While on patrol at Alum Creek Lake, State Wildlife Officers Chad Grote and Maurice Irish observed a man and woman walking to their vehicle. They were both carrying fishing poles, and the woman had a bass still attached to the hook on her pole. Officer Grote asked them who had caught the fish and how the fishing was. The woman said that she had only caught the bass. Officer Grote asked to see her fishing license. She told the officers that she was headed to go buy their licenses. Officer Grote explained to her that she needed a license before she went fishing. She decided to release the fish, and Officer Irish assisted. Officer Grote then spoke with the man, who also did not have a fishing license. They each paid a $160 waiver in the Delaware Municipal Court.
During the 2016 deer gun season, State Wildlife Officer Supervisor Bill Bullard, and State Wildlife Officer Brad Kiger, assigned to Franklin County, were on patrol in Knox County. The officers noticed a hunter driving an ATV through a field with a gun across his lap. As the officers passed the hunter, they noticed several deer running away from the area. Further investigation revealed that the hunter had a loaded muzzleloader and that the hunter had already killed and checked a deer with his only deer permit. Officer Kiger explained that hunting deer or coyote during deer gun season required a valid deer permit while in possession of a hunting implement. A summons was issued for hunting without a valid permit and hunting with the aid of an ATV. The hunter was ordered to pay $350 in fines and court costs.
During the 2016-2017 deer archery season, State Wildlife Officers Chad Grote, assigned to Marion County, and Maurice Irish, assigned to Delaware County, received a Turn In a Poacher (TIP) call from a bowhunter that had been watching a young buck from a tree stand. The hunter called after hearing a nearby gun shot and seeing the buck drop. Shortly after, a man carrying a rifle approached the buck and began dragging it toward a nearby house. Officers Grote and Irish arrived at the house and observed three men butchering the deer behind a barn. During the investigation, officers learned that the head, hide and guts had already been buried in the woods. The deer and rifle were seized as evidence and the men received several citations. The case is still pending in the Morrow County Municipal Court.
On Independence Day State Wildlife Officers Matt Teders and Josh Elster were on patrol along the Scioto River in Franklin County. The officers observed a group of individuals across the river below the Griggs Reservoir dam. The officers documented three of the individuals fishing. One of the individuals then hiked up the spillway to the top of the dam and attempted to climb over a fence to reach the concrete abutment. When he failed to do so he jumped into the reservoir and swam out to the dam. He began to dislodge tree debris from the top of the dam by pushing it over into the spillway, where other individuals were below fishing. Officers Teders and Elster waded across the river and contacted the group. Further investigation revealed one individual was fishing without a license. The second individual denied fishing or swimming in the reservoir. He was asked for his ID but he declined to provide any information. The individual was advised of his violation and that he needed to provide his identity. He again declined to provide his identity. The individual was placed in handcuffs and Columbus police officers were requested for assistance. He was led back to the officer’s vehicle to meet with Columbus police, and he provided his identity. The first individual was issued a summons for fishing without a license and released. The second individual was issued a summons for fishing without a license and was then turned over to Columbus police. He was issued a criminal trespass summons and was prohibited from entry into Columbus parks for five years.
State Wildlife Officer Tyler Eldred, assigned to Morrow County, was contacted by a concerned landowner during the spring about people trespassing on his property and fishing a private lake contained within. A few weeks later Officer Eldred and State Wildlife Officer Michael Budd, assigned to Knox County, were patrolling the area and entered the property to check the lake. The officers discovered three individuals fishing on the lake and using the landowner’s boat and other equipment. The individuals did not have written permission and stated that they had received verbal permission. The officers called the landowner who denied knowing the individuals and stated they did not have permission. The individuals were charged with fishing without permission. They pleaded guilty in the Morrow County Municipal Court and paid more than $225 each in fines and court costs.
While on patrol, State Wildlife Officer Chad Grote, assigned to Marion County, received a complaint that individuals were hunting before shooting hours during early teal season at Big Island Wildlife Area. Officer Grote located a group of four hunters in the marsh. Further investigation revealed that one of the hunters had shot at a duck 30 minutes before sunrise. While speaking to the group, Officer Grote also checked their licenses and shotguns for plugs. While checking one of the hunter’s shotguns, he found it loaded with two rounds containing lead shot. The man also had additional rounds containing lead in his hunting bucket. Both hunters were issued a summons, one for hunting before hours and the other for possessing lead shot while hunting waterfowl. Both were found guilty in Marion Municipal Court before Magistrate Jason Warner and paid $376 in fines and court costs.
