Officer Sutton was notified by the Northern Region
Office that an employee of the Tractor Supply store in Washington Township,
Warren County had been bitten by a groundhog that a customer had brought into
the store. Officer Sutton interviewed the victim, and the customer, who did
have a valid Division of Fish & Wildlife issued "Permit to Possess Wild
Game" for the ground hog. Officer Sutton was able to determine that he also
possessed two (2) Raccoons, three (3) squirrels, another ground hog, a Goldfinch,
and a Mourning Dove without the proper permits. Summonses were issued for the
illegal possession and the animals were removed and placed at various
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.
Officers Kuechler and Wren investigated a report of
a man seen removing a deer from the woods in an area of Sussex County that was
not yet open for deer hunting. The complainant was able to get a vehicle
description and a partial license plate, which Senior Communications Operator
Colao was able to match to a suspect. The suspect had not yet checked in any
deer on the ALS system when the officers attempted to contact him via phone
that evening, after not being able to verify a valid address for the suspect.
He did not answer the call, but minutes later reported an antlerless deer to
the ALS system for an area that was already open. Further phone calls lead to
the suspect giving a full confession for hunting in a closed zone and
falsifying his tag and registration information. The appropriate summonses
Officers Holmes and Biondo were following up on
information received from a bow hunter about hearing rifle shots while hunting
on Hunterdon County Park property on numerous occasions. The officers set up
in the woods behind some houses in Lebanon Township, Hunterdon County one evening
and before long heard a rifle shot coming from a nearby area. The officers
tracked the shots to a residence with an automatic feeder in the yard, and
witnessed a man clad only in his underwear, holding a rifle, attempting to
close a second floor window of the residence. The man was subsequently
apprehended and admitted to shooting multiple squirrels from the house using a
.17 caliber rifle. Officers Holmes and Biondo were able to locate multiple
squirrel carcasses in different stages of decomposition in the resident's
backyard. The appropriate summonses were issued.
Officers Sutton and Ziegler, assisted by retired
Officer Williamson, gave a block of instruction to the new recruits on how to
properly conduct investigations in the field. The officers did a good job
putting together a very informative program that received very positive
feedback from the recruits.
Officers Ziegler, Holmes, Sutton and Kuechler
attended an Arrest, Search and Seizure update at the Morris County Police
Academy, taught by the Morris County Prosecutors Office.
Officers Kuechler and Wren were sent to investigate
a report of a hunter killing an antlered deer in Franklin Township, Somerset
County, which was then illegally tagged and
reported by another club member. After interviewing the suspect, he admitted
to killing the antlered deer without killing an antlerless deer first, as
required by law. His stepfather, a member of the same hunting club, had killed
an antlerless deer already and agreed to tag and register the deer for him.
The stepfather was issued summonses for very similar violations at the same
hunting club in 2010. The deer was confiscated and both men were issued the
CO Martiak was called to assist Middletown Township (Monmouth County) Police
Department after they found two live rattlesnakes at a residence where they were serving a search warrant. At the
residence, Officer Martiak observed the two rattlesnakes that were later
identified as a Great Basin Rattlesnake and a South Pacific Rattlesnake.
Officer Martiak also observed in plain view a number of mounted deer heads,
hunting photographs and hunting equipment. Of the fifteen deer heads mounted
on the wall, six did not have any numerical markings indicating that they had
been taken legally. Lt. O'Rourke assisted in transporting the confiscated deer
heads to the office and Linda DiPiano of the Division's Exotic and Non-Game
permits bureau removed and transported the two rattlesnakes. A green Amazon parrot
was also observed in the residence. After further investigation, the owner of
the residence was charged with four summonses, two for the possession of
potentially dangerous species, possession of the parrot without a permit and
possession of an untagged/unregistered four point deer head.
CO's Martiak and Szalaj went to a Hamilton Township (Mercer County) residence after
two separate piles of household garbage from the residence were found dumped on
the Assunpink WMA. The owner of the residence knew immediately why the
officers were there and admitted to dumping the garbage at the Assunpink. The
appropriate summons was issued to the homeowner.
