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Ohio Cuffs & Collars – August 14th, 2015

Division of Wildlife

Central Ohio – Wildlife District 1

• State wildlife officer Josh Elster, assigned to Pickaway County, was dispatched to find an injured bald eagle in Franklin County. When officer Elster arrived at the location, witnesses informed him the eagle could not fly; it made its way down a lane and hopped up into a tree. The bird hopped to the ground before officer Elster arrived. Once on the ground, the eagle flew across a pond and landed out of sight. Officer Elster was able to slowly work his way to the eagle’s location and use a net to capture the bird without further issues. Officer Elster transported the eagle to a licensed rehabilitator qualified to care for the eagle. A veterinarian examined the eagle and determined it sprained its wing, and would be released back to the wild after a short recovery. The eagle made a full recovery and was ready to be released in the area where it was picked up. Before releasing the eagle, officer Elster was informed there was a nesting pair of eagles in the area, and it was believed the eagle he picked up was one of them. When released, the eagle took flight on its own and returned back to the wild.

• In May, state park officer Jeremy Berger and state wildlife officer Adam Smith, assigned to Logan County, were on patrol on Indian Lake. The officers issued three summonses for fishing without licenses and conducted two vessel safety inspections. During one contact, the officers were in the process of issuing summonses to two people aboard a boat who were observed fishing for catfish. The anglers were using shrimp as bait. During the contact, a small dog aboard the boat found a piece of shrimp attached to a hook lying on the floor of the boat. The hook became impaled in the dog’s mouth when it tried to eat the shrimp. Officer Berger grabbed the dog and safely removed the hook. The dog’s owner was grateful to officer Berger and expressed her appreciation for his quick actions.

Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District 2

• In May, state wildlife officer Matthew Leibengood, assigned to Sandusky County, conducted a multi-officer project during the annual white bass run on the Sandusky River. Wildlife officers were positioned to watch for litter violations on the Darr-Root Fishing Access. In one of the cases, a female angler was catching a large number of freshwater drums. Each time she caught a fish, she slammed it on rocks, killing the fish. When it appeared that she was leaving, state wildlife officer Anthony Lemle drove to the other side of the river to catch up with her while officer Leibengood continued to observe her activity. When the woman left the bank, she left behind the dead fish and her bait containers. Officer Leibengood radioed his observations to officer Lemle, who issued summonses to the woman for disposing of dead fish along the shore.

• State wildlife officer Austin Dickinson, assigned to Seneca County, was patrolling a reservoir in April when he encountered multiple cigarette packs and handwritten letters sealed in plastic baggies, all piled in a weedy area next to a parking area. Over the course of the next several months, multiple letters and cigarette packs were found in the same location, and all seized as evidence. On one occasion, an identification badge was recovered close to area of the letters, and officer Dickinson was able to locate the suspect writing the letters. Further investigation revealed the suspect left the letters and cigarette packs at the location for a second person to find. The total litter content left at the site included 37 cigarette packs, 17 letters in plastic baggies, two plastic bags, and one identification badge. The suspect was charged and found guilty of littering.

Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District 3

• State wildlife officer Jesse Janosik, assigned to Columbiana County, was inspecting a deer processor following the 2014 antlerless muzzleloader season. He noticed a large white-tailed deer that appeared to be a buck with its head removed. The tag attached to the animal indicated that it had been killed during the antlerless-only weekend. Officer Janosik, with the assistance of state wildlife officer Tom Frank, assigned to Mahoning County, conducted an investigation and determined that an individual had killed an antlered deer during the antlerless muzzleloader season. He was charged and convicted in Columbiana County Municipal Court and ordered to pay more than $650 in fines, court costs, and restitution.

• In fall of 2014, state wildlife officer Craig Porter, assigned to Jefferson County, was traveling along a township road adjacent to state property when he noticed a vehicle parked in an unusual area. After pulling off the road, officer Porter ran the license plate and recognized the individual’s name as someone known to illegally harvest ginseng. Officer Porter contacted an individual carrying a backpack shortly thereafter and discovered that the man was in possession of a pair of gloves, a screwdriver, ginseng berries, and 65 green ginseng roots. Further investigation revealed that he had also harvested ginseng on private property without permission. The man was ordered to appear in two different courts and charged with four different ginseng violations, including harvesting ginseng on state property, failure to immediately replant the ginseng seeds where ginseng was harvested, failure to keep accurate records, and harvesting ginseng on private property without permission. He was convicted in both courts and fined $400 plus court costs. All of the ginseng roots and their parts were forfeited to the ODNR Division of Wildlife.

Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District 4

• Prior to the opening of the 2014 dove hunting season, state wildlife officer Jeff Berry received information that a field in Muskingum County that was going to be hunted on opening day potentially had exposed wheat on the ground. Officer Berry and wildlife investigator Randy Smith entered the field three days before the season started and noticed two areas recently worked that were mostly bare soil. Wheat and other small plants, all less than five inches high, were growing in the fields, but the officers also found whole kernels of wheat, whole kernels of corn, and whole sunflower seeds laying on top of the ground. On Sept. 1, the officers observed two hunters, and saw one of them shoot and kill a crow and shoot at a second crow. The officers made contact with the two hunters and asked to inspect their licenses, firearms, and bag limit. Both hunters had harvested 15 doves, were properly licensed, and had legal firearms. The property owner stated that he prepared and planted the food plots. He said that he planted turnips, lettuce, and wheat in both fields, but the geese and other wild animals ate the young plants, so he decided to replant. He then spread turnip and wheat seeds on the field, but did not use a drag or any other equipment to cover the seed with soil. The property owner was charged with placing bait for the purpose of taking migratory birds, and taking crows out of season. He was convicted and paid a fine of $1,950. The second hunter was charged in federal court for taking migratory birds over a baited area. He was convicted and paid a fine of $775.

• In June, state wildlife officer Ted Witham, assigned to Jackson County, was on patrol at Jackson Lake State Park. Officer Witham was in the process of checking anglers for fishing licenses when he saw an ATV doing a wheelie down a state route inside the park. Officer Witham then noticed that the ATV had apparently stalled on the side of the road. Officer Witham pulled in behind the stalled ATV and activated his emergency lights. As Officer Witham started to exit the vehicle, the rider started the ATV and fled the scene at a high rate of speed. Officer Witham was unable to pursue the operator because of the number of people enjoying the park that evening, but he was able to get the name and address of the individual from several concerned people who witnessed the crime. Officer Witham went to the suspect’s house and spoke with his sister regarding the incident. Officer Witham gave the suspect’s sister his business card with instructions to tell her brother to call him immediately. The following morning, officer Witham got a phone call from the suspect, who agreed to meet with the officer that day. Further investigation revealed the suspect fled and was riding an ATV in a nondesignated area. Officer Witham issued two citations to the suspect, one for riding the ATV in a nondesignated area of the park, and one for deterring a wildlife officer. The suspect appeared in court and was found guilty of the charges. He was sentenced to $453 in fines, 120 hours of community service, five years of probation, and received 60 days of suspended jail time.

Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District 5

• State wildlife officers Ryan Garrison, assigned to Mercer County, and Byron Rice, assigned to Clark County, conducted an investigation in Clark County involving a deer hunter who reported harvesting two bucks during the 2013-2014 hunting season. When the officers questioned the hunter about harvesting two bucks, he told them that he and his son had each shot a buck, and that he checked his son’s buck in under his name by mistake. When the officers asked him if he had shot any other deer, he stated that his family harvested another deer and gave it to a friend to tag. Upon further investigation, the hunter gave the same friend another deer to tag during a previous year as well. The man was charged with possession of two deer without a valid deer tag, and was cited into Clark County Municipal Court. He was found guilty and ordered to pay $341.

Division of Watercraft

Northern – Akron Area Office

• In May, watercraft officers were patrolling the waters of Berlin Reservoir, Portage County, when they observed an individual sitting on a fully extended pedestal seat while the vessel was in motion. After stopping the vessel, the operator stated that he was not aware that it was illegal to travel across the water in that manner. The watercraft officer explained the warning on the side of the seat to him that advises against this action and how this action violates the “sitting, standing, walking on moving vessels restricted” law. A vessel safety check was then conducted, and it was discovered that the operator did not have a Type IV throwable flotation device, and he only had a child life jacket for himself and no adult life jacket. The operator was then issued a citation for operating a vessel with an insufficient amount of personal flotation devices and provided with a written warning for the other violations. He was then given a copy of his citation and advised he was being terminated from the water. The operator later pleaded guilty to the charge with the court and was fined and paid $185.

