Ohio Outdoor News Cuffs & Collars – April 1, 2022

Division of Wildlife

Central Ohio – Wildlife District 1 

In February, state wildlife officer Maurice Irish, assigned to Delaware County, presented a two-hour course to Otterbein University students enrolled in the wildlife, fish, and wildlands science major. Topics covered included an overview of the Ohio Division of Wildlife, a wildlife officer’s authority and duties, as well as specific case studies. Officer Irish has presented this information to Otterbein University students since 2016.

During the 2021-22 white-tailed deer hunting season, state wildlife officer John Coffman, assigned to Fayette County, received information that a hunter had unlawfully checked a buck using a landowner permit. After further investigation, it was revealed that the hunter failed to purchase a valid Ohio hunting license and deer permit. After harvesting the buck, the individual game-checked the deer using a landowner permit for which he did not meet the requirements. The hunter was found guilty and paid more than $300 in fines and court costs. The venison and antlers were forfeited.

Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District 2

In November 2021, state wildlife officer Michele Butler, assigned to Erie County, received a call on the Turn in a Poacher (TIP) hotline regarding a fisherman who had kept additional walleyes past his limit of walleyes that morning. Officer Butler reached out to state wildlife officer Reid VanCleve, assigned to Ottawa County, and the two officers contacted the fisherman later that afternoon. The angler admitted to taking 10 walleyes over his limit while fishing from shore in Sandusky. The daily limit for walleyes in Lake Erie is six. The 10 extra walleyes were seized as evidence and the fisherman received a citation for taking too many walleyes. He was found guilty in Sandusky Municipal Court and was ordered to pay $610 in restitution and court costs. The seized walleyes were donated to a local food pantry. Anyone observing a wildlife violation can report it anonymously through the TIP hotline at 1-800-POACHER (1-800-762-2437).

A few days before Christmas in 2021, law enforcement personnel attended the Operation Santa’s Sleigh event in Sandusky. Those in attendance included state wildlife officer Brian Baker, assigned to the Lake Erie Unit, state wildlife officer Michele Butler, assigned to Erie County, state wildlife investigator Travis Abele, assigned to the Lake Erie Unit, and Lake Erie Law Enforcement Supervisor Matt Leibengood. The event pulled together law enforcement and first responders in their patrol vehicles. Just after dark, the caravan drove by local children’s hospitals and veteran’s centers while flashing their emergency lights and sirens to boost the residents’ spirits. In addition to patrol vehicles, officer Baker was towing the Lake Erie patrol boat and flashing its lights. Operation Santa’s Sleigh is a statewide effort. In addition to the event in Sandusky, law enforcement also gathered in Akron, Cleveland, and Columbus.

Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District 3

During the 2021 white-tailed deer gun hunting season, state wildlife officer Scott Cartwright, assigned to Carroll County, was patrolling Valley Run Wildlife Area. He contacted an individual who was hunting deer with a shotgun. The hunter had not obtained a valid 2021 deer hunting permit. He was charged with hunting deer without a valid deer permit. The individual was found guilty in Carroll County Municipal Court and ordered to pay $195 in fines and court costs.

In February, officer Evan Huegel, assigned to Ashland County, was patrolling Mohican State Forest when he was flagged down by a woman standing on the side of the road. She explained to officer Huegel that she went hiking on her property with her elderly father and they got separated. She was worried something happened to him. Officer Huegel advised the woman to stay with her vehicle in case he came back. Meanwhile, the officer conducted a perimeter search on the 64-acre lot. After about an hour of searching, the man was located and safely reunited with his daughter.

Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District 4

State wildlife officer Ryan Donnelly, assigned Athens County, and state wildlife officer Chris Dodge, assigned Hocking County, were patrolling the Wallace O’Dowd Wildlife Area during the white-tailed deer gun hunting season. The officers came across four people who had finished up a deer drive. While the officers were checking the hunting licenses and deer permits, the rest of the group emerged from the woods, which totaled 20 people ranging in age from 8 years old to 78 years old. This was a large group of family and friends from across the state who met on the area to hunt for the day. Two of the members of the group had failed to purchase deer permits and were issued a summons for hunting deer without first obtaining a valid either-sex deer permit. They were issued summons totaling $260 in fines and costs.

During the 2021-22 white-tailed deer hunting season, state wildlife officer Anthony Lemle, assigned to Guernsey County, received information from the Turn In A Poacher (TIP) hotline that someone in the city of Cambridge was killing deer after dark using a bait pile and a light in their backyard. The information indicated that the individual was shooting them while remaining inside his house. A search warrant was conducted at the residence in question. The individual had shot and recovered eight deer from October 2021 to February 2022, three of which were antlered. The individual used a crossbow to shoot through his kitchen window. Seventeen items were seized as evidence, including one whole deer, two compound bows, and five crossbows. The individual was charged with five counts of deer hunting violations. He pleaded guilty and was found guilty in Cambridge Municipal Court, where he received a six-year hunting license revocation and paid $2,520 in fines in court costs. In addition, he was sentenced to 60 days in jail with 60 days suspended, and was placed on probation for three years. All evidence seized was forfeited to the state except a cell phone and one compound bow. Anyone observing a wildlife violation can report it anonymously through the TIP hotline at 1-800-POACHER (1-800-762-2437).

Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District 5

During the 2019 white-tailed deer archery season, state wildlife officer Matt Hunt, assigned to Greene County, was contacted by a landowner in Bellbrook. The property owner suspected that a hunter was trespassing on his property. They found evidence of a blood trail and a hole cut in the fence. The neighboring property was owned by the City of Bellbrook and did not allow hunting on it. Officer Hunt checked the area and located a treestand, trail camera, and bait site in the middle of the city’s land. For the remainder of the season, officer Hunt checked the location as often as he could but never contacted any hunters. In 2020, the treestand, bait, and trail camera were again in the same location. Officer Hunt frequently checked the area hoping to find a trespasser, and again no hunter was found. In October 2021, officer Hunt checked and found the same set up. On the third day of checking, officer Hunt contacted a hunter in the stand and hunting without permission. The hunter was issued a citation for hunting without permission. He paid $300 in fines and court cost.

State wildlife officer Jasmine Grossnickle, assigned to Miami County, recently delivered 80 pounds of venison to help feed the wildlife being housed at the Bruckner Nature Center. This facility provides educational opportunities for the public to view Ohio’s native wildlife, and rehabilitates sick and injured animals to be returned to the wild. The venison was confiscated from individuals who had committed wildlife hunting violations and was deemed not of a quality to be donated to a food bank for human consumption.

Categories: Cuffs & Collars

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