From: "Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission" <MyFWC@public.govdelivery.com>
Date: Mar 27, 2015 5:03 PM
Subject: FWC Law Enforcement Weekly Report 03/20 - 03/26/2015
(Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.)
Division of Law Enforcement
March 20 - 26, 2015
This report represents some events the FWC handled over the past week;
however, it does not include all actions taken by the Division of Law Enforcement.
Patrol, Protect, Preserve
Bay County officers continued to concentrate their patrol efforts during Spring Break working details in St. Andrews State Park. Arrests included possession of alcohol by individuals under 21 years of age and various drug related violations (possession of cocaine, cannabis, MDMA, prescription pills and drug paraphernalia).
Officers Wicker and T. Basford worked the opening weekend of spring turkey season and found a subject hunting using a turkey call from a blind that was 30 yards from bait (corn). The subject was cited for the violation.
Officer Gore checked a vessel returning from fishing and asked if they had caught any fish. The captain said “yes” and showed Officer Gore a red grouper and some lane snapper. When asked if any more fish were on board, the captain said there were no more. An inspection of a cooler that the captain said contained only drinks and snacks revealed a bag containing fish filets. The captain then said the filets were red snapper. A citation for possession of red snapper during closed season and a written warning for not landing fish in whole condition were issued.
Officers Cassels and Baber were conducting surveillance on an area baited with whole kernel corn believed to be for turkeys on opening weekend. There was a hunting blind set up within 25 yards of the bait. Just before sunrise, two hunters entered the area and placed five turkey decoys in the ground directly in the baited area. The two hunters then entered the hunting blind and after sunrise, began to work a turkey call. After several minutes, the officers made contact with the two and addressed the violation. Both hunters were cited for attempting to take turkeys over a baited area.
Officer Jones was working an active bait site on opening morning of turkey season. He heard a turkey gobble and approximately 15 minutes later heard a gunshot nearby. Officer Jones walked to the area from where the shot came and located a subject in possession of a turkey. Upon the officer’s arrival, the subject continued attempting to call up turkeys. Officer Jones struck up a conversation with the subject and asked him where he was sitting when he harvested the turkey. The subject showed Officer Jones the spot where he was sitting. Officer Jones was suspicious about the hunter’s answer, so he walked down an ATV trail and located an active feeder filled with corn. Officer Louque and Investigator Bryant arrived to assist. Officers Jones and Louque located feathers approximately 20 yards from the feeder. Officer Jones found where the subject was sitting which was approximately 40 yards from the feeder. The subject admitted that he knew there was a feeder and he also admitted to where he was sitting. Officer Jones issued a citation for taking turkey over bait and the turkey was seized as evidence.
Officers Molnar and Pifer conducted a vessel stop in the Destin Pass for a boating safety check and resource inspection. Upon further investigation, the vessel owner purchased the vessel in July 2014 and failed to transfer the title within the required 30 days. Officer Molnar issued a criminal citation for failure to apply for title within 30 days of change of ownership.
CALHOUN COUNTY - COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officer Baber conducted two separate wildlife presentations this week. One for a group of Boy Scouts in Torreya State Park and one for a group of children at Kids Kingdom in Blountstown. Officer Baber displayed an alligator and discussed various wildlife regulations.
NORTH CENTRAL REGION
Officer Lasher was investigating a previously located bait site with turkey decoys placed in the corn when shortly before daylight, he observed an individual approach a hunting blind located approximately 15 yards from the previously located corn pile. Shortly after daybreak, the man began calling turkeys in an attempt to take turkeys over the baited site. Officer Lasher announced his presence and asked for identification. The man was cited for attempting to take turkeys over a baited area.
Officer Stanley observed an individual walking into an area where he had previously located bait. The man walked in before daylight and began calling turkeys while sitting approximately 12 yards from the bait site. Officer Stanley announced his presence and interrupted the man calling turkey and prevented him from shooting a turkey. Officer Stanley issued the man a citation for attempting to take turkey over a baited area.
