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Wildlife officers catch people littering, poaching

• Aug 9, 2017 at 5:00 PM

Here are recent field reports from ODNR Division of Wildlife Officers:

Central Ohio – Wildlife District One

During the 2016 youth deer gun season, Natural Resource Officer Kevin Peters was working with State Wildlife Officer Adam Smith, assigned to Logan County. The officers had just finished checking some deer hunters when Officer Smith received a phone call from a concerned sportsperson. The caller informed Officer Smith that there were hunters shooting ducks on Indian Lake during the closed waterfowl season. Later, the officers contacted a pair of duck hunters who were actively hunting from their pontoon boat on Indian Lake. Once onboard the pontoon boat, the officers discovered eight ducks in possession of the two hunters. Each hunter was later cited for hunting waterfowl during the closed season and paid $250 in fines and court costs. The ducks they had killed were seized as evidence and forfeited to the State of Ohio.

While on patrol, State Wildlife Officer Josh Elster, assigned to Pickaway County, observed a group of subjects fishing at Deer Creek Reservoir. As Officer Elster observed the group from a short distance, one of the subjects lifted a fish basket out of the water and began to move fish from the basket into a bucket. Officer Elster could see the fish and believed them to be crappies under the legal size limit of nine inches for that body of water. Officer Elster contacted the group as they were leaving, and asked if they had caught any fish. One subject stated he had caught some undersized crappies and stated that the group kept the fish because they believed the fish were going to die anyway. Officer Elster informed the subject they should have released the fish immediately after catching them and not have held them in the fish basket keeping them in their possession. An inspection of the subject’s bucket revealed approximately fifteen crappies and some bluegill. Officer Elster measured the crappies finding eight that were less than the legal size limit. The undersized crappies were collected as evidence and the subject was given a summons for the short fish. The results of the case are still pending.

Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District Two

During the 2016 deer season, State Wildlife Officer Anthony Lemle, assigned to Williams County, received a Turn In a Poacher (TIP) call about an individual hunting without a license or deer permit and checking in deer using false information. Further investigation revealed that the subject had killed a buck without a hunting license or deer permit and checked it in as a tenant, for which he did not meet the requirements. The subject was cited for hunting without a license and hunting without a deer permit in Bryan Municipal Court. He pleaded guilty and paid $250 in fines and court costs.

In April 2017, State Wildlife Officer Brad Buening, assigned to Van Wert County, was working at a Lake Erie boat ramp, when a large vessel with two people on board approached the ramp. Officer Buening was still in his vehicle when the vessel approached the ramp, and he watched as the fishermen on board hastily trailered the boat without strapping it down, pulled out and drove a short way before stopping. Officer Buening checked on his computer to see if the vehicle’s driver had a fishing license, but the search showed none on file. After 10 minutes of watching the individuals, Officer Buening checked again to see if the driver had a license. A fishing license popped up as having just been purchased moments before. Officer Buening approached the individuals to inspect their limits of walleye, and issued the driver a summons to Ottawa County Municipal Court for fishing without a license.

Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District Three

State Wildlife Officer Aaron Brown, assigned to Wayne County, was working late one summer evening when he observed a man fishing from the bank of a local fishing area. He also noticed that the individual was smoking from a pipe consistent with marijuana use. As the individual sat down in his seat, Officer Brown approached the man and identified himself. The man was issued a summons for possession of marijuana paraphernalia and ordered to appear in court. He was found guilty and paid $163 in fines and court costs.

While on patrol the day before the spring turkey season, State Wildlife Officer Nick Turner, assigned to Harrison County, and State Wildlife Officer Kyle Queer, assigned to Carroll County, were patrolling an area where they had received a complaint about a potential baited site. As the officers pulled into the suspect’s drive they noticed two men near an animal feeder picking up turkey decoys. The officers approached the men and questioned them about the baited area. After further investigation, the officers discovered that one of the men had killed two turkeys with a rifle during the closed season over a bait pile while using an electronic call. In addition, one of the turkeys was a hen with no visible beard. Officer Turner explained the turkey regulations to the man and issued him several summonses. The man appeared in the Harrison County Court, was convicted, and ordered to pay $1,800 in fines, restitution, and court costs. In addition, his hunting privileges were suspended for one year. The rifle and two turkeys were forfeited to the ODNR Division of Wildlife.

Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District Four

State Wildlife Investigators Travis Abele and Heath Horn had been conducting an ongoing investigation to identify individuals who had been illegally dumping garbage, tires, and other refuse in western Pike County, including on Pike State Forest. Photos of a vehicle obtained by the investigators captured an instance of dumping. Investigator Abele contacted and interviewed the owner of the truck involved in the violation. The man initially lied and accused another person of the crime. A follow up interview was conducted and the man eventually confessed to dumping ten bags of garbage. Investigator Abele and State Wildlife Officer Matt VanCleve arrested the man and transported him to the Pike County Sheriff’s Office where he remained in jail until his arraignment date. The man was convicted of littering and deterring a state wildlife officer. He was ordered to pay $580 in fines and court costs and serve 500 hours of community service including cleaning up the trash, serve three years of probation, serve three days in jail, and enter a drug and alcoholic assessment program.

State Wildlife Officer Matt VanCleve, assigned to Pike County, was recently patrolling the banks of the Scioto River for fishing activity. Using a night vision scope, Officer VanCleve located the ambient light from a fire and a vehicle partially pulled into a woods. Officer VanCleve walked to the location of the fire and approached a group of two women and three men. The three men were observed fishing in the river. Officer VanCleve checked the three men for valid fishing licenses, and two of the men did not have fishing licenses. They were issued summons and ordered to appear in the Pike County Court, where they await their arraignments.

Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District Five

State Wildlife Officer Aaron Ireland, assigned to Butler County, was patrolling Pater Wildlife Area and encountered two individuals who were sitting in a parked vehicle. Officer Ireland approached the vehicle and discovered one of the individuals was in possession of a white powder, which he suspected to be cocaine. The individual admitted to Officer Ireland that it was cocaine and a field test confirmed the officer’s suspicion. During the contact with the vehicle’s occupants, Officer Ireland also discovered that the passenger had an outstanding warrant for his arrest. Both individuals were subsequently arrested and transported to the Butler County Jail. The individual who possessed the cocaine was charged with felony-level drug abuse. He pleaded guilty in court to a higher-level misdemeanor charge and paid $625 in fines and court costs. He was also sentenced to 180 days in jail with 171 days suspended and will serve one year probation.

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