September - October 2013
NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife
Monthly Highlights
Bureau of Law Enforcement

Northern Region

As a follow up to a previous highlight from August-September 2013, Officer Kuechler recently went to Bayonne City Municipal Court in reference to summonses and criminal complaints that he issued to two Bayonne residents for illegally possessing and transferring a monkey out of state. The defendants agreed to enter guilty pleas to the Title 23 charges and have the criminal charges dismissed. The defendants were fined a total of $9000.00 and assessed the proper court costs.

On a Friday evening during the Fall Bow season, Officers Driscoll and Kuechler responded to a call for assistance from the Ringwood Boro Police Department in Bergen County related to a resident who found a large, antlered deer, lying dead, partially on the front porch of her residence. The officers responded and were able to follow the blood trail of the deer to the rear yard of a neighboring house in the very densely populated neighborhood. They found a small bait pile and a trail camera in the yard. No one was home at the residence, but in plain sight sitting inside of the back door of the residence was a cross bow. The officers recovered the deer as evidence and took multiple photographs and sample to document the scene. The officers returned early the next morning and interviewed the homeowner who denied knowing anything about the dead deer. After further questioning and being presented with the evidence collected from the scene, the suspect finally admitted to shooting the deer at 8 AM on the previous morning from his back deck, and not being able to recover the deer. The suspect did possess a valid 2013 Resident Bow and Arrow License. He was charged with possession of a nocked cross bow bolt within 150 feet of an occupied building.

In the afternoon of the opening day of duck season in the northern zone, Officers Holmes and Paey were patrolling the area of Tilcon Pond, adjacent to the Musconetcong River in Mount Olive Township, Morris County and found multiple groups of hunters on the pond. Most of the hunters packed up and left at sunset, but one group remained set up on an island in the pond. At 15 minutes after legal shooting hours, the group fired twice at ducks attempting to land in the pond. Again at 20 minutes after legal shooting hours, the hunters fired at ducks. The officers were able to apprehend the illegal hunters when they were leaving the pond, and summonses were issued for attempting to take ducks after legal hunting hours.

While patrolling the South Branch Wildlife Management Area in Readington Township, Hunterdon County, on a Saturday afternoon during fall bow season, Officer Paey noticed a tractor brush hogging trails in the fields off of River Avenue. Officer Paey stopped the operator who stated he was a neighbor to the property and was mowing trails for the horse riders in the area. No permission had been granted for the mowing, and this person had been previously warned by Lt. Applegate for spreading his horse manure on the WMA fields adjacent to his small horse farm. Summonses were issued for operating a motor vehicle off of established roadways in a WMA and damaging vegetation on a WMA.

Officer Kuechler attended a fishing derby at Echo Lake in Mountainside Boro, Union County, for people with special needs which was hosted by the Newark Bait and Fly Fishing Club. Officer Kuechler was able to assist the participants with catching and releasing fish and answer fishing related questions.

Officer Holmes investigated a report by a bow hunter who had watched a hunter from a neighboring property trail a deer onto his posted property, and then quickly leave when he was seen. The complainant advised the officer that he had later located the trespasser's eight point buck and had called and left him a message that he could help him recover it. When the complainant returned to hunt the property the following afternoon, he found that the antlers had been removed but the rest of the carcass from the buck remained. Officer Holmes responded to the suspect's residence and found a fresh skull capped set of eight point antlers sitting on the driveway. Officer Holmes questioned the suspect about the antlers, but he was adamant that he had not shot the deer, but had just found it dead in the woods and removed the antlers. Officer Holmes confiscated the antlers and issued a summons for possession of untagged/ unregistered deer parts. When Officer Holmes called the complainant to inform him of the resolution of the case, the complainant told him that he had just spoken to another club member who had a voicemail from the suspect from the previous evening claiming that he had shot the deer and had found it after they had called him that day. Officer Holmes acquired a copy of the voicemail and returned to the suspect's house and confronted him with the new found evidence. The suspect kept to his original story about finding the dead deer, and was issued additional summonses for failure to tag a deer immediately upon killing and failing to report a deer recovered late to a regional office.

