August 28, 2015 thru September 3, 2015
This report represents some events the FWC handled over the past week;
however, it does not include all actions taken by the Division of Law Enforcement.
Patrol, Protect, Preserve
Officer T. Basford was on patrol in St. AndrewsState Park when he stopped a vehicle that displayed an expired vehicle tag. The driver was found to knowingly have a suspended driver’s license and the attached tag was not assigned to the vehicle being operated. The driver was booked into the Bay County Jail for knowingly driving with a suspended license and attaching an unassigned tag.
Officer Gore was working at night in the St. AndrewsState Park when he noticed a vehicle parked in a handicapped parking spot. He found the vehicle occupied by two subjects consuming alcohol, who had no park pass and nor were they handicapped. A consensual search of the vehicle found two concealed handguns in the driver’s immediate reach, four baggies of methamphetamine, a glass pipe, digital scales and a syringe. The driver was booked into the Bay County Jail for possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of concealed firearms. Both were charged with consuming alcohol in the state park and being in the park after hours.
Officers Cushing and Land were on patrol aboard the offshore vessel Fincat. During one of the boardings, OfficerLand discovered two undersized greater amberjack. After interviewing the subjects onboard, two individuals took responsibility for the fish. The violations were documented and turned over to the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Lieutenant Allen and Officer Hughes were on patrol checking commercial oyster vessels in Apalachicola. A vessel pulled up to the boat ramp and the three oystermen on board stated that they had harvested four bags of oysters that morning. Lieutenant Allen opened one bag and noticed that many of the oysters appeared to be under the 3 inch minimum size. The officers conducted a size tolerance check of the bag and discovered that approximately 45 percent of the oysters were undersized, well above the allowable 5 percent tolerance. Officer Hughes issued the owner of the vessel a citation for the offense.
Officers conducted patrols focusing on the opening of the winter oyster harvest season. They checked 28 vessels and 55 users. Five citations for possession of under sized oysters were issued, ranging from 39 percent to 55 percent undersized, along with three boating citations. Officers Rice and Mynard were patrolling St.GeorgeIsland when they observed a commercial oyster vessel leaving one of the canals. After the vessel was out of sight, they checked the area and found seven bags of tagged oysters hidden in the marsh at the water’s edge. The officers concealed themselves and waited to see if someone would return for the oysters. After a short time, the officers observed a truck slowly pass by several times. On the last trip, the truck stopped and one of the individuals exited the vehicle, ran to the bags of oysters, and loaded them on the truck. The officers identified themselves. A closer inspection of the bags showed them to be tagged with the saltwater products license number belonging to one of the truck’s occupants. That individual was issued a citation for failure to deliver shellfish to a certified dealer. The seven bags of oysters were seized and returned to the water alive.
While on night patrol at the Jim Woodruff Dam, Officer Mims spotted a boat underway on the ApalachicolaRiver without proper navigation lights. Officer Mims crept up to the edge of the river and observed two men in a boat, one of whom was throwing a cast net. After watching for several minutes, Officer Mims walked down to the boat along the shore and conducted a resource inspection. The inspection revealed 61 bream, 3 largemouth bass, 3 hybrid bass, and 1 speckled perch illegally caught with the cast net. Both men were charged with taking freshwater game fish by illegal method. All fish were returned to the water alive.
Officer Pifer was on vessel patrol in the Santa Rosa Sound at the Brooks Bridge when he observed individuals fishing from a vessel. The fisheries inspection revealed one oversized red drum. The red drum measured 28.5 inches in total length. The legal state slot limit is 18 inches to 27 inches in total length. The owner/operator was issued a citation for the oversized red drum. The next day, Officer Pifer was on patrol conducting state fisheries enforcement at a local boat ramp in Niceville. He observed a vessel being loaded onto a boat trailer with fishing gear onboard. He further observed a passenger holding a clear plastic bag which contained six red snapper that had been beheaded, scaled and eviscerated. The owner/operator accepted responsibility and was cited for the harvest/possession of red snapper during closed season. Later that day, Officers Pifer observed two individuals fishing from shore on OkaloosaIsland. A fisheries inspection revealed that the two individuals were found to be in possession of four oversized red drum. Both individuals were issued citations for possession of an oversized red drum.
