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Wildlife officer has memorable last day on the water

• Feb 2, 2018 at 1:30 PM

Here are recent field reports from Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife Officers:

Central Ohio – Wildlife District One

One night at Indian Lake, State Wildlife Officer Adam Smith, assigned to Logan County, was conducting nighttime sport fishing enforcement and observed an angler fishing under a light. When he checked the angler for a fishing license, the man stated that he did not have his fishing license with him but provided Officer Smith with his personal identification. The information provided to Officer Smith revealed that the man had a valid fishing license. After leaving the man, Officer Smith investigated the situation further and discovered that the man had provided his brother’s information, did not have a valid fishing license, and had a warrant for his arrest. Officer Smith found the angler the following day, arrested him for the outstanding warrant, and cited him for fishing without a license and obstructing official business. The man appeared in court and was ordered to pay $210.50 in fines and court costs. A few weeks later, Officer Smith was off duty and ran into the man at a local bait shop. The man apologized to Officer Smith and they parted ways with a handshake.

During the 2017 deer gun season, State Wildlife Officer Josh Elster, assigned to Pickaway County, and Natural Resource Officer Jeff Thompson were patrolling Deer Creek Wildlife Area. While on patrol, the officers observed a vehicle driving recklessly through one of the fields on the wildlife area. Officer Elster stopped the vehicle to speak with the driver. Officer Elster noticed the driver was having trouble speaking clearly and standing upright. As officer Elster continued to talk to the driver, Officer Thompson looked in the vehicle and could see a shotgun sitting in the front passenger side of the vehicle. Officer Thompson inspected the shotgun and discovered it was loaded. Officer Elster asked the driver about the loaded gun. The driver stated they had been hunting earlier in the day and must have forgotten to unload it. Officer Elster proceeded to ask the driver if they had any alcohol to drink recently. The driver admitted to drinking sometime earlier in the day, but could not remember how much or when. Officer Elster asked the driver to perform a field sobriety test, which the driver refused. The driver was arrested for OVI. While waiting for a tow truck to arrive, the officers searched the vehicle and discovered empty alcohol containers and a handgun with a loaded magazine in the vehicle. The driver was transported to the Fayette County Jail and charged with OVI, possessing weapons while intoxicated, improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle, and reckless operation of a vehicle off roadway. The results of the case are still pending.

Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District Two

This past September, Lake Erie Investigators Brian Bury, Kevin Good, and Gary Manley went out on Lake Erie on Investigator Manley’s last day of boat patrol before retirement. The investigators checked perch anglers along the Michigan-Ohio border, which typically results in numerous violations. The limit for yellow perch is 50 in Michigan but only 30 in Ohio, so anglers sometimes try to catch 50 yellow perch from Ohio waters and take them across the state line undetected. Many of these anglers also do not have Ohio fishing licenses. In seven hours on the water, a total of 23 summonses were issued. Seventeen were issued to Michigan residents for fishing in Ohio waters without Ohio fishing licenses. In addition, six summonses were issued for taking over the limit of yellow perch. This was a memorable last day on the water for Investigator Manley, who dedicated more than 30 years to protecting Lake Erie’s fishery resources.

In spring 2017, State Wildlife Officer Craig Barr, assigned to Allen County, received a call regarding seven deer skulls and racks that had been found in a woodlot. Officer Barr and State Wildlife Investigator Jeremy Payne investigated and found there were no permanent deer tags or confirmation numbers associated with the deer skulls. Further investigation showed that the residence immediately adjacent to where the deer skulls were found was owned by a previous wildlife offender. When contacted, the suspect was only able to provide documentation for two of the racks. Appropriate summonses were issued, and the suspect was found guilty in the Lima Municipal Court, ordered to pay $380 in fines and court costs and had his hunting privileges suspended for three years. Additionally, he had a 30-day sentence of jail suspended pending no further violations.

Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District Three

State Wildlife Officer Aaron Brown, assigned to Wayne County, discovered six bags of freshly dumped trash along the banks of the Chippewa Creek. The creek was at a high level due to ice melt and snow run-off. Officer Brown placed the bags of trash in the back of his patrol truck for proper disposal. The following day, the water had risen further and overflowed the banks. The trash that had been dumped would have been swept into the water and carried downstream. Fortunately, Officer Brown was able to piece together a potential suspect. The results of the investigation revealed that the man had disposed of the garbage along the creek because he had missed trash collection day. The man was issued a summons for stream litter and ordered to appear in court. He was convicted and paid $402 in fines and court costs. He was also placed on six months of probation and ordered to complete 30 hours of community service.

State Wildlife Officer Craig Porter, assigned to Jefferson County, and State Wildlife Investigator Brett Barnes worked multiple surveillance projects on Brush Creek Wildlife Area in Jefferson County. The goal was to target individuals who were using vehicles in non-designated areas and causing damage to the area, especially within the Brush Creek watershed. Through the course of the investigation, state wildlife officers contacted numerous individuals from Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. The project culminated with the issuance of 30 summonses. The convictions resulted in fines and court costs totaling over $5,000.

Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District Four

During a recent enforcement project in Noble County, State Wildlife Officers Roby Williams, assigned to Guernsey County, and Brad St. Clair, assigned to Noble County, stopped a vehicle for shooting from a public roadway. During the stop, the officers noticed some fresh blood in the back of the truck. Officer Williams asked the two occupants about the blood, which the officers learned was from a deer killed the day before by another hunter in Morgan County. Officer Williams could not find any record of the deer harvest, and contacted State Wildlife Officer Todd Stewart, assigned to Morgan County, with the information. Officer Stewart arrived at the suspect’s residence. The suspect admitted to shooting a deer the day before and not checking it in. The first two individuals were each issued citations for shooting from a public roadway and hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle. The third individual was issued a citation for failure to check a deer.

Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District Five

In the fall, State Wildlife Officer Ryan Schock, assigned to Hamilton County, was on patrol when a Turn In A Poacher (TIP) call came in about some individuals illegally netting fish in Seven Mile Creek. Officer Schock responded to the area and located three men who appeared to be fishing in the creek with cast nets. Officer Schock observed the men and determined that only two of the men were fishing with nets, while the third man was holding a large cooler that contained all the fish. Once the men packed up their belongings, Officer Schock made contact with the men and asked to see their fishing licenses. The men did not respond, since they did not understand English. As he worked through the communication issues, Officer Schock was able to determine that none of the men had Ohio fishing licenses. The two men Officer Schock observed fishing with nets were issued summonses for fishing without a license. The third man, who was in possession of the large cooler, was issued a summons for possession of an undersized bass. The men pleaded guilty to the charges and paid a total of $510 in fines and court costs.

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