Central Ohio – Wildlife District One
While working a project in Delaware County during pheasant season, State Wildlife Investigator Justus Nethero observed a man exit his vehicle and shoot at a pheasant that was located on private property. State Wildlife Officers Chad Grote, assigned to Marion County, and Maurice Irish, assigned to Delaware County, stopped the vehicle after the man drove away. Once questioned by the officers, the man admitted to shooting at the bird, and he was issued a summons for hunting without permission. He was found guilty in Delaware Municipal Court and paid $214 in fines and court costs.
While patrolling during the youth deer gun season, State Wildlife Officer Patrick Muldovan, assigned to Licking County, noticed a person in a kayak at a marsh near Dillon Wildlife Area. After watching the person for some time, it became clear to Officer Muldovan that the individual was hunting ducks. As the man came back to his vehicle, Officer Muldovan made contact with the hunter. The man admitted that he was hunting ducks but that he had not killed any. Officer Muldovan informed him that the south zone for duck hunting was not open and explained where the waterfowl zones are, along with the dates for each. The man was issued one summons for hunting ducks out of season. He appeared in court and paid $164 in fines and court costs.
Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District Two
During the 2017 deer archery season, State Wildlife Officer Nathan West, assigned to Wyandot County, received information from the Turn In A Poacher (TIP) hotline from a concerned sportsman who was hunting from a tree stand at Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area. The hunter stated he was currently watching a vehicle drive down a closed road that is designated as a handicapped-accessible electric APV trail. Officer West responded to the location and observed the vehicle. Office West waited until after legal shooting time to make contact with the owner of the vehicle, since the witness was hunting in the immediate area and Officer West did not want to ruin his hunt. After dark, Officer West located two individuals who were hunting on the wildlife area property. The individuals admitted to driving down the trail after passing two “no vehicles beyond this point” and two handicapped accessible electric APV trail signs. The driver of the vehicle was ordered to pay $158 in fines and court costs.
While working sportfish enforcement during the summer at Van Tassel Wildlife Area, State Wildlife Officer Eric VonAlmen, assigned to Wood County, observed a group of five anglers fishing the Maumee River. As the anglers returned to their vehicle, Officer VonAlmen observed one of the individuals dump out multiple plastic chicken liver containers and then throw the containers into the weeds. Another individual threw two plastic water bottles into the weeds. As the group was loading their gear into the vehicle, a third individual was gathering other trash, placing it into a plastic bag. Upon having gathered it all, he walked to the edge of the parking lot and threw the bag into the woods. The bag hung in a tree and most of its contents spilled out onto the ground. At this point, Officer VonAlmen contacted the group and checked for fishing licenses. All five subjects were from Michigan and had purchased one-day fishing licenses. Three individuals received summons for littering on state property and each paid $150 in fines and court costs.
Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District Three
During the weekend of deer gun season, State Wildlife Officer Jason Warren, assigned to Ashtabula County, received a complaint from a concerned landowner who stated that a suspicious vehicle was parked on his property and that a single set of tracks could be seen in the snow walking into his woods. The landowner was confident that someone was hunting on his property without permission. Officer Warren responded to the area and began following the footprints. A lake effect snow storm had recently hit the area and the snow was two to three feet deep. Officer Warren had followed the footprints for approximately half a mile when he observed a person in the distance who was not wearing hunter orange clothing and appeared to be looking for something on the ground. Officer Warren quickly caught up with the individual who turned out to be a surveyor busy marking the property line for an adjacent landowner.
State Wildlife Officer Aaron Brown, assigned to Wayne County, and State Wildlife Officer Eric Moore, assigned to Medina County, were working during the spring turkey season when they received a complaint of someone hunting without permission in an adjacent county. A short time later, the officers arrived on scene and spoke with the complainant. The man stated that he and his friend had permission to hunt the farm, and while they were there, they heard an individual using a turkey call and observed a man hunting next to a pair of turkey decoys. They knew that the landowner had not given anyone else permission to hunt the property, so they called Turn In a Poacher (TIP) hotline to report the violation. Officers Brown and Moore believed the hunter was still on the property and were later able to locate a set of boot prints that did not match either lawful hunter. After tracking the individual for some time, Officer Moore spotted the man ahead. They contacted him and a search of the hunter’s bag produced a pipe and bag of marijuana. The man was subsequently charged with hunting without permission and found guilty in court. He paid $246 in fines and court costs and received a 30-day suspended jail sentence.
Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District Four
In October 2017, a landowner reported a road hunting incident to state wildlife officers. The caller had observed a man discharge a firearm from the road in front of his residence. The caller was able to record the license plate number of the suspect’s truck. State Wildlife Investigators Travis Abele and Heath Horn were able to obtain the suspect’s address but he was not home at the time. A few miles from the residence, the officers spotted the vehicle and conducted a traffic stop. They found a 12-gauge shotgun and a cocked crossbow inside the vehicle. The investigators were able to determine that the man had recently killed a doe with a shotgun during the deer archery season. Back in the man’s garage, the investigators located an eight-point buck that had not been checked in. Another eight-point shoulder mount was located inside the suspect’s residence. The man admitted that he had killed that buck during the 2016 deer gun season and had not checked it in. He was issued seven summonses, including hunting without a deer permit, hunting without permission, failing to game check a deer (two counts), killing a deer with an illegal hunting implement, and hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle (two counts). The man was found guilty on all charges and was ordered to pay $2,175 in fines, court costs, and restitution. He received 1080 days of suspended jail time, two years of probation, and a three year hunting privilege revocation. The firearm and deer were forfeited to the ODNR Division of Wildlife.
On the opening day of dove season 2017, State Wildlife Officers Todd Stewart, assigned to Morgan County, and Eric Lane, assigned to Perry County, were checking a dove field on an AEP public hunting area. They observed four hunters in the field that seemed to be shooting at everything coming and going, whether in range or not. As the hunters left the field, Officer Stewart made contact with them while Officer Lane checked the area where they had been standing. Officer Lane found spent 20-gauge shells at one spot and spent 12-gauge shells at another. Officer Stewart determined there was only one 20-gauge and only one person using the 12-gauge ammo that matched the spent shells found by Officer Lane. In addition, the 20-gauge was found to be unplugged. The officers cited the two hunters for liter and the hunter with the 20-gauge received an additional citation for the unplugged gun. Each of the two hunters received 20 hours of community service and $250 in fines for the litter violations. The hunter with the 20-gauge paid in additional $125 in fines for the unplugged gun.
Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District Five
State Wildlife Investigator Ryan Garrison received information that an employee at a business in Darke County was illegally selling white-tailed deer meat. Investigators made contact and obtained information that the suspect was also attempting to purchase deer meat from a processor in another state and sell that venison in Ohio. At a later date State Wildlife Officer Timothy Rourke, assigned to Shelby County, interviewed the suspect at his place of employment. The man admitted to selling wild white-tailed deer meat at work for several years and that he profited by $870 from those sales. He also admitted that he and a co-worker killed two deer that year on a relative’s property and they both sold venison from those two deer. The out-of-state processor was identified and it was later revealed that the suspect purchased one hundred sticks of wild white-tailed deer summer sausage from the processor and was in the process of selling that deer meat. Investigators located the summer sausage in the refrigerator at the suspect’s place of employment. Investigator Garrison and an officer from the other state’s DNR interviewed owners at the out-of-state processor regarding the sale of deer meat to the suspect. The processor admitted to illegally selling left over wild white-tailed deer meat from customers’ deer. A total of 11 charges were filed in Darke and Jackson counties. The two suspects were ordered to pay a total of $2,897.27 in fines, court costs, and restitution. Additionally, each lost their privileges to hunt for three years. A total of 78 sticks of summer sausage were seized in addition to other wild white-tailed deer meat. All evidence was forfeited to the ODNR Division of Wildlife and all meat that had been professionally processed was donated to local charity.