Northern – Ashtabula Area Office 

• In June, a watercraft officer responded to a report of a pontoon boat that was currently adrift at Pymatuning Lake. The initial caller who reported the incident had retrieved the vessel and secured it near his property on the Ohio side of the lake. The watercraft officer was able to trace back the information from the vessel and contacted the owner, who came out to where the vessel was currently located. The owner of the vessel drove it back to its original mooring on the opposite side of Pymatuning Lake. He said that it didn’t appear to obtain any damage during the incident, and that he thought the reason that it became detached was due to the rise in water level, as the boat was docked on a lift system.

Northern – Cleveland Area Office

• On routine patrol in July, watercraft officers from the Cleveland Field Office witnessed a personal watercraft being towed in by a good Samaritan to the Wildwood boat launch in Euclid. Upon further inspection, the officers noticed that the personal watercraft being towed was displaying a current Ohio registration tag while also displaying Virginia registration numbers. The officers initiated contact with the operator, who had one other passenger aboard. During the standard vessel safety inspection, it was found that the operator had not completed the legally required National Association of State Boating Law Administrators’ approved boater’s education course, had improper numbering, and did not have a fire extinguisher aboard. The officer initiating the stop decided that he would leave the personal watercraft operator with a stipulation rather than a citation on the spot. Since the operator is legally required to complete a boater’s education course, a stipulation was placed on him that, if he could prove that he was able to pass the course, he could bypass being issued a citation. The stipulation was met within the following week, and the operator avoided his citation, while also receiving an education in boating safety.

Northern – Wapakoneta Area Office

• In June, a watercraft officer was on patrol aboard a state patrol vessel at Caesar Creek Lake, located in Warren County. He performed a vessel stop on a gentleman who was operating a vessel for a numbering violation. His vessel was camouflage in color, and he had black lettering, which did not contrast in color. The watercraft officer then performed a vessel safety check where it was also found that the gentleman’s vessel was missing a fire extinguisher, distress flag, and registration card. He was also operating a 25-horsepower motor and had not taken an approved boater’s education course for individuals born on or after Jan. 1, 1982, which is required for operating a vessel with a horsepower of 10 or greater. The operator received a citation for not having completed a boater’s education course, a violation of section 1547.05 of the Ohio Revised Code, but was given warnings on the other violations and escorted off the lake.

Southern – Alum Creek Area Office

• In May on Alum Creek Reservoir, a watercraft officer observed a vessel underway while people were illegally bow riding on it. The watercraft officer made contact with the vessel and observed a female operating. Once the watercraft officer came closer to the vessel, the female operator had switched positions with a male on board. The male admitted that there was somebody else operating before him. The first operator was a 19-year-old female who had not taken a boater’s education course. The male also admitted he was the owner of the vessel. The officer performed a vessel safety check for required equipment and found the following violations: no registration paperwork on board, no throwable floatation device, no distress flag, and no sound producing device. The watercraft officer informed the suspect of the law, which requires certain individuals to have a boater’s education certificate before they can operate a boat. He then issued the suspect a citation under section 1547.05 of the Ohio Revised Code for unlawfully allowing the operation of a vessel powered by more than 10 horsepower by an individual who has not successfully completed an approved boater’s education course.

Southern – East Fork Area Office

• In April at East Fork State Park, a watercraft officer observed a vessel operating without displaying a valid registration decal. The vessel was stopped, and a vessel safety inspection was completed. The gentleman did not have valid registration paperwork or a valid registration decal, and no throwable flotation device was on board the vessel. The gentleman was issued a citation for unlawfully operating a vessel without having a valid registration. After he signed the citation, the gentleman became very belligerent and used a lot of profanity. The gentleman paid his citation and was charged $120 in court costs and fines.

Southern – Scioto County Area Office

• In July, a watercraft officer was on patrol with the Lawrence County wildlife officer. While on Storm Creek in Ironton, the officers checked several people for a valid fishing license. Two individuals were cited for fishing without a license and while conducting the stop, it was revealed that one of the individuals had a warrant for his arrest out of Chesapeake. The Ironton Police Department assisted by transporting the individual with a warrant to jail. One of the suspects paid $155 in fines and court costs.

Southern – Springfield Area Office

• While on patrol on Cowan Lake, a watercraft officer observed a vessel being operated with an over-horsepowered boat. The watercraft officer launched his vessel and made contact with the operator. A check of all equipment was completed, and a warning given for not having registration paperwork on the vessel. The owner was then cited for operating a vessel with an over-10-horsepower motor.

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