Division of Wildlife
Central Ohio – Wildlife District 1
• State wildlife officer Josh Shields was on patrol during the 2014 deer-gun season and responded to a hunting without permission call in Champaign County. Officer Shields was able to contact an individual who was in violation of multiple deer hunting offenses. After investigating the complaint, officer Shields issued the individual citations for hunting deer without a valid hunting license and deer permit, and hunting without permission. The man’s shotgun was seized during the incident when officer Shields learned that the hunter was a convicted felon. The man received an indictment for seven related offenses from the incident, including having a weapon while on disability and multiple wildlife offenses.
Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District 2
• During the 2014 waterfowl season, state wildlife officer Reid Van Cleve, assigned to Ottawa County, observed four individuals hunting on Mouse Island in Lake Erie. Officer Van Cleve decided to watch the group of waterfowl hunters to document possible violations. As their morning hunt was finished, the group began to gather their gear and leave. Officer Van Cleve observed one of the hunters throw a harvested merganser a few yards into the water. Several of the hunters then shot the merganser to pieces. A second hunter also had a merganser, and it was tossed into the air while the hunters shot at it. Officer Van Cleve was waiting for the group of hunters as they returned to their vehicle. The men were asked how their hunt had gone, and the group stated that they had shot their limit of ducks. Officer Van Cleve looked at their ducks and determined that they had their limit. Officer Van Cleve asked the men if they had shot any mergansers. All were quiet, and after a moment one of the hunters said “no.” Officer Van Cleve then asked about the dead mergansers. At that time the hunters became quiet and nervous. Officer Van Cleve issued two of the men citations for wanton waste.
Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District 3
• The Sunday before the 2014 deer-gun season, state wildlife officer Craig Porter, assigned to Jefferson County, was driving along a rural county road when he passed a vehicle traveling at an unusually slow speed. As officer Porter observed the vehicle in the rearview mirror, he saw it stop and turn around in a nearby driveway. Officer Porter traveled up the road, stopped in a lane, and turned off his headlights. As the vehicle passed, officer Porter observed the driver using a spotlight and illuminating deer in an adjacent hay field. Officer Porter initiated a traffic stop and issued the driver a summons for jacklighting. A crossbow was seized as evidence. The man was convicted in Jefferson County Court and ordered to pay $300 in fines and court costs. The crossbow was forfeited to the ODNR Division of Wildlife.
• State wildlife officer Jason Warren, assigned to Ashtabula County, received a call from a citizen concerned about the welfare of an eastern screech owl on a cold and snowy January day. The caller stated that when he went to retrieve his mail he was surprised to find the owl gazing at him from inside the newspaper box located under his mailbox. The man indicated that the owl did not appear to be injured, and officer Warren advised him to call again if the owl did not relocate after dark. Officer Warren did not receive any additional phone calls about the owl.
Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District 4
• In December 2014, state wildlife officer Brian Baker, assigned to Belmont County, received information about individuals hunting from motor vehicles. The previous day the caller saw a man shoot at a deer from the driver’s seat of a pickup truck. The shooter and a second individual, neither of whom was wearing hunter orange, walked down over the hill to look for the deer. A second truck was also at the scene of the incident, and at the time of the call was parked in the same location. Officer Baker drove to the location, parked his vehicle out of sight, and approached the truck. A man was sitting in the driver’s seat with a loaded shotgun lying across the steering wheel column. The driver was ordered out of the vehicle, the gun was made safe, and the individual’s hunting license and permits were checked. Further investigation revealed he was the occupant of one of the trucks when a shot was fired. He was issued citations for having a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle and hunting by means, aid, or use of a motor vehicle. He paid $405 in fines and court costs. Additional information revealed a second suspect, who was immediately contacted. He was also issued citations for having a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle and hunting by means, aid, or use of a motor vehicle as well as failure to wear hunter orange. He was found guilty and paid $575 in fines and court costs.
