Ohio Outdoor News Cuffs & Collars – October 21st, 2016

Division of Wildlife

Central Ohio – Wildlife District 1

• In September, state wildlife officer Adam Smith, assigned to Logan County, was patrolling Indian Lake by boat. Officer Smith observed five people fishing along the lakeshore on private property. Officer Smith contacted the group and discovered that three of the five anglers did not have a fishing license. The three anglers were issued summonses for the violations and together they paid $600 in fines and court costs in the Bellefontaine Municipal Court.

Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District 2

• On the opening day of dove season, state wildlife officer Nathan West, assigned to Wyandot County, received a phone call regarding two individuals trespassing in the Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area refuge. After arriving on scene, state wildlife officers Ryan Kennedy and West spoke to two men who had just exited the refuge property. The officers informed the men that they were walking out of a refuge. The individuals walked to a pond, trespassed beyond the wildlife area boundaries, and walked past no trespassing signs. Both individuals were charged with trespassing in a protected refuge. Both pleaded guilty and each paid $125 in court costs and a $30 fine.

• State wildlife officer Brad Buening, assigned to Van Wert County, received an anonymous tip about an individual who had caught turtles several weeks before the season opened. Officer Buening drove to the suspect’s house and spoke with him about the complaint. The individual denied all allegations of catching turtles early. The suspect told officer Buening he was aware turtle season did not open until July 1. Officer Buening noticed several turtle traps in the back of the man’s truck. After officer Buening asked about the traps, the man brought the officer to a large tank on the property. In the tank were four snapping turtles. After collecting the turtles for evidence, officer Buening discovered several deer antlers next to the tank that looked suspicious. The antlers were also seized and later verified to be illegally acquired. The individual was summoned into the Putnam County Municipal Court and was subsequently found guilty on four wildlife charges. The individual lost his hunting privileges for one year, was ordered to pay $1,000 in fines, $316 in court costs, and has to pay restitution on one set of deer antlers valued at $1,887.65.

Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District 3

• State wildlife officer Nick Turner, assigned to Harrison County, received a call from the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office requesting his assistance in locating several ATVs along a roadway. Officer Turner responded and patrolled the area. Shortly thereafter, one of the Harrison County deputies attempted to stop a vehicle, but it fled. The vehicle traveled along several back roads and stopped at the end of a lane at Jockey Hollow Wildlife Area. Officer Turner was familiar with the wildlife area and knew that the suspect would have to travel past them in order to return to the roadway. Officer Turner and the deputy walked down the lane and found the truck abandoned. The following day, the owner of the vehicle agreed to meet officer Turner. The results of the investigation revealed that the suspect fled from the authorities, abandoned his truck on the wildlife area, and then contacted the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office to report that his truck was stolen. The man was charged and convicted of several violations, including driving under suspension, violating the curfew on the wildlife area, fleeing and eluding, and filing a false police report. He paid fines and court costs totaling $1,700. His truck was towed and impounded for 30 days. The man also served three days in jail and his driving privileges were suspended for another year.

• State wildlife officer Eric Moore, assigned to Medina County, received a call from an individual requesting a deer carcass receipt. During the conversation he could hear people in the background discussing illegal drugs. Officer Moore and state wildlife officer Aaron Brown, assigned to Wayne County, arrived at the residence and noticed a set of untagged deer antlers on the porch. Officer Moore spoke to the caller and asked if the receipt was for the antlers. The man said the antlers were from a deer his friend had harvested and given to him. Officer Moore then asked about the illegal drugs in the house. Further investigation revealed the man had a jar full of marijuana. The marijuana was seized and turned over to the Medina County Drug Task Force. The antlers were also seized as evidence. Officers Moore and Brown then traveled to the residence of the man who had reportedly shot the buck. They arrived at the residence and spoke with the property owner, who showed them another deer that his girlfriend had killed. The man claimed that both deer were shot on his property, but the officers had information that the deer were shot on an adjacent property where they did not have permission to hunt. Further investigation revealed that the deer were both shot on his property but retrieved from the adjacent property without permission. The hunter was issued a summons for hunting without permission and the original caller was charged with possessing untagged deer parts. Both deer were seized and eventually forfeited to the DNR Division of Wildlife. The two men who were charged were convicted in court and ordered to pay $587 in fines and court costs.

Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District 4

• In September, a caller provided information to the Turn-In-A-Poacher (TIP) hotline regarding possible ginseng violations in Muskingum County. The caller believed that several individuals may have been dropped off at Blue Rock State Forest. State wildlife officers Roby Williams and Bryan Postlethwait responded to the area and conducted surveillance. A female driver soon returned to the area. The officers were able to contact the driver and four male suspects who were walking out of the woods and getting into the vehicle. Further investigation revealed the suspects were digging ginseng on Blue Rock State Forest. The officers discovered 254 ginseng roots, which were seized. All five suspects appeared in the Muskingum County Court. All suspects were found guilty of digging ginseng on state property. The suspects paid a combined $2,850 in fines and court costs, were ordered to a combined 120 hours of community service, and served a combined 25 days in jail. All are on probation for one year and are prohibited from digging ginseng for two years.

• State wildlife officer Allen Patton received a call in September about a vehicle parked on private property in Athens County without permission. The landowner believed that the person driving the vehicle was digging ginseng on the property. The vehicle was gone when officer Patton arrived, but the landowner provided a license plate number. Officer Patton and wildlife officer supervisor Dan Perko went to the individual’s residence. They made contact with the suspect, who confirmed he had been digging ginseng in a location where he did not have permission. He handed over six roots. The officers searched the vehicle and found a cardboard box full of green roots and a brown bag with dry ginseng. He was issued two summonses for digging without permission, and the ginseng was forfeited.

Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District 5

• In April, state wildlife officer Trent Weaver, assigned to Montgomery County, received a message about a groundhog that had been in a trap for more than 24 hours. Officer Weaver pulled up to the complaint address and could clearly see a trap with a groundhog in it. The trap had no markings on it to identify its user, as required by law. Officer Weaver encountered a man in the driveway who identified the trap’s owner. Officer Weaver contacted the suspect and further investigation revealed the man had been using the trap. He also said that he hadn’t looked at the trap since the morning before. The man told officer Weaver how he had previously trapped another groundhog and released it onto the park property a few miles away. Officer Weaver explained the seriousness of the violations of trapping animals and holding them for extended amounts of time. He also explained that an animal abruptly relocated to a new area without shelter and established territories is typically killed by the local animals. Officer Weaver educated the trap owner about the laws he had violated and presented the perspective that if the trap owner lived near the park, he likely wouldn’t want nuisance animals continually dumped onto his property. Taking into consideration the age of the trap owner and his willingness to listen to the laws and comply with them in the future, officer Weaver chose to verbally warn him for the violation.

Division of Watercraft

Northeast District 

• While on patrol at Lake Milton State Park, an officer observed a vessel being operated with no all-around white light on the stern. The officer stopped the vessel and performed a vessel safety check and discovered the following violations: missing a child-sized life jacket, all around white light not functioning, and the operator had an open container of an alcoholic beverage in a cup. When questioned about the alcoholic beverage, the operator admitted that the beer in the cup was his even though he initially stated that he did not have any alcohol on the vessel. The operator was issued a citation for publicly consuming an alcoholic beverage on state park waters and provided with warnings for the other violations. The operator later paid his $90 fine and court costs.

• While patrolling the waters of Lake Milton State Park, officers observed a pontoon boat without navigation lights displayed while drifting in the water. The officers stopped the boat and the operator stated that the batteries had died. The operator then admitted to turning off the lights. A vessel safety check was completed with the following violations observed: no fire extinguisher, no anchor, no visual distress signal, no navigation lights displayed between legal sunset and sunrise, and there were open alcoholic beverages in plain sight. During the stop, officers also noticed two beer cans floating in the water near the pontoon. They retrieved the cans and asked if they belonged to the operator and occupants. The occupants denied ownership and the operator just shrugged his shoulders. Officers then matched the lot number of the floating cans to the ones already inside the vessel. The operator then took responsibility for the floating cans. The operator was issued citations for navigation lights required after sunset and before sunrise and also for litter. The occupants of the pontoon were towed back to the dock as they stated the vessel was disabled. The operator later pleaded no contest in court and was found guilty, incurring a $191 fine for both violations.

• While on patrol, officers were approached by a boater who had a question about navigation in a channel. The question was who had the right-of-way when in a channel when commercial traffic and recreational traffic are going up and down the river? Upon further questioning, it was discovered that the subject had a brand new boat with just seven hours of operation. The subject had launched at the Huron River boat ramp and was heading toward Lake Erie. While operating downstream, the subject passed the stern of a working tugboat. The subject’s vessel was perpendicular to the tug’s stern. Just as the subject’s vessel passed the stern of the tugboat, the tug revved its engine to push a barge against the bulkhead. The tugboat created a strong current and turbulence that pushed the subject’s vessel into the opposite bulkhead. The subject’s vessel incurred $10,000 worth of fiberglass damage, which the subject’s insurance will cover.

• Officers responded to a call of a vessel on the rocks and taking on water. Once the officers arrived on scene, they were able to pull the vessel and the five passengers off the rocks. Since it had been reported that the vessel was taking on water, the officers asked the U.S. Coast Guard to take the boat’s occupants onboard their vessel, while the officers had the vessel in a bow tow. Once the U.S. Coast Guard took all the vessel occupants aboard their vessel, a U.S. Coast Guardsman boarded the vessel reported to be taking on water to look for the water and any leaks. It was determined that the vessel had taken on some water, but it currently was not taking any more water on. The officers took the boat into a stern tow back to the docks with the U.S. Coast Guard boat following. Once at the docks, a boarding was conducted by an officer and the U.S. Coast Guard. The owner/operators of the vessel were missing several safety items: not enough life jackets for everyone on board, the backfire flame arrestor was in pieces, and a few other violations. The officer took his time and educated the owner/operators about safety equipment and taking a safe boating class. The U.S. Coast Guard issued a citation and the natural resources officer issued a citation, for different violations.

• An officer responded to a call of a boater suffering a dog bite at Portage Lakes State Park. A Good Samaritan assisted another boater who was having difficulty docking the rental pontoon boat at the courtesy docks. The victim accessed the courtesy dock from his vessel and ordered the other vessel occupants to throw a rope to guide them into the dock. Once the vessel got close to the dock, a gentleman exited the vessel to help secure the boat and their dog also jumped off and immediately started biting the victim. Local emergency medical services treated the victim’s wounds on site and advised him to seek additional medical attention. The officer gathered witness statements, notified the county health department, the county dog warden, and ordered the dog owner to provide vaccination records. The dog owner was charged with a leash violation and failure to control the animal, the dog warden took custody of the dog as a result of this incident and a separate incident involving the dog and another dog owned by the same person. The case is pending in Barberton Municipal Court.

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