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Hunters punished after smoking marijuana prior to going hunting

• Jun 21, 2018 at 2:00 PM

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

Central Ohio – Wildlife District One

During the Memorial Day weekend, State Wildlife Officer Jeff Tipton, assigned to Champaign County, was working near Kiser Lake where he had been receiving complaints that people were leaving litter on one of the fishing piers. Officer Tipton watched a pair of anglers, and shortly before dark he observed each angler throw an empty bottle onto a pile of trash next to them. He contacted them as they were leaving and asked about the bottles. Further investigation revealed that both anglers had been fishing all day and had left a considerable amount of trash behind. Both were cited for littering and each posted a bond waiver in the amount of $175.

One night in May 2018, while patrolling Alum Creek Reservoir, State Wildlife Officer Maurice Irish, assigned to Delaware County, discovered several anglers fishing below a bridge. Officer Irish recognized one angler who had a prior wildlife violation for taking and possessing undersized crappie. As the man waded into the water to fish, Officer Irish noticed a stringer of fish near the bank. Shortly thereafter, the man caught a small crappie and placed it in a 5-gallon bucket. Moments later, he walked several yards down the bank with the bucket, opened a small red cooler, which had been hidden in the brush, and placed four crappies into the cooler. He then continued fishing. Upon contact, the man was happy to show Officer Irish his catch on the stringer, which contained all legal fish. When asked about the red cooler, the man became quiet. Further investigation revealed the red cooler was filled with undersized crappie. He was summoned into Delaware Municipal Court, pleaded guilty, and paid $160 in fines and court costs.

Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District Two

State Wildlife Officer Austin Dickinson, assigned to Williams County, was conducting hunter enforcement in Seneca County during the 2017 two-day deer gun season when he observed a large group of hunters conducting a deer drive. Officer Dickinson was able to contact the group while they were walking back to their vehicles. While checking the hunters for hunting licenses and deer permits, Officer Dickinson noticed the smell of marijuana coming from one of the hunters and one of the vehicles. Officer Dickinson was able to locate the marijuana along with other drug paraphernalia. One of the hunters admitted to smoking marijuana prior to going hunting, along with possessing the marijuana. The hunter was charged with hunting while under the influence of a controlled substance. The hunter was found guilty in court and ordered to pay over $1,100 in fines and court costs, required to complete a hunter safety course, complete two years of probation, and serve 180 days of suspended jail time.

Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District Three

Earlier this year, State Wildlife Officer Tom Frank, assigned to Mahoning County, received a call about a deer that had been shot in a snow-covered field. He arrived at the scene, located the deer, and recovered what appeared to be a small plastic tip from a .17 HMR rifle round from the carcass. Several evenings later, Officer Frank was conducting surveillance in the area when he observed a vehicle driving slowly down the same road where the deer had been shot. Shortly thereafter, he noticed the rays of a spotlight coming from the driver’s side window. Officer Frank followed the vehicle and initiated a traffic stop. The driver was identified along with a juvenile passenger. In the back seat there was a .17 HMR rifle. In addition, a loaded magazine was found on top of the seat. Officer Frank inspected the ammunition and found that it had the same color plastic tip as what had been recovered from the deer carcass. When asked, the driver denied shooting the deer. The man was issued a summons for spotlighting. The man appeared in court, was convicted, and ordered to pay $598 in fines and court costs.

While patrolling Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area on a rainy afternoon, State Wildlife Officer Aaron Brown, assigned to Wayne County, was positioned in an area to observe off-road vehicle activity. After several minutes, he observed a car pull into a parking area. Officer Brown observed the passenger of the vehicle drinking a beer. Officer Brown stopped the vehicle before it left the parking area and spoke to the two men inside. Both were in possession of opened cans of beer. The men explained that they had been consuming alcohol while they were driving around birdwatching on the wildlife area. Officer Brown issued summonses to both individuals for the offense. Both men appeared in the Wayne County Municipal Court and paid fines totaling $176.

Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District Four

In October 2017, a Vinton County landowner reported a road hunting incident to wildlife officers after he had observed someone discharge a firearm from the road. The man recorded the license plate of the suspect’s truck. After multiple attempts, State Wildlife Investigators Travis Abele and Heath Horn eventually caught up with the suspect on the road and conducted a traffic stop. A loaded 12-gauge shotgun and a cocked crossbow were located inside the vehicle. The investigators determined that the man had recently killed a doe with the shotgun using buckshot during the deer archery season. In addition, a freshly killed 8-point buck rack, that had not been checked in, was found in the man’s garage. Another 8-point shoulder mount was located inside the suspect’s residence. The man eventually admitted that he had killed that buck during the 2016 deer gun season and did not check in the deer. The man was issued seven summonses including hunting without a deer permit, hunting without permission, two counts of failure to game check a deer, killing a deer with an illegal hunting implement, and two counts of hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle. The man was found guilty on all charges and was ordered to pay $2,175 in fines, court costs, and restitution. He was sentenced to 1,080 days of suspended jail time, was placed on two years of probation, and his hunting privileges have been revoked for three years. The firearm and deer were forfeited to the ODNR Division of Wildlife.

State Wildlife Officer Matt VanCleve, assigned to Scioto County, was following up on investigations from the 2017 deer gun season when he noticed that a hunter had used a different birthdate when checking in a deer than what was provided on his customer profile. Officer VanCleve visited the suspect’s house and asked the man about the deer. The man initially said that he had killed the deer, but after a few minutes stated that his brother had killed the deer. The suspect had checked the deer for his brother so that his brother could continue to hunt. Officer VanCleve then spoke to the brother who had failed to check in his deer. Both men were cited. The first individual was charged with providing false information while game checking a deer. The brother was charged with failing to game check a deer. Both men pleaded guilty and each paid $300 in fines and court costs.

Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District Five

During the summer, two men were fishing on the lake at Caesar Creek State Park. The boat the men were using became disabled and had to be towed to shore by two ODNR Division of State Parks and Watercraft officers. The officers noticed that the men were in possession of several crappie that did not meet the minimum length of nine inches. State Wildlife Officer Matt Hunt, assigned to Greene County, was working in the area and responded to examine the fish. Officer Hunt measured the fish and found that eleven of the twenty fish were less than nine inches in length. Each man was issued one citation for possession of short crappie.

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