October - November 2012
NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife
Monthly Highlights
Bureau of Law Enforcement

Northern Region

Officer Sutton located a post on an online hunting forum showing a picture of a man hunting with a scoped shotgun during the permit archery season. After doing some investigating, Officers Sutton and Wren were able to make contact with the person who posted the photo. He told them that he had taken the picture of this hunter on a neighboring property in Delaware Township, Hunterdon County. The complainant said that he had approached the man when he saw that he was using a shotgun, and had also taken down the man's CID number. Officers Sutton and Wren interviewed the suspect who admitted to having the shotgun in the woods, but claimed that he only had it for his personal protection. The illegal hunter was issued summonses for hunting with a firearm during the archery deer season and for not wearing the required fluorescent hunter orange while shotgun deer hunting.

Officer Kuechler investigated a report of a resident's cat caught in a steel jaw leghold trap in Wayne Township, Passaic County. A neighbor found the cat dragging the trap around and released it, but was not able to capture the cat to have it medically treated. Officer Kuechler interviewed another neighbor who admitted to setting the trap to catch raccoons in the neighborhood. The cat has not yet been captured, but has been seen a few times in the area. The illegal trapper was issued summonses for illegal possession/ use of steel jaw leghold traps and causing damage to the property of another person while trapping.

Officer Sutton responded out from home shortly before the impending Hurricane Sandy hit at the request of the Independence Township Police, Warren County. A resident had reported that a neighbor had just shot a large antlered deer with a rifle and the deer was dead in their yard. Officer Sutton located the deer with an obvious rifle wound, and interviewed the neighbor who admitted to shooting the deer with a .22 magnum rifle. He claimed that his father had called to tell him that a big buck was in his yard, and he couldn't help himself. Officer Sutton confiscated the deer and issued the illegal hunter summonses for hunting without a license, killing a deer with a firearm during closed season, killing a deer with a rifle and failure to possess a valid rifle permit.

The officers in the Northern Region have been very busy during the recent Pheasant Stocking Season on Wildlife Management Areas. Many field inspections and contacts have been made and the majority of the hunters inspected have been compliant with the related regulations. Though most of the hunters are law abiding, officers have had to issue multiple summonses for violations including hunting without a license, loaning a hunting license to another person, possession of pheasants without a pheasant stamp, possession of a loaded shotgun within 450 feet of an occupied building, hunting pheasant during closed season, hunting pheasant before legal hours, discharging a shotgun from and across a public road, possession of a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells and possession of illegal missiles for small game hunting.

Central Region

CO's Riviello and Mascio received information that an individual was hunting in a small wooded area near a townhouse development in East Windsor, Mercer County. The complainant knew the name of the suspect, a resident of the development. A check of the Administrative Console showed that the suspect has not had a hunting license since the inception of the system. The officers were able to apprehend the individual hunting during the permit bow season. He was charged with hunting without a license, hunting without a bow permit and littering.

CO's Riviello, Mascio and Martiak were patrolling Hopewell Township in Mercer County, when they observed a pickup truck with a quad in the back. A short time later they noticed that the quad was gone. Suspecting that the hunter was retrieving a deer, they set up to watch the vehicle. The hunter came out with two dead bucks on the quad. The hunter was charged with over the limit bucks and taking a buck without a buck stub. The officers had also observed blood in the bed of the pickup truck. A check of the harvest history showed that the hunter had not reported any deer in this season. After interviewing the suspect, he finally admitted that the blood was from a doe that he had shot the week before and never reported through the Automated Harvest Report System. An additional charge of failing to report the doe was also issued.

The North Zone Waterfowl Season reopened on November 10. Sunset, the end of legal hunting time for waterfowl on that date, was 4:46 pm. At 5:30 pm, CO's Riviello and Mascio apprehended three waterfowl hunters for shooting after legal hours at the Assunpink WMA in Robbinsville, Mercer County.

CO Martiak received a guilty verdict against the farmer who shot a residence while on a deer depredation permit in Millstone, Monmouth County. The shooter was found guilty of careless discharge and received a $400 fine and two-year loss of his license, along with a restitution of $1,345 to the victim.

