Ohio Cuffs and Collars – April 13th, 2012

Central Ohio – Wildlife District 1

• With the warm weather this winter, the illegal off-road use of the Delaware Wildlife Area started earlier than usual. Delaware County Wildlife Officer Steve Harvey was on routine patrol when he noticed that many areas of the Delaware Wildlife Area had been rutted up by 4X4 vehicles driving off road. Harvey reported what he found to Wildlife Officer Supervisor Curtis Smith. Smith and Harvey met the next day to set trail cameras on the mudding areas. Harvey checked the cameras the next morning and found two vehicles had taken multiple passes through the mud holes only one hour after the cameras were set. The vehicles were identified and Smith and Harvey went to pay the owners a visit. Upon interviewing the drivers of the vehicles, both said they had been on the wildlife area and that they went there to “drive around.” One of the drivers tried to argue that there were no signs posted and that he was going to fight the charges in court. Both drivers received citations for operating a motor vehicle in an undesignated area. Upon learning that there were cameras posted on the area, both drivers decided to pay the $155 waiver.
• You might remember reading how in 2010, Wildlife Officer Supervisor Curtis Smith worked with South Dakota Game and Fish Department officers to apprehend four Ohio men overbagging on pheasants. They paid their fines and returned to Ohio – STRIKE 1. In 2011, the South Dakota Game and Fish Department again apprehended two members of this same hunting party. These two Ohio men were charged with hunting pheasants during the closed season and hunting pheasants from a motor vehicle. They were observed shooting at pheasants from their vehicle before the legal hunting hours. They each received $220 in criminal fines and $100 in civil assessment for the pheasants, and a one-year hunting license suspension. Because Ohio and South Dakota are members of the Violator Compact, these two Ohio men are also suspended in every participating state to include Ohio through Nov. 14, 2012 – STRIKE 2. If these lessons aren’t used as a reminder to obey the wildlife laws regardless of what state you are in, a third STRIKE on these Ohio men might result in higher fines, the forfeiture of equipment, and worse – you’re out of hunting for good.

Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District 2

• During the deer gun season, Wyandot County Wildlife Officer Brad Baaske and Field Supervisor Kevin Russell were working as a double unit when the officers received a report from the Wyandot County Sheriff’s Office about a hunter shooting a large buck from the road. When Baaske and Russell arrived at the location, they spotted a pickup truck that matched the description of the suspect’s vehicle. Upon stopping the vehicle, the officers observed a large 11-point buck in the bed of the truck. The deer had recently been killed and had not been field dressed yet. Baaske and Russell spoke to the driver of the truck and investigated the location where the deer had been shot. Evidence revealed that the driver had shot the buck from the road. In addition, the driver did not have written permission from the landowner to hunt the property. The man was cited for both violations and the buck was seized as evidence. In Upper Sandusky Municipal Court, the man was found guilty on both charges and ordered to pay $1,788 in fines, court costs, and restitution. The 11-point buck was forfeited to the state.     
• In December, Ottawa County Wildlife Officer Reid Van Cleve and Sandusky County Wildlife Officer Brian Bury were off duty hunting ducks at Willow Point Wildlife Area. The off duty officers noticed two other duck hunters enter the area and set up near them. The two officers heard the men doing a lot of shooting. Van Cleve and Bury wondered what the men were shooting at since there were no ducks or geese flying in the area. Bury contacted Erie County Wildlife Officer Kevin Good and informed him of the situation. Good came out to the marsh and eventually located the two hunters. The two men stated that they were hunting ducks and geese. Good found that both men had their guns loaded with lead shot. In addition, Good could not find any dead birds with the men. Concerned that the hunters had hid the birds in the marsh, Good contacted State Wildlife Investigator Jeff Collingwood to help search the area for the dead birds. Collingwood came, but the two officers were unable to locate any birds. As Good continued to question the men he discovered that neither man had a federal duck stamp. Good observed the younger man had a backpack. The man opened the backpack for Good, where three full boxes of lead shot shells, and one box of steel shot shells were found. The older man had both lead and steel shot shells in his pocket, and he was using an unplugged shotgun capable of holding six shot shells. Good issued each man a summons for no federal waterfowl stamp and for using lead shot.
• While working at Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area, Sandusky County Wildlife Officer Brian Bury noticed that someone was throwing empty beer cans and cardboard boxes into a creek along the wildlife area. This was happening about once a week in the same place every time. A camera was set up at the site and the litter bug was quickly caught on video. Bury went to serve the summons to the man and found him to be intoxicated. The man stated “You finally caught me. I’ve been doing that for 10 years.” When asked why he kept throwing the cans out, the man said it was his way of “giving back to the community” because someone could pick the cans up and recycle them for money if they wanted to. Sandusky County Judge John Kolesar did not find the littering quite so charitable. The defendant was sentenced to pay $416 in fines and costs.
• In the fall of 2011, Allen County Wildlife Officer Craig Barr was returning from an annual training. While passing through the town of Marengo, he looked to his left and saw two men lying in the street fighting. When Barr made a quick left turn and stopped his truck near the two men, they got up and began heading back to their vehicles. As Barr exited his vehicle and approached them, he could hear the two men and a nearby woman yelling at each other. One of the men was accusing the other of having a gun. Barr quickly handcuffed the man who then stated that he had a concealed carry permit and that the gun was inside his vehicle. The firearm was secured and several other ODNR officers and Morrow County sheriff’s deputies arrived a short time later. Both men were charged for a variety of offenses by the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office and appeared in the Morrow County Municipal Court.
• After the deer gun season, Wyandot County Wildlife Officer Brad Baaske began conducting follow-up investigations on deer hunting violations. He started gathering information on a suspect who had shot a deer from his vehicle, never retrieved it, and let the animal go to waste. The violation took place during the Sunday of deer gun season on an isolated road in southern Wyandot County. Baaske had a suspect vehicle and a suspect, but was having trouble locating the man. Finally, during the statewide muzzleloader season, Baaske located the suspect’s vehicle parked on Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area. After a brief search, Baaske found the man he was looking for and spoke to him about the earlier incident. Upon completing the investigation, Baaske contacted the prosecutor and received approval to issue the man two summonses to appear in Upper Sandusky Municipal Court. The defendant was found guilty of shooting a deer from a motor vehicle and failing to temporarily tag his deer. He was ordered to pay $512 in fines, court costs, and restitution. In addition, the man’s deer hunting privileges were revoked for one year.     

Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District 3

• After going out to dinner with friends, Lake County Wildlife Officer Jason Keller contacted a taxi service to transport the group home. While they were riding, the subject of deer hunting was discussed. During the conversation the driver remarked that he had recently shot his crossbow from the window of his taxi cab and killed an 8-point buck after midnight. He also shared that he had not purchased a hunting license or deer permit in several years. Several weeks later, Keller was able to identify a suspect from a list of the registered taxi cab drivers in the city of Willoughby. The man was charged with four wildlife offenses and ordered to appear in the Willoughby Municipal Court. He was convicted and paid $500 in fines plus court costs. The crossbow and the deer antlers were forfeited to the Division of Wildlife.
• While off duty, Columbiana County Wildlife Officer Scott Angelo observed two individuals loading firewood into the trunk of their vehicle at Zeppernick Wildlife Area. Angelo obtained the license plate number of the automobile and contacted one of the suspects later that evening. The investigation led to charges against both men for cutting firewood on the wildlife area. Both of them were subsequently found guilty in Columbiana County Municipal Court.

Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District 4

• During the 2011 early archery deer season, wildlife officers Josh Shields and Dan Perko responded to a 1-800-POACHER tip involving a Meigs County resident who allegedly shot a deer with a rifle and checked it in as a bow kill. After arriving at the suspect’s residence, officers first observed a portable flood light over a bait pile in the suspect’s backyard. Upon interviewing the suspect, the officers made little sense of the scenario given to them. The suspect stated that the deer was shot after sunrise with a crossbow. The 4-point buck was still hanging at the residence and was inspected by Shields and Perko. It was obvious to the officers that a small caliber rifle shot had passed through the deer’s rib cage causing trauma. The officers also noticed that the rib cage was damaged from a broad head. After skinning the deer, Shields and Perko were able to determine that the harvest was a result of the rifle shot and not the broadhead. The suspect later admitted to shooting the deer with a rifle, and sticking a crossbow bolt through the rib cage after the deer was already dead. Meigs County Court Judge Steven Story heard the case presented by the state’s assistant prosecutor, Amanda Franzmann, at a bench trial in March 2012. After presenting all of the evidence collected by the officers, the judge found the defendant guilty of taking a deer illegally with a rifle, possessing a deer killed illegally, and taking a deer before hours during archery season. The defendant lost his hunting privileges for three years, forfeited a rifle, and was ordered to pay $660 in fines and court costs.
• On March 8, Officer Darin Abbott received a call from a concerned citizen that a neighbor was shooting songbirds on a regular basis, and had just shot one before she called. Officer Matthew Clark responded to the call and located a dead American robin in the suspect’s yard with a gunshot wound. Clark and Abbott interviewed the suspect who admitted shooting some birds, but said he did not know what kinds of birds they were or if they were in season. He was informed that he was shooting birds protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act enforced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and that he was in violation of state wildlife laws as well. He was issued a summons and released. The case is pending in Lawrence County Municipal Court.

Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District 5

• While working enforcement during deer gun week, Preble County Wildlife Officer Brad Turner saw a hunting blind along the edge of the woods. After looking through his spotting scope at the blind, Turner could tell that somebody was inside. Turner made contact with the man in the blind and noticed that he was not wearing hunter orange. Turner asked the man where his hunter orange was. The hunter stated that he didn’t think he needed to wear orange while he was in the blind. Turner then asked him how he got to the blind. The man said he walked from his house. Turner asked him if he was wearing orange then and the man said “no.” Turner explained to him that hunter orange is required to be worn at all times while hunting during the statewide deer gun season, even in a blind. The man was cited for hunting deer during the deer gun season while not wearing a hunter orange vest. The man paid $150 in fines and costs. 

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