Ohio Cuffs and Collars – June 22nd, 2012

Central Ohio – Wildlife District 1

• This spring, Delaware County Wildlife Officer Steve Harvey and Wildlife Officer Supervisor Curtis Smith were patrolling Delaware Wildlife Area and noticed a considerable amount of habitat damage caused by people driving their motor vehicles off approved roadways. The officers set-up surveillance around the problem areas. When the officers returned to check the site, they noticed litter, shotgun and rifle shell casings, and a bullet-ridden wildlife area sign. This activity had occurred within one hour of initiating surveillance. Harvey investigated the litter violation and determined who the suspects were. Three people were charged with target shooting in a non-designated area and littering on state property. All pleaded guilty in Delaware Municipal Court and were ordered to pay fines and court costs.

Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District 2

• During the 2011 Ohio deer gun season, Wildlife Investigator Mark Weihrauch and Williams County Wildlife Officer Tom Kochert teamed up to work near the Lake La Su An Wildlife Area. Weihrauch walked the interior of the wildlife area and spotted hunters for Kochert. The investigator was able to observe hunter activity that was not easily visible from the roadway. The result was an arrest for an unplugged shotgun. In addition, a case developed on a nearby private property with a hunter, hunting from a four-wheel ATV, while possessing multiple firearms. The unplugged gun case resulted in a $125 fine in Bryan Municipal Court. The case with the hunter hunting from an ATV is still pending.
• Last fall, Wildlife Officer Jason Parr set up a spotlighting enforcement project in Crawford County. Parr had received numerous complaints over the past few years from landowners and hunters in Crawford County pertaining to a group of hunters from Michigan. The calls were primarily related to hunting without permission and spotlighting deer. A spotlighting enforcement project was set up in 2010 for this group of hunters, without success. In 2011, another spotlighting enforcement project was set up in Crawford County for this group. During this project, state wildlife officers Josh Zientek and Greg Wasilewski observed a truck parked near a woodlot. The truck possessed a Michigan license plate and matched the description of the suspects’ vehicle. A person dressed in camouflage clothing was also observed standing along the side of the truck. Zientek and Wasilewski spoke with the man, who told the officers that he had been helping a friend look for a deer that had been shot. He also stated that they were unable to find the deer. After further investigation, it was determined that one hunter had shot a large buck earlier in the evening, but didn’t have an either-sex deer permit with which to tag the deer. The hunter had already field dressed the deer and dragged it a short distance. Zientek and Wasilewski located the successful hunter’s treestand, compound bow, and deer; however, there was no sign of the hunter. Parr and Wildlife Officer Supervisor Kevin Russell joined the search for the man. After approximately 45 minutes of searching and calling out for the hunter, the man was finally located. Wasilewski located the hunter hiding in a nearby semi-truck trailer. The hunter was handcuffed, for safety reasons, and escorted back to the vehicles. The hunter began to cooperate. That evening, the hunter who harvested the large buck was issued one summons for harvesting a deer without obtaining a deer permit and a second summons for failing to immediately attach a deer permit to the dead deer where it fell. He later posted bond at the local police department and was released. Wasilewski and Zientek seized the deer as evidence, which was later scored by an official deer scorer at just over 160 inches. Later, the hunter who harvested the deer was also charged with deterring state wildlife officers for hiding in the trailer. A summons was also issued to the hunter’s friend for aiding in a wildlife violation. He pleaded no contest in Crawford County Municipal Court, was found guilty, and received a $250 fine with $125 suspended. Including court courts, he paid a total of $214 for his assistance in the violation. The hunter who harvested the deer pleaded not guilty to all three charges. After a pre-trial, the hunter received: a one-year hunting license revocation, was ordered to pay $1,500 toward the restitution value of the illegally harvested deer, forfeiture of his compound bow and its accessories, forfeiture of the entire deer, 180 days in jail with all 180 days suspended, a $500 fine with all $500 suspended, and five years of probation, in which the hunter must abide by the laws of the state of Ohio. In total, the hunter was ordered to pay $1,724. Information provided to Parr from concerned landowners and hunters in Crawford County made this case possible. Another option of providing information is Ohio’s TIP line, “Turn In a Poacher.” TIP is helping to curtail poaching throughout the state. TIP is designed to involve the public in reporting wildlife violations. Citizens who observe wildlife violations should record the information, then call the TIP toll-free hot line at 1-800-POACHER or visit the web at ohiotip.com. You do not have to give your name, just the facts.    
• While patrolling Allen County during the 2011 deer gun season, Wildlife Officer Craig Barr found a vehicle parked along the road several minutes after legal shooting time. Barr waited approximately 10 more minutes before the hunter returned to his vehicle. The hunter’s muzzleloading rifle had the cap removed, making it unloaded for hunting purposes. However, when checking the hunter’s license and deer permit, Barr found that the hunter was hunting deer with an antlerless permit. Antlerless deer permits were not valid during the gun season in Deer Zones A and B, which included Allen County. The hunter was made aware of the violation and shown specifically in the hunting digest where the law was stated. The hunter was issued a summons for Lima Municipal Court where he was found guilty of hunting deer without a valid permit and ordered to pay a total of $235 in fines and court costs.

Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District 3

• During the 2011 deer gun season, Medina County Wildlife Officer Eric Moore, Summit County Wildlife Officer Brennan Earick, and Wildlife Investigator Rick Louttit were checking hunters when they observed an individual talking on a cellphone walking out of the woods. As they pulled into the field where several vehicles were parked, the man who was talking on the cellphone disappeared into the thicket. Moore entered the woodlot, attempting to locate the individual. Shortly thereafter, Louttit indicated that two hunters were walking out of the woods, only one of them carrying a firearm. The officers contacted the hunters and determined that the individual was carrying an unplugged shotgun. The other hunter claimed he was not hunting, but rather driving deer for his partner. Louttit and Earick went back in the woods and found two dead deer that had been freshly killed and partially field dressed. The results of the investigation revealed that the hunter without the firearm had left his unplugged shotgun in the field after he saw the officers. He also had killed both deer and failed to tag them. Both individuals were charged with several wildlife offenses.
• While working sport fish enforcement, Mahoning County Wildlife Officer Tom Frank noted a couple sitting along a beach area fishing and drinking beer. Frank approached the couple and checked the male’s fishing license, memorizing the operator license number. He advised the couple to make sure that they take their trash with them when they leave. The male subject assured him that they would. Frank continued checking anglers and later returned to the beach where the man was fishing. Shortly thereafter, they departed from the area, leaving all of their trash on the shore. Unable to locate the couple, Frank used the operator license number he had memorized to find the angler the following day. Frank issued a litter summons to the fisherman and asked him to provide information about the female. Although the angler was extremely uncooperative, Frank was able to locate the female subject and issue her summonses for underage alcohol consumption and litter. They appeared in court, were convicted, and paid over $560 in fines and court costs. They were also ordered to complete 20 hours of community service.  

Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District 4

• One evening in late May, state Wildlife Officer Ted Witham received a voicemail from a concerned sportsman in regard to a motor vehicle that had driven onto a state wildlife area and was “tearing the place up.” Witham quickly proceeded to the location of the violation and could hear loud banging coming from the bottom of the valley. Witham approached the area and could see four individuals and two Jeeps in front of him. Witham noticed that a black Jeep was hopelessly buried in the mud up to its doors and a red Jeep was hung up in the creek bed with a flat front tire. After securing the scene and talking with the group, Witham was able to ascertain that one individual had driven the black Jeep onto the wildlife area a couple of days earlier and got it stuck. He then borrowed his friend’s red Jeep and drove it onto the area in an attempt to free the first vehicle. In the process of driving to the first vehicle, the red Jeep blew a tire and ended up stuck in the creek bed. Witham issued two citations to the individual for operating a motor vehicle in a non-designated area. The subject appeared in court, was found guilty, and was ordered to pay $406 in fines and court costs. 
• During the 2011 deer gun season, Wildlife Officer Eric Lane was patrolling southern Perry County when he saw six individuals walking down a gas line right of way about 250 yards off the road. They were all wearing hunter orange and carrying firearms. Lane noticed that two of the six men were lagging behind the others. The two individuals appeared to be lagging further behind the closer they got to the road. The two men walked back into the woods and out of sight. Lane decided to make contact with the four remaining hunters and did a quick license check. Then, he located and made contact with the other two individuals. After a license check, one individual was found to have an unplugged shotgun. The other individual had already harvested a deer earlier in the week and did not purchase a second deer tag. Lane cited both individuals; one for no deer permit and the other for having an unplugged shotgun. They both posted bond, which included fines and court costs. 

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