Ohio Cuffs and Collars – March 16th, 2012

Central Ohio – Wildlife District 1

• While on patrol during the deer gun season, Fairfield County Wildlife Officer Tony Zerkle and Wildlife Investigator Matt Fisher observed a hunter sitting in a treestand approximately 100 yards off of the road. As Zerkle and Fisher walked toward the hunter, they lost sight of the stand for a moment. When the stand reappeared the hunter was no longer in it. Zerkle and Fisher ran up the seemingly endless hill to find the hunter walking away from them. He was no longer holding a firearm. Zerkle ordered him to stop and asked where his gun was. The hunter stated that he did not have a gun. He was told to stand with Fisher as Zerkle looked for the gun. When Zerkle was approximately 50 feet from the gun, the hunter spoke up and asked Fisher “What would happen if I told you I had a rifle?” He then took the officers to the gun, which was buried under a log and covered with leaves. The hunter was using a SKS 7.62 X 58 rifle to hunt deer. When asked why he was hunting with this gun, he stated that he could shoot further with it than a shotgun. He was issued one summons to the Fairfield County Municipal Court where his charge is pending and the rifle is being held as evidence. The Division of Wildlife is asking that the rifle be forfeited.
• In the late summer of 2010, Union County Wildlife Officer Chris Rice was on patrol at Alum Creek Lake. He found a man and a woman fishing from the bank way back in one of the coves. While Rice watched, the woman was catching several short crappies, but wasn’t measuring any of them before putting them on a stringer. After a while, the couple began smoking a marijuana cigarette that had been in the tackle box. When they finished, the woman pitched the end of the cigarette into the lake. As Rice moved in closer, the couple began smoking another marijuana cigarette. At that time, Rice walked up, stopped them, and seized the marijuana as evidence. Rice checked their fishing licenses and inspected the crappie. He found all the crappies to be under the nine-inch length limit. Both of them were issued citations for possessing and using marijuana on state property, the woman was issued another citation for possession of short crappie. Both showed up to court to pay their fines for the marijuana citations, but the woman never paid her ticket for the undersized crappie. In February, the same woman was stopped for an unrelated charge in Franklin County. The officer saw there was a warrant for her arrest for the undersized crappie citation in Delaware County from 2010. The officer served the warrant and took her to jail. She posted a bond forfeiture of $250 on a ticket that was originally $155 and was released.

Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District 2

• During the summer, Erie County Wildlife Officer Kevin Good was working at the Bay Bridge Access Area in Bay View and observed three individuals fishing from the bank. Good made contact with them and none of them had a fishing license. Each one of the three was issued a summons for fishing without a license. Then, one of the fishermen became belligerent. Good was able to settle the man down, telling him that if he did not take the ticket, then he would have to go to jail. The man decided to take his summons instead of being arrested.
• It was mid-November and the 2011 trapping season was only a week old when Fulton County Wildlife Officer Robert Wolfrum received a call from a local trapper. The trapper was asking for guidance on how to handle an animal in a raccoon snare. The trapper said that he had caught a badger in one of his raccoon snares along the edge of a cornfield. The man did not want to kill the animal, since it is a protected species, but was at a loss on how to release the angry badger. Wolfrum made plans to meet with the trapper and his son later that morning. The three met at the trapper’s residence and proceeded to the location of the snare. The badger was on a raccoon trail and had dug itself into an old groundhog hole. As the men approached, the badger retreated into the groundhog hole as far as the snare cable would allow. After several tries, Wolfrum was able to get his catch pole around the neck of the very upset badger. Once securely caught, Wolfrum pulled the animal out of the den and, with the help of the trapper, loosened the snare lock and released the badger. After a couple of snarls, the animal retreated into the woods none the worse for wear. This was the fourth badger call of the year for Wolfrum and the second time that he released one alive from a snare. 
• During November, Hardin County Wildlife Officer Ryan Kennedy received a report of a hunter hunting without permission. Upon contacting the landowner, Kennedy learned that the landowner had attempted to hunt his property earlier in the day; however, when he reached his treestand another hunter was already in the stand hunting. The landowner informed Kennedy that the hunter promptly left the stand and relocated to the adjacent property. Kennedy located the hunter, who admitted that he was on the neighboring property and in the treestand. The man was issued a citation for hunting without permission and was found guilty. He received a $100 fine plus court costs. 
• Paulding County Wildlife Officer Duane Bailey was on patrol during the deer gun season when he noticed a large group of deer running across a field toward a road. Bailey also observed a pick-up truck traveling at a high rate of speed in a direction that would intercept the deer. Just before the deer reached the roadway, the truck came to a stop and a passenger carrying a shotgun got out and ran into the field. When the deer neared the road, the man fired three shots in their direction without hitting any of them. Bailey drove up and contacted the man and the driver of the truck before they could leave. Bailey informed the men they were hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle and issued each a citation for the violation. Both men later pleaded guilty to the charge and together paid fines and costs totaling $520.
• During the 2011 deer gun week, Van Wert County Wildlife Officer Brad Buening assisted Paulding County Wildlife Officer Duane Bailey in a common complaint during that time: hunting without permission. Both Buening and Bailey were already in the area due to similar complaints. Buening was the first officer to arrive at the location. As he arrived, Buening spotted a hunter shooting multiple times at a buck standing on the complainant’s property. In the heat of the moment, the hunter had not realized that Buening’s vehicle was only a few yards away from him. The hunter was issued one citation for hunting without permission and was subsequently found guilty in a Paulding County Court.

Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District 3

• In November 2011, Trumbull County Wildlife Officer Hollie Fluharty received a complaint regarding an individual hunting deer without written permission. Upon arrival at the complainant’s residence, the landowner showed Fluharty where multiple wooded treestands had been constructed on his property along with evidence of a recently killed deer. Fluharty followed drag marks from the landowner’s property to the backyard of the suspect’s home. It was later discovered that the suspect had killed the antlered deer on the complainant’s property the day before. The investigation also revealed that he had killed another buck earlier in the archery season. The individual was charged with the offense and the case is currently pending in court.
• In October 2011, Trumbull County Wildlife Officer Hollie Fluharty was called to the scene where two men under the influence of alcohol had been spotlighting deer. A dead deer and a loaded crossbow were discovered in the vehicle and were seized as evidence. The vehicle was towed to the driver’s residence and the men cited. The case is pending in court. 
• After receiving a phone call from a concerned landowner, Wildlife Officer Supervisor Dave Brown responded to a hunting without permission complaint in Mahoning County. The landowner relayed information that a white pickup truck had dropped off an individual wearing camouflage clothing, carrying a crossbow, and a treestand.  As the vehicle drove away, the hunter ran into the woods behind the buildings. The driver of the vehicle had parked on an adjacent roadway and walked into the woods to meet the hunter when they were contacted by Brown. Both men were issued summonses and paid $440 to a Mahoning County Court.

Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District 4

• In late January, State Wildlife Officer Eric Lane received a voice mail message from a landowner in southern Perry County stating that a deer had been poached on his property and died approximately 30 yards from his backyard. Lane arrived and met with the landowner. The landowner took Lane to the deer. Upon inspection of the deer, Lane found that the deer had been shot with a broadhead. Lane showed the landowner the broadhead entry and exit wounds. Lane said that the archery deer season is still in so the deer may not have been poached. The landowner agreed. Lane began to track the deer backward from where it was found. After Lane tracked it for a while, the landowner noticed two men coming toward him. Lane and the landowner made contact with the two men and asked if they were looking for a deer. They said yes that they had been tracking a deer. The landowner knew the hunters and the hunter was able to retrieve his deer.
• State Wildlife officer Ted Witham was working in Jackson County during the past muzzleloader deer season. Witham stopped at a carryout to grab a drink when he noticed two individuals pull into the parking lot beside him. When Witham looked at the couple he noticed the subjects quickly look away from him. Witham observed a man driving the pick-up and a female riding in the passenger seat. Witham watched the vehicle as it passed him and noticed the pick-up come to a stop behind him. At this point, the occupants of the pick-up truck switched seats in the parking lot. Witham found the behavior of the subjects highly suspicious. As the vehicle left the parking lot, Witham was able to obtain the license plate of the vehicle. A return of the plate number indicated the vehicle had been stolen the night before from the city of Jackson. Witham temporarily lost sight of the vehicle, but was able to quickly find it approximately a half mile down the road at another gas station. Witham approached the vehicle as the two subjects were exiting the gas station. Witham identified himself as a state wildlife officer, told the subjects to show their hands, and told them to stop where they were. The female subject complied; however, the male decided he wanted to try to run. Witham called dispatch on the radio and officers from the Oak Hill Police Department quickly arrived. Shortly thereafter, deputies from the Jackson County Sheriff's Office arrived on scene. Together, the three agencies chased the subject into the woods a short distance away. The suspect ran into a dense clear-cut in an attempt to lose the officers. The officers set up a perimeter around the clear-cut and called for the K-9 Unit from the Jackson Police Department. The K-9 unit and handler arrived 20 minutes later. With a new track to follow, it took less than 10 minutes for the dog to locate the suspect. Both subjects were charged with numerous violations including fleeing and felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle. Both subjects were indicted by a grand jury for their offenses and are currently awaiting trial. This is a shining example of how law enforcement officials from four different agencies came together to apprehend two criminal subjects.

Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District 5

• During the statewide muzzleloader season, Montgomery County Wildlife Officer Trent Weaver found two trucks parked in a field in Preble County. Using his computer, he discovered that both registered vehicle owners had previously killed deer in a one deer county and appeared to be “tagged out.” Weaver set out on foot and contacted the first hunter in his hunting blind. There was a strong odor of burned marijuana in the enclosed blind with the windows nearly zipped completely closed. He was arrested for using weapons while intoxicated and possession of marijuana and a pipe. The charges are still pending. Wildlife officer Brad Turner and Field Supervisor Brian Goldick, riding together, responded to the scene given the multiple subjects and the violations that were discovered. The second hunter was located by Weaver, who asked the hunter where he had harvested his first deer. The subject stated that he had killed it on the farm where they were standing. This subject was hunting on his second either sex deer permit, a violation for zone A. Weaver asked him if he had read the laws. The subject stated that he had not even received a copy of them.  Weaver later provided him with a copy of the hunting regulations, cited him, and released him. The third hunter was located, and discovered that he had never had taken a hunter education course. He was cited for this violation. The second and third hunters paid their bond to the court. All of the violations were a direct result of the new checking system, licensing, and the computer’s capability of discovering things about hunters that previously a wildlife officer may have never discovered.

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