March 2014 - April 2014
NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife
Monthly Highlights
Bureau of Law Enforcement

Northern Region

Officer Paey responded at the request of the Bridgewater Township Police Department, in Somerset County, to investigate an illegally killed deer in a highly populated neighborhood. The deer had already been removed by the Township Public Works Department and taken to a landfill, but Officer Paey was able to locate the spent .22 caliber Long Rifle casing from the suspect's driveway, and obtain a full confession. The suspect claimed that he shot the deer because it was knocking over his birdfeeder, which was a piece of plywood on top of an overturned trash can in his yard. The deer was shot within 450 feet of seven (7) separate residences in the neighborhood, the closest of which were 21 and 27 yards away. Due to the egregious nature of this act, summonses were issued for discharging a firearm without due caution and circumspection, possession of a loaded firearm within 450 feet of an occupied building, killing a deer out of season, take a deer with a rifle, kill a deer with an illegal missile, kill a deer without a valid firearm license and rifle permit.

Opening day of the 2014 trout season was busy for the officers in the Northern Region. Changes to the stocking locations and numbers of trout stocked did not keep the anglers from participating like usual. The officers spent the day answering questions and inspecting licenses and creels. Most anglers were compliant, but summonses were also issued for fishing without a license, possession of trout without a trout stamp, wrongful procurement of a resident fishing license, fishing during the pre-season closure, possession of over the daily limit of trout, and possession of bait in the Trout Conservation Area.

Northern Region Officers were able to concentrate on warm-water fisheries this year during the early spring due to the abbreviated trout stocking season. Officers Ziegler and Wren answered complaints and inspected multiple walleye anglers in Sussex and Somerset Counties. Summonses were issued for possession of walleye during the closed season, and possession of undersized walleye.

The Striped Bass fishing in the Newark Bay Complex has been very busy during this report period. Over the course of two subsequent weekends, Officers Kuechler and Driscoll, and Lieutenant Applegate, issued 119 summonses for possession of undersized Striped Bass, possession of over the daily limit of Striped Bass, wanton waste of marine fish, littering while fishing, and interference with the duties of a Conservation Officer. The Officers infiltrated a construction site that was being run as a "private fishing area" by the night security guard. The guard was paid a fee by anglers who he allowed to fish inside the gated site. On one occasion, the officers contacted eight (8) anglers in the early morning hours, which were collectively in possession of 75 undersized Striped Bass.

Officers Wren, Paey, Ocampo and Ziegler conducted boat patrols of Round Valley reservoir in Hunterdon County, and Lake Hopatcong in Morris and Sussex Counties. Lots of boats and shoreline anglers were inspected during the patrols and summonses were issued for fishing without a license, loaning a fishing license to another person and interference with the duties of a Conservation Officer.



Central Region

CO Mascio and Lt. Lacroix successfully convicted a deer hunter in Springfield Twp., Burlington County Municipal Court for attempting to take a bear out of season. The deer hunter shot the bear in the face with a crossbow after he claimed the bear climbed up his ladder stand during the fall bow season. The crossbow bolt lodged in the bear's snout but did not kill the bear and the bear ran off. Central Region Conservation Officers and personnel from the Division's Wildlife Control Bureau spent several days tracking the wounded bear and set up several bait sites attempting to lure the bear in for capture. The bear was never found. The hunter paid $300 in penalties

CO Mascio and Lt. Lacroix conducted a late night patrol along the Delaware River in Trenton. Twenty fishermen were inspected and eight summonses were issued, including three for fishing without a license, two for taking or possessing striped bass during the closed season, two for taking striped bass under legal size and one for interference.

Lt. Lacroix and CO McManus conducted a late Saturday night patrol of the Assunpink and Colliers Mills WMA's. Thirty one individuals were encountered. Twenty summonses were issued for violations of possession of alcoholic beverages, after hours and building and maintaining a fire.

CO Martiak assisted the South Brunswick Police Department and the Conrail Police Department in an investigation involving a Conrail employee who claimed he had been bitten by a coyote while working along the railroad tracks in South Brunswick. The employee called Trenton Dispatch to report the bite. When he stated that he was going to start shooting coyotes, Trenton Dispatch referred the call to Kim Tinnes with NJDFW Wildlife Control. Kim and Tony McBride both spoke to the man who became defensive when questioned as to where this had happened. The man then stated that he had set up traps with explosives along the railroad tracks. CO Martiak and officers with SBPD and Conrail PD searched the railroad tracks on foot to make sure there were not any explosives or traps set. According to Conrail, they have had numerous problems with this employee. The case is being investigated by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.