Officer Paey and Lieutenant Applegate were patrolling the Round Valley Boat Ramp in Clinton Township, Hunterdon County, around midnight on a Friday when they stopped to inspect two fishermen that were packing up their boat in the parking lot. The fishermen were very proud to show off the very large Rainbow trout that they had in a bucket next to the boat. While Officer Paey was verifying that the fishermen had valid licenses, Lieutenant Applegate noticed a cooler in the back of the SUV trailering the boat that was partially covered with clothing. When asked what was in the cooler, the fishermen were not as proud to show the officers three undersized rainbow trout that they had attempted to hide. Summonses for possession of undersized trout in a Trophy Trout Regulation Area were issued and the fish were confiscated.

Officer Driscoll was assigned an Operation Game Thief complaint on a Sunday afternoon during Fall Bow season about people illegally bow hunting on township owned property in Montville Township, Morris County. Officer Driscoll responded to the location provided and located vehicles parked there with hunting equipment inside. Officer Driscoll was able to locate four hunters actively bow hunting on the township owned property and all four were issued summonses for illegal Sunday bow and arrow hunting.

Officer Paey was patrolling the Rockaway Creek WMA in Readington Township, Hunterdon County in the late morning of a midweek day during the Fall Bow season when he observed four men sitting inside of one of the abandoned horse barns on the property. When Officer Paey approached the men, he saw them attempting to hide alcoholic beverages from his view. Officer Paey instructed the men to produce the alcoholic beverages and started talking to them about their success during the morning hunt. All four men claimed that they had been bow hunting and had not shot any deer. License inspections of the four hunters revealed that one of the hunters had not purchased a 2013 Bow and Arrow license. Summonses were issued for hunting without a license and possession/consumption of alcoholic beverages on a WMA.

Officers Driscoll and Kuechler have been very busy with fall marine fishing along the Hudson River and the Newark Bay Complex in Hudson County. On one evening patrol, the officers were inspecting boats and fishermen at the Liberty State Park Boat Ramp and they inspected a boat that had just returned to the ramp with five men on board. The men claimed that they had not kept any fish, but a closer look inside of the cabin of the boat revealed ten undersized Black Sea Bass hidden beneath the stairs in the cabin of the boat. Summonses were issued for possession of undersized Black Sea Bass and possession of Black Sea Bass during the closed season. The officers also inspected the fishermen on another boat that were also in possession of undersized Black Sea Bass and undersized Porgy. Summonses were issued for possession of undersized Black Sea Bass and Porgy and possession of Black Sea Bass during the closed season. Later that night, Officers Driscoll and Kuechler were patrolling the area of Hudson County Park in Bayonne, Hudson County when they encountered fishermen in possession of a significantly undersized Fluke and multiple undersized Striped Bass. Summonses were issued for possession of undersized Fluke and Striped Bass and possession of over the daily limit of Striped Bass.

Officer Holmes and Lieutenant Applegate were patrolling along the Delaware River in Pohatcong Township, Warren County for compliance with duck hunting regulations when they saw a decoy spread set up along the river. Lieutenant Applegate was able to get right up behind the hunter who was set up in some large boulders along the riverbank and directed the hunter to unload his shotgun for an inspection. The hunter attempted to stall in unloading his gun and said that he recently heard a duck off to his right side. Lieutenant Applegate advised him that the duck had just flown in front of him while he was talking, and then watched as the hunter unloaded a 2 3/4 inch round of OO Buckshot from the chamber of his shotgun and a round of high brass lead #6 from the magazine. Lieutenant Applegate collected the shells and asked the hunter for his license and if he had shot any ducks. The hunter responded by throwing two male wood ducks in Lieutenant Applegate's direction. Officer Holmes approached and escorted the hunter back to his vehicle while Lieutenant Applegate searched for spent shell casings. Two 2 3/4 inch high brass #6 shell casings were found in the immediate area of the hunter, and three more unfired lead #6 shells were found in his hunting bag. The hunter was set up 161 yards away from a home on the Pennsylvania side of the river that would have been right in line with his passing shot at the duck the officers kicked up when approaching to inspect him. When confronted with this information, the hunter tried to claim that the officers had "planted" the OO Buckshot shell. Summonses were issued for possession of illegal missiles for waterfowl hunting and possession of six lead shells while waterfowl hunting.