CO Mutone and Lt. O'Rourke were patrolling Stafford Forge WMA for the South Zone duck opener. Officer Mutone conducted an inspection of two duck hunters. One of the duck hunters was issued a summons for not having a Federal Migratory Bird Stamp in possession. Later that morning, Officer Mutone and Lt. O'Rourke inspected three more duck hunters coming off the water. All three hunters failed to sign their hunting licenses and their state and federal stamps. One hunter received a written warning for not having a HIP certification. Officer Mutone also recovered some hunting equipment that the hunters dropped in the early morning hours. The hunters apparently bought all their licenses the night before and appeared to be disheveled. Officer Mutone handed them the migratory bird regulations supplement and advised the hunters to take the time to prepare before rushing out. Later that evening, Lt. O'Rourke was working Stafford Forge WMA for late duck hunting when he heard a gunshot nine minutes after legal hours. Lt. O'Rourke started to track the hunters as they continued to call for ducks after legal time. Both duck hunters had loaded firearms twenty-two minutes after legal hours. Lt. O'Rourke immediately recognized the two individuals from early that morning. The hunters thought duck hunting hours ended hour after sunset even though they had the migratory bird supplement provided to them earlier by Officer Mutone in their possession. Both hunters were issued summonses for hunting waterfowl after sunset.

CO Mutone was working in Stafford Forge WMA and apprehended two hunters hunting an hour early on the opening day of pheasant season. One of the hunters did not possess a pheasant stamp and told Officer Mutone he thought it was ok because he was hunting squirrels. Officer Mutone advised both hunters of the eight a.m. start. They each received a summons for hunting prior to the legal starting time of 8 a.m.

CO McManus was patrolling Colliers Mills WMA and observed a man hunting parallel to Success Road. A pheasant flushed to the hunter's right and he fired his shotgun twice across Success Road. Although he missed the bird, the hunter did receive a summons for discharging his firearm across a publicly travelled road.

CO Szulecki assisted Lt. O'Rourke in a field inspection of several small game hunters at Colliers Mills WMA. One of the hunters shot a quail. The quail season is closed in that area of the state. Officer Szulecki also found the hunter's firearm to be unplugged. One summons was issued for hunting with a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells.

Southern Region

Conservation Officer Toppin had received numerous complaints about archery hunters not procuring their extended fall bow permits in Deer Management Zone 65 and increased his patrols for the area. CO Toppin, while on patrol in the Winslow Wildlife Management Area in Winslow Township, Camden County, located two archery hunters and conducted an inspection. The two archery hunters did not have the required permit to hunt deer and were issued summonses for not possessing the required permits.

Conservation Officer Toppin received an illegal deer harvest complaint in Washington Township, Gloucester County and conducted an interview of the suspected hunter. The hunter admitted to unlawfully taking the deer without a license and was issued a summons for hunting without a license.

Conservation Officer Toppin received information that hunters had started hunting early on the opening day of pheasant season in Clayton Borough, Gloucester County and went to investigate. CO Toppin located the hunters unlawfully taking pheasants early. Both hunters were issued summonses for hunting before the start of the season.

Conservation Officer Toppin received an Operation Game Thief complaint that initially described illegal deer hunting in Voorhees Township, Camden County. The complainant reported that he found deer stands, trail cameras and a bait pile in the woods. The complainant removed the three trail cameras by damaging the cases and took them to his home in order to remove the pictures off the cards. Through his investigation, CO Toppin was able to determine the hunter's identity and that he did have legal permission to hunt in the area. CO Toppin charged the initial complainant with violating the hunter harassment law.

Lieutenant Risher patrolled the Mad Horse Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lower Alloway Creek, Salem County on the opening day of pheasant season. An inspection of a group of hunters resulted in one being charged for not possessing the required firearm license or pheasant stamp.