CO's McManus, Riviello, Martiak and Lt. Szulecki conducted a Saturday night operation between the hours of 9:00 PM and 1:00 AM on the Greenwood Forest WMA. Over the course of the patrol, fifty-five individuals were inspected and fourteen Title 23 summonses were issued for violations such as building a campfire, alcoholic beverages and after hours on a State WMA. One Title 39 summons was issued for an unregistered motor vehicle.

While patrolling the Greenwood Forest WMA, CO Mutone came across miscellaneous household debris dumped at a specific location. Within the debris pile CO Mutone found papers that identified the address and name of the debris' owner. CO Mutone visited the address and spoke with the wife of the person whose name was found on the paperwork. The woman called her husband at work so that CO Mutone could speak to him. He agreed to meet with CO Mutone the next day in person to discuss the incident. After a brief interview, the man suggested that someone must have taken his trash from off of the curb to sell it for scrap. When CO Mutone told the man that the trash that was dumped had no value at a recycling facility, he became very nervous and avoided eye contact. He was charged with dumping on a State WMA and disposing of solid waste in excess of 0.148 cubic yards.

On March 25, 2014, a pet bobcat escaped from a woman's home in Stafford Township. The cat had done the same thing in the fall of 2013 and the woman was issued a summons by Stafford Police for allowing the cat to run free. On that occasion, CO Riviello spoke to the owner of the bobcat and she provided him with a receipt from a breeder in Montana where she purchased the cat. The receipt stated that the cat is a bobcat hybrid mix. CO Riviello contacted Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and spoke to an investigator who told him that the breeder in question only raised and sold purebred bobcats. In addition, information obtained from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation provided documentation of a bobcat which was proven to be a pure bobcat and had also come from the same breeder in Montana in 2010. On April 11, 2014, Lt. Szulecki obtained a search warrant to draw blood from the bobcat to have a DNA test conducted to determine whether the cat is a bobcat hybrid mix or purebred bobcat. The cat is being held at the Popcorn Park Zoo in Lacey Township pending the outcome of the test.

On the opening day of the 2014 NJ Trout Season, Lt. Szulecki patrolled the Shark River in search of fishermen who might appear to be taking over their legal limit of trout. After locating a fisherman who was catching a trout every five to ten minutes, Lt. Szulecki began observing him from a covert location. The man was observed taking four of the trout that he caught and putting them on a stringer next to where he was fishing. After he caught a fifth trout, he walked up stream and put the trout on another stringer that he had hidden which already had five trout on it. This would bring the total number trout in his possession to eleven. Lt. Szulecki inspected the fisherman as he was attempting to leave. After a brief interview the man admitted to taking more than his legal limit of trout. He was issued a summons for the violation

The Central Region Office received information about household debris that was recently dumped at the Turkey Swamp Wildlife Management Area in Freehold Township, Monmouth County. CO Mutone went to the site and found in the debris a box with a shipping label and an invoice addressed to a residence in Jackson Township, Ocean County. The next day CO Mutone went to the residence and explained to the owner the nature of her investigation. The owner said her 19 year old son was supposed to have taken the debris to the local landfill. The owner said she would contact CO Mutone when her son came home. CO Mutone later met with the son. He was cooperative and admitted to dumping the debris and he gave a written statement. He said he went to the landfill but it was closed, so he illegally dumped the debris at Turkey Swamp WMA. He was issued summonses for discarding refuse on a State WMA and disposal of solid waste in excess of 0.148 cubic yards

Central Region Officers issued four Permits to Kill Wild Deer to farmers in the region.



Southern Region

CO's Hausaman and Kille attended the Captain's Meeting, along with Conservation Officers from the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, at the West End Boat Club to ensure anglers in the Delaware River Striper Tournament abided by all laws governing the Delaware River.

During a joint operation on the Delaware River the following day, Conservation Officers Kille, Hausaman, Mascio, Harp, and Lt. Risher set up surveillance along the river to observe violations that occurred in NJ waters, specifically enforcing the closure and unlawful possession of striped bass in designated NJ waters and possession of sub-legal slot size limits that the State of Pennsylvania allows in their waters. The officers inspected twelve vessels and fifty fishermen in the tournament in New Jersey waters. They issued summonses for two sub-legal (less than 28") striped bass, two for possession of striped bass during the closed season and twelve for usage of non-circle hooks.

