Pennsylvania Cuffs & Collars – October 11th, 2013
From the Game Commission
• Jefferson County WCO Roger A. Hartless encountered two individuals returning to their vehicle after searching for ginseng on SGL 244. According to the two individuals, ginseng root is currently going for about $500 a pound. The problem is that damaging or removing game lands plants is illegal.
• Lawrence County WCO Byron D. Gibbs reports that multiple treestands have been removed from state game lands in the district. A seizure tag is attached to all trees where stands had been located. Anyone wishing to claim their stand can call the Northwest Regional Office phone number listed on the tag.
• Mercer County WCO Donald G. Chaybin has received complaints from several landowners concerning illegal treestands on their properties. Enforcement actions will be taken when anyone is discovered using these stands this fall. Section 2511 of the Game & Wildlife Code is titled “Damage to Trees,” and it states that unless a person has written permission from the landowner, it is unlawful to build, use or occupy a treestand that caused damage to the tree when constructed.
• Mercer County WCO Lawrence R. Hergenroeder reports minor violations were detected on the September Canada goose opener. Hunters are reminded to sign their Federal Duck Stamp across the face of the stamp in ink prior to hunting.
• Venango County WCO John A. McKellop reports that ATVs being driven illegally on state game lands and the large Forest Game Cooperator properties continues to be a problem. Although the accompanying $100 to $200 fines is a strong deterrent, others continue to illegally go on these areas with their ATVs.
• Crawford/Erie County LMGS Shayne A. Hoachlander reports that recent regulations that prohibit the disposal of electronics in landfills, although well intentioned, has resulted in increased dumping of electronic items on state game lands. Most recently, the Food & Cover crew discovered approximately 10 televisions at the SGL 109 public shooting range.
From the Fish & Boat Commission
• Erie County WCO Brook Tolbert was investigating illegal dumping along Walnut Creek. One site contained scrapped street light lamps and housing that appeared to have been stripped for aluminum scrap. A piece of mail located within the site led officers to a suspect that eventually admitted to not only one but both dump sites. Further investigation revealed that the lights had been stolen from a local race track. State Police are filing the burglary/theft charges while Fish & Boat Commission filed illegal dumping charges. Both sites have been cleaned up by the suspect.
• Lake Erie WCO James Smolko was checking anglers bow fishing in Presque Isle Bay when he noticed something peculiar as they reeled in their catch. The two anglers had killed four spotted gar, a protected species. They pleaded guilty to the four charges. Fines totaled $400. Spotted gar are not a protected species in their home state of Ohio.
• Lake Erie WCO James Smolko stopped a vessel for passengers standing in a boat less than 20 feet while on plane on June 23.During the boarding the operator showed signs of intoxication and failed a number of sobriety tests. He was arrested for BUI, his blood-alcohol content was 0.11 percent.
• Erie County WCO James Smolko and Sgt. Tom Edwards investigated an unlicensed guide, who was advertising fishing trips for freshwater drum on the Internet. The posting on the Internet showed defendant landing freshwater drum along the Erie Channel. He was charged with running a guide service without a license and fishing without a license.
• Mercer County WCO Jeff Giardina stopped a boat on Lake Latonka on Sept. 7 for exceeded slow no wake speed in a buoyed area. The operator failed numerous sobriety tests and was arrested for BUI. Chemical test showed a blood-alcohol content of 0.081 percent.
• Forest County-WCO Erik Shellgren investigated an individual for running unlicensed fishing charters on Lake Erie without a license. The defendant had been advertising on the Internet and arranged for chartering anglers on Lake Erie. He plead guilty to the $450 fine.
From the Game Commission
• Allegheny County WCO Dan Puhala reports that a local man recently pleaded guilty to charges of taking a fawn from the wild and attempting to raise it at his residence. “The fawn was in poor health and habituated to humans when it was found. The individual responsible was assessed a $400 fine for the unlawful possession of a live fawn and could face a hunting license suspension,” he said.
• Armstrong County WCO Rod Burns reports that he recently prosecuted an individual for possessing a large antlered buck that was killed on an Agricultural Deer Depredation Area (redtag). “The hunter admitted to not knowing the rules regarding taking antlerless only on these farms, but said the farmer told him the deer was illegal after he had shot the buck,” Burns said.
• Beaver County WCO Matt Kramer reports an investigation into illegal dumping on Farm Game Cooperator property resulted in charges being filed against a Hanover Township woman.
• Beaver County WCO Matt Kramer reports an incident involving two brothers hunting bear through the use of bait. “The older brother who killed the bear was found guilty of hunting through the use of bait, false statements, and the unlawful bear he killed. He faces up to four years loss of his hunting privileges, and was ordered to pay $4,275 in fines and restitution,” he said. “DNA testing had been utilized to prove that the bear killed over bait was the same bear he had killed. Criminal charges had been filed against his brother. He agreed to a plea that resulted in a $300 fine and loss of his hunting privileges for 10 years due to his involvement.”