Central Region

Lt. Lacroix received an OGT complaint on a Monday evening regarding possible illegal hunting underneath the Route 1 Bridge in New Brunswick. The complainant reported that he had seen a pickup truck parked in the Loews' movie theater parking lot along the fence above the Raritan River. He said that he had seen other vehicles parked there previously and thought they might be hunting. At approximately 1700 hours he observed a white male come up through the fence from the river. The man was not wearing hunting clothes but was carrying two black bags and a bow. He approached the man and tried to speak to him, but the man quickly got in his truck and left. He was able to get the license plate and an excellent description of the suspect. The complainant called again at 2000 hours to say that the truck was again parked in the parking lot. Lt. Lacroix checked along the river underneath the bridge the following day and found a fresh gut pile. A check of the deer database showed that the suspect had checked a doe in on Tuesday afternoon and claimed that it had been shot in Somerset County. Lt. Lacroix met with the suspect, who after questioning, admitted to shooting the doe on Monday evening in New Brunswick and falsely checking it in the following day in another county. A summons for failing to check a deer on the day killed was issued to the suspect.

CO Mascio and Lt. Lacroix worked the Assunpink WMA on the opening day of the North Zone waterfowl season. A number of hunters were checked and several violations were found. One summons was issued for hunting waterfowl without a license, three summonses were issued for hunting waterfowl after legal hours and two warnings were issued to juveniles for hunting waterfowl after legal hours and possession of an unplugged gun.

Lt. Szulecki and CO's Riviello and McManus assisted the New Jersey State Park Police and State Police in searching for a missing hunter who had not been heard from for five days. The hunter was believed to have gone into the woods looking for the location of an old tree-stand from which he used to hunt. Members of the man's hunting club located his vehicle on a secluded sand road in Penn State Forest. The windows were rolled down and there were various hunting items scattered throughout the vehicle. The man's pet dog was also left in the vehicle unattended. The dog was shaking when he was found, but was fine. As of this writing, the man had not been found. It has been nearly two weeks.

CO Riviello was contacted by a Marine CO and given information that a bow hunter shot a deer behind his own house and then dragged the deer into his garage. The next day, CO Riviello checked to see if the hunter had registered his deer; the check revealed that he had not. Lt. Szulecki and CO Riviello went to the suspect's residence to interview the hunter, but he was not home. The next day, CO Riviello went back and spoke to the hunter. After a brief interview the man admitted to shooting the deer and not registering it, he said that he didn't have time. He was issued a summons for failing to register the deer.

Southern Region

Conservation Officer's Kille, Trembley and Captain Cianciulli conducted a series of interviews with a hunter that resides in Pilesgrove Township, Salem County. He allegedly harvested a female deer in East Greenwich Township, Gloucester County during the "earn a buck" portion of the fall archery season. A record check of the harvest data showed the hunter checked a female deer through the automated system. During the initial interview, the hunter refused to show the officers the deer head as required by law. When officer's attempted a subsequent interview the hunter said that he was advised by his attorney not to speak to the officers, but he did show them a head from a doe, which wasn't tagged. The hunter was charges with failing to show the deer head as required by law, interference with the duties of a Conservation Officer and unlawful possession of a deer without a seal or confirmation number.

Conservation Officer's Toppin and Vazquez interviewed an archery hunter in Voorhees Township, Camden County. The hunter harvested a buck on the opening day of the archery season and a doe the next day. However, he did not check either deer until Monday. The officers interviewed the hunter and he gave a full written confession to unlawfully taking both deer. He was charged with hunting on restricted property on Sunday, hunting white-tailed deer during the closed fall bow season, unlawful possession of a white tailed deer and for failing to tag or registered a deer as required by law.

