Ohio Cuffs & Collars – October 23rd, 2015

Division of Wildlife

Central Ohio – Wildlife District 1

• During the summer, state wildlife officer Michael Budd, assigned to Knox County, observed an individual driving off-road on Kokosing Wildlife Area. Officer Budd was checking for fishing licenses and encountered the individual stuck in the mud off the wildlife area road. The individual traveled more than 1,000 yards through the area below the spillway before getting stuck in a deeper spot. The grass was extensively damaged from the illegal act. It is against the law to drive off an established roadway on a wildlife area. It was the suspect’s second offense, as the suspect had been cited by officer Budd three weeks prior and charged for driving off-road. This time the individual was charged for criminal damaging and ordered to pay a $400 fine, with 90 days of jail suspended on the condition of two years of probation.

Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District 2

• State wildlife officer Josh Zientek, assigned to Fulton County, was conducting surveillance from a remote location during the annual walleye run on the Sandusky River in Fremont. He observed a group of anglers using a snagging technique to catch walleye. Officer Zientek then saw one of the individuals snag and keep a walleye. Once the individual placed the walleye on his stringer, he began looking around to see if anyone was watching. The individual grabbed the walleye and headed to his vehicle. Officer Zientek made contact with the individual. The individual was found guilty of keeping a snagged walleye, and paid his fine in Fremont Municipal Court.

• In July, an individual called the 1-800-POACHER (1-800-762-2437) hotline to report information about a suspect shooting birds near a pond. The violation occurred in Allen County and the closest wildlife officer on duty was state wildlife officer Eric VonAlmen, assigned to Hancock County. Officer VonAlmen was dispatched to the suspect’s residence. Upon arrival, officer VonAlmen contacted the suspect, who was sitting on his back deck. The suspect claimed that he had been target shooting that evening. Officer VonAlmen checked the pond and discovered three dead herons. Further investigation revealed the suspect had shot all three birds that evening. Two summonses were issued into Lima Municipal Court for taking migratory non-game birds, which is a misdemeanor of the first degree. The suspect pleaded guilty to both charges and paid $500 in fines and costs.

Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District 3

• Throughout the summer, District Three state wildlife officers worked several projects at the Beach City Wildlife Area in Tuscarawas County to address litter and drug use. During the course of the projects, numerous subjects were observed using the wildlife area. More than 50 individuals were contacted and 26 subjects were issued summonses for various offenses, including litter, possession of drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia, and criminal damaging for painting graffiti.

• In September, state wildlife officer Kyle Queer, assigned to Carroll County, was patrolling Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District property near Leesville Lake when he observed a vehicle parked along the road and several individuals walking along the tree line. After about 20 minutes, two adults and two children returned to their vehicle. One of the adults was carrying a backpack and placed it in the trunk of the car. Officer Queer approached the group. One of the adults stated that she had found a small patch of ginseng, removed several leaves, and placed them in the backpack to show her friends. As she was retrieving the backpack, officer Queer noticed a grocery bag tucked inside the trunk. Inside the bag were 13 ginseng roots, seven ginseng berries, and several ginseng stems and leaves. Officer Queer advised her that it is illegal to harvest ginseng on public property. In addition, he informed her that only plants with a minimum of three prongs on the stem can be harvested, and that the berries from each of the plants must be immediately replanted. She was issued three summonses and ordered to appear in court. The case is currently pending.

Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District 4

• In early July, state wildlife officers Chris Dodge and Allen Patton and wildlife investigator Kirk Kiefer were working ginseng enforcement in Hocking County. After locating suspected diggers on Wayne National Forest property, the officers made contact with the individuals as they were leaving the woods with bags and digging tools in hand. It was found that they were in possession of various roots, including ginseng and yellow root. Further investigation revealed that more ginseng root was possessed at their residence, despite the fact that ginseng season was closed. In total, the officers seized 360 ginseng roots, 24 pounds of yellow root, and various other roots that had been illegally harvested on Wayne National Forest. Several summonses were issued, and the cases are still pending in Hocking County Municipal Court.

Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District 5

• State wildlife officer Jasmine Grossnickle, assigned to Miami County, was working at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area in northern Ohio during the Biggest Week in Birding event. Officer Grossnickle walked through the area and smelled marijuana, and then observed a man with a marijuana cigarette in his hand. Officer Grossnickle stopped the man and asked if he was smoking marijuana. The man said that he had been smoking medical marijuana. Ohio does not allow medical marijuana, but officer Grossnickle asked the man for his medical card and identification. The man was unable to produce documentation. The man further explained that he had found the marijuana on the trail. A Lucas County sheriff’s deputy assisted officer Grossnickle to retrieve additional marijuana that the man had hidden. The marijuana was confiscated, and the man was banned from entering onto Magee Marsh Wildlife Area for the remainder of the year.

Division of Watercraft

Northeast – Ashtabula Area Office

• In September, two personal watercraft were in an accident off the Ashtabula breakwall. Operator A was going at full speed on his personal watercraft when he crashed into the back of Operator B’s personal watercraft, which was traveling about 15-20 mph. According to witnesses, the two operators flew into the air along with the personal watercraft upon impact. Operator A had possible broken ribs but refused to go to the hospital. Operator B did go to the hospital and had multiple contusions and a sprain. Witnesses told the investigating officer that Operator A was looking over his shoulder and not in front of him when the impact occurred. Operator B remembers only being hit and flying into the air. Operator B’s personal watercraft had severe fiberglass damage where it was impacted by Operator A, and the steering column was also damaged. Operator A was charged with reckless operation, failure to control, and improper lookout.

Central – Alum Creek Area Office

• While on patrol on Alum Creek Reservoir, a watercraft officer found several rope swings in multiple coves. As it is illegal to swim in nondesignated areas of a state park, the officer cut down and removed all rope swings and disposed of them. Swimming in a nondesignated area is a minor misdemeanor and comes with a $130 fine. Along with the swimming violation, subjects can be charged with other crimes for putting the rope swings in place, enticing illegal behavior.

Southwest – East Fork Area Office

• Not all of the duties for watercraft officers involve patrolling and issuing citations. Watercraft officers are also charged with conducting educational opportunities for Ohioans through on-the-water activities. One such activity involves kayaking instruction and tours on Ohio’s waterways. Earlier this year, watercraft officers conducted the first of 12 kayak classes aimed at paddling Ohio’s waterways while birding. For the first kayak class, 18 people met at the campground beach at East Fork State Park and paddled up the east fork of the Little Miami River. Forty different species of birds were observed. These included bald eagles, red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks, yellow-throated warblers, blue-winged teal, and many others. They also observed five beavers and a muskrat. The trip lasted about four hours.

Southeast – Scioto County Area Office

• In August, a watercraft officer was patrolling Rocky Fork State Park in a marked patrol vessel. As the officer was entering the north shore marina no-wake zone, he observed a vessel towing an inflatable device passing by the north shore marina gas dock facility. He also observed two adult passengers and one child on the inflatable device being towed. The two adult passengers were not wearing life jackets designed for such activity, and the vessel was stopped. The officer identified himself and advised the operator of the vessel of the violations that occurred. A safety inspection was conducted and revealed three total violations. The operator was issued warnings for two of the violations and issued a citation for Ohio Revised Code Section 1547.18, specifications regarding towing person/persons on an inflatable device while not having them wear proper flotation devices for such activity. The defendant was issued a court date in Hillsboro Municipal Court in Highland County. The defendant pleaded guilty and paid fines and court costs in the amount of $120.

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