• Fayette County WCO Brandon Bonin reports that over the past month several charges have been filed against individuals for operating motorized vehicles on lands enrolled in the Farm Game Program. “Nine of these charges stem from the opening day of dove season, in some of the cases the individuals were operating ATVs within feet of dove hunters,” he said.
• Fayette County WCO Brandon Bonin reports that a Point Marion man has pleaded guilty to dumping trash on land enrolled in the Farm Game program. He was ordered to pay $500 for the dumping, and $100 for operating a motorized vehicle on a closed road.
• Fayette/Westmoreland counties WCO Jason Farabaugh reports that a Mill Run man was recently apprehended for illegally dumping tires along a remote Springfield Township road. Charges have been filed, and an investigation with DEP has been initiated.
• Fayette/Westmoreland counties WCO Jason Farabaugh reports that several illegal ATV operators were apprehended on State Game Land 51 and on cooperative access property. One individual was cited for the illegal operation on SGL 51 as well as for operating an ATV that did not meet the standards of the ATV law. Another operator fled upon the apprehension of his riding partner. Multiple charges will be filed on the fleeing rider once apprehended.
• Fayette/Westmoreland counties WCO Jason Farabaugh reports that a burglary dumpsite was recently found in Mount Pleasant Township. The site was referred to the Pennsylvania State Police, which made an arrest.
• Fayette/Westmoreland counties WCO Jason Farabaugh reports that a Mount Pleasant man was recently cited for dumping household garbage along a remote road in Springfield Township, Fayette County. The individual cleaned up the garbage and an illegal dumping charge has been filed.
• Indiana County WCO Chris Reidmiller reports that a Lucerne Mines woman was recently found guilty before a magisterial district judge for dumping four bags of trash along a state game lands road in Burrell Township. “The woman had removed her name and address of all pieces of mail but officers were able to identify the guilty party by a receipt from a department store that was among the trash,” he said.
• Westmoreland County WCO Matt Lucas reports, during a foot patrol on State Game Land 296, he was able to locate two groups traveling by ATV or Jeeps. Both groups had multiple violations including failure to have their vehicles registered, failure to wear helmets and possession of alcohol.
From the Fish & Boat Commission
• Recently, Fayette County WCO Eric Davis and Sgt. Tom Crist apprehended and charged two individuals for control of property violations at Dunlap Lake. The incident occurred while the officers were patrolling on foot and observed a drug transaction take place between the occupants of two vehicles. After observing the transaction, Davis and Crist approached and identified themselves and instructed the individuals to stop and exit their vehicles. One of the vehicles stopped and remained at the scene while the other fled. A substantial bag of marijuana was recovered from the occupants, and they were appropriately charged. The license plate number was taken from the fleeing vehicle, and charges will be filed pending further investigation.
• Fayette County WCOs Scott Opfer and Eric Davis recently apprehended and charged three individuals for boating under the influence on the Youghiogheny River. The three individuals, who were operating canoes, were observed drinking alcoholic beverages and discarding the empty containers (littering) along the river. The individuals were also observed snorting a white substance from a container that they had in their possession. Upon making contact with the individuals, they became argumentative and verbally combative. The three individuals were taken into custody and transported to a local hospital where a blood sample was drawn for controlled substance analysis. Lab results indicated numerous substances including high amounts Methamphetamine, Ecstasy and PCP.
• Allegheny County Officers Bob Wheeler, Mike Walsh and Beaver County Officer Jeremy Allen were patrolling the Three Rivers checking participants in a local bass tournament when they encountered a competitor unprepared for the day. The operator was unable to produce a fishing license, boat registration or a boating safety certificate. Charges are pending.
From the Game Commission
• Food and Cover foreman Jim Olszak of Elk County reported to Land Management Officer John Dzemyan that in August someone trashed and dumped a piano on SGL 44 next to a game lands gate, near the Shawmut Road in Horton Township. Anyone who has information that leads to the apprehension of these guilty party is asked to contact the PGC TIP line.
• Centre County WCO Dan Murray reports that several charges were recently successfully prosecuted against four individuals for the unlawful taking or possession of three deer in Porter Township, Clinton County.
• Potter County WCO William Ragosta recently cited two individuals for digging ginseng before the season opened and that he’s also received several complaints from the public about others doing the same. Ginseng is becoming somewhat rare and it is controlled by Title 17 of the PA code.
