Central Ohio – Wildlife District One
While on patrol at Rush Creek Lake Wildlife Area, State Wildlife Officer Tony Zerkle, assigned to Fairfield County, was contacting anglers and checking compliance with bag and size limit regulations. While speaking with a group of fishermen, one of them pointed to the water and stated, “That man just flipped his kayak.” Officer Zerkle turned to see an overturned kayak and a man’s head pop up above the water line. Officer Zerkle jumped in his vehicle and drove to the nearest point on the bank and prepared to deploy a throw rope. The boater, who was hanging from the side of the kayak, communicated that he was ok. Officer Zerkle was relieved to see that the boater was wearing his Personal Flotation Device (PFD) and was able to make his way to shore. The man recalled hitting the water and his breath being taken away as he struggled. He stated the PFD is what popped him up and he did not think he would have surfaced without it. Always remember to wear your PFD on the water. Accidents can happen at any time.
While on patrol, State Wildlife Officer Josh Elster, assigned to Pickaway County, observed a group of individuals fishing at Deer Creek. Officer Elster contacted the group and asked to see everyone’s fishing license. As the fishermen were getting their licenses out, Officer Elster asked them if they had been fishing very long that day. One of the members stated they had only been there for thirty minutes, but went to the spillway to cast net for bait earlier. Officer Elster could see several bait fish in a bucket belonging to the group. An inspection of the bucket revealed several game fish mixed in with bait fish. Officer Elster began sorting through the bucket finding several small crappies, a bluegill, and a large mouth bass measuring eight inches. When asked about the game fish, the group stated they thought they could keep whatever they caught in their cast net. Officer Elster informed the group of the cast net laws and advised they could only keep forage fish when using a cast net for bait in public waters. A summons was issued for catching game fish with a cast net and failing to immediately release them back into the water. All game fish were documented and released back into the water by Officer Elster. The outcome of the case is still pending.
Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District Two
In late December 2016, after the end of deer gun season, the Henry County Sheriff’s Office received a complaint of someone shooting at deer from a motor vehicle. A sheriff’s deputy responded and identified the individual involved and collected evidence. The deputy forwarded the information to State Wildlife Officer Troy Reimund, assigned to Henry County. Officer Reimund investigated the incident further and the suspect was charged with taking or attempting to take a deer with a firearm during the closed season and hunting without written permission. The defendant was found guilty in Napoleon Municipal Court and ordered to pay $1,090 in fines and court costs. In addition, the individual’s hunting and fishing privileges were revoked for three years, and the court sentenced the individual to 60 days of jail time that was suspended, as long as, there are no additional hunting or firearm violations for three years.
In August 2016, Lake Erie Investigator Matthew Fisher and State Wildlife Officer Jason Keller, assigned to Warren County, were checking anglers on Lake Erie. Investigator Fisher and Officer Keller approached a boat trolling for walleye with 10 rods actively fishing and three individuals onboard. Officer Keller contacted the individuals and asked to check their fishing licenses. All three fishermen showed their licenses, and were subsequently informed by the officers they were fishing with more than two rods per person, and had four extra rods out. Officer Keller issued the fishermen summonses for fishing with more than two rods and line per person.
Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District Three
State Wildlife Officer Nick Turner, assigned to Harrison County, and State Wildlife Officer Craig Porter, assigned to Jefferson County, were assisting the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office during an annual marijuana eradication project when they found several untagged deer heads behind a barn. Officer Turner contacted the landowner who said the deer heads belonged to his son. He invited the officers into the barn where several more untagged deer heads were found. In all, Officer Turner seized 25 untagged deer skulls and arrested the suspect on an unrelated warrant. The man was eventually charged with 27 wildlife violations, including possession of untagged deer parts, hunting without a license and hunting without a deer tag. He was convicted in court and ordered to pay $1,350 in fines and $12,500 in restitution. The man had his hunting privileges revoked and was placed on probation for five years. All evidence seized in the case was forfeited to the ODNR Division of Wildlife.
State Wildlife Officers in and around Wayne County have been working to deter off-road use which has been causing damage to property and roadside ditches at Killbuck Marsh, Shreve Lake, and Funk Bottoms wildlife areas. Four individuals were recently issued summonses for operating vehicles in a non-designated area, criminal damaging, and other criminal or traffic violations. One individual who was driving a vehicle with fictitious plates was charged and his vehicle was towed. The drivers of the vehicles were convicted in court and ordered to pay fines, court costs, and restitution for damages to the fields. One individual was ordered to pay $1,098 for damage he caused to one field.
Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District Four
A joint investigation by the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office and the ODNR Division of Wildlife resulted in steep fines, restitution and a license revocation for a buck shot with a muzzleloading rifle during 2016 deer archery season. Sergeant Tom Devaul initially responded to a call about a person shooting a deer from a parking lot behind a business. He was able to make contact with the suspect, and further investigation revealed the suspect had shot the deer with a muzzleloader but the carcass could not be found. Later that afternoon, State Wildlife Officer Brian Baker, assigned to Belmont County, was contacted by a hunter who leased the property where the deer was shot. The hunter had found a large buck that appeared to have been shot and could not get up. Officer Baker and the deputy met at the hunter’s house and viewed the deer. Officer Baker followed the blood trail from where the deer had reportedly been shot to where the buck deer was found to be certain it was the same animal in question. The suspect was charged with hunting without permission and taking a deer during the archery season with a firearm. He paid $600 in fines, $115 in court costs and received a two-year license revocation. Restitution for the scored 143-inch buck deer was filed for $3550.85.
Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District Five
During the 2016-2017 Deer Season, State Wildlife Officer Jeff Wenning, assigned to Darke County, received a message from a hunter stating that he observed two people tracking a deer on a property he leases. Further investigation by Officer Wenning revealed that the two people were adjacent property owners who were tracking a deer that one of them had shot the previous day. The man confirmed that he and his wife were on the neighboring property without permission from either the landowner or the lessee. Subsequently, the man was cited for the hunting without permission. He appeared in the Darke County Municipal Court and pleaded guilty.