• In early November 2014, state wildlife officer Ted Witham, assigned to Jackson County, received a call from a concerned sportsman. The caller told officer Witham that he believed a small buck had been killed with a shotgun during the archery season. The caller and a friend had been bowhunting and both heard a shot around 10 a.m., and then approximately 10 minutes later they heard an ATV approach the location of the shot. The ATV drove off toward a neighboring property a short time later. When the hunters came in for lunch, they noticed a deer hanging in a tree on the neighboring property. They could not see a temporary tag on the deer. Officer Witham contacted the property owner and asked to inspect the deer for a temporary tag. The owner, who harvested the deer, stated that the tag was rolled up in the deer’s ear. Officer Witham was able to locate the temporary tag, but it was immediately apparent that the shot to the deer’s chest cavity was caused by a gunshot and not an arrow. The suspect had tried to cover the gunshot wound by pushing a crossbow bolt and broadhead through the hole. Further investigation revealed the hunter killed the deer with a shotgun slug. He was issued a citation for taking a deer with a shotgun during the archery-only season. In court, the suspect pleaded guilty to the charge and received fines totaling $603. In addition, the shotgun used in the crime was forfeited to the ODNR Division of Wildlife, as was the deer, which was donated to the Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry program.
Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District 5
• On a wet day last summer, state wildlife officer Matt Hunt, assigned to Greene County, was conducting surveillance on a mud hole in Caesar Creek Wildlife Area where people were off-roading and causing damage. This particular area had been created in the middle of a crop field by individuals driving off the designated roadway with four-wheel-drive vehicles. Driving off-road is in direct violation of the ODNR Division of Wildlife rule requiring visitors to all wildlife areas to stay on the roadway and only park in approved locations. Officer Hunt was observing the area when he heard a vehicle approach. The vehicle could be heard going around the edge of the field on an access lane. The driver was revving the engine and officer Hunt could hear the tires spinning in the water-saturated ground. Officer Hunt conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle and its operator as it exited the field. Officer Hunt noticed that the vehicle was dripping with fresh grass and mud. The vehicle owner stated that he knew he should not be driving through the field, but he wanted to scout out a place for paintball training with his friends. Officer Hunt issued the driver one citation for operating a vehicle off-road and explained to him that paintball guns are not permitted in a wildlife area.
Division of Watercraft
Southern – Scioto County Area Office
• On Dec. 2, 2014, Scioto County watercraft area supervisor Vance received a call from the Ironton City Fire Department chief requesting the ODNR Division of Watercraft’s assistance. At an unknown time the previous night, a city truck was stolen, following a call to the local police department from an unknown caller stating that they witnessed a vehicle matching the description of the stolen truck floating in the Ohio River out from the Ironton boat ramp. Officer Cramer and officer Warren responded to the location with a patrol vessel equipped with a side scan sonar unit. The officers made two passes and located a vehicle just downstream from the ramp. Officers Cramer and Warren marked the vehicle with a marker and a magnet. They made a call requesting the City of Ashland, Ky., Fire Department’s dive team respond and confirm that this was the missing vehicle. Upon arriving at the scene, the dive team members used the marker placed by the watercraft officers to locate the vehicle. It was discovered by the divers that this was not the stolen truck, but a different vehicle. The investigation is still ongoing.
Southern – Springfield Area Office
• While on patrol at Caesar Creek Lake, officer Brown observed a sailboat in the swimming beach area. The boat was stopped and the following violations were found: no registration paperwork on board, insufficient number of life jackets on board, and operating in a restricted area. The operator was cited for insufficient life jackets. The defendant pleaded guilty and paid $165 in fines and court costs.
Southern – Alum Creek Area Office
• On Oct. 10, 2014, officers Henak and Potter were dispatched to a call on Alum Creek Reservoir north of Howard Road ramp. Late in the evening of Oct. 9, 2014, an off-duty firefighter was walking the roads near duck blind No. 16. He reported he smelled something very suspicious near the blind along the water’s edge. The caller notified the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office who responded immediately. The Sheriff’s Office found nothing at or near the site. The Ohio DNR radio room notified officer Baker, area supervisor of the incident. He sent two officers out the following day during daylight hours to search the area. Nothing suspicious was found.