Officer Burnsed was working a detail on a hunt club in Baker County during the Spring Turkey Season when he observed a husband and wife hunting over bait. The husband admitted to hunting turkeys and was cited for hunting over bait. During this time, Officer Burnsed observed an individual pass him on an ATV. Officer Burnsed later found him turkey hunting in the road on a baited site and he was cited for hunting over bait.
A short while later, another hunter came out of the woods on an ATV dressed in hunting attire. Officer Burnsed checked the hunter and found he was turkey hunting on a baited site which the hunter had shown him and admitted to turkey hunting over bait. He also stated that one of the members who had just got a ticket had texted him to warn him that FWC was on the property.
Officer Heath was on water patrol on Doctor’s Lake in Clay County when he approached a vessel to conduct a boating safety inspection and noticed that the occupants were fishing. He requested to inspect the cooler that contained fish and observed a bream and a redfish that appeared to be too small. Officer Heath asked if they had measured the fish, to which the occupants stated that they had not. The redfish measured 14 inches which is four inches shorter than the state regulation. Officer Heath issued a citation for possession of undersized redfish to the fisherman who caught the redfish.
Investigator Ayers and Officer Wiggins conducted resource inspections on vessels at Rocky Creek Boat Ramp in the Steinhatchee area. During the inspections, the officers observed drug paraphernalia lying next to one of the occupants of the vessel. Further investigation resulted in one occupant being issued a misdemeanor citation for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.
Officer Allen was on resource patrol in Gilchrist County opening morning of the turkey season when just after daybreak a hunter showed up and began calling turkeys approximately 10 feet from cracked corn and bird seeds. The hunter was issued a citation for attempting to take turkeys over a baited site.
Officer Nichols and Investigator Hoyle were working illegal turkey hunting activity on private property where both officers had previously found two baited sites several days before the opening of the turkey season. The officers observed a female hunter at one location and her husband at the other location. The officers observed the hunters using turkey calls and hunting over bait before making contact with them. A citation and written warnings were issued to the couple for hunting turkeys within 100 yards of a baited area and license violations.
Officer Russo and K-9 Officer Dishman were on foot patrol working illegal hunting activities on private property in the Goethe Wildlife Management Area (WMA) when they observed a vehicle with two subjects. The occupants were observed by the officers as they trespassed by vehicle onto a private hunt club property. Officer Dishman confirmed the trespass violation with the club president and continued watching the subjects. One of the subjects shot a high-powered rifle into the water at a pond then proceeded to leave the area. The officers made contact with the subjects and questioned them about the trespass. The driver (a convicted felon on probation) admitted that he did not have permission to be on the property, but claimed he was shooting snakes to protect people and officers. The driver also did not have any hunting or fishing rights due to several prior game violations. The officers also discovered that there were two high-powered Benjamin air rifle firearms loaded with ammunition and a glass bottle with an attached smoking pipe containing methamphetamines. Officers Hilliard and Matthews, along with Levy County Sheriff’s Deputies Wells and Barrera, responded to the location to assist with the investigation. The firearms charge was handled by FWC and the methamphetamine and paraphernalia charges were turned over to the Levy County Sheriff’s Office. Both subjects were arrested for the violations and booked into the Levy County Jail.
Lieutenant Bridwell and Officer Sweat worked the opening weekend of spring turkey season. While patrolling on a private property owned by the Rayonier Timber Company, they came in contact with two individuals who had just killed a turkey. Lieutenant Bridwell and Officer Sweat inspected the bird and the hunters’ licenses and during conversation, they stated that they had shot a turkey the day before in the same location. Officer Sweat asked to be shown the location where they had shot both birds. They agreed and took the officers to a location where the woods opened into a field with an active deer feeder and corn on the ground. The turkey blind was 105 feet from the feeder with corn, well inside the 100-yard distance for baiting turkeys. After speaking with both individuals, they admitted that they did shoot the turkeys from that location. Officer Sweat will be filing charges with the state attorney’s office for taking turkeys over bait.
Officer Deweese observed an individual walk into a baited area he located prior to the beginning of the Spring Turkey Season. The suspect placed a turkey decoy in the baited area and entered a ground blind a few yards away. Officer Deweese heard the suspect call for turkeys numerous times in an attempt to lure the turkeys into the baited site. Officer Deweese announced his presence and cited the individual for attempting to take turkeys over a baited area.
