Contact: Sgt. 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: Sept. 28-Oct. 4
Reminder for the week: Boaters advised to use caution in bad weather, carry safety items
DOVER (Oct. 9, 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 Sept. 28-Oct. 4 made 770 contacts with anglers, boaters, hunters and the general public, including 23 vessel boardings for boating safety and fishing regulation compliance checks. Officers responded to 28 complaints and issued eight citations, one of which was related to the C&D Canal Conservation Area and associated recreational trail, where there is an increased Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police presence.
Items of particular note:
· Last week, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police prepared for the coming nor’easter and the possible landfall of Hurricane Joaquin by placing their smaller marine patrol response vessels in strategic locations throughout the state, with one larger vessel ready in the water at Indian River Inlet. Officers also prepared to respond with off-road police vehicles in case of a major storm and/or flooding event.
· On Oct. 3, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, assisted by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew from the Atlantic City station, launched a search-and-rescue (SAR) for a man who had set out in his kayak that afternoon to recover his sailboat which had slipped from its moorings on Love Creek. SAR operations continued early the next morning and by about 7 a.m., the USCG helicopter crew spotted the sailboat grounded in the marsh along Love Creek. Fish & Wildlife marine patrol located the missing man aboard his sailboat and brought him safely to shore.
· On Oct. 1, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police assisted the Wilmington Fire Department and the Good Will Fire Department’s marine units in responding to a 19-foot recreational vessel taking on water from heavy rain and wind-driven waves near the Delaware Memorial Bridge. A Fish & Wildlife officer helped secure tow lines to the vessel for Wilmington’s fireboat, which towed the vessel while carrying its two occupants safely to shore.
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 (2), and operating a motor vehicle off an established roadway in a state wildlife area (1)*.
Fisheries Conservation: Recreational: Fishing without a license (4), and recreational crab pot tampering/tending a crab pot owned by another person (1).
* This citation was issued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area.
Are you AWARE?
In the wake of a nor’easter and a brush with Hurricane Joaquin that brought high winds and tides to Delaware’s waterways, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police offer some fall boating safety tips.
“Fall typically brings some beautiful days for boating, but boaters should always check the forecast before heading out on the waterways, as the weather can change quickly even on what starts out as a nice day,” said Sgt. John McDerby, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police boating safety coordinator. “On an obviously stormy day, recreational boaters must always consider the risks before going out. Not only are you putting yourself and your passengers at risk, but you unnecessarily put the lives of first responders at risk if you’re out there needing assistance when you shouldn’t have been on the water in the first place.”
Also, in the event of predicted severe weather, recreational boaters are advised to secure their vessels well in advance of the rain and wind. “Do not wait until the middle of a storm to pull your vessel from the water,” Sgt. McDerby said. “Again, a boat that’s broken away from its moorings puts you as well as any rescuers at risk.”
Sgt. McDerby also recommended that boaters carry safety items, including:
· 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 also should spend some time on vessel preparations and maintenance to help prevent breakdowns on the water, including checking fuel levels before heading out. Sgt. McDerby 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’s 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 http://de.gov/ogt.
Follow Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police on Facebook, www.facebook.com/pages/Delaware-Fish-Wildlife-Natural-Resources-Police.
Vol. 45, No. 338