Conservation Officer's Toppin and Vazquez interviewed a hunter who harvested a buck on the opening day of the fall archery season in Franklin Township, Gloucester County. During the interview the hunter admitted to killing a buck on the opening day of the "earn a buck" portion of the fall archery season. He said that he shot a doe first and observed it fall in field, but never recorded the deer's confirmation number before shooting the buck. Furthermore, he did not tag or register either deer he killed. He was charged with hunting deer during the closed fall archery season and over the daily limit for fall archery season.

Conservation Officer Toppin followed up with two deer being killed and neither deer was registered by an archery hunter in Winslow Township, Camden County. During the interview, the hunter admitted to killing both does and failing to report the harvests. The hunter also possessed a set of antlers without a tag or confirmation number. The antlers were from a deer that collided with his friend's car. The hunter was advised how to properly register deer with the automated checking system and issued a warning for over the legal bag limit. The owner of the car was issued a warning for unlawful possession of deer antlers.

Lieutenant Risher gave a presentation to the Salem County Rotary Club at their monthly meeting held at the Salem Oaks Diner.

Conservation Officer James was patrolling Fish and Wildlife property in Dorchester, Cumberland County, when he saw a vehicle hidden behind a closed business. This was suspicious because the building was in a fairly remote area and the back door to the business was wide open. The vehicle belonged to a person who CO James had previously arrested for drug possession and who had been apprehended stealing copper wire from a neighboring landowner and then stripping it on Fish and Wildlife property. CO James called the NJ State Police and Lt. Ely to assist. The NJSP arrived and searched the building, but the truck owner could not be found so they left. When Lt. Ely got to the location, a second car arrived and parked behind the truck. Two individuals got out and walked into the business and began carrying out some of the contents of the business and putting it into the trunk. CO James and Lt. Ely stopped the two and asked what they were doing. Both responded, "Just supplementing our income by scrapping." CO James immediately recognized the one man as one he had arrested for using Methamphetamine on a WMA a month earlier. The NJSP were contacted and arrested the two (father and adult daughter) for burglary. The owner of the truck was also contacted and his truck was towed off of the property and he was charged with trespassing. Apparently, the truck owner called the father and daughter and told them of the looting opportunity. The NJSP were grateful for the assistance and said that there had been an increase in area burglaries that may have been attributed to these suspects.

Conservation Officer James responded to a hunter who complained of a large dump site on Lizard Tail WMA in Cape May County. CO James found an address in the trash and went to Avalon to question the owner. Upon arrival, he realized that the older woman was probably not the responsible party. She said that the fall clean-up was done by a man she located on Craigslist. With only a first name and phone number, Officer James posed as a client and met the man at an unoccupied house for an estimate. Upon arrival, the man recognized Craig and gave a full confession. He was charged with improper disposal of solid waste, dumping on a WMA and has cleaned up the site.

Conservation Officer Vazquez apprehended a hunter without a hunting license in Hamilton Township, Atlantic County. Residents of an upscale neighborhood reported seeing a hunter riding his bicycle in the morning through that neighborhood. CO Vazquez was able to locate the hunter and although he was not currently hunting, he admitted to hunting the previous evening. A records check revealed that he did not possess a valid hunting license and he was charged accordingly.

Conservation Officer Fox apprehended a hunter who was illegally hunting on Stockton State College property in Atlantic County. As a Stockton police officer was showing CO Fox the treestand, a hunter came walking right to them with his bow. Due to the remoteness of the stand, the hunter could not say that he was "just passing through" and had to admit that the baited stand was his. Not only was he charged with criminal trespassing and trespassing for the purpose of hunting, but also for hunting in the wrong zone as that zone had not yet opened for the fall archery season.