Southern – Cambridge Area Office
• Officers Plumly and Klies were on patrol at Seneca Lake on July 2, 2014. While patrolling after the fireworks display, officer Plumly observed a vessel being operated without a stern light. Officer Klies activated the blue lights on the patrol vessel and proceeded in stopping the vessel while officer Plumly made contact with the operator. Officer Plumly explained to the operator why he was being stopped. The officer noticed the operator had bloodshot eyes and had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath. There was also an empty case of beer, and an open can of beer near the operator’s position. The operator was asked if he had consumed any alcohol, and he stated he had consumed one beer. Officer Plumly explained to the operator that he needed to do some preliminary sobriety tests. The officer concluded that the operator needed to be taken to the public launch ramp for more sobriety tests. The subject was instructed to put on a life jacket and asked to board the watercraft patrol vessel. The operator was escorted to the parking lot of the public launch ramp for sobriety testing. Officer Plumly explained and demonstrated the test. The operator stated he understood, and he agreed to perform the standardized field sobriety test. The operator was placed under arrest, and read his rights at the conclusion of the sobriety testing. He was transported to the Ohio Highway Patrol Post for a breath sample. The operator agreed and was found to have a concentration of alcohol above the legal limit. The operator was charged with operating a watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He was also charged with operating without proper navigation lights. The defendant pleaded guilty and received $872 in fines. The defendant also had all jail time suspended in lieu of a three-day intervention program and a year of supervised probation.
Southern – East Fork Area Office
• While patrolling, officers Sterwerf and Gantt observed a subject operating a boat, creating a substantial wake after sunset between the Dan Beard and Brent Spence bridges. Officer Sterwerf activated the overhead lights and attempted to stop the subject. The subject continued to pull away without stopping. The officers pulled up nearly alongside his vessel and chirped their siren and instructed him to stop. After nearly a mile, the subject finally stopped. While speaking with the subject, a strong odor of alcohol was noticed during the conversation. When asked, the subject stumbled about the boat while searching for safety equipment. When asked for his identification, he passed by it in his wallet and fumbled with it while pulling it out. His eyes were glazed and bloodshot in appearance. It was also noted that he would stop and stare with no response when asked some questions. It was explained that the officers were taking him back to shore for standardized field sobriety tests. A life jacket was placed on the subject, and he was brought aboard the patrol vessel. The subject had trouble transitioning himself from his vessel to the patrol vessel. His vessel was towed back to the Serpentine Wall in downtown Cincinnati where officers began the field sobriety testing. As a result of the subject’s inability to successfully perform the tests along with a number of other indicators, it was determined that he was too intoxicated to operate a vessel and was placed under arrest for violating ORC 1547.11 A(1), Operation under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Northern – Maumee Bay Area Office
• On Oct. 5, 2014, watercraft officer Genzman, federal wildlife officer Cannon, and wildlife officer Van Cleve participated in the 2014 Waterfowlers of Tomorrow Workshop at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. Participants visited various stations where they learned the importance of firearms safety and wearing a life jacket in cold-water situations. In addition, participants learned about identifying waterfowl and calling, as well as decoy placement. The participants then had the opportunity to hunt with a mentor. The event was a great success with 40 participants and nearly 30 ducks harvested by youth hunters.
• On the morning of Oct. 15, 2014, watercraft officers Genzman and German received a call from wildlife officer Leibengood regarding a hunting out of season complaint at the Mallard Club Wildlife Area. Officer Leibengood advised that he received a call from an individual who witnessed two men shooting ducks before the season opened on Oct. 18. Officer Genzman and officer German located the hunters in the Mallard Club parking lot. They advised the officers that they thought the season opened that day and had shot two ducks. The officers advised the hunters that the season did not open until Oct. 18. Officer Leibengood arrived on scene and issued the hunters citations for hunting out of season and seized the ducks as evidence. The men were found guilty and each was ordered to pay $111 in fines.
Northern – Sandusky Area Office
• On Dec. 12, 2014, officers Hodgkiss and Beard were conducting a night patrol on the Huron River. The officers stopped a 21-foot power boat for making a wake in a designated “No Wake” zone and a navigation light violation. A vessel safety inspection was completed to find the operator was missing required registration paperwork, a fire extinguisher, and an anchor and line. At the completion of the stop, officer Hodgkiss issued one citation for operating a power driven vessel without the required fire extinguisher. The operator paid the citation, which was $130 in court costs and fines. At the time of the stop, the water temperature was 34 degrees, and the air temperature was 32 degrees. Boaters are reminded to make sure they have all their safety equipment, especially during cold weather.
