Contact: Cpl. John McDerby, Division of Fish & Wildlife Enforcement Natural Resources Police, 302-739-9913 or 302-354-1386, or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902
DNREC Fish & Wildlife Enforcement Blotter: Dec. 8-14
Reminder 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. 19, 2014) – 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 Division of Fish & Wildlife Enforcement Natural Resources Police officers between Dec. 8-14 made 1,125 contacts with anglers, hunters, boaters and the general public, including 74 vessel boardings for boating safety and fishing regulation compliance checks. Agents responded to 38 complaints and issued 35 citations, two of which were related to the C&D Canal Conservation Area and associated recreational trail, where there is an increased Fish & Wildlife Enforcement presence.
An incident of particular note was:
· On Dec. 8, following an investigation, Fish & Wildlife Enforcement officers charged three Delmar men in connection with a Dec. 6 incident in which a rifle was fired towards an occupied residence near Laurel. Jeffery A. Jones, 28, was arrested and charged with felony reckless endangering, possession of a deadly weapon during commission of a felony, third-degree conspiracy, striking an occupied dwelling with shot from a firearm, possession/transportation of an unlawfully taken antlered deer, failure to tag antlered deer, hunting white-tailed deer with a weapon (rifle) other than a bow during archery season, hunting white-tailed deer during a closed season, unlawful use of a handgun to take deer, trapping without a license/safety course, setting an unlawful killer body-gripping trap, use of a non-padded trap above waterline, and illegal use of a trap with a jaw spread greater than 6½” above waterline. Jones was arraigned and released on a $29,800 unsecured bond, pending trial at a later date. Two others also were cited in connection with the case, one for possession/transportation of an unlawfully taken antlered deer and third-degree conspiracy, and the other for trapping without a license/safety course, possession/transportation of an unlawfully taken antlered deer and third degree conspiracy. Both pled guilty to the charges and were fined $219 and $298, respectively.
Citations issued by offense type included the following, with the number of charges in parentheses:
Wildlife Conservation: Operating an unregistered vehicle/ATV on a state wildlife area (1)*, trespassing after hours on a state wildlife area (1)*, New Castle County; Unlicensed hunting (1), and operating a motor vehicle off an established roadway on a state wildlife area (1), Kent County; Possession/transportation of unlawfully taken antlered deer (3), failure to tag antlered deer (1), failure to tag antlerless deer (1), hunting white-tailed deer with a weapon (rifle) other than a bow during archery season (1), hunting white-tailed deer during a closed season (1), unlawful use of a handgun to take deer (1), hunting with an unplugged shotgun capable of holding more than three shells (1), hunting migratory waterfowl over illegal bait (4), trapping without a license/safety course (2), setting an unlawful killer body-gripping trap (1), use of a non-padded trap above waterline (1), illegal use of a trap with a jaw spread greater than 6 ½” above waterline (1), and operating a motor vehicle off an established roadway on a state wildlife area (1), Sussex County.
Boating and Boating Safety: Operating a vessel with insufficient number of life jackets (2), no tidal boat ramp certificate (2), operating a motor vessel with an expired registration/operating an unregistered vessel (1), and no navigation lights/required safety equipment (1), Kent County.
Public Safety: Felony reckless endangering (1), possession of a deadly weapon during commission of a felony (1), third degree conspiracy (3), and striking an occupied dwelling with shot from a firearm (1), Sussex County.
* These citations were issued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area.
Are you AWARE?
With winter cold settling in, 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 Cpl. John McDerby of Fish & 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 – and always wear a life jacket.”
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 & 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 Cpl. McDerby. “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 unregistered vehicles on private lands, McDerby added: it is illegal in Delaware to operate unregistered 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,” McDerby 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 & 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 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and from 12:30 to 8:30 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.
Those unwrapping new shotguns should also consider Owens Station Shooting Sports & Hunter Education Center, located at 12613 Hunters Cove Road, Greenwood. Newly dedicated in September by the Division of Fish & Wildlife as downstate Delaware’s first and only state-owned public shooting sports range, Owens Station is operated as a public-private partnership and features a circular 60-station sporting clays course, a trap shooting range and “five-stand” warmup range. For more information, click Owens Station Sporting Clays or call 302-349-4334.
The DNREC Division of Fish & 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 & 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. 44, No. 433