Norwalk Reflector: NHS grad helps crack poacher case

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NHS grad helps crack poacher case

By SCOTT SEITZ • May 24, 2016 at 10:00 PM

Norwalk High School graduate Randy White just might have the perfect job.

For the past nine years, White, 36, has been employed by the Ohio Department Natural Resources as Lorain County’s wildlife officer.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s also very diverse. It’s something different everyday. 

“Also, I’m outside, not sitting in an office,” White said. “My pickup is my office.”

White, the son of Russell and Sharlene White, of Norwalk, now lives in Wellington.

Randy White’s solid work came into the spotlight recently after a joint investigation involving the Avon Lake Police Department and ODNR resulted in the arrests and convictions of two Avon Lake deer poachers.

Adam A. Petrella, 26, ended up being charged with five violations relating to the illegal possession and poaching of whitetail deer. Part of his sentencing included $8,225 in fines, court costs and restitution.

Andrew J. Smith, 27, faced nine violations and was sentenced to $15,632 in fines, court costs and restitution. 

Both Petrella and Smith had a number of other stipulations with their sentences, including but not limited to ,forfeiture of the deer antlers and crossbows, community service and suspension of hunting licenses for three years.

Part of the case revolved around two large bucks illegally killed by the duo, according to the ODNR. 

A 17-point buck killed by Petrella gross-scored 166 4/8 inches and cost Petrella $7,687 in restitution. A 22-point buck killed by Smith gross-scored 194 2/8 inches and cost Smith $15,079 in restitution.

“The ODNR Division of Wildlife thanks Judge Darrel A. Bilancini for taking these violations seriously and seeing to it that justice is served,” White said. “ODNR Division of Wildlife investigator Brian Banbury also assisted with the case.”

White provided a bit of the back-story behind the Avon Lake poachers.

“It was definitely a joint-effort between the Avon Lake Police Department and Division of Wildlife,” he said. “Over the last few years, Avon Lake has had the issue of deer overpopulation in the city. 

“But, Avon Lake city ordinance prevents hunting,” White said.

So, the Division of Wildlife worked with Avon Lake to develop a deer population control program.

“The last two years, the program has been in place,” White said.

“Last November and December, crossbow bolts had been found in the city,” he said, which meant people were poaching deer.

“We got a break in the case,” White said. “We received a description of a vehicle and located the vehicle. We interviewed a guy and that snowballed into the case.”

After graduating from NHS in 1998, White earned his bachelor’s degree in fisheries and wildlife management from Lake Superior State University. 

He then worked a total of seven years as a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture before taking the job in Lorain County.

As a wildlife officer, White doesn’t work set hours.

“If people are fishing for walleye on Lake Erie, I’m out at night,” he said. “There is no routine. Every work day is the result of what’s going on.

“I take a lot of phone calls involving human-wildlife contact,” White said. “In the springtime, we do a lot of education.”

“We’re very proud of him,” his mother Sharlene said. “This is something he always wanted to do.”

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