Central Ohio – Wildlife District One
While on patrol during the 2016 deer gun season, State Wildlife Officer Maurice Irish, assigned to Delaware County, made contact with a deer hunter who was on his way in for lunch after an unsuccessful morning. The man handed Officer Irish his hunting license and two unfilled deer permits. During the conversation, the man told Officer Irish that he had been having a slow year, only killing one deer so far. He went on to say he killed four deer the year before. Game check records indicated the man had not checked in any deer during the 2016 season and had only checked in two deer during the 2015 season. After further investigation, the man admitted to killing a total of three deer over two seasons that he failed to check in. He appeared in Delaware Municipal Court and was ordered to pay several hundred dollars in fines and court costs.
Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District Two
During the summer of 2017, Lake Erie Wildlife Investigators Kevin Good and Cody Klima were patrolling Lake Erie north of Kelley’s Island when they spotted two anglers fishing for walleye near the northern tip of the island. The investigators contacted the anglers on board and requested to see the fish that the anglers had caught. After measuring the fish, Investigator Good discovered that all five walleye the anglers had on board were less than 15 inches. Additionally, Investigator Klima noticed a bag of fish fillets on the bottom of the cooler. Upon a further inspection, it was apparent that the walleye fillets were from walleye that were also less than 15 inches. The investigators seized the undersized walleye and the fillets and issued summonses to both anglers for possession of fillets on Lake Erie and for possession of undersized walleye.
Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District Three
State Wildlife Officer Jason Warren, assigned to Ashtabula County, was contacted by Arizona Game & Fish Department concerning an Ashtabula County resident who had been charged with numerous violations concerning the illegal taking of mule deer and javelina, medium-sized animals that look similar to a feral pig. Further investigation revealed that the subject had also committed several violations while hunting in Ohio. Officer Warren charged the individual with three counts of failing to check a deer and one count of providing false information while checking a deer. The individual appeared in Ashtabula Eastern County Court, was found guilty, and ordered to pay $1,085 in fines and court costs. Proceedings in Arizona resulted in the subject being convicted of nine charges related to the illegal taking of mule deer and javelina. The subject was fined $7,917, ordered to pay restitution for the illegally taken wildlife, and his hunting and fishing privileges were revoked for life. Because Ohio and Arizona are members of the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact, the man’s hunting and fishing privileges were revoked for life in Ohio as well as 46 other member states.
State Wildlife Officer Aaron Brown, assigned to Wayne County, was patrolling a popular fishing area on North Reservoir in Summit County when he observed an individual along the shoreline reach into a large cooler, remove pieces of aluminum foil and throw them on the ground. Officer Brown contacted the man in the parking lot as he was leaving and asked to check the contents of the cooler. Inside he discovered a plastic bowl full of fish fillets. Further investigation revealed that the man had filleted the fish on the shore of North Reservoir and threw the carcasses in the water behind him. The man was charged with stream litter for both the foil and the fish carcasses, and ordered to appear in the Barberton Municipal Court. The man was convicted and paid $194 in fines and court costs. In addition, he was ordered stay off North Reservoir for two years.
Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District Four
In the spring of 2016 State Wildlife Officer Allen Patton, assigned to Athens County, received information that trash from methamphetamine production was being discarded on Poston Wildlife Area. Officer Patton and State Wildlife Investigator Heath Horn installed remote surveillance equipment and began monitoring the area. Approximately 30 contacts were made on violations committed during the summer. This series of cases would not have been possible without the use of the surveillance equipment and the capability to monitor the activity from a remote location. In all, officers filed 13 charges for driving off designated roadways, three for camping in a non-designated area, one for litter, one for criminal damaging, and one felony charge of drug trafficking. All violators were convicted in Athens County Court.
During the last week of August, State Wildlife Officer Jared Abele, assigned to Vinton County, received information through the Turn In A Poacher (TIP) hotline about individuals digging ginseng illegally near the Hocking/Vinton County line. Officer Abele called State Wildlife Officer Chris Dodge, assigned to Hocking County, who was closer to the location. When Officer Dodge reached the complaint area he located the suspects’ car. At the same time, he witnessed two people exit the woods and run across the roadway toward the vehicle. Officer Dodge stopped the individuals at their vehicle and was able to determine that they had been illegally digging ginseng in the area for the past two days. Officer Dodge seized their digging tools and 113 green ginseng roots. Officer Abele arrived on scene, and the two officers followed the suspects back to their residence and obtained consent to search their homes. Both suspects were issued two summonses for digging ginseng out of season and digging ginseng without written permission from the landowner. The cases are still pending in the Hocking County Municipal Court.
Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District Five
State Wildlife Officer Tim Rourke, assigned to Shelby County, began an investigation after receiving several complaints of a suspect exhibiting very questionable hunting tactics. As Officer Rourke’s investigation broadened, it became clear that the individual was involved in frequent illegal hunting activities. Officer Rourke was able to gather an abundance of evidence, including public tips, statements, pictures, and videos from multiple sources. So much information was obtained that Officer Rourke requested assistance from State Wildlife Investigator Ryan Garrison. Over the course of the next two months, the investigation revealed videos of live raccoons and coyotes with leads around their muzzles, and the suspect’s hunting dogs viciously attacking and killing them. Pictures were obtained of multiple dead deer, some displaying gruesome injuries, along with evidence of a vehicle, hammer, club, or baseball bat being involved. Officers Rourke and Garrison conducted an interview in which the suspect admitted to multiple wildlife violations. Following the interview, Officer Rourke went to the suspect’s residence and recovered two butchered deer, as well as the wooden club used in the killing of several wild animals. Officer Rourke later met with the suspect and issued him multiple citations, including: hunting without permission, shooting at a deer from the roadway, illegal possession of a white-tailed deer, and illegal method of taking a wild animal. After several court appearances, the case resulted in six wildlife related hunting convictions which entailed sentences containing $1005 in fines, 18 days in jail, 282 additional days in jail suspended, loss of the defendant’s hunting privileges for a period of three years, two years of probation, 120 hours of community service, completion of a counseling program, and all evidence being forfeited to the ODNR Division of Wildlife. In addition, the judge ordered that the defendant cannot be in the presence of any hunting activity for the duration of his probation, and that his dogs cannot be used in any hunting activity.