Field reports from ODNR Division of Wildlife Officers

Staff report

Central Ohio – Wildlife District One

Wildlife Officer Maurice Irish, assigned to Delaware County, was on patrol at O’Shaughnessy Reservoir when he observed a man fishing with a cast net. Upon contact, Officer Irish noticed part of a crappie inside the man’s bucket. The bucket contained mostly gizzard shad, but inspection of his catch revealed the man was in possession of several undersized crappie and one undersized largemouth bass. Further investigation revealed the man illegally took sport fish using a cast net. He was cited into Delaware Municipal Court and received $160 in fines and court costs.

State Wildlife Officer Jeff Tipton, assigned to Champaign County, enjoys speaking at hunter education courses. He takes time to discuss hunting safety, and emphasizes the importance of leaving a positive legacy for the next generation of hunters. Officer Tipton also talks about how hunters can partner with wildlife officers to catch poachers by providing information about illegal hunting activities. During the deer-gun season, Officer Tipton contacted three hunters and checked their hunting licenses. One of the hunters was the father of a boy who had attended a recent course. Officer Tipton was having issues in the area with people spotlighting at night; the men were able to provide new information about the activity. Later that same week, the man called Officer Tipton to report that someone had illegally killed a buck. At the end of the week, the man again called Officer Tipton to tell him about an incident. He and his son had witnessed another hunter doing something unsafe. The father went on to say that the boy recognized what happened was wrong because of what he learned during the hunter education course. The father thanked Officer Tipton for making a positive impression on his son.

Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District Two

On opening day of waterfowl season in the Lake Erie Marsh Zone, State Wildlife Officer Matthew Leibengood, assigned to Sandusky County, fielded a Turn-In-a-Poacher complaint regarding two trumpeter swans that had been killed at Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area. Thanks to accurate and timely information, Officer Leibengood and fellow State Wildlife Officers Anthony Lemle and Kevin Newsome were able to locate the suspects and the swans. Three shooters were identified and issued summonses to court. All three appeared in court and pleaded no contest. All were convicted and each was ordered to pay a maximum fine of $250 plus $666.66 in restitution, one-third of the total minimum value of two trumpeter swans ($2,000).

State Wildlife Officers Austin Dickinson, assigned to Seneca County, and Eric VonAlmen, assigned to Hancock County, were on patrol in October checking hunters during the North Zone waterfowl hunting season. The officers noticed several vehicles parked at a public hunting area about an hour before legal shooting time. They spotted two separate groups of hunters with decoys set out, each on opposite sides of the pond. The group on the far side of the pond started shooting more than 30 minutes before the legal time. The officers also observed the group kill multiple wood ducks, which were not in season. The officers made contact with the group, comprised of four adults and one juvenile. Two of the adults were charged with taking wood ducks during the closed season, and two of the adults were charged with shooting before the legal time. All of the adults were found guilty and paid fines.

Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District Three

While patrolling Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area, State Wildlife Officer Aaron Brown, assigned to Wayne County, and State Wildlife Officer Kyle Queer, assigned to Carroll County, observed two men fishing from the shore. The officers began walking to their location. The men were gone when the officers arrived, but a bucket containing two beer cans remained. The men returned to their fishing spot a short time later, and the officers observed one of the individuals drink from a can. The officers contacted the men shortly thereafter and checked their fishing licenses. While inspecting their licenses, Officer Brown noticed only one can remained in the bucket. One man denied drinking the second can. Officer Brown walked down the trail where the men were fishing and located a similar can floating in the river. He returned to the parking area and compared the two cans. The date and batch numbers on the bottom were the same. Further investigation revealed the man had discarded the can in the water. The man appeared in Holmes County Municipal Court on a charge of stream litter. He was convicted and ordered to pay $474 in fines and costs.

While patrolling the Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area during the summer, State Wildlife Officer Aaron Brown, assigned to Wayne County, contacted three individuals fishing along the shore of Killbuck Creek. Through the course of the investigation, he was able to determine that a female in the group was a missing juvenile from Alabama and considered a runaway. Officer Brown was advised to take the individual into custody. The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office assisted Officer Brown by transporting the juvenile to a youth facility. She was returned to Alabama several days later.

Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District Four

During deer-gun season, State Wildlife Officer Eric Lane, assigned to Perry County, observed three hunters dragging a deer approximately 100 yards into a wood line. Officer Lane made contact with the three individuals. After checking firearms and licenses, Officer Lane discovered that the deer did not have a temporary tag. Officer Lane issued a summons for failing to temporarily tag the deer. The individual paid fines and court costs.

State Wildlife Officer Bob Nelson, assigned to Ross County, received a tip in November about a wildlife violation. The informant stated an individual had killed two bucks and had his wife check one of the deer in her name. Officer Nelson and State Wildlife Officer Jared Abele, assigned to Vinton County, investigated the tip. The officers spoke with both the husband and wife. An investigation revealed the husband shot a smaller buck in October and checked it in with his wife’s name. He then shot a larger buck in November which he checked in with his own name. The husband was issued a summons for the violation. The officers seized the second buck and his bow. The case is pending in Chillicothe Municipal Court.

Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District Five

State Wildlife Investigator Kevin Behr assisted the Greenfield Police Department from April through August 2015 with an investigation that involved the seizure of 52.90 pounds of dried ginseng. The ginseng was seized as a result of the execution of a Greenfield Police Department search warrant. The suspect failed to certify the ginseng for holding over in the closed season, failed to keep accurate records, and falsified ginseng records. The ginseng charges were rolled into the entire criminal case proceedings. The suspect was convicted of felony drug possession, drug trafficking, and receiving stolen property. The suspect was sentenced to 10 years in prison with a $10,000 fine. The ginseng was forfeited to the Greenfield Police Department.

Staff report