Central Ohio – Wildlife District 1
• During the deer muzzleloader season, state wildlife officer Josh Elster was contacted by a landowner stating someone shot a deer at the back of their property. The landowner stated they heard a single gunshot, looked out the window, and saw a deer lying on the ground. During his conversation with the landowner, officer Elster observed a vehicle sitting at the back of the property where the gunshot had come from. Officer Elster approached the vehicle and could see a field dressed doe lying behind it with someone in the vehicle. When asked if they had been hunting that day, the person stated they were hunting on the neighboring property and shot the deer. When the deer was hit it ran over to the field and died. Since it had snowed the night before, officer Elster could see a blood trail and fresh foot prints. He followed the blood trail, which began and ended on the property of the complaining landowner. Further investigation revealed the deer was standing on the neighboring property when it was shot. The subject was charged for hunting without permission on the property of another and ordered to pay a fine in Circleville Municipal Court.
• State wildlife officer Tony Zerkle received several complaints about the use of large boat motors on Rush Creek Lake in Fairfield County. He requested the assistance of ODNR Division of Watercraft officer Jack Manley and they worked a joint enforcement project from a boat. The goal was to contact fishermen and boaters while conducting surveillance for the use of large motors. The officers contacted 23 people in boats. They conducted fishing license checks and completed several boat safety checks. One subject was issued a summons for failure to possess the proper safety equipment. No boaters were observed using a motor over the 10-horsepower limit.
Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District 2
• State wildlife officer Kevin Good, assigned to Erie County, and state wildlife officer supervisor Kevin Newsome were working near Vermilion during the 2014 deer muzzleloader season. The officers observed two hunters in a woodlot and stopped to check their licenses. As the officers stepped out of the vehicle, one of the hunters bent down in the woods and walked over to the other hunter and took his muzzleloader. When officer Good made contact with the men only one of the hunters had a hunting license. The other hunter, a juvenile, stated that he was not hunting and did not have a license or deer permit. Further investigation revealed the boy was hunting with the muzzleloader. Officer Good questioned the other man, specifically as to why he bent down in the woods. It was revealed he was hunting with a handgun, and that he hid it in the woods when he saw the two officers. The man took the muzzleloader because he knew the boy did not have a license or deer permit. The man was issued a summons into Vermilion Municipal Court for hunting during the muzzleloader season with an illegal firearm, and for aiding the juvenile in a violation.
Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District 3
• State wildlife officer Marino Pellegrini, assigned to Lake County, received a call from wildlife officer supervisor Dave Shinko in December concerning two individuals hunting in Eastlake who were now in police custody. An investigation revealed that the men had taken several deer, none of which were tagged or permanently checked. In addition, one of the individuals had been hunting without a license and deer permit. Both of the men were charged, convicted in court, and ordered to pay $700 in fines and court costs. Two bows and venison were forfeited to the Ohio DNR Division of Wildlife.
• State wildlife officer Wade Dunlap, assigned to Tuscarawas County, received a call in July from the county sheriff’s office. They had received a call from an individual who stated they witnessed two males pull into a field and fire several shots, killing a deer. They loaded the deer into the truck and proceeded toward the Tuscarawas River, where one of the suspects tossed the carcass into the water. The caller was able to provide a vague vehicle description. Officer Dunlap drove to the site where the deer was shot and located tire tracks leading into the field. Upon further investigation, officer Dunlap discovered a truck that matched the description of the suspect’s vehicle. In addition, the suspect’s son had animals in the barn next to the farm where the deer was shot. Officer Dunlap made contact with the suspect and located more evidence. The investigation revealed that the man and his son went to feed the animals and saw the deer in the field. The father used a rifle to shoot the deer. The son retrieved the animal, placed it into the truck, and disposed of the carcass in the river. The man appeared in court and pleaded guilty to hunting and litter violations. He was convicted and paid more than $1,000 in fines and court costs. In addition, the man’s hunting privileges were suspended for three years, the firearm was forfeited, and he served five days on the county litter crew.
Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District 4
• In mid-April, state wildlife officer Chris Dodge was notified of poaching activity by the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office, and a TIP turned in to the Turn In a Poacher hotline. The call was in reference to an owl being shot. Officer Dodge responded and met with an informant who recovered a dead barred owl. While at the residence of the suspect, several sets of untagged deer antlers were observed. In addition to the wildlife violations, the suspect was under investigation for other criminal activities. Officer Dodge assisted the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office in the execution of a search warrant on the suspect’s home. In addition to the owl, 32 sets of untagged deer antlers were recovered. The suspect, a repeat wildlife offender, is facing multiple charges for taking a nongame bird and possession of untagged deer parts.
• After the 2014-2015 deer hunting season, state wildlife officer Jeff Berry was conducting deer processor inspections in Muskingum County. At one facility, he noticed a truck loaded with several processed deer carcasses and two skinned coyote carcasses. Officer Berry contacted the deer processing facility owner. Knowing the individual was a trapper, officer Berry asked how his trapping season was going. The individual stated that he wasn’t getting much time to trap, but that he did catch an owl. He also stated that he had recently started taking the deer carcasses to a nearby landowner’s property to dispose of them. It is unlawful to trap around exposed flesh bait to protect birds of prey, such as owls and hawks. Officer Berry finished the inspection and drove down the road to wait. Approximately 20 minutes later, the individual got in the vehicle loaded with the deer and coyote carcasses and drove it to the barn. Officer Berry advised the individual since he had caught an owl and that he was dumping carcasses he needed to see the site. Officer Berry observed a large pit that contained around 100 processed and exposed deer carcasses. The individual showed officer Berry four trap locations, but only one leg hold trap was still set. Officer Berry also found four snares, two of which were set. The individual was charged with trapping over exposed flesh bait, failure to check traps once daily, and failure to tag traps with owner information. The individual paid $375, which included court costs.
Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District 5
• Early one evening at dusk, state wildlife officer Jasmine Grossnickle, assigned to Miami County, was on patrol when she noticed a man walking down a bike path carrying fishing equipment. This particular bike path is closed to the public after sunset, and is a common access point trespassers use to gain admission to a quarry property that does not give permission to the public. Approximately one hour later, Grossnickle returned to the area to see if she could find the angler. As she searched, Grossnickle saw a single lantern light and could also see a man casting his fishing line into the water while sitting in a chair. The man was issued a citation for fishing on lands of another without written permission.
Division of Watercraft
Northern – Sandusky Area Office
• On Dec. 7, 2014, around 11 a.m., while patrolling the Dempsey launch ramp in Ottawa County, officer Beard observed a camouflage-colored vessel operating at above idle speed, creating an excessive wake. The officer approached the operator and informed him of the violation. An inspection of the vessel safety gear found that the operator lacked the proper number of life jackets. The vessel had four people on the vessel and only three wearable life jackets. Officer Beard was informed by the operator that he had his captain’s license and ran fishing charters out of the area. The operator was issued one citation for insufficient number of life jackets on board the vessel. The defendant waived the citation by entering a guilty plea and paid $90 in court costs and fines.
• Watercraft officers Beard and Hodgkiss were patrolling Catawba Island State Park assisting wildlife officers checking ice fishermen. Officer Beard was informed of a wreck that occurred between a snowmobile and a four-wheeler. The officer headed to the accident scene and found that neither party needed medical assistance. The operator of the four-wheeler informed the officer that the snowmobile operator ran his snowmobile between the four-wheeler and a sled being towed. The snowmobile caught the tow line attaching the four-wheeler to the sled and drug both of them into the road near the launch ramp. The four-wheeler operator was stowing gear during the accident, which prevented him from being injured. While speaking to the snowmobile operator, the officer noticed slurred and mumbled speech. The officer also noticed that the snowmobile operator swayed while standing still. The snowmobile operator was asked if he had anything to drink, and he stated three beers and a shot. The officers performed a Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test and noticed six out of six clues and a vertical nystagmus. Officers transported the snow mobile operator to a local police department to complete field sobriety tests. After completing field sobriety tests and finding enough clues, officers placed the snowmobile operator under arrest for reckless operation and disorderly conduct with persistence. The defendant paid a total of $258 in court costs and fines.