Marine Region

In response to complaints of alleged harassment of Humpback Whales by recreational boaters and jet skiers in the Raritan Bay/New York Bight area, CO's Moscatiello and Woerner conducted patrols with National Marine Fisheries Service Special Agents. The boat patrols targeted areas in the NY Harbor vicinity and were designed to be proactive and advise boaters and jet skiers to avoid the whales. There were no observations of harassment observed.

On 10/6/13, CO Moscatiello conducted a land based patrol of the Pt. Pleasant Canal in Ocean County. Upon arrival at the canal, four individuals were observed catching Tautog and placing them inside a bag hidden in weeds. During the inspection, they claimed to have kept only two fish which were currently hanging from the fence. After measuring the fish, each was determined to be less than the legal size limit of 15 inches. The individuals denied catching any other fish. A quick inspection of the area yielded the bag CO Moscatiello had spotted the men hiding earlier. In total, the four men possessed twelve undersized Tautog. Each fisherman was issued a summons for possessing two fish over the daily bag limit, and one summons for the possession of three undersized Tautog. A short time later, CO Moscatiello received a complaint from an informant along the canal who observed other individuals hiding undersized Tautog in the weeds and in their vehicle. Upon inspection, the men were found to have had a total ten Tautog all of which were undersized. Four summonses were issued for undersized and over the daily limit of Tautog.

On September 23rd, CO Woerner was patrolling in the Borough of Highlands in Monmouth County. CO Woerner observed four anglers fishing in the Shrewsbury River from a rental boat. After 40 minutes of surveillance CO Woerner noticed the four individuals packing up for the day and sorting their catch into coolers. They had caught a large number of Spot (baitfish) and Scup. Once fishing had ceased, CO Woerner met the individuals back at the rental boat dock to inspect their catch. Thirty-three undersized Scup and three undersized Black sea bass were found during the inspection. CO Woerner ran the four individuals for prior violations and found that one individual had a prior violation for possession of undersized marine fish for sale. At the conclusion of the inspection, each individual was issued one summons for the taking/possessing of four undersized Scup. After the summonses were issued an uninvolved individual asked if they could purchase the illegal fish that were just seized by CO Woerner. CO Woerner educated the individual on the proper procedures for buying and selling marine fish.

On August 19th at approximately 1:30 a.m. CO's Klitz and Scott responded to Maclearie Park in Belmar, Monmouth County where three individuals were being detained by Belmar Police Department. The individuals were apprehended harvesting Hard Clams from the special restricted waters of the Shark River. Belmar PD advised the CO's that one of the suspects eluded them and was found a distance away walking in wet socks and holding half of a fishing pole. This individual told them that he was "exercising." Another individual told the Officers that he was "sightseeing." The three men had collected and hidden over 1500 clams and stashed them in a playground area. Trash bags full of clams were found in a playground slide as well as buckets full of clams hidden nearby. The CO's were able to find their vehicle, a large van with the back seats pulled out and sheets of plastic already in place. The men may have gone unnoticed if this particular Belmar Officer hadn't worked with CO's Klitz and Scott the prior night while dealing with multiple individuals taking hundreds of undersized crabs. CO Scott pointed out that they were doing night patrols looking for individuals illegally clamming, which likely spurred the Belmar Officer to make the call. The men were issued summonses for harvesting hard clams after sunset, harvesting in special restricted waters and failure to obtain a shellfish license.

On 9/14/13, CO Scott was watching multiple fishermen under the Rt. 35 Bridge in Brielle catching Striped Bass. During the surveillance, he noticed three fishermen fishing off the stern of a party boat moored at the Brielle Boat Basin. One of the fishermen pulled in a Striped Bass that was obviously very small and CO Scott did not see it returned to the water. After a few minutes, another very small Striped Bass was caught and not thrown back. At this point, CO Scott decided to board the vessel and check the three fishermen. Upon inspection, CO Scott found three undersized Striped Bass in a basket stowed in the stern of the vessel. One individual was charged with possession of the undersized Striped Bass.

