Contact: Sgt. Gregory Rhodes, Division of Fish & Wildlife Enforcement, 302-739-9913 or 302-542-6102, or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902
DNREC Fish & Wildlife Enforcement Blotter: Dec. 17-23
Reminders for the week: Be cautious when boating icy waters or walking on frozen ponds,
and know where to go to try out new ATVs, firearms
DOVER (Dec. 27, 2013) – To achieve public compliance through education and enforcement actions that help conserve Delaware’s fish and wildlife resources and ensure safe boating and public safety, DNREC Natural Resources Police, Division of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Agents between Dec. 17-23 made 517 contacts with anglers, hunters, boaters and the general public, including 20 vessel boardings for boating safety/fishing regulation compliance checks. Agents responded to 15 complaints and issued 10 citations, four of which were associated with increased Fish and Wildlife Enforcement presence at the C&D Canal Conservation Area (formerly the C&D Canal Wildlife Area) and the recreational trail there currently under construction.
An incident of particular note that was resolved last week was:
· On Dec. 16, Fish and Wildlife agents arrested Keith A. Hickman, 30, of Laurel, and charged him with illegally operating an ATV on a public roadway and carrying a loaded firearm on a motor vehicle, following a Dec. 14 incident near the town. Hickman pled guilty to the charges in Justice of the Peace Court 3 in Georgetown, and paid a total of $267 in fines and court costs.
Citations issued by violation type included the following, with the number of charges in parentheses:
Wildlife Conservation: Hunting migratory waterfowl after hours (2)*, and failure to sign required federal waterfowl stamp prior to hunting migratory waterfowl (2)*, New Castle County; Hunting migratory waterfowl with an unplugged shotgun (1), Kent County; Operating an ATV on a public roadway (1), and failure to tag an antlerless deer (1), Sussex County.
Boating Safety: Carrying a loaded firearm in a motor vessel (1), and negligent operation of a vessel (1), Sussex County.
Public Safety: Carrying a loaded firearm on a motor vehicle (1), Sussex County.
* These citations were issued in connection with violations at the C&D Canal Conservation Area.
Are you AWARE?
With winter cold again icing over Delaware ponds, marshes and streams, DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Section reminds anglers, hunters and winter outdoor enthusiasts of the potential hazards of ice and being outdoors in winter weather.
· Waterfowlers using a boat while hunting should watch ice conditions and currents carefully to avoid becoming locked in by ice. Drifting ice in tidal marshes and streams also can complicate rescue efforts.
· Anglers, skaters and outdoor enthusiasts should exercise extreme caution when venturing out onto ice, and should always take a buddy who could provide or summon help in an emergency situation.
· Examine ice carefully. For walking, freshwater ice should be a minimum of 2 to 3 inches thick, clear and sound, with no thin spots caused by springs or currents. Be wary of snow on the ice, which can hide weak spots. For ice fishing, ice should be at least 4 inches thick.
· Driving ATVs, snowmobiles and passenger vehicles on ice is strongly discouraged. To support the weight of a vehicle, ice must be at least 7 to 10 inches thick. Without an extended period of extreme cold, ice is unlikely to reach this thickness in Delaware.
“With cold winter temperatures, a mishap that would otherwise be an inconvenience can instantly become a life-threatening situation,” said Sgt. Gregory Rhodes of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement. “Falling out of a boat or through ice into cold water can lead to hypothermia and death in minutes. When in doubt, it’s best to stay off the ice.”
Anglers, hunters and other winter outdoor enthusiasts also are reminded to take the following general cold-weather precautions:
· Make sure a responsible person knows where you are going, when you leave and when you anticipate coming home from winter outdoor activities.
· Dress appropriately for the weather and any anticipated change such as rain, snow or temperature drop.
· Carry a small emergency survival kit, including a fully charged cell phone, flashlight, snacks, compass and emergency blanket.
Where to try out those new ‘toys’
With the holidays come days off from work and school, and Fish and Wildlife Enforcement reminds wildlife area visitors – especially those with brand-new ATVs or dirt bikes – that driving any type of motor vehicles off established roadways on state wildlife lands is illegal and damaging to wildlife habitat.
“Off-roading is very destructive to areas reserved for wildlife conservation and harmful to some of our more fragile species. In addition, Division staff have to replant vegetation, repair ruts and clean up after these activities,” said Sgt. Rhodes. “If you want to take that new ATV out for a ride, it’s best to do it on your own property or on private property with the owner’s prior permission.”
There’s another good reason to keep ATVs and other vehicles without a license plate on private lands, Rhodes added: it is illegal in Delaware to operate unlicensed motor vehicles on public roadways – including state, county and established wildlife area roads. “ATVs and other vehicles without a license plate are prohibited in state wildlife areas, both off-road and on established roadways, and violators who are caught will be cited,” Rhodes said.
Hunters who find new firearms under the tree are reminded that target practice is prohibited on state wildlife areas. However, the state-owned Ommelanden Hunter Education Training Center and Public Shooting Range, located at 1205 River Road, New Castle, is an excellent place to try them out. Operated by DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, the Ommelanden Center is dedicated to providing Delaware hunters with required hunter education courses and training opportunities.
Ommelanden’s range is open year round for public use for a small fee from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays. The facility is closed on state holidays, including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The range includes 25 and 50-meter rifle and pistol ranges, skeet and trap fields and a practice archery field. For more information, call 302-323-5333, or visit Ommelanden Range.
The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife recognizes and thanks the majority of anglers, hunters and boaters who comply with and support Delaware’s fishing, hunting and boating laws and regulations. Citizens are encouraged to report fish and wildlife and boating violations to the Delaware Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Section by calling 302-739-4580. Wildlife violations may also be reported anonymously to Operation Game Theft by calling 800-292-3030 or online at www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Hunting/Pages/OpGameTheft.aspx.
Vol. 43, No. 477