CO's Martiak and Riviello responded to the Colliers Mills WMA after the Jackson
Township Police Department reported several males drinking alcohol and acting
up near the front lake. When the officers arrived they observed the males all
in possession of alcohol. As the officers approached, one of the men ran into
the lake and threw a smoking pipe into the water and began dumping the contents
of a plastic bag into the water. The man finally followed the officers'
commands and came out of the water. He admitted to throwing a marijuana pipe
into the water and dumping out a bag of "weed" because he was on probation and
didn't want to go back to jail. All three were charged with possession of
alcohol on a WMA and the third subject was charged with littering and a 2C
charge for obstructing the administration of law.
Officer Mascio apprehended an individual in Hopewell for not taking a doe first during
the earn a buck
segment of the fall bow season. Officer Mascio had stopped at the residence
late Monday afternoon after the opening weekend to look at the doe head after
the hunter had checked in a large 10 point buck earlier that afternoon. The
hunter told the officer that he had killed the doe Sunday evening however, the
doe head appeared old and was already covered in maggots. Upon questioning,
the hunter finally admitted that he had picked up the head off the side of the
road on Saturday. He also admitted to checking the buck on Monday after
killing it Sunday evening. A total of five summonses for various deer
violations were issued to the hunter.
The Central Regional Office received a call for assistance from
Waretown P.D. dispatch at approximately 10:00A.M. on 9/14/12 regarding a
possibly suicidal individual in the area of Wells Mills Road (Rte.532) "Near
Forked River WMA". The individual was observed operating a 2005 Black Ford
F-150 with metal rack. CO Mutone's knowledge of the area proved
vital. She was able to locate the vehicle in dense woods on private
property with the assistance of New Jersey State Police helicopter.
Officer Mutone was first to respond on scene and assessed the individual.
The individual was extremely intoxicated and incoherent. Officer Mutone
reported the condition of the individual to Lt. O'Rourke, who then contacted
Waretown P.D. dispatch to call out Emergency Medical Services. Barnegat
P.D. and Waretown P.D. arrived on scene and the subject was turned over them.
CO McManus was patrolling Greenwood WMA and positioned himself in
an area where there was a high volume of illegal all-terrain vehicle activity.
Officer McManus was able to safely stop thirteen ATV's on the WMA and summonses
were issued to all the operators.
CO McManus responded to a complaint in Mercer County that has been
an ongoing issue. Officer McManus located the suspects at Carnegie Lake and
observed them illegally using a cast net. Upon close inspection, he was able
to ascertain that four individuals were involved. Officer McManus two individuals for illegal use of a cast net and the
other two individuals for over the legal possession limit for panfish. The
appropriate enforcement action was taken.
Conservation Officers from all four regions attended the Outdoor
Wildlife Expo in the Colliers Mills WMA in Jackson Township. The two-day event
brought more than 7,000 outdoor enthusiasts to the Wildlife Management Area.
Officers dealt with issues such as a motor vehicle lock-out, an abandoned dog,
two issues of domestic animals locked in vehicles, and three lost children.
All CO's that attended the event received positive feedback and educated the
hunting/fishing public on current regulations.
Conservation Officer Kille was patrolling during the
September Special Canada Goose Season when he encountered a group of hunters in
East Greenwich, Gloucester County. The hunters unloaded their firearms as CO
Kille instructed. As one of the hunters completed unloading his weapon, the
officer identified that he was using six rounds of lead shot. CO Kille charged
the hunter with using lead shot while hunting waterfowl.
Conservation Officers Toppin and Stites completed
the Marine Law Enforcement Training Program at the Federal Law Enforcement
Training Facility, Glynn County, Georgia.