CO Toppin attended the Winslow Township Environmental Day at the request of the Winslow Police Department in Camden County. He manned a table and answered questions about the Division.

CO Kille investigated a striped bass measuring forty inches caught and retained by a fisherman in Pennsville Township, Salem County. The complainant was able to give CO Kille the vehicle's registration. CO Kille interviewed the owner of the vehicle and determined that the seventy year old grandmother did not use the vehicle on the day in question. She had loaned the car to her grandson. A follow up interview of the grandson and his fiancÚ revealed that the fiancÚ lent the car to her other, previously unknown to her betrothed, boyfriend. CO Kille ascertained the additional information and located the illegal fisherman. He interviewed the suspect and he confessed to keeping the striped bass during the closed season. CO Kille issued one summons for possession of striped bass during the closed season.

CO Kille set up surveillance of two fishermen along the Delaware River in Pennsgrove Township, Salem County. He observed the two men retain several striped bass and hide them in an abandoned shed. CO Kille conducted an inspection and located the fish in the shed. One fisherman was issued a summons for possession of striped bass during the closed season and for possession of a striped bass less than twenty eight inches. The other fisherman was charged with possession of two fish less than twenty eight inches and for the possession of two striped bass during the closed season.

CO Kille conducted a wildlife management area patrol in the DOD WMA, in Carney's Point Township, Salem County. He apprehended five illegal ATV riders. He issued summonses to all riders for interference with the duties of a conservation officer, riding an unregistered vehicle on a WMA, operation of an ATV without a permit and operating an ATV over a closed area or road.



Marine Region

On Tuesday April 15, 2014, four otter trawl vessels were granted safe harbor entry into Cape May with trip limits of black sea bass on board during the black sea bass closed season. New Jersey's commercial black sea bass season 2 reopened on Wednesday April 16, 2014 with a maximum landing limit of 3,000 pounds once a week. As the vessels offloaded their black sea bass on April 16, CO Petruccelli determined one of the vessels was 865 pounds over the landing limit of 3,000 pounds. Summonses were issued to the operator of the vessel and the vessel's owner. The overage was seized and sold to the highest bidding NJ black sea bass dealer.

CO Tomlin recently investigated the landing of 408,843 lbs. of menhaden landed by a fishing vessel hailing from Cape May. This vessel possesses a NJ menhaden landing license for purse seine gear type. CO Tomlin determined that the vessel caught the menhaden by way of a pair trawl. The menhaden were sold to a NJ menhaden dealer which happened to be the owner of the vessel. Since the NJ menhaden landing license is gear specific, summonses were issued to the vessel and the vessel's operator for landing more than 100 pounds of menhaden without a valid license, and using a gear type other than listed on the license. Additionally, a summons was issued to the NJ menhaden dealer for accepting menhaden from a vessel without a valid license. Each summons carries a penalty of $300 to $3,000. The estimated ex-vessel value for these fish is approximately $65,000 and retail value of approximately $180,000.

All seven Delaware Bay commercial oyster tongers who were apprehending harvesting oysters from the condemned waters of the Maurice River Cove back in February recently pleaded guilty in court. Each of the harvesters was fined the maximum amount allowable based on the number of previous offenses. Two of the fishermen were fined $2,000 and will have their commercial shellfish license privileges suspended for 5 years. Two others were fined $1,500 and will be suspended for 3 years. Another two were fined $500 and will also be suspended for 3 years. One individual pleaded to have his commercial shellfish license suspended for 8 years in exchange for a reduced monetary penalty of $750.




Training Unit Highlights

Conservation Officers completed their spring firearms qualification. In addition to the mandatory Attorney General's course of fire officers received instruction and were tested in drills that challenged them in proper use of cover, tactical use of vehicle in a gunfight and how to win gunfights up close and personal.

The Division's Wildlife Control personnel completed their spring qualifications this month. In addition to the scoped rifle qualification all personnel completed courses of fire with shotguns and .22 rim fire rifles as well.

Personnel from the training unit instructed "Police Officers Response to Black Bears" at the Morris County Police Academy. This training had 30 officers from local and federal law enforcement agencies in attendance. Mike Madonia from the Bear Project gave a talk on Black Bear biology. Students received instruction on the state Black Bear policy. Range drills were completed by the students to show how to properly euthanize bears as well as adversely condition them.


 
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