On 9/16/13, COs Klitz and Scott received information from an extremely reliable source that a patron aboard a party boat hailing out of Brielle, Monmouth County, had kept Black Sea Bass during the closed season. What bothered this informant most of all was this patron's negative attitude and comments regarding New Jersey's fisheries regulations and law enforcement officers. Upon inspection, CO Scott immediately encountered a violation on the first patron to walk off the vessel. However, this was not the patron mentioned by the complainant. CO Klitz isolated the suspect fisherman and inspected his coolers where he found mutilated Black Sea Bass. The man admitted to CO Klitz that he caught and filleted the Black Sea Bass. During the inspection, the informant called CO Scott with regards to another individual who had kept short Summer Flounder. CO Scott found this individual, inspected his cooler and found numerous undersized and over limit Summer Flounder. The COs issued a total of four summonses including mutilated Black Sea Bass; undersized and over limit Summer Flounder.

While driving over Margate Bridge in Atlantic County, Lt. Snellbaker observed two skiffs and 6 fishermen gathering Green Crabs at the base of the bridge. A short time later, Lt. Snellbaker observed fishermen on one of the skiffs, while tied off to an ice breaker, retain and fillet multiple undersize Tautog. The second skiff was underneath another part of the bridge and out of sight. From the top of the bridge Lt. Snellbaker accessed a maintenance ladder, climbed down to the ice breaker, and took a position behind a bridge pillar within a few feet of the violators. Just as more Tautog were about to be filleted, Lt. Snellbaker stepped out from behind the pillar and made the apprehension. Lt. Snellbaker completed gathering evidence consisting of 11 Tautog (seven of which were filleted) and collected identifications. The second skiff blindly came from the other side of the bridge to convene with their associates. Lt. Snellbaker kept out of sight and then promptly signaled for the second vessel to facilitate a safe boarding and inspection. The second skiff possessed 12 Tautog and 3 undersized Black Sea Bass during the closed season. With assistance from CO Petruccelli, twelve summonses were issued in total for over the limit tautog, undersized Tautog, mutilating Tautog to the extent that the length cannot be determined, and taking Black Sea Bass during the closed season.

On September 21, 2013 during a vessel patrol in Great Bay, CO Nicklow and CO Harp discovered an assortment of unmarked conch pot gear baited with fresh horseshoe crabs. Not knowing if the gear was a collection of stolen gear worked by a rogue fisherman or a new participant in the fishery, the officers pulled all the gear by hand and stored it as evidence. There were 40 conch pots seized and none of them possessed a bait saving device. One buoy of the 40 pots, possessed a gear number. The next day, CO Nicklow interviewed the individual to which the gear number belonged to. The individual explained to CO Nicklow that he had been conch fishing, but discovered his gear went missing since the last time he tended it. CO Nicklow then asked the individual for his 2013 fish pot license and a receipt for the horseshoe crabs. The individual produced a receipt for the horseshoe crabs, but failed to obtain a 2013 fish pot license. CO Nicklow issued the individual a receipt for the forty seized conch pots. CO Nicklow and CO Harp issued summonses for failing to obtain a 2013 fish pot license, unmarked gear, not having bait saving devices while using horseshoe crabs as bait and possessing horseshoe crabs without a fish pot license.

During a late afternoon surveillance of the T-Jetty in Atlantic City's Absecon Inlet, CO Harp observed seven fishermen at the end of the T-Jetty taking undersized and over the limit Tautog. CO Nicklow was called in on his day off to assist. As the sun went down and the bite slowed, all the fishermen exited the T-Jetty and were apprehended by CO Harp just prior to CO Nicklow's arrival. Together the officers issued 13 summonses for possession of undersized and over limit Tautog. Twenty-five undersized Tautog were seized by the officers.

While patrolling the tributaries of the Delaware Bay CO Hausamann has issued multiple summonses and warnings for the taking of undersize black drum. Most of the black drum encountered are less than ten inches and are often mistaken by anglers for Sheepshead or Croakers. CO Hausamann has taken a proactive role with all anglers encountered in these tributaries, educating them on the proper identification of Black Drum compared to other targeted fish species.

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Last Update December 20, 2009