This report represents some events the FWC Northwest Region handled from Nov. 16 - 29; however, it does not include all actions taken by the Division of Law Enforcement.
Officer Matt Cushing checked a fisherman as he returned to the 17th Avenue Boat Ramp in Pensacola. The individual claimed he had only caught white trout. Upon inspection, Officer Cushing located two harvested red snapper and one oversized red drum. The season is closed for red snapper. Officer Cushing issued notice to appear citations for possession of red snapper during closed season and for possession of oversized red drum.
While on vessel patrol, Officer Matt Cushing inspected a vessel near the Three Mile Bridge in Pensacola Bay. Officer Cushing found the operator of the vessel in possession of an oversized red drum. A notice to appear citation was issued for the violation.
Officer Faris Livesay was working hunting complaints in the Beulah area when he heard a single gunshot. Officer Livesay went to the area he believed the shot originated, waited for a short time, and observed a vehicle drive into the area. When the vehicle exited the wooded area, Officer Livesay made contact and spoke with the two occupants. The driver was dressed in camouflage but the passenger was not. Neither individual was in possession of a firearm at the time of initial contact. After speaking to the individuals, Officer Livesay determined that the person dressed in camouflage shot a doe deer with a shotgun. It was archery only season. The suspect then went to the other individual’s home and asked for help to drag the deer out of the woods. Officer Livesay located the doe deer and seized related items for evidence. This week, Officer Livesay obtained a warrant on the driver for possession of a deer showing evidence of being illegally taken.
Investigator Rob Goley responded to a call for assistance by the Florida Highway Patrol regarding a vehicle they had stopped for several traffic violations on I-10 near the Alabama/Florida state line. Upon arrival, Investigator Goley discovered the stopped truck contained numerous alligators. The driver of the truck produced FWC permits, which were expired. Investigator Shelby Williams also responded to assist. The investigation is ongoing, with possible charges pending.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
Officer Ken Manning and Lt. Dan Hahr located a man hunting near scattered corn within Blackwater WMA. The man advised them that his friend was hunting nearby, as well. While Officer Manning spoke to the first subject, Lieutenant Hahr located the second subject asleep in a tree stand. As Lieutenant Hahr approached, the man woke up and saw him. When Lieutenant Hahr asked him if he was hunting over corn, the man looked behind him and then replied that he had not put any out yet. Lieutenant Hahr located freshly scattered corn approximately 25 yards away in the direction the man had looked. Both men were issued notices to appear for hunting over bait in a management area. The first man was hunting with a modern firearm and had several prior felony convictions. The muzzleloading rifle was seized and charges are pending for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
FWC officers and supervisors assigned to Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties conducted a special operation for opening of general gun – quota hunt within the Blackwater WMA. Officers and supervisors targeted illegal hunting activity. During the detail, officers worked 525 hours, checked 859 users, issued 40 citations and warnings, and responded to several calls for service. Violations ranged from hunting over bait within the management area, possession of firearm by convicted felon, operating vehicle on closed roads, and failure to possess required licenses and permits.
Officer Sulin Schafer received a call from Eglin Range Patrol regarding an illegal deer that had been taken by a hunter. When Officer Schafer responded, she observed the deer did not have the three antler points on one side that is required in that area of Eglin. The hunter was issued a notice to appear for the violation and the deer was seized and donated to an approved charitable organization.
On November 27, at approximately 3 a.m., Officer Ken Manning and Lt. Dan Hahr, working with NOAA Officer Grant Demesillo, conducted an Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) inspection on a commercial fishing vessel near Destin. After the vessel docked, the captain and deckhand offloaded approximately 600 pounds of red snapper and triggerfish. The offload of fish is prohibited between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., and commercial harvest of triggerfish is closed. When the subjects attempted to leave in their vehicle, they were stopped and the officers conducted an inspection of the vehicle and vessel. The captain stated that he was transporting the fish to Alabama where they would be sold. During the inspection, drug paraphernalia and counterfeit 20 dollar bills were located in the vehicle. The deckhand admitted the paraphernalia belonged to him. The investigation will continue regarding the drug paraphernalia and counterfeit money. The captain was issued a federal notice of violation for offloading IFQ fish during prohibited hours and for failure to possess a dealer transaction number before transporting fish.
Officer Danny Arnette received a complaint about a game trail camera and feeder being stolen from private property. Officer Arnette tracked vehicle sign from the property to a residence, where he later identified two subjects with the missing items. The camera and feeder will be returned to the owner. Charges are pending.
Officer Andy Maltais recently received a favorable court disposition on a case he made during the Labor Day weekend. Officer Maltais observed a subject in a 40–foot pleasure craft vessel traveling at a high rate of speed in a narrow congested channel. The subject vessel continually weaved in and out of the congested area, spraying and waking vessels with huge waves. The wake of the subject vessel was so large that several vessels became swamped and had to leave the channel to avoid an accident and sinking. Many of the other vessel operators in the channel observed this subject vessel and left the channel fearing for their safety. The vessel operator, charged with reckless operation, was convicted of the misdemeanor offense, sentenced to six months probation, ordered to pay $375 in fines, and required to complete a boater safety course.