Ohio Cuffs & Collars – August 28th, 2015

Division of Wildlife

Central Ohio – Wildlife District 1

• A few days after the Independence Day festivities at Indian Lake State Park, the park office contacted state wildlife officer Josh Shields, assigned to Union County, about a set of keys that were placed in the lost and found. On the key chain was a goose band from a hunter-harvested goose. Officer Shields sent a picture of the goose band to wildlife management staff to try and identify the hunter who harvested the goose. Officer Shields learned that the band was placed on a goose in 1995 at Indian Lake State Park, but the hunter who harvested the goose was still a mystery. Next, officer Shields contacted the U.S. Geological Survey Laboratory. The USGS records the hunter information after a banded migratory bird is harvested and reported by a hunter. The USGS was able to provide officer Shields with the hunter’s name. Officer Shields contacted the hunter to inform him that his keys were turned in at the park office at Indian Lake and he could pick them up. The hunter was very thankful, and said the replacement cost of the keys would be nearly $400.

• During July and August, state wildlife officer Tony Zerkle, assigned to Fairfield County, assisted in conducting two ATV Safety Institute instructional courses for Ohio DNR employees and other law enforcement agencies. Officer Zerkle is one of five certified ATV instructors within the ODNR Division of Wildlife who provide the training to promote the safe and proper use of ATVs for the performance of job duties. Anyone who purchases an ATV should consider attending an ATV Safety Institute training course. Most manufacturers provide the course at no cost with the purchase of an ATV.

Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District 2

• In February, state wildlife officer Tom Kochert, assigned to Williams County, was contacted about someone target shooting on the Parkersburg Wildlife Area, which does not have a designated shooting range. Officer Kochert discovered that several hundred rounds of shotgun ammunition had been fired at the area, as well as pistol and rifle ammunition. Several wildlife area signs were used as targets, and the large area sign had been shot several times. Boxes, papers, bottles, cans, and other trash items were used as targets and were lying around the area in the snow. Three days later, the Williams County Sheriff’s Office called officer Kochert and said the caller was reporting additional shooting on the area, and a deputy sheriff was responding to the area. Officer Kochert also responded. The deputy stopped a vehicle leaving the area, and further investigation revealed two subjects were shooting a rifle at an elevated target from the area’s parking lot. The deputy took their information and released the subjects. Officer Kochert arrived at the area to exchange information with the deputy. Just then another vehicle pulled into the parking lot with two different subjects inside. Further investigation revealed the subjects had a shotgun and several hundred rounds of ammunition. The ammunition matched what had been fired several days before. Officer Kochert questioned the subjects regarding any previous activity on the area. Both subjects were on the area target shooting when the original call came in. The two subjects from the original stop were with the other two shooters, as well. All four subjects were charged with target shooting on a wildlife area and litter. A fifth subject was also located and similarly charged. The total fines and costs for the subjects was more than $4,000, and each subject received probation for two years and 30 days of suspended jail time. One subject pleaded not guilty, was given a bench trial, and was found guilty. He received the same punishment as his accomplices. The cases were all adjudicated in the Bryan Municipal Court for Williams County.

• State wildlife officer Brad Buening, assigned to Van Wert County, received a tip last fall involving suspected night poaching. A landowner reported a suspicious vehicle on his property and was concerned that deer were being shot with rifles. Officer Buening responded to the call and located the vehicle, but could not find anyone. Officer Buening noticed several items in the back of the truck associated with raccoon hunting. Officer Buening decided to wait for the individuals and contact them when they returned. A short time later, two hunters appeared from the darkness with a dog and a dead raccoon. Officer Buening activated his patrol lights and drove up to the vehicle. The firearm and raccoon were seized as evidence and both hunters were issued citations for hunting without permission.

Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District 3

• In early April, state wildlife officer Scott Denamen, assigned to Geauga County, and wildlife investigator Rick Louttit contacted three men as they finished a night of bow fishing at Ladue Reservoir. They were in possession of 13 illegally taken walleyes. The walleyes were hidden within the numerous carp they had taken. All three men were charged and were found guilty in Chardon Municipal Court. Each of them was ordered to pay $217 in restitution, and their fishing privileges were suspended for one year in Ohio and the other states within the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. The court also ordered that the bows be forfeited to the ODNR Division of Wildlife and that the walleyes were to be used at the Geauga County Fair for fish preparation demonstrations.

• While patrolling on opening day of the deer-gun season last year, state wildlife officer Kyle Queer, assigned to Carroll County, and wildlife officer supervisor Peter Novotny received information that three individuals had harvested a deer on the complainant’s property without first obtaining written permission. While surveying the area, officer Novotny discovered a blood trail leading out of the woods to a house where a deer was dragged. Through the course of the investigation, officer Queer learned the identity of the suspects and located them later in the week. The man who killed the deer was charged with hunting without permission, convicted in court, and ordered to pay $220 in fines and court costs. The deer was seized during the investigation and was forfeited to the ODNR Division of Wildlife.

Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District 4

• While working sport-fish enforcement on the Ohio River, wildlife officer Roy Rucker, assigned to Gallia County, observed numerous individuals fishing at the R.C. Byrd Locks and Dam. Officer Rucker documented who was fishing and what they were catching. Officer Rucker then made contact with the anglers. Officer Rucker made contact with the first group and began to check licenses. The anglers had a few legal fish, and were all properly licensed. As Officer Rucker was speaking with this group, he looked up and noticed that one individual that had been fishing farther downstream was gone. Officer Rucker then noticed another individual in the middle of another large group of fishermen that was not there previously. When Officer Rucker reached this group, he began to check licenses and bag limits. The new arrival to this group denied fishing and said that he was just with the group. Officer Rucker informed him that he was observed fishing. The individual was cited for the violation in Gallipolis Municipal Court.

Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District 5

• State wildlife officer Gus Kiebel, assigned to Clermont County, was contacted by the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s wildlife management staff and informed that parts were being stolen from state-owned farming equipment stored at East Fork Wildlife Area. State wildlife officer Eric Lamb, assigned to Brown County, assisted officer Kiebel with conducting surveillance. Information revealed that two men disassembled the farm disc and loaded it into a van. Identifying information from the vehicle, along with help from the local police department, led to the arrest of the two men responsible. They were criminally charged in court for the offense. Both were found guilty of felony theft in Clermont County Common Pleas Court. They were ordered to pay $4,500 restitution for replacement of the disc and both men served jail time.

Division of Watercraft

Northern – Akron Area Office

• In May 2015, watercraft officers were patrolling the waters of West Branch State Park near the Rock Springs Road Bridge when a dark green vessel was observed with what appeared to be no registration numbers on the side. A stop was initiated on the water with the vessel. Upon closer inspection, officers were able to make out a thin line of the numbers and letters on the side of the vessel. The first half of the registration number, the “OH,” was missing. The operator stated that he had written the registration on the side of the vessel with a black marker, but he must have forgotten the first half of it. He was advised that the registration had to be displayed as a contrasting color to that of the vessel. A vessel safety check was conducted, and it was discovered that the operator did not have the registration paperwork, a visual distress signal, or a wearable life jacket on board. When asked about the life jacket, he stated that it was at home. The operator was then issued a citation for an insufficient amount of life jackets on board and was provided with a warning for the other violations. He was provided with a copy of his citation and was advised he was being terminated from the water until he had a life jacket on board. The operator later pleaded guilty to the charge in court and was fined $185.

Southern – Alum Creek Area Office

• While patrolling Alum Creek, watercraft officers were flagged down by a vessel south of State Route 36/37. The occupants advised the officers that there was someone on shore in the woods who had fallen off of a horse and was injured. Watercraft officers beached the patrol boat on shore and made contact with the injured horseback rider. The female rider had fallen off her horse, broken her arm, and was going into shock. Other riders were with the injured female and happened to be nurses. Officers backboarded the injured female and with the help of the other riders, carried her to the waiting patrol boat. The boat transported the injured female to the Cheshire launch ramp to a waiting ambulance. The female was transported to Riverside Methodist Hospital by Delaware County EMS.

Southern – Cambridge Area Office

• A watercraft officer observed a disabled boat while on patrol at Salt Fork Lake and offered assistance to the operator. A vessel safety check was conducted, and the boat was towed back to the dock.

Southern – East Fork Area Office

• In April, a watercraft officer had just arrived at the East Fork office to begin his shift. Fifteen minutes later, a park visitor reported that someone had rolled his kayak on the lake. The paddler swam to shore safely, but his kayak blew across the lake with the strong winds that they were experiencing that day. The officer launched a patrol boat and recovered the paddler’s kayak, paddle, and personal flotation device that had been blown to the opposite side of the lake. Unfortunately, the paddler had not registered the kayak he had been operating, and he was driving under a suspended driver’s license. The officer issued a citation for failing to have a registration for the kayak and issued a warning for driving under suspension. The paddler was able to call family members to come get him and his vehicle.

Southern – Scioto County Area Office

• In July, while on patrol at Rocky Fork State Park Lake, a watercraft officer was assisting a stranded boater in the designated no-wake boat swim zone. While the officer had the vessel under tow, he observed a personal watercraft operated by a male with one female passenger operating at a speed that created a wake. Because the officer was assisting the stranded boater and was not able to make the stop at the time of the violation, the officer recorded the registration numbers to identify the operator. The stranded boater was taken to his dock slip at the east shore marina. As the officer continued his patrol, he located the personal watercraft and the operator at the North Shore Marina access. The vessel was stopped, and contact was made with the operator and passenger. A safety inspection was conducted that revealed three violations. The operator did not meet state requirements regarding operation of a vessel 10 horsepower or greater without completing a state boating course, absence of a valid registration, and operation at greater than idle speed in a designated no-wake zone. 

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