Officers Boyer and M. Humphrey responded to a call of an individual that was keeping an alligator in his residence in Titusville. After knocking on the door of the residence, the suspect came out of his apartment carrying a two-foot alligator in his arms. The individual admitted to keeping the alligator but did not know it was illegal. The individual was cited appropriately and the alligator was released unharmed.
While on water patrol near the mouth of Port Canaveral, Officers R. Miller and Lejarzar conducted a safety inspection on a vessel returning from fishing. The vessel had three occupants with fishing gear, fresh blood on the deck and visible bait. After conducting the safety inspection, the operator admitted to not having a sound-producing device or an operable fire extinguisher. The occupants were asked if they had been fishing. They stated that they had and produced valid fishing licenses. When asked if they had any fish on board, they stated that they did not. Officer Miller asked the captain to open the live well where six redfish, a flounder and a jack were found. When asked why the captain stated that there were no fish on board when in fact there were, he said that it was because he knew they were over the limit. The vessel was escorted back to the Jetty Park Boat Ramp where the captain and one occupant admitted to having caught over the limit. Each were cited for over the bag limit and the captain was cited for not having a sound-producing device and issued a warning for not having a serviceable fire extinguisher.
While on patrol late at night, Officer Lightsey observed a vehicle slowing and stopping down a rural dirt road. The vehicle's passenger was displaying a light out of the side window in an area where several deer were located. The officer was able to use night vision to conceal himself and observe the vehicle shine a light continuously as it worked down the roadway. A stop of the vehicle was conducted due to the suspicious activity. The officer spoke with the men who advised they were looking to bow fish. As the officer spoke with the men, he was able to smell the odor of cannabis coming from the vehicle. A check of the men’s fishing equipment revealed there was no bow-fishing equipment, but instead a bow with broad-head arrows used for hunting deer. After being advised of their Miranda rights, both men admitted to have been actively looking for deer from the roadway. Criminal citations were issued for illegal method of taking deer by displaying a bow and light at night, possession of cannabis under twenty grams and no driver’s license ever issued.
On the morning of the opening day of turkey season, Lieutenant Hayes was conducting surveillance of a game feeding station that was within 100 yards of a hunting blind located on the Jug Island Hunting Club. Before daylight hours, she observed two individuals with flashlights walk to the hunting blind. The hunters set up two turkey decoys between the hunting blind and the feeding station. Lieutenant Hayes heard the game feeding station turn on for approximately fifteen seconds, then listened to turkey calls coming from the hunting blind. The calls continued periodically until she made contact with the two individuals that were in the hunting blind. Both individuals were charged with attempting to take turkey within 100 yards of a game feeding station when feed is present.
Officers Sumpter and Weis received information that some people would be hunting turkeys out of season. They waited in the area and three hunters arrived. All of the hunters were dressed in full camouflage. The hunters began actively calling for turkeys. All of the hunters were in possession of weapons. One had a bow, one had a single-shot shotgun and the other had an AR 15 with a scope on it. All three advised that they were turkey hunting, but spring turkey season was not yet open. All three were cited accordingly for hunting out of season.
Lieutenant Steinke, Investigator Adam, and Officers Beard and Weis were working opening weekend of turkey season. Investigator Adam located an area baited with cracked corn. Investigator Adam also located a hunter that harvested a gobbler within 24 yards of the bait. The subject was cited accordingly for hunting turkeys over bait. Officer Beard was also monitoring an area with a turkey blind and turkey bait. At daylight, two hunters arrived and sat approximately 40 yards from the baited area and began actively turkey hunting. Both subjects were cited for hunting turkey over bait.