Northern – Wapakoneta Area Office
• On June 29, 2014, officers Peters and Roeger were patrolling Indian Lake. They observed a watercraft operating greater than idle speed in the Blackhawk no-wake area with a passenger riding on the transom of the boat. Upon stopping the vessel, a safety inspection was completed. The watercraft was missing a Type IV throwable device. The operator of the vessel admitted to operating at greater than idle speed. A warning was given to the operator and the passenger for the passenger riding in an area not designated for that purpose. The operator was cited for operating at greater than idle speed in an area designated as a no-wake zone. Fines and court costs totaling $150 were paid by the operator.
Northern – Akron Area Office
• This past February, Akron Watercraft officers coordinated an educational effort at the 30th Annual Allegheny Sport, Travel, and Outdoor Show in Monroeville, Pa. This year’s exhibits included numerous vendors for fishing charters, boat merchants, outfitters, lodge getaways, taxidermists, big game hunters, the trout pond, Ohio and Pennsylvania DNR representatives, and much more. The main attractions in the seminar division included a diverse group of individuals including ODNR Division of Wildlife, the Keefer Brothers, Wild World of Animals, the Pittsburgh Downriggers, and an appearance by the Pittsburgh Pirate Parrot. Amid all of the attractions and more than 1,000 individuals in attendance, Akron Watercraft officers answered numerous questions about life jacket safety, Ohio boating and registration laws, necessary equipment to operate safely and legally while recreating on Ohio’s waterways, and many other inquiries. The officers also assisted Pennsylvania DNR with distributing 62 life jackets to kids.
Northern – Ashtabula Area Office
• While on duty, officer Conrad responded to a call from the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office, which had received a call from a concerned landowner at LaDue Reservoir about an individual approaching his residence looking for assistance after his 16-foot sailboat began taking on water during a storm. The landowner advised that he gave the individual a bailer, and the sailboat operator returned to his vessel. No contact information was given to the landowner so there was no way to reach the boater. During the response, officer Conrad was advised that the individuals onboard were okay, but they beached the sailboat on the dam on LaDue Reservoir after they were contacted by a Geauga County Sheriff’s deputy. Officer Conrad met with the individuals, who were cold and wet but okay, and he said that he would attempt to tow the vessel off the rocks. The vessel owner stated that it was his first time sailing, and he didn’t know how to turn the vessel around and head upwind to the boat launch during the storm. Portage County Wildlife Officer Hennig assisted officer Conrad but was unable to tow the vessel as the entire rear half of the vessel was under the water. Officer Conrad returned to the vessel owner and gave him a contact with the Akron Watershed so he could make arrangements the following day to get into the dam facility to remove the vessel. Visit watercraft.ohiodnr.gov/coursesearch to find skill building boating classes available to the public.
Northern – Maumee Bay Area Office
• State watercraft officers Genzman and Hartman conducted voluntary vessel safety checks for participants in the James R. McAllister Memorial Tournament. Participants’ vessels were checked for required safety equipment, and upon successful completion of the inspection, received an ODNR Division of Watercraft vessel safety check decal.
Southern – Alum Creek Area Office
• While on patrol on Aug. 22, 2014, at Alum Creek Reservoir, officer Lange observed a personal watercraft being operated with expired registration. Upon making contact with the operator, officer Lange asked if the operator was the owner of the personal watercraft and if the registration was renewed. The operator said he was the owner but was not sure if the registration was renewed. Officer Lange contacted the ODNR radio room, and they confirmed that the registration had not been renewed. The operator was cited into Delaware County Municipal Court for operating a personal watercraft without current registration. The operator entered a waiver guilty plea and paid $130 in fines and court costs.
• While on patrol at Alum Creek Reservoir, officers Lange and Henak observed a vessel on plane in a designated no-wake area north of the State Route 36/37 bridge. Upon making contact with the operator, officers Lange and Henak encountered a language barrier with the operator. A translator was contacted in order to communicate with the operator. The operator stated that he knew what the no-wake area was. The operator was cited into Delaware County Municipal Court for operating at greater than idle speed in a designated no-wake area. The operator entered a waiver guilty plea and paid $130 in fines and court costs.