Officers Rockwell and Jarvis were conducting state fisheries inspections at the Destin East jetties when they observed an individual in the water with a spear gun. The officers observed the individual a few minutes before they made contact. The individual was found to be in possession of a speared mullet and speared undersized gray snapper. The individual was cited for spearfishing within 100 feet of an unsubmerged portion of a jetty and a warning for the undersized red snapper.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
Officers Tolbert and Jones responded to a citizen complaint of suspicious persons on the Eglin Reservation near Navarre. Officers found an adult male and an adult female who were camping on the reservation in a prohibited area. Officer Tolbert issued citations to both for no Eglin permits and for camping in an unauthorized area. Eglin Range Patrol issued written notices prohibiting them from returning to the reservation.
Officers Barnard and Hutchinson teamed up after receiving a complaint about a large buck in velvet that had been killed in the Milton area. They located a suspect and his girlfriend at their home and conducted interviews. Although reluctant to tell the truth initially, both suspects confessed to taking the buck illegally. They told the officers that they were returning home from fishing and had the girlfriend’s high-powered rifle with them. They observed two large bucks in a ditch alongside a clear-cut. The larger buck ran off out of sight, but the smaller one stopped within range of a small head lamp. The male subject shot the buck in the clear-cut and his girlfriend helped him pick it up and clean it. They turned over the head and cape of the 10¬ point buck. Charges for taking deer at night with a gun and light and discharging a firearm from a public road were filed against the shooter.
While on vessel patrol on Lake Washington, Lieutenant Bonds and Officer Lightsey observed a vessel hunting Alligators with improper navigation lights. After observing the vessel for some time a vessel inspection was initiated. The inspection revealed that the men were hunting outside of their designated hunting period and did not have the proper permits in their possession. Citations were issued for hunting Alligator outside of harvest period and warnings were issued for not having harvest permit in possession and a navigation light violation.
While on patrol of T.M. Goodwin Wildlife Management Area (WMA), Officers Hadwin and Lightsey observed two airboats in the GoodwinLake area. After hours of surveillance an inspection was conducted which revealed one of the men was in possession of a full bag of frogs. Taking of frog is prohibited from the T.M. Goodwin WMA area. The men were issued a citation for taking of frogs from the Wildlife Management Area and multiple boating safety citations.
NORTH CENTRAL REGION
Officer Burnsed was on patrol in the OsceolaNational Forest working illegal night hunting, when he observed occupants in a vehicle shining a spotlight in a searching manner consistent with looking for deer. As Officer Burnsed pulled up to the vehicle to conduct a stop, one of the occupants threw a rifle out the window. After stopping the vehicle, Officer Burnsed located the loaded rifle that had been thrown out the window. While interviewing the subjects, they admitted to shining light for deer and throwing the rifle out because they assumed that he was a game warden. The subjects were charged with attempting to take deer by gun and light.
FWCCitrusCounty officers concluded a two-week long detail focusing on commercial blue crab trap violations. During the detail, there were 32 commercial fishermen checked. There were 1,081 blue crab traps pulled and inspected by our officers which resulted in 10 misdemeanor citations and 45 written warnings issued for the trap violations.
Officer Fagan received information that a pontoon boat with 6 occupants struck a rock approximately 1 mile south of the Hernando Beach Channel. The collision with a submerged rock cause a rupture of the pontoon which began to fill with water. Due to a low tide the vessel grounded. All six individuals put on their PFDs and called 911. Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) Marine Unit arrived on scene first. The HCSO unit was able to place all six individuals on his vessel and transport them to the Hernando Beach Boat Ramp. Officer Fagan made contact with the individuals and conducted a boating accident investigation. There were no injuries as a result of the accident and no citations were issued. The vessel was anchored next to an island, in the same location where the accident occurred, awaiting tow on Sunday morning.