From the Fish & Boat Commission
• Huntingdon County Waterways Conservation Officer Corey Girt recently filed misdemeanor criminal charges of failure to make required disposition of funds against two co-owners of a local sporting goods store. During their brief tenure as an issuing agent, over $1,200 in fishing license sales revenue was collected and then diverted from the business’s bank account from which an automated electronic sweep occurs. Repeated civil attempts by the Fish & Boat Commission to rectify this financial liability went ignored.
• In Huntingdon County, while traveling on SR 522 in Cromwell Township, Capt. Alan Robinson initiated a vehicle stop resulting from his observations of erratic, unsafe and aggressive driving (repeatedly swerving into the opposite lane of travel challenging oncoming traffic). A nearby state trooper responded as backup. The operator of the motor vehicle was subsequently arrested for DUI, with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.314 percent (almost four times in excess of the legal limit of 0.08 percent).
• Five vendors at the Kipona Event held on City Island, Harrisburg, Dauphin County over the Labor Day holiday weekend were criminally charged by PF&BC officers for commercialization of parts of native and protected reptiles. The vendors, who were previously warned of the prohibition, were offering for sale crafts that utilized turtle shells and parts obtained from native species.
• Adams County Waterways Conservation Officer Dan Nietupski arrested a wanted subject incident to a vessel stop on Lake Marburg. While conducting a field investigation of the watercraft operator, Nietupski discovered that this individual had outstanding felony warrants issued in York County, and was classified as armed and dangerous. The individual was taken into custody without incident, and subsequently incarcerated in the York County prison.
From the Fish & Boat Commission
• While traveling to patrol a local lake, Pike County Waterways Conservation Officer Matthew Kauffman was flagged down by a passing motorist, who wanted to chat about fishing. The officer soon discovered the driver was under the influence of alcohol. After field tests, he was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
• Luzerne County – After performing a traffic stop on Fish & Boat Commission property for persons being there after hours and one passenger being disorderly, Sgt. Clyde Warner, and Waterways Conservation Officer John Cummings discovered the driver was under the influence of alcohol. After field testing, the driver was arrested for suspicion of “Driving under the influence of alcohol”, and the disorderly passenger was found to be in possession of a loaded firearm concealed in his belt by Waterways Conservation Officers Aaron Lupacchini and Kadin Thompson. Charges are pending.
• Wyoming County Waterways Conservation Officer Kadin Thompson and Capt. Larry Bundy were called to a canoe capsizing on the Susquehanna River, upstream of Tunkhannock. Tunkhannock Ambulance personnel rescued the two men who were wearing personal floatation devices. Further investigation by the officers led to charges being filed against both men for boating under the influence of alcohol.
• Lackawanna County Waterways Conservation Officer Walter Buckman is investigating a mass kill of Chinese Mystery Snails at Eagle Lake. The snails are a non-native species and are the only species affected.
• Susquehanna County Waterways Conservation Officer Chad McKenrick had a report of a woman being injured while operating a kayak on the Susquehanna River. She reported a cable had been run across the river, just high enough to catch her directly in the neck. McKenrick found the cable and the person responsible. The cable was removed, and a citation was filed against the person who placed it.
• Seeing a man fishing on Lake Wallenpaupack, while not displaying a fishing license, got the attention of Wayne County Waterways Conservation Officers David Kaneski and Curt Tereschak. They found that the man had no fishing license and was not carrying any identification. The two officers accompanied the man to a cabin where he produced an identification card. When Tereschak did a check with the Wayne County Communications Center, he found the man had a fugitive warrant from New Jersey. The man was arrested and placed in the Wayne County Correctional facility to await extradition to New Jersey.
• Wayne County Sgt. Bendock saw a boat without the proper navigation lights displayed near Shumans Point on Lake Wallenpaupack; it was after 10 p.m., so a boat stop was initiated. The officers noticed a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from the operator of the boat. After testing, the man was arrested for suspicion of boating under the influence of alcohol.
From the Game Commission
• Berks County WCO Matt Teehan reports that the opening day of the WMU 5C archery antlerless deer season started with a poaching incident in Exeter Township. At 5:30 a.m., two individuals were hunting for either “buck or doe” on State Game Land 280, which is in WMU 5B. In addition, they were hunting over bait, were using illegal treestands that caused property damage and had several other violations.
• Bucks County WCO John Papson reports that charges are pending on three individuals who had purchased licenses and were hunting without taking the mandatory Hunter-Trapper Education course.
• Lebanon County WCO Brian Sheetz reports several citations have been written for hunting doves before the daily start time of noon, and for hunting without a license. In addition, citations have been issued for using or having lead shot in the hunter’s possession while goose hunting.
• Lebanon County WCO Brian Sheetz reports that several citations have been written on State Game Land 211 for alcohol, camping and drug use.