While on patrol one night, State Wildlife Officers Patrick Muldovan, assigned to Licking County, and Chad Grote, assigned to Marion County, witnessed a vehicle shine a spotlight into a field. Upon stopping the vehicle, the officers discovered a rifle in the backseat along with some ammunition and two lights. The two men in the vehicle appeared to be intoxicated and stated that they were looking for deer, but did not intend to shoot any. Each were issued summonses, found guilty and paid over $400 in fines and court costs. The spotlights and firearm were forfeited to the state.
While searching deer check-in records, State Wildlife Officer Patrick Muldovan, assigned to Licking County, noticed that a hunter had some discrepancies in his account regarding a deer that he had checked during the 2015-2016 hunting season. Officer Muldovan contacted the man at his residence and discovered that the hunter had killed multiple deer and had failed to check one of them in. Officer Muldovan issued the man a summons for failing to check a harvested deer. He paid $370 in fines and court costs.
During the 2016 Memorial Day Weekend, State Wildlife Officer Adam Smith, assigned to Logan County, observed the glowing light of a lantern at Fox Island at Indian Lake State Park. Officer Smith went to the location and contacted a man and woman who were fishing. The anglers were both properly licensed. During the contact the anglers’ grill caught on fire. The man and woman’s attempt to extinguish the fire were unsuccessful. Officer Smith quickly retrieved his fire extinguisher from his patrol vehicle and extinguished the fire.
While on patrol, State Wildlife Officer Josh Elster, assigned to Pickaway County, contacted a group of individuals fishing at Deer Creek Lake. When asked to see fishing licenses, one individual stated he was not fishing, but was instead playing Pokémon GO. As other members of the party retrieved their licenses, the individual informed Officer Elster there were several water Pokémon in the area, but none were showing up available for capture. Officer Elster confirmed the others had licenses and left the area. When he returned to the area a short time later, Officer Elster noticed the individual previously playing Pokémon GO was now fishing. Officer Elster contacted the individual and issued him a citation for fishing without a license. The results of the case are pending.
Last winter, the Union County Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation worked with State Wildlife Officer Josh Shields to recruit and educate new adult hunters. The new movement is called Learn to Hunt, which is tailored for nonhunting adults who have an interest in the outdoors but lack the knowledge to get started. The Union County-based class piloted an eight-week course. Activities included a field trip to a local sporting goods store, a hunter education class, several trips to the gun range hosted by the Richwood Gun Club, field dressing, a wild game dinner, and concluded with a pheasant hunt hosted by Mad River Sportsman’s Club in Zanesfield. The class was extremely successful. Most of the course attendees were middle-aged parents with an interest in exposing their children to hunting and the outdoors.
Twenty-five individuals were recently charged and convicted in Ottawa County Municipal Court following an investigation of out-of-state anglers exceeding the walleye daily bag limit, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
ODNR Division of Wildlife officers had received several complaints concerning a group of anglers from Wisconsin who were fishing Lake Erie and exceeding the daily bag limit of walleye.
In May, state wildlife officers and investigators along Lake Erie contacted the suspects. Officers discovered that nearly all of the walleye had been cut into chunks in an attempt to disguise how many fish had been kept. Because of instances like this, Ohio law states that fillets must be kept whole until anglers reach their permanent residence, or until the fish are prepared for immediate consumption. During the investigation, officers seized more than 500 pounds of walleye meat. Twenty-four individuals from Wisconsin and one individual from Ohio were issued 46 summonses for possession of cut fillets, and two summonses for keeping more than the limit of walleye.
The defendants were found guilty and ordered to pay $1,472 in fines and $1,856 in court costs. All of the seized walleye were forfeited to the ODNR Division of Wildlife and were donated to people in northwest Ohio through several outlets, including the Erie County Care Facility, the Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky County and the Luther Home of Mercy in Ottawa County.
This project was a success because concerned citizens took the time and made the effort to notify state wildlife officers. Ohio’s fish and wildlife resources are managed as a public trust on behalf of all Ohioans, and state wildlife officers enforce wildlife rules to ensure future generations are able to enjoy those resources. The willingness of law-abiding citizens to provide information concerning illegal taking of wildlife is necessary for officers to effectively enforce wildlife laws.
The ODNR Division of Wildlife encourages anyone who is aware of a possible violation of wildlife laws to call the Turn In a Poacher (TIP) line at 800-POACHER (800-762-2437) or to submit information online at wildohio.gov. All information received by the TIP program will remain confidential.