Ohio Cuffs and Collars – July 5th, 2013

Central Ohio – Wildlife District 1

• Over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, state wildlife officers patrolled public fishing accesses in Delaware County. While targeting sportfishing and license compliance, state officers also were inspecting buckets and fish baskets for length requirements on crappies. While checking two fishermen at Hoover Reservoir, wildlife officers Josh Shields and Justus Nethero identified themselves as state wildlife officers. One of the fishermen immediately grabbed a small crappie from his bucket and pitched it toward the water’s edge. Officer Shields immediately stepped into the water and grabbed the fish before it could swim away.  The fish was evidence that the fishermen knowingly kept short fish. It was determined that one of the men had a prior violation in 2002 for possessing undersized crappies. Both men were issued citations for possessing short crappies (less than 9 inches in length). The two men were ordered to pay fines in the Delaware Municipal Court totaling $310. A total of six short fish were photographed for evidence and returned to the lake.

Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District 2

• On the morning of April 18, state wildlife officer Bob Wolfrum, assigned to Fulton County, was contacted by an individual who was scouting a woodlot prior to the opening day of youth turkey season. The caller advised that he and the youth hunter found two blinds in a clearing and there was corn spread around the area. Officer Wolfrum made arrangements to meet with the hunters and have them show him the location of the blinds. The area was found just as the caller described. Wolfrum took photos of the blinds and bait, and documented the date and time. According to the law, an area is considered baited and closed to turkey hunting for 10 days after complete removal of all the bait. Officer Wolfrum thanked the hunters and placed a call to state wildlife investigator Steve Thomson. After explaining the situation to Thomson, the officers made arrangements to check the area the following Monday, which was the opening day of turkey season. On Monday morning, Wolfrum started a pheasant survey as investigator Thomson set up a half mile to the east of the baited area. Wolfrum stopped his survey at the midpoint and headed over to meet up with investigator Thomson. Around 7 a.m. the officers decided to check a couple of vehicles parked in a field close to the turkey blinds. The half-mile walk took them to a path that led to where the blinds had been. As the officers approached the location, they could see one of the blinds was gone. A lone hunter was sitting in the remaining blind and corn was easily visible around the blind’s perimeter. The officers secured the man’s shotgun and identification. He informed the officers that his buddy, who hunts in the other blind, had hunted at another location that day. The officers checked his buddy later in the morning and found him to be hunting legally. The first hunter was cited for hunting turkey over a baited area. 
• State wildlife officer Scott Sharpe, assigned to Hancock County, recently conducted an investigation from the 2012 deer archery season about a possible permit/tagging violation. The investigation revealed that an individual had shot and killed an antlerless deer and later decided to go to the store, where he bought an antlerless tag and used it to check the already dead deer. The subject was cited to court and had to pay $115 in fines and court costs as a result of using the antlerless permit for a deer that was taken before the permit was purchased.

Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District 3

• While working spotlighting enforcement last fall, state wildlife officer Randy White, assigned to Lorain County, and wildlife investigator Rick Louttit initiated a traffic stop.  After the officers secured the occupants, they noticed blood in the back of the vehicle. The subsequent investigation resulted in two individuals being charged for spotlighting, possessing untagged deer, and deterring a wildlife officer in multiple court jurisdictions. The men were convicted in court and assessed fines and costs over $2,100. The deer was forfeited to the Division of Wildlife as well.
• During the 2012 deer hunting season, state wildlife officer Nick Turner, assigned to Harrison County, charged an individual for spotlighting, fleeing a peace officer, and multiple deer violations. After several pretrial conferences, the man pleaded guilty and was convicted of three wildlife crimes. He was ordered to pay $1,000 in fines and court costs and his hunting privileges were revoked for two years. The man also spent 15 days in jail, 15 days on house arrest, and his driver’s license was suspended for three years. 
• While patrolling during the deer gun season, state wildlife officer Tom Frank, assigned to Mahoning County, observed a truck parked near a roadway.  He exited his patrol vehicle and noticed a box of shotgun and 30.06 shells sitting on the seat of the truck. Officer Frank walked to the top of the ridge and observed a man sitting in a treestand wearing only an orange stocking hat.  As he approached, the agitated hunter climbed down and began walking toward him. The man was within 20 yards when Officer Frank noticed that the firearm he was carrying was a 30.06 rifle. He calmly asked to see the hunter’s firearm and inquired why he was not wearing the required amount of hunter orange clothing.  The man responded angrily, “I should be the only person out here. You’re lucky you didn’t get shot.” The man was issued summonses for failing to wear the required amount of hunter orange clothing and hunting with a rifle during the deer gun season.  He was convicted in court and ordered to pay $290 in fines and court costs.    

Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District 4

• Wildlife investigator Travis Abele has received complaints of individuals harvesting both ginseng and golden seal (yellow root) on Tar Hollow State Forest property throughout the summer. Goldenseal can legally be harvested all year, but ginseng season does not open until Sept. 1. However, it is illegal to harvest either on state-owned properties. A person can legally harvest berries, nuts, and mushrooms on state properties. During the second week of June, the investigator was patrolling the forest looking for diggers, driving slowly down one of the forest roads when he heard the distress bleats of a deer fawn. The investigator stopped the vehicle and observed a fawn zigzagging through the open timber. A coyote was close behind. The officer exited his vehicle just in time to see the coyote catch the fawn and roll into a downed treetop. The officer ran to the aid of the deer fawn. Upon approaching, the coyote was attempting to hide and was not willing to let go of the fawn. The officer walked within 20 feet of the coyote before it let go of the fawn and took off running. The coyote ran approximately 50 yards and stopped, looking back at the officer. The officer yelled at the coyote and this time it fled over the ridge. The fawn was breathing heavily, but jumped up and it shook itself off before running back the direction in which it had been chased from. The doe was not seen, but it’s a good bet that she was close by and will reunite with her fawn.
• There are few professions that require more contacts with armed citizens as that of a state wildlife officer. Many of these stem from the job’s most basic service of checking hunters’ licenses, permits, and bag limits, but few recognize the number of arms encountered while performing other duties. For instance, while patrolling Egypt Valley Wildlife Area in Belmont County, state wildlife officer Brian Baker contacted 15 recreational users in one week, of which eight possessed a firearm. None of these individuals were hunting and the firearms were of a wide variety, including revolvers, semi-auto pistols, shotguns, bolt-action centerfire rifles and semi-auto rifles. Is this unsettling to the officer?  “Absolutely not,” explains Baker, “this area was purchased by hunters and fishermen with money from the sales of hunting and fishing licenses and many, if not most, are gun owners. There are many unknowns when contacting persons, but in this profession it is not whether a person is armed, I consider everyone armed; it is an individual’s intentions that are of our most concern. Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of gun owners are good people who want to be in compliance with the law.” Most of the people Baker contacted that week carried a pistol either by permit or openly and did so for personal protection. A few firearms were encountered on vehicle stops, others during fishing or wildlife viewing contacts, and some stemmed from actual violations. “I do get people who are unaware that target shooting on our areas is prohibited unless you are on a designated shooting range. Not carrying a firearm properly in a motor vehicle is another. These are infractions of the law, mostly through ignorance of it and not intentionally violating it.” What can public land users do to avoid problems? “Probably the biggest piece of advice I could give any user of our areas is to read the regulations booklet first and call with any questions. No matter what property you intend to enter, whether it’s private, state, or federal there are always regulations that apply.”       
• On March 3, state wildlife officer Jeff Berry, assigned to Muskingum County, was patrolling the Powelson Wildlife Area when he noticed three vehicles parked at a dead end road. Officer Berry recognized one of the vehicles as being owned by an individual that he and wildlife officer Jerrod Allison made previous contact with and informed him that it was illegal to be mountain biking within the wildlife area. Berry parked down the road and waited until someone returned to the vehicles. Approximately an hour went by when four individuals riding mountain bikes exited the woods and rode up to the vehicles. Berry made contact with the individuals and issued three citations. The case goes to trial in July. Later that same day, officer Berry was on his way home when he received a call from Dillon State Park Officer Mike Zabrowski stating that someone was riding ATVs at the Dillon Wildlife Area.  Berry drove to the wildlife area and found four vehicles with trailers parked along an access road. Berry parked by the vehicles and waited until someone returned to the vehicles. Approximately 45 minutes went by when two ATVs and two side-by-sides approached his location. The four individuals were cited for operating a motor vehicle in a non-designated area. The individuals paid fines and court costs totaling $500.  While officer Berry was issuing citations to the four individuals on the Dillon Wildlife Area in Muskingum County he heard what sounded like a vehicle stuck in the mud. The sounds were coming from an adjacent field, which was located in Licking County. Berry finished issuing the citations and drove to the location where he heard the vehicles. When Berry arrived at the location, he found three vehicles mud-running in a corn field and one vehicle stuck in the mud within the wildlife area. The four individuals were cited for operating a motor vehicle in a non-designated area. The individuals appeared in Licking County Municipal court, pleaded guilty, and were ordered to pay fines and court costs totaling $1,036.

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