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Hunters, fishermen caught engaging in illegal activities

• Aug 16, 2018 at 5:00 PM

Here are recent field reports from Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife officers:

Central Ohio – Wildlife District One

During the 2018 spring turkey season, State Wildlife Officer Josh Shields, assigned to Union County, was on patrol when he observed two turkey hunters returning from the woods. Upon contacting the two hunters, Officer Shields learned that one of the hunters had harvested a turkey a few days earlier. That hunter had failed to purchase a second spring turkey permit before returning to the woods and pursuing a second turkey. Officer Shields issued the man a summons for hunting without a valid spring turkey permit. He was found guilty in the Marysville Municipal Court and paid $160 in fines and court costs.

While on patrol in July, State Wildlife Officer Tony Zerkle, assigned to Fairfield County, patrolled an area near Greenfield Lake. During the patrol, plain-clothed officers observed a man and woman fishing along the bank of the lake. As the officers watched, the two anglers were observed eating from a bag before disposing of the bag along the trail. Officer Zerkle contacted the man and woman as they were leaving the area and issued the man one citation for litter. He paid $275 in fines and court costs.

Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District Two

During the 2017-2018 deer muzzle-loading season, State Wildlife Officers Matt Leibengood, assigned to Sandusky County, Reid Van Cleve, assigned to Ottawa County, and Brian Bury, assigned to the Lake Erie Unit, received an anonymous call on the TIP (Turn in a Poacher) hotline. The TIP call had indicated that several repetitive shots had been heard, indicating the use of a firearm other than a muzzle-loading rifle. The officers traveled to the reported location in Sandusky County, but found only tire tracks and foot prints in the snow. After following the foot prints, two dead deer were located, both of which were not properly tagged. The officers contacted two nearby hunters, and it was quickly determined that one individual had killed three deer that day, having checked in a third deer earlier in the morning. Sandusky County had a two deer bag limit, and the individual had reported the harvest of the third deer under another person’s name to cover up the bag limit violation. It was also determined that the individual who had killed the deer could not legally possess a firearm. Both suspects were issued summonses on multiple charges. The suspect who killed the deer was arrested and taken to jail. Each man was given a one-year hunting license suspension, and the men paid a total of $893 in fines, court costs, and restitution. A jail sentence of 190 days was imposed for the man who killed the deer, and was suspended pending good behavior.

State Wildlife Officer Josh Zientek, assigned to Fulton County, was working the annual walleye run on the Maumee River when he observed an individual using a snagging technique to catch walleye. The individual snagged a walleye in the tail, placed it on his stringer, and headed to his vehicle. Officer Zientek contacted the individual who admitted that the walleye had been snagged and that he knew it was illegal to keep a snagged walleye. The individual was later found guilty in Perrysburg Municipal Court.

Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District Three

Last summer, State Wildlife Officer Craig Porter, assigned to Jefferson County, received numerous complaints regarding an individual illegally harvesting ginseng. In early September, he received a call from the Turn In A Poacher (TIP) hotline regarding a vehicle parked in an odd area, and the caller thought the subject might be digging ginseng on his property without permission. Officer Porter arrived on scene and located the vehicle. After a brief investigation, Officer Porter discovered that the registered owner of the vehicle was a suspect he had received prior complaints on regarding illegal ginseng harvest. Around an hour after dark, the landowner called Officer Porter again and stated that he observed the suspect walk back to his truck with a bag which he believed to contain ginseng. Shortly thereafter, Officer Porter went to the suspect’s house and interviewed him about the alleged violations. The results of the investigation revealed that the man had committed numerous ginseng violations. Officer Porter seized 60 ginseng roots and a masonry hammer as evidence. Three days later, Officer Porter received a call from a different landowner stating that he had just caught the same individual digging ginseng without permission on his property. That evening, Officer Porter executed a search warrant with the assistance of other state wildlife officers from Wildlife District Three and seized over 2,500 ginseng roots, 400 ginseng berries, and numerous ginseng digging tools. The suspect was later indicted by the Jefferson County Grand Jury on four ginseng related charges as well as three felony charges including theft and receiving stolen property. The man was convicted and ordered to pay over $2,000 in fines and court costs. The ginseng was returned to the rightful landowners.

Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District Four

In January 2018, State Wildlife Officer Ted Witham, assigned to Jackson County, received a call from a concerned sportsman regarding illegal spotlighting. The man had heard two gunshots at night coming from the road, so he drove down his driveway and located a dark-colored pickup truck with its headlights shining into a field. The man then saw someone run back to the truck. He was able to obtain a license plate number, and the next day he found a dead doe in the field. Officer Witham located the owner of the vehicle, and after questioning, the suspect admitted to spotlighting and shooting the deer with a firearm. The suspect had already been convicted of spotlighting, shooting from the roadway, and mishandling a firearm in Meigs County in November 2017. He was on probation and his hunting privileges were suspended for the prior offenses. The suspect was charged with hunting under revocation and shooting from the roadway. He was found guilty in the Jackson County Municipal Court and paid $835 in fines, court costs, and restitution. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail with 177 suspended, ordered to complete 500 hours of community service, and was placed on five years of reporting probation.

In May 2018, State Wildlife Officer Brad St. Clair, assigned to Noble County, received complaints of illegal dumping at two different locations. Several bags of household trash were placed in and along a waterway at each site. After conducting multiple interviews, two individuals were issued citations for stream litter. The individuals appeared in Noble County Court where they were found guilty of the violations. They were each ordered to pay a total of $329 in fines and court costs. In addition, they were each ordered to serve five days in jail.

Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District Five

While on patrol, State Wildlife Officer Jasmine Grossnickle, assigned to Miami County, observed two men fishing together in the Great Miami River in Troy. One of the men caught a large channel catfish and both men posed and took pictures with the fish. Afterward, they released the fish back into the river and each grabbed a disposable moist towelette from a container to clean their hands. One of the men tucked the towelette back into his belongings. However, the man that had caught the fish walked closer to the water and tossed his towelette into the river. Officer Grossnickle contacted the men shortly afterwards and issued a summons for stream litter to the man who threw the towelette into the river. The man paid a $250 waiver in Miami County Municipal court for the violation.

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