Conservation Officer Fox apprehended an individual
who was hunting while his privileges were revoked in Hamilton Township,
Atlantic County. CO Fox had been patrolling an area in a closed deer management
zone when he found evidence of active hunting. The area strongly resembled the
layout of an individual who he had previously apprehended hunting illegally. No
hunter showed up on the opening day of the bow season so CO Fox planned to
return the following day. CO Fox and Lt Ely returned early the following day
and located a well hidden vehicle that contained fresh blood and deer hair. A
lookup revealed that the truck was registered to the hunter currently on the
revocation list. At about 9:00 am, the hunter came back to his truck on a
bicycle carrying a compound bow. CO Fox announced himself and the hunter froze.
When CO Fox asked why he was hunting while he was revoked, the hunter explained
that he was appealing the revocation and that he was getting ready to send the
appeal letter. When questioned about the blood and deer hair in the bed of the
truck the subject advised that it was from his uncle's deer. As the
questioning continued the subject confessed that he had actually illegally
killed a deer the day before. The officers followed the hunter back to his
house to retrieve the illegally harvested deer. The subject was charged with
hunting while revoked, hunting in a closed zone, hunting without a valid
license, unlawfully possessing an unregistered deer and for failing to tag a
Conservation Officer Fox got a call from a concerned
hunter that there was someone camping on the Tuckahoe WMA in Corbin City,
Atlantic County. The caller said that the person had gotten his Honda Accord
stuck on a berm while trying to access a restricted area. The person had
pitched a tent and started a campfire as well. When the camper stopped the
hunter to ask for help, the hunter noticed a handgun on the hood of the car.
When the hunter approached, the person attempted to hide it. The camper
apparently had no money, but offered to trade food by cooking a meal in
exchange for help. The hunter declined the offer, stayed calm and said that he
would go call for help. The hunter contacted CO Fox who in turn contacted Lt.
Ely for assistance. Both Officers arrived a short time later and found the
stuck vehicle, but the occupant couldn't be located. As the Officers inspected
the vehicle, someone from in the woods began to tell the Officers to, "identify
yourselves" Because the person was not visible
at this point, Lt. Ely replied that someone called and that they were just
there to help. Once the officers spotted the person in the woods, they loudly
identified themselves and ordered the subject to the ground. He complied and
immediately stated that he had two Airsoft handguns in his tent. After a
lengthy, albeit bizarre discussion ranging from nanotechnology to employment by
the CIA, the man's disabled vehicle was removed and the appropriate summonses
In the late morning hours of August 19th COs Scott
and Martiak were watching fishermen on the Belford jetty. CO Martiak noticed
one group keeping a large number of fish. CO Scott walked out to inspect the
group as CO Martiak watched from a distance. As CO Scott approached, three of
the men started hiding fish in the rocks. CO Martiak relayed this information
to CO Scott. Upon reaching the fishermen, CO Scott was able to have the
subjects retrieve the hidden fish. CO Scott seized the coolers and had the men
gather their belongings and walk back to the parking lot where CO Martiak was
waiting. Upon inspection of the coolers the COs discovered illegal fluke,
weakfish, and porgy. A total of six summonses were issued.
On the evening of August 26th, CO Scott was checking
fishermen coming off the Belford jetty. Two men were trying to quickly load
their fishing gear into their truck when CO Scott approached them. An
inspection of their cooler revealed several illegal weakfish. The appropriate summonses
for undersized and over limit weakfish were issued.
On 8/23/12 CO Moscatiello spent the day conducting
surveillance of clammers participating in the hard clam depuration program in
the Sandy Hook Bay. He observed several clammers who appeared to be power
raking for hard clams. CO Moscatiello was able to identify and apprehend two of
the violators and issued the appropriate summonses.
On 9/1/12, Chief Chicketano was driving in the area
of the Shark River Inlet on his day off when he noticed a known violator who
appeared to be harvesting hard clams from the special restricted waters of the
Shark River. Chief Chicketano notified District 7 officers of the incident and
Lt. Dravis, CO Moscatiello, CO Klitz, and CO Scott responded to the complaint.