Captain Roszkowiak, Lieutenant Frerking and Officers Simpson, Rice, Hargabus and Sumpter worked opening weekend of turkey season. Lieutenant Frerking and Officers Rice, Simpson and Sumpter worked a hunt club that had numerous blinds with turkey bait. The officers split up to cover as much ground as possible. After hearing a shot, Officers Simpson and Rice located a hunter hunting over bait. Lieutenant Frerking and Officers Simpson and Sumpter followed vehicle sign throughout the hunt club locating four more hunters hunting over bait. A total of five citations were issued for hunting turkeys over bait. Officer Dias and Captain Roszkowiak worked a bait site first thing in the morning which was a no show. They went to a second bait site and observed an individual attempting to take turkeys over bait. The individual was issued a citation for the violation. Officer Hargabus located two hunters, one adult and one juvenile, hunting turkeys over bait. The adult was issued a citation for the violation. A total of seven citations were issued by the Marion County crew for hunting turkeys over bait on opening morning.
On opening morning of spring turkey season, Lieutenant Fugate witnessed two different groups of hunters hunting turkey within 100 yards of a bait station. Late morning, one of the members in the group harvested a turkey. After the subjects were interviewed, it was determined that one of the individuals had been maintaining the feeders and the hunting blinds. He had placed the other two hunters in the second blind, which was within the required minimal distance to the feeder. He stated to officers that he had known that both blinds were within 100 yards. Citations were issued by Lieutenant Fugate and Officers Scrambling, Arendas and Conlin assisted with evidence.
Near the end of 2014, Officer Arendas received a call from a lease holder complaining that hunters were illegally entering their lease and poaching deer. The alleged poachers were crossing South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) property and jumping their fence. While working this information, Officer Mendez observed a light around 150 yards down the C54 canal. Officer Mendez set up in the area and waited for sunrise. Officer Mendez observed a turkey blind and heard a hunter calling turkey. At approximately 0930, the hunter shot a turkey with bow and arrow. Officer Mendez approached the individual who produced a gold sportsman’s license. Officer Mendez advised the individual that he was hunting in a closed area on SFWMD lands and issued him a notice to appear.
VOLUSIA COUNTY- COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officer Malicoat and Officer McDonough attended the New Smyrna Beach High School Career Day. The officers took advantage of the opportunity to answer questions and explain the many duties and responsibilities required of their position. They also discussed the many career opportunities available within the FWC and how to access that information.
Officer Birchfield responded to a boating accident in Boca Grande Pass when a fishing vessel collided with the bow of another fishing vessel. There was extensive damage to vessel #2 and one of the occupants was taken to the hospital for injuries. The operator of vessel #1 was given a citation for violating a Navigation Rule.
Officer Birchfield responded to a call of an individual keeping 100+ horseshoe crabs. When officer Birchfield arrived on scene he found the individual in possession of only one horseshoe crab and four 5-gallon buckets of hard clams. The daily bag limit is one 5-gallon bucket per licensed angler. The individual was cited for over the bag limit of hard clams.
Officer Goggin was conducting resource and boating safety inspections at a local boat ramp when he observed a man returning to the ramp in a flats boat. During the inspection, Officer Goggin saw what he believed was an over-the-slot sized Snook. The man admitted the Snook was too big to keep and that he knew he was in violation. The man was issued a misdemeanor notice to appear for possessing an over-the-slot Snook and the fish was returned to the water.
Officer Greg Stanley responded to a report of a boat fire that occurred on a vessel being used as a houseboat on a canal leading to Hurricane Bay. The fire was a result of an ignited fuel spill, which occurred during an attempt to re-fuel a stove on the vessel. The female occupant of the vessel sustained burns to 20% of her body to include her face, left arm, and left leg. An investigator from the State Fire Marshall’s Office determined the fire was accidental, as a result of careless fueling. A boating accident report was completed.
Captain Carpenter, Lieutenant Ruggiero, K-9 Officer Collazo and Officer Furbay all worked the Lee County panther enforcement zones. During the course of their patrols, a total of 8 written warnings and 6 citations were issued. Two mandatory court date citations were issued for exceeding the speed limit by more than 30 miles per hour. One vehicle was traveling at 84 MPH and a second truck was traveling at 88 MPH in the 45 MPH posted speed limit. One citation was also issued to a driver who was driving on an expired license for more than two years. The individual admitted he knew he did not have a valid license and that he had been cited for driving without a valid license in the past.