Conservation Officer's Vazquez and James made a deer hunting on Sunday case in Weymouth, Atlantic County after a complainant called Lt. Ely to ask if there was any firearm hunting on Sunday. The complainant stated that his wife had seen two vehicles parked in the wooded area across the street from their house. When she asked the driver of one vehicle what he was doing there, he told her that he was picking up his son who was hunting. Shortly after his wife had that conversation the complainant heard two shots. Lieutenant Ely asked the complainant to record the registration numbers of the two vehicles and CO's Vazquez and James were dispatched to investigate. The CO's went to the address of the registered owners in Vineland and waited. One of the vehicles was already there and had a gun inside. At about 10:30 pm, the hunters returned to the home in the pick-up truck. They told the officers that they had been squirrel hunting. When advised that hunting was closed on Sunday, they had no explanation. Suspecting that there was more to the story, CO James had the driver open the fiberglass cover on the truck revealing a small doe that had been shot with number 4 fine shot. The appropriate summonses were issued for deer hunting with a firearm during a closed season, possessing illegal missiles, hunting on Sunday, failure to report or tag a deer and for the illegal possession of the deer.

Marine Region

At midnight on his way home after putting in a full day training at the range, CO Swift responded to an anonymous complaint from Trenton Dispatch. The caller indicated that two individuals had caught and retained undersized striped bass on the Avalon Blvd. Bridge in Middle Twp., Cape May County. CO Swift located the two fishermen who indicated that they had caught two bluefish earlier and placed them in their vehicle. An inspection of their fish at the base of the bridge resulted in summonses issued for three undersize striped bass.

On October 25, 2012, COs Hausamann and Petruccelli conducted a commercial fisheries inspection of the otter trawl fishing vessel Miss Tamara at the dock of Cold Spring Fish and Supply Co. in Cape May. The COs determined the Miss Tamara landed within directed harvest limits of scup and summer flounder, but exceeded the by-catch limit of black sea bass by almost 100%. By-catch for black sea bass was a maximum of 50 pounds. Summonses were issued to the owner and captain of the vessel for exceeding by-catch limit of black sea bass.

In late October, CO Moscatiello and Lt's Paul and Dravis participated in the Barnegat Bay Blitz. This is a large event organized by the NJDEP and numerous coastal conservation groups in the Barnegat Bay watershed. Thousands of individuals throughout the state participated with the majority being volunteers. The purpose of the event to put it simply is to clean up Barnegat Bay and its surrounding areas of any garbage, recyclables and debris. The Barnegat Bay Blitz utilized two of District 7's rigid hull inflatable (RHI) patrol vessels for the transportation of volunteers to various sedge islands for garbage pickup. Subsequently, the RHI's were used to transport the collected items and the volunteers back to port. CO Moscatiello and Lt. Paul participated in the Herring Island vicinity of Mantoloking, Ocean County, while Lt. Dravis assisted in the Seaside Heights area of Ocean County.

CO Harp apprehended an individual shuttling ten undersized tautog from Brigantine's South Jetty to a vehicle containing a live tank. Using previously received information and assistance from CO Nicklow, the CO's determined that six additional persons and an additional vehicle were involved. A search of the jetty revealed two additional undersized tautog. An extensive field interview resulted in the fishermen leading the officers to a dumpster over a mile away. The officers recovered four additional undersized tautog that were abandoned when the fishermen learned of the initial apprehension. A total of eight summonses were issued for wanton waste, interference, possessing over the daily limit of tautog, and possession of undersized tautog.

In response to the impending arrival of Hurricane Sandy, Marine Region Conservation Officers strategically located patrol vessels for emergency response following the storm. Following Hurricane Sandy, Conservation Officers from throughout the State were tasked to assist the New Jersey State Police in conducting boat patrols along coastal barrier islands from Point Pleasant Beach to Long Beach Island. Two CO's were assigned for each of the marine unit's four, rigid hull inflatable vessels. The objective of the initial phase was to prohibit vessels from approaching the islands from the bayside, in an attempt to prevent looting that had been previously reported. The second phase involved a search for vessels abandoned in coastal bays and estuaries. Once located, the vessels were inspected, documented and tagged. The information was entered into the State Police CAD for the purpose of notifying the vessels' owners of the condition and location of their vessels. These patrols were conducted daily 6:00 am to 6:00 pm, starting from November 5 and continuing through November 30.

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Last Update December 20, 2009