The CO's located the individual along the seawall in Avon, and CO's Moscatiello
and Scott were able to apprehend him without incident. The summonses issued
included harvesting shellfish from the special restricted waters of the Shark
River and failure to obtain a shellfish license. This was this individual's
second incident of harvesting shellfish from restricted waters and he faces
enhanced penalties and jail time. On October 2, in the Neptune City Municipal
Court, this individual plead guilty and received maximum penalties on both of
these charges amounting to a total of $1070 dollars in a combination of
penalties and court costs. Additionally, the defendant was placed on 1 year's
probation the terms of which include jail time for any additional shellfish or
fish and wildlife violations.
On 08/25/12 CO's Klitz and Moscatiello were
performing a night shellfish patrol of the Shark River in Belmar, Monmouth
County. The CO's noticed multiple lights in the shallow waters of Shark
River. They were able to hide along a hedge row and witness multiple people
clamming and seining. Two separate groups were apprehended. Two individuals
had a large amount of clams in a bucket and a net. The second group consisted
of three individuals clamming and seining. Even though they were wearing
rubber boots and hip boots the group claimed that none of the gear which
consisted of a seine net, multiple buckets, hard rake and two pairs of shoes,
was theirs. They claimed they found it on the beach and just started using
it. Seventeen summonses were issued, including clamming without a shellfish
license, clamming after sunset, clamming in the special restricted waters of
the Shark River and possession of undersize marine fish.
After receiving a call from the beach town of North
Wildwood in Cape May County, CO Swift investigated the source of numerous
Atlantic menhaden (bunker) washing up on the beach. Through checking the
menhaden bait call-in records and interviewing three different boat captains
working the area, CO Swift was able to identify the responsible captain and
vessel. The responsible captain claimed that an 8ft. shark tore a hole in his
purse seine net, releasing 5 to 10 tons of bunker. North Wildwood Public
Works cleaned up 2 tons of bunker at a cost of $706.50 for labor, equipment,
and disposal fees. CO Swift issued summonses to the Captain and Corporation
for releasing dead fish from purse seine nets and failure to initiate clean-up
within 24 hours of releasing fish. In addition,
the license holder is responsible for all costs associated with the cleanup.
One of CO Nicklow's patrol days was unexpectedly
busy with diverse violations. On the first inspection of the day in route to
Atlantic City, CO Nicklow encountered a group of crabbers possessing 30
undersize blue claw crabs off a small tributary of Absecon Bay. At another
tributary off Absecon Bay CO Nicklow inspected a cast net fisherman in
possession of 10 undersize black drum. The Black drum possession limit is 3
fish. CO Nicklow then patrolled a fishing pier in Absecon Inlet and inspected a
fisherman leaving the pier in possession of 23 hickory shad. Possession limit
for Hickory Shad is six fish. The individual advised CO Nicklow that he was
given the Hickory Shad by a person who was still fishing on the pier. As CO
Nicklow and the man he just apprehended walked back towards the pier, the man
decided to take his fish rag and throw it in the bushes right in front of CO
Nicklow. CO Nicklow immediately questioned the man's lack of respect for the
environment. The man responded by saying that there was so much other trash
around that he did not think it was a big deal. CO Nicklow proceeded out to
the pier and apprehended the other fisherman. The appropriate summonses were
issued including a summons for littering while fishing.
At 0300 hours on September 4th, Wildwood Police
contacted Trenton Dispatch to report dead fish washing up on the beach. CO
Tomlin investigated and found dead bunker washed up on the entire length of
Wildwood's beach. As required by regulation, a captain of a local purse seine
vessel left a voice mail at the Marine Enforcement Office the previous
afternoon to report that he had released a large amount of bunker at sea. CO
Tomlin interviewed the captain and facilitated the clean-up between the
Wildwood Public Works Department and the license holder. CO Tomlin determined
that approximately 20,000lbs. of bunker were released in part due to rough sea
conditions. A summons was issued for releasing dead fish from a purse seine
During the month of September, Marine Region
Conservation Officers conducted Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction patrols in
the Atlantic Ocean, as far as 15 nautical miles from shore. Numerous gear types
were inspected for compliance with having the necessary weak-links on their
buoy lines. These patrols are required as part of the Division's Joint
Enforcement Agreement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
No violations were encountered.