Officer Justin Price was on land patrol when he observed a group of males exiting the water after fishing. The men were carrying buckets and admitted to fishing but said they did not catch any fish. No fish were found in the buckets and the men were allowed to leave after the inspection. After they left, Officer Price followed a path back from where the men were fishing. Down at the end of the trail, he found a cooler which contained illegal fish. Officer Price did not find anyone else in the area that the cooler could belong to, so he decided to hide and wait, hoping the men would return for the fish. After a while, Officer Price observed a vehicle slow down and pass the location where the cooler was. The vehicle then went down the road, turned around and parked near the trail. A man exited the vehicle, ran down the trail, grabbed the cooler and ran back to the truck. Officer Price ran after the man and stopped him just before he got in the truck. As he got closer to the man, Officer Price realized it was the same man he had checked earlier who said he did not catch any fish. Closer inspection of the fish revealed 4 undersized Snook and an undersized Sheepshead along with several Mullet. Citations were issued for a major violation involving possession of 4 snook, possession of undersized snook and possession of undersized sheepshead.
SOUTH REGION A
While on land patrol, Officer Mirabal stopped by West Lake Bridge to conduct fisheries inspections. There were five individuals under the bridge fishing. One of the individuals had an undersized snook at the bottom of his bucket. The subject was cited for possession of undersized snook.
Lieutenant Brown and Officer Barber responded to an overdue boat on Lake Okeechobee. The vessel was reported to have been stuck in the marsh and had run out of gas south of Kings Bar. Officer Barber launched from Okee-Tantie and headed to the last known position of the vessel. In route, Officer Barber made contact with an acquaintance of the stranded vessel owner who was able to show Officer Barber the approximate area the stranded vessel entered the marsh between Indian Prairie Canal and Tin House Cove. Lieutenant Brown launched an airboat from Indian Prairie Canal and met Officer Barber near the entrance to the trail. The stranded vessel was unable to provide accurate GPS coordinates, so Officer Barber rotated the Go Light on the patrol vessel while Lieutenant Brown communicated with the stranded vessel by phone to determine when the occupants could see the light pointing in their direction. Lieutenant Brown headed in the direction of the light and was able to locate the vessel. Lieutenant Brown and Officer Barber transported the occupants back to Okee-Tantie Marina.
Lieutenant Steelman, along with Officers McLendon and Taylor, conducted surveillance on a buggy with four subjects shining lights and discharging high powered rifles into surrounding agricultural fields. After dozens of shots from the buggy, Lieutenant Steelman and Officers McLendon and Taylor conducted a resource inspection where it was discovered that the subjects were in possession of several raccoons. The landowner stated he had already denied the leasing farmer’s request to night hunt and they were doing so against his permission. The four subjects were issued citations for taking furbearing animals by illegal method with high-powered rifles from a moving vehicle.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
While on foot patrol at a Belle Glade Structure, Officer Toby observed an individual fishing in the area. Officer Toby approached the individual and conducted a fisheries inspection. Previous to this stop, Officer Toby had conducted a fisheries inspection with this same individual within the last month and had educated them on the rules and size requirements in this specific area. Upon conclusion of this most current fisheries inspection, the individual was shown to be in possession of seven undersize black crappie. The individual was issued a misdemeanor citation for this violation.
SOUTH REGION B
Lieutenant Marc Shea responded to call on the west side of L28 Canal, north of I-75 regarding alligator poaching. A witness reported finding a fresh alligator carcass that had the tail and parts of its ribcage missing. The witness also saw two subjects in the area of the carcass, walking the bank of the canal, carrying rifles and firing into the water. Working with the Miccosukee Police Department, Lieutenant Shea proceeded to the L28 Canal where they found the subjects fitting the witness’ description. In plain view in the subject’s vehicle, Lieutenant Shea found a piece of fresh alligator hide. During the subjects’ interviews, one of the subjects admitted to killing the alligator and during the subsequent search of the vehicle and their persons, Lieutenant Shea found three firearms, ammunition, an empty ammunition box and a container with marijuana. Also, the vehicle used by the subjects was not registered. Both subjects received notices to appear and citations for their violations.
