Ohio Cuffs and Collars – April 26th, 2013

Central Ohio – Wildlife District 1

• Last deer season, Fairfield County Wildlife Office Tony Zerkle received a call from a property manager stating that he found a gut pile on his property and followed drag marks to a neighboring house. Zerkle contacted the resident of the home in question. The homeowner stated that he had no knowledge of the event. A check of the Division of Wildlife deer harvest record showed that the resident’s father had checked in a deer the day the gut pile was discovered. The deer was checked in as a landowner harvest 10 miles away. Zerkle followed up by collecting samples from the gut pile and samples from the father’s deer at the taxidermist. These samples were submitted for DNA analysis. The results concluded that the deer in question was a 100 percent match to the gut pile. During the investigation several other violations were discovered. The two men received 13 charges and appeared in Franklin County Municipal Court. The men agreed to a plea bargain, pleading guilty to four charges resulting in $2,110 in fines, restitution, and court cost, included one hunting license revocation and two-year probation.
• During February, Wildlife Officer Josh Elster had several complaints of snagging and overbagging of saugeyes at the Deer Creek Lake Spillway, located in Pickaway County. Elster worked with wildlife officers John Coffman and Tony Zerkle to target the problem. The officers worked a variety of projects to observe fishing violations. Ten summonses were issued for snagging and overbagging of saugeyes and for litter in the targeted area. Ohio law requires game fish to be returned back into the water if hooked anyplace other than inside of the mouth.

Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District 2

• While patrolling Richland County one very cold December day, state Wildlife Officer Gregory Wasilewski noticed a vehicle pass him with the driver’s window open. Thinking that was odd, Wasilewski continued to watch the vehicle in his rearview mirror and saw several white items being discarded from the vehicle onto the roadway through the open window. Wasilewski quickly turned around and realized the items the subject threw out of his vehicle were tissues. Wasilewski caught up to the vehicle and initiated a traffic stop. During the conversation with the driver, Wasilewski noticed the vehicle appeared very clean inside and asked the driver if there was a trash can inside the vehicle. The driver replied “no.” Wasilewski explained that it was a littering violation to discard items while driving down the road. The driver then stated that back in the 70s he had been caught littering at Marblehead State Park and the park officer chewed him out really well, but only gave him a warning. Wasilewski issued the subject a summons for littering. The subject posted bond for the offense and paid a $37 fine and $100 in court costs.
• State Wildlife Officer Brian Bury, assigned to Sandusky County, had a very busy deer season with some unusual cases. Probably the most unusual was a call about two deer that had fallen through the ice on a river. Bury responded along with the fire department's air boat. The air boat is used from time to time to rescue deer that have fallen through the ice. Bury arrived to find only one deer in the water and it was deceased. The second deer was able to make its way out of the river. The fire department’s call was canceled. Then Bury spotted two hunters with a small boat breaking ice to get to the deceased antlered deer. They proceeded to load the deer into their boat, almost capsizing in the process, and returned to shore. Bury met the men at the shore and learned that one of the hunters had shot the large buck as it was struggling to get out of the frozen water. It is illegal to shoot a deer that is (swimming) in water. In addition, they had no life jackets, no lettering on the boat, and no registration for the boat. The hunter was cited for shooting a deer in water and the deer was held as evidence. The hunter was fined $400 and the deer was forfeited to the Sandusky County Food Pantry.
• In January 2013, state Wildlife Officer Matthew Leibengood, assigned to Seneca County, received a complaint of various wild animal carcasses that had been dumped in a Seneca County ditch. The officer conducted an investigation using new technology that is available to wildlife officers and, as a result, a man was charged with stream littering, a misdemeanor of the third-degree on a first offense. The defendant was found guilty in Fostoria Municipal Court and ordered to pay $272 in fines and court costs. In addition, the defendant was ordered to make restitution in the amount of $140 to the township for cleanup costs. It is the hunter’s or trapper’s ethical responsibility to dispose of their wild animal carcasses in a lawful manner that does not negatively impact the image of hunting and trapping.

Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District 3

• While patrolling an area known for illegal dumping activity, Summit County Wildlife Officer Aaron Brown discovered several rolled up pieces of plastic sheeting with deer hair and blood on it. He also located other deer parts, including legs and a rib cage. Brown began looking in the area and discovered a temporary deer tag inside one of the discarded plastic sheets. The investigation led to a suspect who was later issued a summons for litter.
• While investigating a complaint on private property during the deer gun season, Carroll County Wildlife Officer Dan Shroyer observed a hunter in a treestand wearing only camouflage clothing. The officer contacted the man and asked to inspect his firearm, hunting license, and deer permit. In addition to failing to wear the required hunter orange clothing, the hunter had not purchased either license or permit and his shotgun was capable of holding more than three shells. He was issued summonses for each offense and ordered to appear in court.
• Following up on a case from the Avon Lake Police Department involving two subjects hunting after hours and in possession of multiple untagged deer, Lorain County Wildlife Officer Randy White charged both men with several deer violations and ordered them to appear in Avon Lake Municipal Court. Both individuals were convicted and paid $1,700 in fines and court costs. In addition to the fines, the men lost their hunting privileges for three years in Ohio as well as 37 other states (Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact). The deer were forfeited to the Division of Wildlife, processed, and donated to a local food bank.

Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District 4

• On Nov. 14, 2012, state Wildlife Officer Matt VanCleve received a complaint that a hunter had illegally taken a deer on a farm near the Atomic Plant in Pike County. VanCleve spoke to the landowner and was told he wished to press charges on the hunter for hunting without permission. VanCleve contacted the suspect and discovered the suspect had killed a large buck that day. The suspect presented the untagged 130 4⁄8-inch buck to VanCleve and said the deer was a landowner deer. VanCleve seized the deer and served the suspect citations for hunting without permission, hunting deer on lands of another without a valid hunting license, and hunting deer on lands of another without a valid deer permit. The defendant appeared in a Pike County court and entered a guilty plea for all three charges. The defendant was found guilty and ordered to pay the processing fee on the deer, restitution for the amount of $2,034.91 to the Division of Wildlife, and court costs.
• This past March, state Wildlife Officer Ted Witham was finishing his work day and decided to drive through the Coalton Wildlife Area on his way home. Witham noticed fresh ATV tracks leading onto the wildlife area. He pulled over, shut his vehicle off, and got out of the truck to try and find the ATV. As Witham started into the woods he noticed a man in a camouflage coat, carrying a black bag, stand up from the brush and who immediately started running. Witham yelled at the suspect, telling him to stop. The suspect was running toward a logging trail and Witham decided that he could cut him off on that trail. Witham was able to get within 10 feet of the suspect when he reached the trail. Witham again yelled at the suspect, telling him to stop and show his hands. The suspect stared at Witham than ran into a clear cut. Witham chased the suspect through the clear cut back out to the road. The suspect fell down in the roadside ditch and was unable to run anymore. Witham once again demanded the suspect to show him his hands. The suspect finally complied with his order. Two Jackson County Sheriff’s deputies helped Witham locate the suspect’s black handbag. The suspect had thrown the bag in the clear cut where he attempted to run. The bag contained chemicals commonly used to make methamphetamine. The suspect was arrested for deterring a wildlife officer and possessing chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine. The cases are currently proceeding through court and the suspect remains in jail.
• During late rabbit season of 2013, Wildlife Officer Eric Lane received a complaint about hunting without permission on a farm in northern Perry County. The caller stated that there were two hunters with at least three dogs hunting rabbits. Lane said that he would head in that direction and see if he could locate the individuals. Upon arrival at the scene, Lane located the vehicle, which was a truck with a dog box in the bed. Lane listened to see if he could hear the dogs, but he was unable to see or hear any sign of the dogs. With such a large area to look for two hunters and the high winds of that day, Lane walked to the highest piece of land on the farm. He was able to locate three dogs several hundred yards away by using his binoculars. He watched the direction that the dogs were working and was able to locate the two hunters. Lane made contact with the two hunters and found that they did not have written permission. They were cited for hunting without permission. The two men paid $350 in fines and court costs.

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