• On July 25, 2014, officers Hodgkiss and Beard stopped a 38-foot boat with 1,600 horsepower engines departing Put-In-Bay without any navigation lights on. The officers could hear the boat’s engine before they could see it. The officers had the vessel’s operator dock the vessel on C dock to address the navigation light violation. The operator had a very difficult time docking the vessel, and officers observed multiple open alcohol containers. Officer Hodgkiss had the operator perform the seated battery of field sobriety tests, on which the operator performed poorly. The operator submitted a breath sample. The breath sample indicated the operator had a blood alcohol content of .129. He was transported to the Ottawa County Jail to bond out because he was a Canadian citizen. The operator received $341 in fines, he has to complete the first offenders program, and he received 10 days in jail, which is all suspended as long as a similar offense does not occur over the next year.
Northern – Wapakoneta Area Office
• On Sept. 1, 2014, while on patrol at Grand Lake St. Marys, officer Sheets received a call from the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office with a report of a sailboat in the rocks on the west bank. Officer Sheets responded by boat while a Celina officer and a deputy sheriff responded by land. The operator was located alongside the sailboat and was glad to see help. The operator stated that the winds became too strong, and he could not sail the boat back toward the docks. The sailboat was towed back to the docks. The operator was happy to be back on the docks with no injuries and no damage to the sailboat.
• On Nov. 3, 2014, the Wapakoneta Watercraft Office received a call from a Grand Lake St. Marys State Park employee who was concerned about two kayakers out in rough wave conditions. As officer Sheets was in route to check on the boaters, one kayaker overturned his vessel and was unable to re-board. He was able to stand and wade back to shore in chest deep water. The other kayaker was able to tow the overturned kayak back to shore. Two park employees helped the man and kayak up an embankment, and he returned home to warm up. Officer Sheets performed a follow-up where it was determined that there were no injuries or damage to the boat. A report was taken on the incident.
Northern – Akron Area Office
• On Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, officers Uber and Staiger were patrolling Lake Milton in the area between the Interstate 76 bridge and the Mahoning Avenue bridge when they observed a vessel towing a juvenile on an inflatable device underneath the I-76 bridge. Upon stopping the vessel, the officers explained to the operator the reason for the stop. The operator stated that he did not know he could not tow underneath the bridge. Upon completing a vessel safety check, it was determined that he did not have the registration paperwork on board the vessel nor a fire extinguisher. The operator was then issued a citation for towing under the bridge and provided with a warning for the registration violation and lack of a fire extinguisher. His court information and the consequences of not appearing on his court date or paying the fine before the court date was explained. He stated he understood and was then provided with a copy of his citation and was advised his trip was being terminated from the water until he had a fire extinguisher on board. The operator did not pay the fine nor did he appear in court and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. On Oct. 20, the bench warrant was served to the vessel operator, and he appeared before the judge, who found him guilty. He was then ordered to pay a $186 fine.
Northern – Ashtabula Area Office
• On Aug. 10, 2014, while patrolling Lake Erie in Lake County, watercraft officers Conrad and Trisket overheard a PON PON on the marine radio regarding an unmanned vessel adrift west of Headlands Beach. The officers headed to the scene and found the vessel, a personal watercraft, adrift approximately ½ to ¾ of a mile west of Headlands Beach and ½ mile offshore. The vessel did have an anchor attached, but the line was believed to be too short. No damage was found. Upon checking with ODNR radio dispatch on a registration check, the officers found the registered owner. A person was spotted onshore waving their arms back and forth. The officers made contact with the individual who stated he was the registered owner and that everyone that had been on board was okay and that the personal watercraft had drifted from the beach. The officers then advised the owner that they would bring the vessel back to shore for him. The personal watercraft was successfully returned, and a vessel safety check was completed.
Northern – Cleveland Area Office
• On Aug. 3, 2014, investigator McCullough received a phone call from a local marine surveyor asking if he was investigating an accident involving a recreational vessel. The recreational vessel had gotten a heavy duty line wrapped around the prop, which in turn ripped the starboard drive shaft off of the hull. This event ripped a large hole in the hull, allowing water to start to fill the boat. Through speaking with the U.S. Coast Guard and the owner of the boat, officer McCullough found out that the boat had gotten too close to a commercial anchoring buoy and grabbed the rope with its starboard prop. The occupants o board the vessel had been rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard and the boat had been taken to Edgewater Marina. While at Edgewater Marina, the boat sank, leaving three-fourths of the boat below the water. The boat was lifted and inspected by Officer McCullough.