Central Ohio – Wildlife District One
During the statewide deer archery season, the Turn In a Poacher (TIP) hotline received a call about several subjects hunting in a City of Columbus park. The caller stated that he saw several individuals with bows go into the park. Dispatchers contacted State Wildlife Officer Brad Kiger, assigned to Franklin County. Officer Kiger arrived on site and witnessed two hunters exit the park, one with a crossbow and the second with a compound bow. Officer Kiger contacted the hunters, who stated that they were using a phone app which said they could hunt at that location. Officer Kiger looked at the app, but the app only showed that Franklin County was a four-deer county. Officer Kiger quickly pointed out that everywhere you click on in Franklin County showed the same response. Officer Kiger also pointed out that the property they were on was a city park and no hunting was allowed. Technology can be a good thing, but you have to know what you’re looking at. Both hunters received a citation and were ordered to pay $188 in fines and court costs.
In August, State Wildlife Officer Michael Budd, assigned to Knox County, was contacted by a landowner who found a truck parked on his property. The landowner had recently listened to the radio show Officer Budd speaks on once a month. During a past show, Officer Budd had talked about watching for vehicles parked where they shouldn’t be during this time of year. The caller believed the owner of the truck was ginseng hunting on his property without permission. Ginseng season does not begin until September 1. After further investigation, two men were located on the property illegally harvesting ginseng. The ginseng they had harvested was collected as evidence and both individuals were arrested and taken to jail. Both were charged with hunting ginseng without permission and harvesting ginseng out of season. Each individual received a $500 fine and 180 days in jail with 150 days suspended, providing they do not violate their probation for a period of two years. The ginseng was weighed and the individuals were ordered to pay restitution for the value of the ginseng.
Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District Two
During teal season, hunting is legal from sunrise to sunset. Due to early shooting issues in recent years, State Wildlife Officer Matt Leibengood, assigned to Sandusky County, invited two state wildlife investigators to assist him at Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area on opening day 2017. That morning, an early shooting complaint was received, and the officers pinpointed the source. Three hunters were contacted and interviewed. The investigation resulted in three charges of hunting teal before legal shooting time and one charge of taking a non-game bird.
Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District Three
State Wildlife Officer Aaron Brown, assigned to Wayne County, State Wildlife Officer Brennan Earick, assigned to Ashland County, and State Wildlife Officer Supervisor Eric Bear were observing a group of duck hunters during the waterfowl season. Two individuals in a jon boat were seen shooting at many ducks and missing most of them. The hunters eventually came to shore and were contacted by the officers. While officers Bear and Earick were speaking with the men and checking licenses and stamps, Officer Brown noticed some boxes of shells in the hull of the boat. Several of the boxes were lead shot, which is a violation of state and federal law. Furthermore, numerous spent rounds of lead and non-toxic shotgun hulls were found in the boat. A total of 38 unspent rounds of lead ammunition were found in boxes, in the hunters’ coats, or in their hunting bags. The men were charged with possession and use of toxic shot to hunt waterfowl and were ordered to appear in court. The men were convicted and ordered to pay a total of $526 in fines and court costs.
While on patrol on the opening day of deer gun season, State Wildlife Officer Jason Warren, assigned to Ashtabula County, and State Wildlife Officer Supervisor Dave Shinko stopped at the confluence of Wheeler Creek and Lake Erie. While Officer Warren returned several phone calls, Officer Shinko contacted two individuals who were fishing in the nearby creek. One of the men stated that he had forgotten his fishing license. Officer Warren confirmed that the subject had a valid fishing license but learned that the man had a warrant for his arrest. Before the officers could arrest him, the man proceeded to flee, running down the sandy shore of Lake Erie. Officer Warren pursued the man, running alongside him on the grassy bank while the suspect continued to ignore commands to stop. The man eventually collapsed after 100 yards. He was arrested, charged with deterring a wildlife officer, and transferred into the custody of the Ashtabula County Sherriff’s Office. The suspect was found guilty in Ashtabula Western County Court, fined $595 and served 120 days in jail.
Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District Four
While on patrol, State Wildlife Officer Jeff Berry, assigned to Muskingum County, received information about someone hunting without permission from a landowner. Officer Berry and State Wildlife Investigator Kirk Kiefer responded to the call. The landowner told officers Berry and Kiefer that he had heard several shots near his property, and when he went to check, he found a place where a deer had been field dressed on his property. The landowner told the officers he knew there was a group of hunters on his neighbor’s property. Officers Berry and Kiefer drove up the road to speak to the hunters. The officers obtained written statements from each hunter, and were able to determine that the deer had been shot during a deer drive on the property where the hunters had permission. However, the deer was drug across the creek and field dressed on the complainant’s property. One hunter was issued a summons for hunting without permission, and the other hunter was issued a summons for hunting without a deer permit. Each of the hunters were required to complete 60 hours of community service and had to pay court costs.
Earlier this year, State Wildlife Investigator Kirk Kiefer was shown a trail camera photograph of someone trespassing on private property. The photograph was taken in August but the landowner did not know what the suspect was doing since it was not yet hunting season. It was apparent to Investigator Kiefer that the suspect was digging ginseng; however, he could not determine who the individual was. After showing the picture to other law enforcement officers, a Sheriff’s deputy was able to identify the suspect. Investigator Kiefer interviewed the suspect who admitted to digging ginseng before the legal season, and digging on the property without permission. The suspect was found guilty on both charges. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail and ordered to pay $85 in court costs.
Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District Five
State Wildlife Officer Eric Lamb, assigned to Brown County, responded to a hunting without permission complaint in Adams County. The complainants reported finding an area on their property where a deer had been field dressed. Through the course of an investigation, Officer Lamb was able to identify the hunter he believed to be responsible for leaving the deer remains on the property. When Officer Lamb spoke to the hunter, he discovered that an antlered deer had been shot on another property where the hunter had permission to hunt, but the hunter had retrieved the deer from the neighboring property without obtaining the landowner’s permission. The complainants did not want the hunter charged for the violation but wanted him to ask for their permission in the future. During the course of his investigation, Officer Lamb also discovered that the hunter failed to permanently check-in the antlered deer. The hunter told Officer Lamb that he was not going to check the deer in because once he had retrieved it, he realized it was not as big as he thought it was when he shot it. The hunter was subsequently cited for failing to permanently check-in his harvested antlered deer.
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