Ohio Cuffs and Collars – March 15th, 2013

Central Ohio – Wildlife District 1

• State Wildlife Officer Supervisor Bill Bullard reports that officers in central Ohio have been watching the tail waters of central Ohio reservoirs, observing anglers for snagging violations, littering, and overbag of game fish (predominantly saugeye). These tailwater areas provide anglers with various recreational fishing opportunities when water is being released.
• Anglers are reminded that 2013 Ohio fishing licenses are now on sale at local retailers and online at wildohio.com. An annual resident fishing license costs $19 and is valid for all species of fish in Ohio. All licenses and permits sold by the DNR Division of Wildlife will expire on Feb. 28, 2014. Funds collected by the sale of fishing licenses are used by the Division of Wildlife to manage Ohio’s fishery resources and provide all Ohioans with both variety and quality fishing opportunities. Programs have been established to stock various streams, rivers, lakes and reservoirs with fish such as muskellunge (muskie), hybrid striped bass, steelhead trout, channel and blue catfish, rainbow and brown trout, and saugeyes. Daily bag limits and size restrictions are available in the 2013-2014 Ohio Fishing regulations and can be found online at wildohio.com. Check the regulations for restrictions prior to going fishing as some regulations vary by waterway.

Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District 2

• Back in October 2011, state Wildlife Officer Josh Zientek, who is assigned to Huron County, had received some information from a concerned sportsman. The man had taken the time to call the 1-800-POACHER hotline and provided detailed information on two suspects who had been spotlighting and shooting deer at all hours of the night. Zientek investigated the report and was able to link these two suspects to multiple wildlife violations that had occurred in both Huron and Richland counties. After a lengthy investigation, Zientek located the two suspects and determined that they had been driving around Huron and Richland counties, killing, and attempting to kill, multiple deer with a 20-gauge shotgun aided by a spotlight. The two suspects were recently found guilty in the Shelby Municipal Court and were ordered to pay $950 in fines, $500 in restitution, $352 in court costs, and forfeiture of their 20-gauge shotgun.   
• While on patrol near Niagara reef in the western basin of Lake Erie, state Wildlife Investigator Gary Manley and state Wildlife Officer Tim Rourke observed two Indiana anglers trolling with nine fishing rods, five rods more than the two men were allowed. As the officers approached the boat, the defendants began reeling in some of their lines. The officers then asked the men to reel in all of the lines and put the boat in neutral. Rourke boarded the vessel and counted the number of walleyes in the cooler. There were 12 walleyes of legal size. After further inspection of the vessel, Rourke discovered three undersized walleyes in a plastic trash container, one of which was filleted. The two anglers received seven summonses. The Ottawa County Municipal Court allowed both anglers to waive the charges instead of appearing, and they were ordered to pay $417, including court costs.

Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District 3

• While patrolling in the area of Mohican State Forest during the statewide deer muzzleloader season, state Wildlife Officer Brennan Earick observed several individuals hunting on private property adjacent to the forest acting suspicious. He contacted the group of hunters and discovered that all seven individuals had valid hunting licenses and deer tags. Earick then left the area and drove around the block. When he returned to the site where he had contacted the group of hunters he observed an individual walking quickly across a large field toward a residence. Earick contacted the man before he had reached his destination and asked to see his hunting license and deer permit. Unfortunately, the man was unable to produce either and was cited. He appeared in Ashland Municipal Court where he was convicted of both offenses. The judge ordered the man to pay over $474 in fines and court costs and suspended his hunting privileges for one year. 
• One evening in November, Wildlife Officer Aaron Brown received a phone call from a local Summit County police department. It had responded to a residence where two individuals were fighting and discovered blood in the alleyway and in the bed of one individual’s pickup truck. They also found what appeared to be deer entrails. Brown arrived on scene shortly thereafter and determined that the men had butchered a deer in the garage and had failed to check the animal. They also dumped the deer hide on a nearby road. Both men were charged with the possession of an untagged deer and one individual was cited for litter. Both men were convicted in court. One individual failed to appear for sentencing and currently has a warrant for his arrest. The other individual was ordered to pay $750 in fines and restitution. He also received a one-year license revocation and he must complete a community service program.
• During the deer archery season, Wildlife Officer Jason Keller received a TIP call from 1-800-POACHER in reference to an 8-point buck lying on private property in the city of Eastlake. Keller investigated the complaint and found the deer lying in a ditch with its antlers tied to a tree by a rope. After walking the property, he located three crossbow bolts appearing to come from a nearby residence. There was also a hole dug under a barbed wire fence heading to the property. Keller contacted the individual at his home shortly thereafter. The results of the investigation revealed that the man had killed the deer with a crossbow several days earlier but it was too large to move. The individual was charged with hunting without permission and failing to permanently check in his deer. He appeared in Willoughby Municipal Court, was convicted, and ordered to pay more than $700 in fines and restitution and he must perform five days of community service. The deer and the crossbow were forfeited to the state.  

Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District 4

• At the end of the 2012 deer season, state Wildlife Officer Todd Stewart was contacted by an absentee landowner concerned about a photo he found on one of his trail cameras in Hocking County that showed an unidentified trespasser. The photo showed a man dressed in hunter orange carrying a shotgun, and was time/date stamped during the extra weekend deer gun season. The complainant emailed the photo and a topographic map with the location of the camera highlighted on it to Stewart. He said would pursue charges if the subject could be identified. The camera was double checked to verify time/date stamp was accurate. Stewart met with a few of the neighbors close to the property and showed them the photo. He was able to obtain the identity of the trespasser and met with him. The hunter admitted he had crossed the ground, but stated he was only going from a place he had permission to hunt, back to his vehicle, and not hunting. After meeting with the Morgan County prosecutor, Stewart issued the hunter a citation for hunting without permission. The hunter pleaded guilty to the trespassing violation, and paid his fines and court costs.
• State Wildlife Officer Bob Nelson, assigned to Ross County, received information from a concerned sportsman that a nonresident hunter from Virginia had killed two buck deer during the fall of 2011. Wildlife Investigator Travis Abele was assigned to investigate. The investigator contacted the Virginia Department of Game and Fisheries and was put into contact with a Virginia conservation officer. The officer was briefed on the investigation and contacted the hunter for an interview. The investigation determined that the hunter killed an 11-point buck during October and a second 11-point buck in November. The Virginia resident was charged with taking more than one antlered deer per license year, and failure to permanently tag a deer before leaving the state. The hunter pleaded guilty to both charges in the Chillicothe Municipal Court and was sentenced. The man was fined $100 plus court costs on each charge, $500 in restitution, one-year hunting privilege revocation, and forfeiture of the buck deer, which had been mounted. Abele would like to recognize the Virginia Department of Game and Inland fisheries for their assistance with this investigation.
• Early fall of 2012 found state wildlife officers Jerrod Allison of Coshocton County and Jeff Berry of Muskingum County patrolling public property of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District for people digging ginseng on public property. Ginseng is not allowed to be harvested on public property managed by the Division of Wildlife. While on patrol, the officers noticed a vehicle parked alongside of a state route in Knox County. The officers set up surveillance on the vehicle and observed a man exit the woods quickly and get into the vehicle. The officers made contact with the man and asked if he was digging ginseng in this area. He answered no, he was just hiking. During the course of the investigation, the officers discovered that he had hidden a small bag of ginseng under the front seat of his vehicle. The man was given a ticket for digging ginseng on public property and the ginseng was seized for evidence. The officers proceeded to drive about half mile on the same road into Coshocton County where they saw another vehicle parked along the side of the road. This time two men exited the woods. The officers asked them what they were doing, and they replied “hiking.” Allison checked the area where they had exited the woods and found a bag of fresh harvested ginseng. During the course of the investigation, Berry found another bag of fresh dug ginseng in the woods, which the other had dug from public property. Both men were issued tickets for digging ginseng on public property and their ginseng was seized. On the opening day of waterfowl season, Allison and Berry were on patrol in Muskingum County. They received a TIP of a vehicle parked along private property and the complainant thought the owners of the vehicle may be digging ginseng without permission. The officers found the vehicle and observed three men exit the woods after digging ginseng. During the course of this investigation, it was found that one of the men had a warrant out for his arrest from Muskingum County. This man was taken into custody and all three were issued tickets for digging ginseng without permission. All six men were found guilty in the respective county courts, and were ordered to pay fines and forfeit the ginseng that they had dug.

Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District 5

• On Jan. 8, wildlife officer Schock was working furbearer enforcement in Hamilton County. Schock noticed a truck parked along the Whitewater River, and followed the footprints in the snow that led away from the truck to the river. Once on the riverbank, Schock observed a man drinking a beer and pulling a sled behind him while checking his trap line. Schock observed the man check his trap line and contacted him when one of his traps had caught a large beaver. Upon inspection, none of the suspect’s traps had a tag attached to them bearing the trapper’s name and address. The suspect was issued a summons for untagged traps. He paid a $100 fine and $104 in court costs and forfeited the snare and beaver.
• During one of the coldest stretches of this past winter, state Wildlife Officer Tim Rourke was working ice fishing enforcement on Lake Loramie in Shelby County. From his patrol vehicle, Rourke watched a large group of fishermen in a congregation out on the ice, briefly waiting to see if the guys were having any success before heading out on the ice to check for compliance. Two individuals caught the officer’s attention when, as they were coming off the ice pulling their sleds behind them, looked up to see the recognizable wildlife truck up ahead and did an about face, turning to walk in the opposite direction. The officer, recognizing something was obviously amiss, quickly jumped into action and started in their direction. Looking over their shoulder and seeing the officer coming their way, the two anglers set their equipment down on the ice and proceeded to rather hastily erect their collapsible shanty. Rourke, knowing that the duo was obviously shielding his view from something, ran across the ice hurriedly and reached the pair just in time to see one of the men down on his knees frantically stuffing fish down a hole in the ice. Knowing that in all likelihood the disappearing act included undersized fish, Rourke immediately knew his only option. As a very short and very pointed conversation was taking place, Rourke was frantically rolling up the sleeves of his uniform, and the smug look changed to shock on the angler’s faces as the officer lay on his belly and reached as far into the hole and under the ice as possible, hoping to feel something…anything of evidentiary value, seemingly snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. As the realization and numbness set in, and with all the other fishermen now looking on, Rourke very determinedly plunged in again with his other arm all the way to the shoulder and reached in every direction to find…nothing. As the minutes passed, and Rourke’s hopes of making this case shrinking, he stood up and while maintaining composure, asked for the men to produce their fishing licenses. As he looked in and around their equipment, Rourke spied the bag of fish from which the man had been unloading. Among the many decent sized bluegills lay one short crappie which the man had not been able to get rid of in time. After stating that he “deserved it,” the man accepted his citation for possession of undersized fish, and paid $155 in fines. After warming up, Rourke visited the other ice fishermen in the area, many of whom thanked him for his efforts in administering the compliance of the very much supported length limits concerning crappies. These true sportsmen are the ones who bring real value to the job of a wildlife officer.
• While working raccoon hunters in Brown County, wildlife officers Schock and Kiebel found a truck with dog boxes in the back. While waiting to hear the dogs bay, they spotted a head lamp coming through the woods. When they made contact with the three individuals one had two dogs on a leash and the other was carrying a gun. Neither the guy that owned the dogs or the man with the gun had a furtaker permit. Both men were cited for hunting furbearing animals without a furtakers permit and each paid $132 in fines and court costs.

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