Officers patrolling the western part of Miami-Dade County received a call reporting that a truck loaded with two ATVs entered the Southern Glades Water Management Area (WMA). The Southern Glades WMA is a restricted area where there are no motorized vehicles allowed to enter. Once the officers arrived on scene, they saw the truck parked illegally next to a “NO UNATHORIZED VEHICLES ALLOWED” sign. The officers waited until two riders pulled up riding their ATVs. The two subjects admitted to operating their ATVs in a restricted area and confessed to having knowledge that the area was off limits to ATVs. Both subjects were cited and released.
Officer Dionis Delgado assisted with multiple calls over the weekend including a fight at Nixon Beach and responding to two boating accidents.
Officer R. Almagro and Officer D. Delgado responded to two boating accidents in Miami-Dade County. The officers were dispatched to a Jet Ski collision with serious bodily injury in Miami Beach. The accident is still under investigation, but one of the subjects involved has already been charged with a misdemeanor due to the violation of a navigational rule. Immediately after the initial response to this boating accident, we were dispatched to another boating accident/search and rescue where a vessel had drifted against the jetties at Government Cut with two people on board. With the collaborate effort of USCG and FWC, the vessel was removed from the jetty and brought to safety. Upon investigation of the accident, we discovered that the vessel had a machinery failure, which was the contributor for the accident. The vessel attained minor scratches on the starboard side chine and there were no reportable injuries.
An officer assigned to patrol Oleta River State Park conducted a traffic detail targeting speeders within the park. As a result, the officer issued one DUI and several other citations.
An officer observed a vessel anchored at the entrance of Matheson Hammock Boat Ramp. Upon conduction a vessel inspection, it was found the men were catching and selling live bait. A check of their documentation showed they were registered recreationally, but commercially profiting off their business. The men were in possession of a retail license but not a wholesale license. They were cited accordingly.
An officer in Miami Dade County received a call of an overturned vessel off-shore of Miami Beach with people in the water. When the officer arrived on scene, two people were already pulled out from the water by the Miami Dade Fire Rescue Boat. Both occupants were uninjured but were visually distressed. While writing the report of this incident, the same officer was called for another boating accident. A personal watercraft had hit the drawbridge at Venetian Causeway. Upon arrival on scene, the officer determined that it was a minor mishap with no injuries and no damage to the vessel or the bridge. While trying to get back to his report, the same officer was called to a boating accident that involved a sailboat that had drifted to the causeway due to high winds and bad anchoring and was leaning against the bridge. With the help of USCG, the officer assisted the operator in moving the sailboat away from the bridge.
An officer in Miami Dade County was responding to a call involving a personal watercraft that had hit the Venetian Causeway Bridge. According to the livery, the personal watercraft had been rented out to a “spring breaker” from Michigan. The operator left the scene and had abandoned the personal watercraft. Arriving on scene, the officer determined that the inexperienced operator was on scene and had to walk to the livery by land. Fortunately, the operator did not sustain any injuries but was cited for careless operation.
While on patrol, an officer in Miami Dade County conducted a fisheries inspection at Watson Island Boat Ramp on a recreational vessel that was coming in to the docks. The officer observed that the captain of the vessel had eight undersized Kingfish in his possession with all of them having their heads removed. The captain was cited for failure to land fish in whole condition, undersized fish and over the bag limit.
Upper Keys officers were patrolling the area of Long Key Bridge when they saw a vessel pull up anchor as a marked FWC patrol boat approached. The vessel was subsequently stopped and a safety and resource inspection was conducted. The officers discovered several safety violations and began to write the appropriate citations. One of the officers boarded the subject’s vessel and found a bag laying on the deck that contained 15 spiny lobster, 10 of which were undersized. The officer continued to search the vessel and soon discovered 25 additional lobster in a front compartment of the vessel. The captain of the vessel was issued a resource citation for being in possession of undersized lobster. He also received numerous boating safety citations.
Localize your news. Visit the Subscriber Preferences Page, click on "Questions" and select the region(s) of interest to you.
Update your subscriptions, modify your password or email address, or stop subscriptions at any time on your Subscriber Preferences Page. You will need to use your email address to log in. If you have questions or problems with the subscription service, please contact subscriberhelp.govdelivery.com.
This service is provided to you at no charge by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.