Central Ohio – Wildlife District 1
• Wildlife Officer Steve Harvey was working sport fish enforcement one evening at Alum Creek Lake. Harvey checked approximately 12 fishermen, and all of them had more than 10 crappies each. Later, Harvey stopped at a popular crappie fishing spot where he observed three men fishing. He checked the fishermen’s licenses and asked if they had caught any fish. One of the men replied “no.” Harvey asked how long they had been there and the man answered three to four hours. Harvey said, “You have been here three to four hours and haven’t caught a fish?” Again the man replied “no.” Harvey looked around and saw a fish basket in the water about 15 feet from the fisherman. Harvey asked what was in the basket. The man replied, “A couple of white bass,” and stated that another fisherman had given them to him. Harvey asked if the man gave a signed receipt for the fish and the fisherman replied “no.” Harvey picked up the basket and observed five crappies, including one that was six inches long. It was discovered the fisherman caught the short fish upon further investigation. Harvey issued him a citation for possessing a crappie less than nine inches in length. The fisherman paid a waiver of $155 in Delaware Municipal Court.
• Wildlife officers Josh Shields and Chad Grote were checking fishermen on the Delaware Wildlife Area in Delaware County. The officers contacted two men fishing along the bank of the lake, and both had valid fishing licenses. During their conversation, one of the men was drinking a beer. Upon further investigation, it was discovered he threw an empty beer bottle into the weeds. The officers issued the man a summons for stream litter and gave him a warning for consuming alcohol on the wildlife area. He was sentenced to pay a $100 fine after pleading guilty in Delaware Municipal Court. The man subsequently failed to pay his ticket. A warrant was issued for his arrest, with restitution of $440.70.
Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District 2
• While working a fishing enforcement project at the Lake La Su An Wildlife Area, wildlife officers Thomas Kochert and Robert Wolfrum located and checked two fishermen. The subjects fished in a boat for most of the morning. After the boat was loaded on a trailer, the two officers checked the anglers. When asked how the fish were biting, one angler replied, “Great! The best day of fishing I’ve had in a long time.” Unfortunately for them, the two men failed to read the signs posted with the fish possession limits. When Wolfrum inspected their fish basket, he found that they had taken 27 bluegills and a 15-inch largemouth bass. The sign outlining the rules reads: “No more than 10 sunfish may be kept per day. No more than two of these may be eight inches or more in length. Largemouth bass must be 18 inches or more in length.” Each angler was cited for their infractions. Both men posted a $125 bond in Bryan Municipal Court.
• Wyandot County Wildlife Officer Brad Baaske was recently working sport fishing enforcement on Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area when he observed two men fishing in one of the area’s ponds. Baaske began watching the men and noticed they each had a fish stringer in the water in front of them. The ponds on Killdeer have an 18-inch minimum size limit for bass as well as a 10-fish limit for crappies and sunfish. The men were bass fishermen, and Baaske watched the men as they each caught another largemouth bass and put the fish on their stringers. As they held the bass up to show each other, Baaske observed two bass on each of the stringers. From a distance, it appeared that all four fish were short of the legal size limit. The two men made several more casts and then began picking up their gear. Baaske contacted the anglers at their vehicle to check for fishing licenses and measure the four bass. The fishermen had licenses, but the four largemouth bass on their stringers ranged in size from 11.5 to 14.5 inches, under the legal size for Killdeer Plains. The men were each issued a summons for possessing the four undersized largemouth bass and paid a total of $350 in fines and court costs in Upper Sandusky Municipal Court.
• While working law enforcement activities at La Su An Wildlife Area, Putnam County Wildlife Officer Jason Porinchok contacted two anglers who had just finished fishing and were preparing to leave the area. Porinchok asked the men how they did, to which the anglers replied they had each caught a limit. Checking in the boat’s livewell, Porinchok found 20 sunfish. However, special area regulations for La Su An Wildlife Area dictate that only two sunfish eight inches or larger per person, per day, may be kept. As Porinchok started measuring the fish, he discovered 13 of the 20 sunfish were eight inches or larger. The fishermen were cited for their violations and nine of the fish were held as evidence. Each paid a $46 fine and $82.50 in court costs in Bryan Municipal Court.
• In July, Paulding County Wildlife Officer Michael Ohlrich was checking fishermen at the boat ramp on Lake La Su An in Williams County. After a great day of catching sunfish, one of the anglers steered his boat toward the dock. As he approached the boat ramp, the fisherman jumped into the shallow water while holding onto his boat. Unfortunately, he lost his footing and fell, causing his shoulder to dislocate. An ambulance was called. Shortly thereafter, the Williams County EMS arrived and transported the fisherman to the hospital for his injuries. A special “thank you” goes out to several bystanders who were quick to assist in getting the fisherman out of the water.
Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District 3
• During an early July morning, Mahoning County Wildlife Officer Tom Frank observed five individuals exit a vehicle that was parked along the causeway at Berlin Lake. He watched as four of them pushed a section of a boat dock into the water and place what appeared to be over a dozen beer cans on top of the “floating bar.” The fifth member of the group sat along the shore and watched as the others swam in the lake. At approximately 2:30 a.m., the group returned to shore. Unfortunately, they failed to bring any beer cans back. Upon further investigation, it was discovered they sank the cans in the lake. All four individuals were issued a summons for litter and paid a total of $680 in fines and court costs. They were also ordered to complete 20 hours of community service collecting litter.
• Geauga County Wildlife Officer Scott Denamen, Cuyahoga County Wildlife Officer Jesse Janosik, and Wildlife Investigator Brian Keyser worked a sport fishing law enforcement project on Lake Erie, focusing their efforts on checking angler’s yellow perch bag limits. Although numerous fishermen had complied with the fishing regulations, six men were contacted and in possession of a total of 75 yellow perch over the daily bag limit. Each of them were cited and appeared in Cleveland Municipal Court. The men were convicted and ordered to pay a total of $450 in fines and $1,500 in restitution for the fish.
Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District 4
• After receiving a tip of an individual that was possibly digging ginseng out of season in the Wayne National Forest, Gallia County Wildlife Officer Roy Rucker proceeded to the location and found a car parked along the side of the road. Rucker was able to locate the suspect in the woods and observe him digging something from the ground. Rucker observed the individual for more than 20 minutes before he began to head toward his vehicle. The individual was carrying two burlap bags that appeared to be filled with roots. Rucker made contact with the subject at his vehicle and inquired what he was digging. The individual stated that he was digging cohosh. When Rucker inquired if he had anything else in the bags, the suspect stated that he had a little yellow root. Upon further investigation, Rucker found a bag that contained 50 ginseng roots. The suspect was charged with digging ginseng during the closed season and was order to pay $305 in fines and court costs, and the ginseng and digging device used by the subject was forfeited to the state. The individual was also charged by a national forest officer for digging roots in the Wayne National Forest without a permit, and was ordered to appear in Federal Court in Columbus.
• During the 2008 deer archery season, Wildlife Officer Brian Baker of Belmont County arrested a hunter on coal company property for no hunting license, no deer permit and hunting without permission. During this past deer gun season, Baker was called to the same location for a complaint of hunting without permission. Baker ran the vehicle license plate and recognized the name as the same hunter he arrested in 2008. After some searching, Baker contacted the suspect in a treestand wearing no hunter orange. The suspect provided the officer with a written permission slip signed by an employee of a contracted company hired to perform mining operations on the land in which he was hunting. The hunter was arrested for wearing no hunter orange and hunting without permission. By law, written permission must be secured by the actual landowner or an authorized agent. The suspect was aware that the person he gained written permission from was not the landowner, but claimed innocence in court, holding he was reckless in his actions by not knowing permission could be granted only by the landowner or agent. The prosecution held that the offense of hunting without permission is strict liability, which simply means absolute legal responsibility for any injury or damage can be imposed on the wrongdoer without proof of carelessness or fault. After several pretrial conferences, the defendant withdrew his former plea of not guilty and entered a plea of guilty. He was fined $150 for wearing no hunter orange, $500 for hunting without permission, $105 in court costs, and was sentenced to 30 days in jail with all suspended on the condition he not violate any laws of the state or any municipality for two years.
Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District 5
• Preble County Wildlife Officer Brad Turner was recently checking fishing licenses at Hueston Woods’ Sugar Camp. When he got to the end of the pier, he stopped and talked to a man and his two children. The man said that he was not fishing, and was helping his children fish. From Turner’s prior surveillance, he never saw the man do anything but help the children. Turner went to the other side of the lake to check more fishing licenses. When he got there, he used his binoculars to look at Sugar Camp. He saw the same man that was helping his children fish return from his car with a pole and begin to fish on his own. Turner watched the man fish by himself, with no children close by, for about 10 minutes and then went back to contact the man. When Turner arrived he asked the man why he started fishing after the officer left. The man laughed and said that just watching his children fish “got the best of him” and made him want to catch some fish, too. Turner issued him a summons for fishing without a license.
• While patrolling Grant Lake Wildlife Area in Brown County on a hot July evening, officers Eric Lamb and Mark Schemmel spotted a campsite along the lakeshore. They stopped and spoke to the individuals there, who were fishing, and informed them that wildlife area rules prohibited the anglers from staying longer than 24 hours in that particular location. The officers also advised them that fires were prohibited on the state property, and reiterated the importance of the “No Fire Ban” due to the drought-like conditions. As the officers conversed with the individuals, they stated they were having a birthday party for a family member, for which they brought a table, snacks, and a grill. The officers wished them “good luck” and made their way back to their patrol vehicle. The following morning, Lamb and Schemmel were once again patrolling the same location along the lake and noticed some large objects thrown into the wooded lot next to the campsite used by the anglers the previous night. Upon further observation, the officers recognized the discarded objects to be the charcoal grill and folding table used to hold the birthday cake from the night before. The officers made contact with the individuals at their residence and cited them for stream litter.