Ohio Cuffs & Collars – February 28th, 2014

Central Ohio – Wildlife District 1

• State wildlife officer Josh Shields made arrangements with the Union County Sheriff’s Office in November 2013 to participate in a weeklong in-service training. Shields prepared a presentation that covered common wildlife violations during the hunting season. During the training, Shields also provided the deputies with information from recent complaints throughout Union County. A few weeks later, Union County sheriff’s deputy Chad Lee was patrolling in a complaint area when he observed a vehicle spotlighting in a nearby field. The deputy made a stop and found the driver of the vehicle to be in possession of two high-powered rifles. The deputy seized the rifles and issued a citation for jacklighting. Deputy Lee informed Shields about the case, and Shields and state wildlife officer Adam Smith, assigned to Logan County, made a follow-up visit to the man’s house. Upon further investigation, the officers found the man to be in violation of numerous wildlife laws, including failing to temporarily tag a deer immediately upon harvest, failing to game check a deer, and illegally possessing venison and antlers. The man pleaded no contest to two of the charges and was sentenced to 20 days in jail, lost his hunting rights for one year, and paid nearly $1,000 in court fines and costs. Three of the five charges are currently pending in court.
• State wildlife officer Tony Zerkle, assigned to Fairfield County, received calls in November 2013 reporting that a man had shot a large buck from the roadway in Sugar Grove. The word had spread throughout the small community by the time officer Zerkle was able to respond and investigate the local stories to determine a suspect. The buck was recovered by the landowner and seized by Zerkle. The rack had a gross score of 1713⁄8. Officer Zerkle issued the suspect three summonses to the Fairfield County Municipal Court, where the man pleaded guilty. The court dismissed one charge, suspended two $25 fines, and ordered the man to pay $8,905.74 in trophy restitution to the Division of Wildlife for the loss of wildlife. The deer parts and the crossbow were also forfeited to the DOW.

Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District 2

• State wildlife officers Cody Klima and Brian Bury moved into a location to watch for spotlighters around 9:30 p.m. on a mid-November night. The location was in an area of Sandusky County where the officers had received many complaints of a suspect shining a field known to hold deer around 10 p.m. Sure enough, at 10 p.m. a vehicle slowly proceeded down the county road and shined the field with a handheld spotlight. Officers Klima and Bury initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle. The driver was alone and a crossbow was found in the back seat of his truck. After the driver repeatedly stated there were no other firearms or weapons in the vehicle, the officers discovered a loaded handgun in the center console of the truck. The crossbow, pistol, and spotlight were all taken as evidence. The man was charged with spotlighting deer and improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle. The man was ordered to pay $779 in fines and court costs and the crossbow, pistol, and spotlight were all forfeited to the state.
• State wildlife officer Brad Baaske, assigned to Wyandot County, was checking hunters at Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area during last year’s deer-gun season. Just before dark, he observed a vehicle parked in a pull-off on the north side of the wildlife refuge. The vehicle was parked in front of a sign that read, “State Wildlife Refuge, Trespassing Unlawful.” The vehicle was unoccupied and officer Baaske checked the area to determine the owner’s location. A light snow cover on the ground revealed two sets of footprints leading from the vehicle into the refuge. Officer Paul Kurfis was also in the area and advised of the situation as officer Baaske began his search for the suspects. Officer Baaske then observed two men walking out of a large wooded area. The men were dragging a deer and each carried a shotgun. Officer Baaske contacted the hunters, checked their licenses and deer permits, and secured their shotguns. The deer was tagged but had not been field dressed. Officer Baaske walked the hunters out to his patrol vehicle where officer Kurfis met them. The hunters were informed of their violations and cited. The illegal deer was seized and held as evidence. The hunters were found guilty in Upper Sandusky Municipal Court and the deer was forfeited to the Division of Wildlife.

Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District 3

• While investigating a hunting without permission complaint, state wildlife officer Randy White, assigned to Lorain County, and wildlife investigator Rick Louttit discovered an untagged, field-dressed deer that had been discretely placed in a tree line. The deer’s entrails were discovered on the complainant’s property, concealed with vegetation. The officers conducted remote surveillance and observed two individuals retrieve the deer the following day. The suspects were identified and contacted at their residence. When contacted, the men were easily identified as they were wearing the same clothes they had worn to retrieve the deer. The men were charged with several violations, including hunting without permission and failing to temporarily or permanently tag the deer. They appeared in  Avon Lake Municipal Court, were convicted, and paid $942 in fines and court costs.
• During the 2013 deer-archery season, state wildlife officer Craig Porter, assigned to Jefferson County, received an anonymous complaint regarding three deer carcasses hanging in a backyard in Steubenville. The caller stated that the deer had been there for approximately one week and were rancid. Officer Porter obtained the homeowner’s name and searched the Division of Wildlife’s game check database but found no evidence of the landowner harvesting a deer. The results of the investigation revealed that the homeowner received the deer from a co-worker who resided in West Virginia and was unsure if the animals had been legally tagged in that state. The information was relayed to officials in West Virginia. A West Virginia resident was subsequently charged with multiple counts of failing to tag the deer as required by law. The case is currently pending.
• On a sunny day during the fall, Lake Erie investigator Matt Fisher and state wildlife officer Jason Warren, assigned to Ashtabula County, patrolled Lake Erie by boat. The officers made contact with 81 fishermen fishing near Ashtabula and Conneaut, issuing a total of three summonses for fishing without a license and one citation for taking more than the legal limit of yellow perch.

Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District 4

• During the 2013 deer season, state wildlife officer Dan Perko, assigned to Athens County, and state wildlife investigator Gary Manley contacted a hunter in the field. They were approximately 20 yards behind him when he shot. Officer Perko asked the hunter what he was shooting and he said they would find out. Officer Perko asked him again and he said a .223-caliber rifle. Officer Perko asked him if he shot a deer and he said “yes.” He was cited and found guilty of hunting with an illegal implement. The gun and deer were forfeited.
• With the increased interest and activity in furbearer hunting and trapping, wildlife officers have stepped up their enforcement efforts in these activities. Just before the 2013 deer-gun season, officer Roby Williams discovered an illegally set trap in a culvert along the west side of Guernsey County. Officer Williams and wildlife officer Bryan Postlethwait contacted the trapper and issued two citations, one for the illegally set trap and one for failing to place identification on the trap. The trapper paid nearly $200 in fines and court costs.

Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District 5

• During the 2014 deer-muzzleloader season, investigator Kevin Behr was working in the area of Tranquility Wildlife Area in Adams County when he was flagged down by an individual alongside the road. The individual said he was from Vermont and this was the first time he had hunted deer in Ohio. He went on to state that he was lost and would appreciate any assistance investigator Behr could give him. Investigator Behr provided the lost hunter with several maps of public hunting areas in and around Adams County. Behr also spoke with the individual about his different options for hunting deer and all applicable Ohio laws and wished the hunter good luck. The next day, at about 2 p.m., investigator Behr was patrolling a remote part of Tranquility Wildlife Area when he came across a lone hunter walking on the roadway. Upon contacting the individual, investigator Behr recognized him as the same lost hunter from the day before. He was lost again. As investigator Behr spoke with the hunter, he noticed blood on his clothes and asked him about it. The individual advised that shortly after he left investigator Behr the previous morning he went to a location on Tranquility Wildlife Area that investigator Behr identified as a good spot to hunt. He went on to state that after being in the area a few hours he saw several deer, one of which was a nice-sized buck that the man successfully harvested. Investigator Behr asked the individual to describe the area where his vehicle was parked, and he recognized the parking lot that the individual was describing. This particular parking lot was several miles in the opposite direction that the hunter was walking. Investigator Behr assisted the hunter back to his vehicle. At the conclusion of the contact the hunter stated, “I’ve hunted in several states and Ohio is the only place where the wildlife officers not only help lost hunters, but also give good advice on where to harvest deer. … I will be back next year to hunt with anyone who will come with me.”

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