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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : News : DNREC Fish and Wildlife Natural Resources Police Blotter June 22 to 28

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Contact: Cpl. John McDerby, DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, 302-739-9913 or 302-354-1386, or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902  

Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Blotter: June 22-28
Reminder for the week: Practice safe boating over the 4th of July holiday weekend

DOVER (July 2, 2015) – 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 Natural Resources Police officers between June 22-28 made 1,937 contacts with anglers, boaters and the general public, including 289 vessel boardings for boating safety and fishing regulation compliance checks. Officers responded to 69 complaints and issued 55 citations, three of which were related to the C&D Canal Conservation Area and associated recreational trail, where there is an increased Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police presence.

Incidents of particular note were:

·        On June 23, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers arrested Robert J. Ballinghoff, 22, of Middletown, and charged him as a fugitive from New Jersey, as well as with one count of unlicensed fishing on the C&D Canal near St. Georges. Ballinghoff was committed to the Howard R. Young Correctional facility in Wilmington after waiving his extradition rights.

·        On June 23, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers arrested Brandon J. Cheaton, 23, of Middletown, and charged him with one count each of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia near Port Penn. Cheaton was released pending a court appearance at a later date.

·        On June 26, as part of a special operation over complaints of sexual misconduct in Redden State Forest, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers made two separate arrests: Lester William Cavagnaro, 79, of Georgetown, and Walter Blankley, 58, of Millsboro, were each charged with one count of loitering in public to engage in or solicit sex. Both were released pending a July 8 appearance in Justice of the Peace Court 3 in Georgetown. 

Citations issued by offense type included the following, with the number of charges in parentheses:

Wildlife Conservation: Trespassing after hours on a state wildlife area (2), and operating an unregistered motor vehicle on a state wildlife area (1)*.

Fisheries Conservation: Recreational: Fishing without a license (12), possession of undersized blue crabs (8), possession of undersized white perch (3), possession of undersized striped bass (4), possession of over-the-limit summer flounder (1), use of recreational crab pots without required turtle excluder (2), and recreational crab pot tampering (3).

Boating and Boating Safety: Operating a vessel with insufficient number of life jackets (4), no life jacket on a child age 12 or younger as required by law (2), no boating safety certificate (2), allowing use of a noncompliant vessel (2), and no navigation lights/required safety equipment (1).

Public Safety: Possession of marijuana (1), possession of drug paraphernalia (1), driving a motor vehicle with a suspended or revoked license (1), operating a motor vehicle at unsafe speed on a roadway (1), loitering in public to engage or solicit another to engage in sex (2), dumping (1)*, and fugitive from another state (1).

* These citations were issued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area. In addition, the following citation not marked with an asterisk also was issued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area: Fishing without a license (1).

Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police News, Training and Outreach
From June 26 through 28, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police statewide participated in Operation Dry Water, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators’ initiative against alcohol-impaired boating. Due to high winds and storms through most of the weekend, boating traffic statewide was very limited. Weather notwithstanding, officers conducted two specialized OUI (operating under the influence) patrols in each county, making 864 contacts with boat operators and passengers and conducting 126 boardings while performing standard vessel safety checks and encouraging safe boating practices both in operations and required safety equipment. Officers logged 89 hours underway on Delaware waterways and issued 20 citations for fisheries and boating violations. No citations for OUI were issued in Delaware during this year’s Operation Dry Water.

Are you AWARE?
DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police reminds those launching their vessels on Delaware waterways over the long 4th of July weekend to practice safe boating. Tips for recreational boaters to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend include:

·        Don’t drink while operating a vessel – avoid putting yourself, passengers and other boaters at risk by having a non-drinking designated operator.

·        Exercise patience and courtesy at crowded boat ramps and docks.

·        Observe all “Slow/No Wake” areas.

·        Maintain a lookout for other vessels and keep a safe distance from them.

·        Avoid traveling at unsafe speeds, including congested areas.

·        Make sure children 12 and younger are wearing life jackets while underway as required by law.

·        Wear your life jacket and encourage all your passengers 13 and older to wear them also.

·        Check navigation lights and make sure to turn them on when operating at night.

·        Carry your boating safety certificate and required safety equipment, including enough life jackets for everyone aboard, a fire extinguisher and a whistle.

·        Paddle boards are considered vessels, and passengers are required to have a life jacket on board and carry a whistle or other sound-producing device. If out after sunset, a flashlight is also required.

·        Personal watercraft (PWC) operators and passengers must wear life jackets and follow vessel rules, including safety equipment noted above. Operators also are required to wear a lanyard attached to the PWC’s emergency ignition safety “kill” switch, which shuts off the engine if the operator is thrown from the proper operating position.

·        PWC operators must be age 16 or older. Ages 14 and 15 may operate a PWC, but only under the direct supervision of a parent or legal guardian on board. Youth under age 14 may not operate a PWC on Delaware waters.

·        Prohibited PWC maneuvers which endanger the safety of persons and property include:

-        Weaving through congested vessel traffic;

-        Jumping or attempting to jump the wake within 100 feet of another vessel;

-        Following within 100 feet of a water skier or tuber; and

-        Speeding in restricted speed areas.

For more information on safe boating, please click Delaware Boating Safety.

DNREC’s 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 Natural Resources Police by calling 302-739-4580. Wildlife violations may also be reported anonymously to Operation Game Theft by calling 800-292-3030 or online at

Vol. 45, No. 217

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