two clammers and issued the appropriate warnings.