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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : News : Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Blotter: Jan. 11-17

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Michael L. Obrien
Contact: Sgt. John McDerby, 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: Jan. 11-17
Reminder for the week: Proper gear, precautions help protect winter boaters from cold weather hazards                                                         

DOVER (Jan. 22, 2016) – 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 Jan. 11-17 made 1,756 contacts with anglers, boaters, hunters and the general public, including 21 vessel boardings for boating safety and fishing regulation compliance checks. Officers responded to 24 complaints and issued 16 citations. This week, with an expanded Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police presence continuing to be deployed as a deterrent, no citations were issued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area and associated recreational trail.

Items of note:

·        On Jan. 13, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police arrested Michael L. Obrien, 32, of Seaford, for one count each of possession of a firearm by a person prohibited and hunting with a firearm during archery deer season on Nanticoke Wildlife Area. Obrien was video-arraigned at Justice of the Peace Court 2 in Rehoboth Beach and released on $5,000 unsecured bond pending a preliminary hearing in the Sussex County Court of Common Pleas.

·        On Jan. 11, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police cited Joel Marousek, 51, of Marydel, for one count each of using a pistol to hunt and kill a deer during archery season and possession of unlawfully taken game, with fines totaling $330, including court costs. The deer was seized as evidence and subsequently donated to Delaware’s Sportsmen Against Hunger program.

Citations issued this week by offense category included the following, with the number of charges in parentheses:

Wildlife Conservation: Trespassing after hours on a state wildlife area (4), hunting deer with a firearm during archery season (2), possession of unlawfully taken game (4), no federal duck stamp (2), and hunting migratory waterfowl before legal shooting hours (2).

Boating and Boating Safety: No boating safety certificate (1).

Public Safety: Possession of a firearm by a person prohibited (1).

Are you AWARE?
DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police remind the boating public to take precautions for winter weather and cold water, which puts those who hunt, fish or cruise our waterways at risk from hypothermia if they fall overboard.

“For those hardy outdoor enthusiasts who boat, fish and hunt in the winter, staying safe in the event of a boating mishap is all about choosing and using the right gear,” said Sgt. John McDerby, Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police. “Falling overboard or getting excessively chilled or wet on deck can put you at risk for hypothermia, so dress and outfit yourself appropriately.”

Immersion in cold water can lead very quickly to hypothermia, in which the body instinctively protects its core by shutting down blood flow to limbs first. The U.S. Coast Guard recommends wearing layers for protection and warmth, including gloves and a hat. Recommended gear also includes three types of protective clothing to reduce risk: flotation coats, which double as life jackets but may not protect against hypothermia if the wearer falls into cold water; immersion or survival suits, which can increase survival time in cold water; or a dry suit to keep water out and, with thermal layers beneath, keep warmth in. 

Other recommended safety items include:

·        Life jackets, worn by everyone on board, especially non-swimmers in all seasons; Delaware law requires that all children 12 years old and younger aboard a vessel wear a lifejacket while underway;

·        Blankets, to stay warm on board while awaiting rescue;

·        Multiple means of communication – a fully-charged cell phone and a marine radio; and

·        Items to attract the attention of rescuers: a whistle, a personal position locator beacon (PLB), a personal emergency locator light and/or flares, all kept in immersion suit pockets, secured with a lanyard.

Boat operators should also plan to spend a little extra time on vessel preparations and maintenance to help prevent breakdowns on the water, including checking fuel levels before heading out. “An equipment failure that would be a minor inconvenience in warmer weather could be life-threatening this time of year,” Sgt. McDerby said.

Sgt. McDerby also added these tips:

·        Check your vessel’s capacity plate for maximum weight to avoid overloading, which can lead to possible capsizing; hunting parties are reminded to take the weight of their gear into account.

·        Keep your cell phone in a secure pocket and sealed in a plastic bag.

·        Pack a set of dry clothing in a sealed plastic bag.

·        If you fall overboard or capsize, stay with your boat for a better chance of being found sooner.

·        Keep clothing on to help retain heat.

·        File a “float plan” with a responsible friend or family member. Include a description of your boat, when you plan to head out, who is going with you, where you plan to go and when you plan to return.  

“Filing a float plan is always a good idea, because unforeseen circumstances can hit boaters in any season at any time, including a storm, engine problems, swamping and injuries or other health issues,” Sgt. McDerby said. “With your plans in a friend or family member’s hands, they can call for help if you’re overdue and tell searchers where to begin looking for you, saving precious time.”

For more information on safe boating practices in Delaware, including an easy-to-use float plan form, please visit Delaware Boating Safety on the Division of Fish & Wildlife website.

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, 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

 Follow Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police on Facebook,

Vol. 46, No. 17
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