Southern – Cambridge Area Office
• Officer Klies was asked to contact a local boater for a Hull Identification Number inspection. He contacted the boater and met with him at his residence, where he made the HIN inspection. Once this was completed and processed, the boater was able to register his boat without making a trip to the nearest area field office, which was approximately an hour and a half away.
• While patrolling the Muskingum River near Marietta last year, officer Plumly observed darkening clouds and heard thunder. He made the decision to tie his patrol vessel to the Marietta launch ramp courtesy dock and wait the storm out. A few minutes later, a severe thunderstorm hit the Marietta area with dangerous lightning and high winds. Officer Plumly was contacted by two Marietta firemen, informing him that they had received a call from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office about several kayakers in distress just south of the Devola dam. Officer Plumly contacted the sheriff’s office and informed them that he was responding in his patrol vessel with the two Marietta firemen on board. Officer Plumly and the Marietta Fire Department made contact with 14 kayakers and assisted them. The kayakers were unable to make it to shore under their own power. Several subjects were put on the officer’s vessel and were transported. After multiple trips, all the kayakers made it to shore safely. The kayakers were very thankful for the assistance by the ODNR Division of Watercraft and the Marietta Fire Department.
Southern – East Fork Area Office
• On Aug. 16, 2014, officers Dean and Sterwerf were on patrol on the Ohio River in Clermont County when they observed a vessel underway without proper navigational lights between sunset and sunrise. Prior to making contact with the vessel, officer Dean noticed the occupants move in a manner that would indicate they were hiding something. While conducting a vessel safety inspection, officer Dean observed a marijuana cigarette at the helm. A subsequent search of the vessel revealed the occupants were in possession of Schedule II Controlled Substances. Felony charges are currently pending.
• Watercraft officers stopped a power boat on the Ohio River for having an expired registration. Officers had also observed passengers sitting on the stern of the vessel while they were underway. The officers went through a routine vessel safety inspection and found multiple violations such as not having a throwable flotation device, a fire extinguisher that was not charged, and ventilation blowers that were not working. The operator was terminated from further operation and cited for operating without having a valid registration.
Southern – Springfield Area Office
• While patrolling Acton Lake (Hueston Woods State Park), officer Brown observed a green canoe being operated with no visible registration. The vessel was stopped, and the following violations were found: no registration and insufficient life jackets on board. The operator was cited for violation of ORC 1547.531, no registration. The defendant pleaded guilty and paid $140 in fines.
• While on patrol in November at Cowan Lake State Park, watercraft officers Lamb, Brown, and Zimmerman observed a sailboat that was capsized in the middle of the lake. The officers quickly realized that there was a man in the cold water holding onto his vessel. They launched a patrol boat and rescued the victim, who had been in the water for approximately 45 minutes. He was cold and an emergency squad was called to evaluate him. After being treated, he was released. The officers then worked in windy and rough conditions to recover his capsized sailboat. After a couple of hours of effort, the sailboat was recovered, and the man was able to return home to his family with his boat in tow.
Southern – Scioto County Area Office
• Officer Swinning was patrolling Rocky Fork State Park Lake and observed two personal watercraft operating at greater than idle speed in a designated, marked no-wake zone at the western end of the lake. Due to this being a potentially hazardous area, the vessels were stopped immediately. Upon stopping the personal watercraft and some initial questioning, officer Swinning discovered that the two male operators were only 13 years of age. Officer Swinning advised the two juvenile boys that per state law the operator of a personal watercraft needs to be at least 16 years of age to operate alone, while also having completed a state required boating course. A safety inspection was conducted and revealed six violations on the first personal watercraft and five violations on the second. Officer Swinning had the two juvenile boys board his patrol vessel, and he transported them along with the two personal watercraft to the north shore marina where he met with their father. The father was advised of the reason of the stop and reviewed the safety inspections that the officer had conducted. The father was informed that he would be receiving nine warnings and two citations, one for absence of a fire extinguisher, and one for child operation/supervising adult. The father was cited in Hillsboro Municipal Court and pleaded guilty on the two charges, paying $240.