Officer Gaudion noticed some men gigging fish around the DickMisenerBridge. He decided to perform a boating and fisheries inspection on the subjects. Officer Gaudion’s inspection revealed that the two men on the vessel had been illegally gigging snook and red fish. The two subjects were in possession of nine oversized red fish and one undersized and out of season snook. The subject was given nine criminal citations and notices to appear in court.
Officers Martinez and Stephens were on land patrol in the area of the CourtneyCampbellBridge. While on patrol, they performed a fisheries inspection on a subject fishing from the shoreline. After completion of their inspection they found that the subject was in possession of an undersized and out of season snook. Subject was issued two criminal citations and given a notice to appear in court for the violations.
Officer Martinez was on land patrol in the area of SandKeyPark. While on patrol, he performed a fisheries inspection on an individual fishing from the seawall. Upon completion of his inspection he found the subject was in possession of four undersized red fish. The subject also failed to keep the fish in whole condition. The subject was given two criminal citations and a written warning for the violations.
SOUTH REGION A
ST. LUCIE COUNTY
Officer Shermetaro received a phone call from the Savannas Preserve Rangers in regards to a suspicious vehicle parked near a border fence on the preserve. Officer Shermetaro entered the preserve through an opening in the fence and found one subject cutting and collecting palmetto berries. The subject was given a notice to appear for the violation and the berries were turned over to the park rangers.
Officer Payne received a call about two people keeping an undersized snook at a boat ramp in Ft.Pierce. When Officer Payne made contact, he found the two subjects to be in possession of one undersized out of season snook, one undersized mutton snapper and one undersized mangrove snapper. The subject was issued notice to appear for the violations.
Officer Payne was doing fisheries inspections in Ft.Pierce when he checked a person with two undersized mutton snapper. When asked how he was measuring the fish, the subject pulled out a string, measured his foot and then measured the fish. The subject was researched through our data base and found to have been cited for possession of undersized mutton snapper less than a year ago.
SOUTH REGION B
While conducting a resource inspection on a vessel in the Angelfish Creek area, Officers Sutter and Pestka noticed a small commercial lobster boat come around a corner of the creek they were in. As soon as the men on board the commercial boat saw the patrol vessel ahead of them, Officer Sutter witnessed one of the men drop a bag of fish over the side. The officers quickly terminated the stop they were on and chased down the commercial boat. Once the boat was pulled over, Officer Pestka quickly found a bag of 14 wrung lobster tails, 4 of which were undersized. Officer LaRosa assisted in recovering the bag of fish. There were 38 undersized mangrove snapper, 5 undersized yellowtail snapper, and 1 undersized red grouper in the bag. All four men were arrested and cited accordingly. Their vessel was towed by a commercial salvage company.
Lieutenant Robison and Deputy Guerra with Monroe County Sherriff’s Office were dispatched to a suspicious vessel in the canal system in Marathon that was operating with no navigational lights. Officers responded by water and found the vessel with one individual on board. As officers approached the vessel with blue lights activated, the individual stood up with a net in his hand that was full of fish. Lieutenant Robison yelled at the individual on the vessel “state police do not drop the net”. The individual looked at the officers and dropped the net over the starboard side of the vessel. Officers boarded the vessel and located the net in about four feet of water and pulled it out of the water with the fish still in the net. The operator was then placed in handcuffs to be detained for officer safety. In the net, there was 15 undersized gray/mangrove snapper, 14 legal gray/mangrove snapper for a total of 29 and 1 undersized red grouper. The operator was arrested and transported to the MarathonDetentionCenter. He was charged with possession of 15 undersized gray snapper, 24 over the limit of gray snapper and an undersized red grouper. In addition of the fisheries charges, he was cited for felony tampering with evidence and resisting arrest without violence.
Officers Plussa and Wagner were patrolling the Middle Keys when they received information from Investigator Cox, about a vessel taking illegal lobster near the LongKeyBridge. Officers responded and located the vessel and its 2 occupants in the water spearfishing. Officers conducted a fisheries inspection and found 25 total lobster, 17 of which were undersized, along with one undersized snapper. The 2 men were cited for possession of 13 over the bag limit of lobster and possession of 17 undersized lobsters. The captain was also cited for the undersized snapper.
An officer was on land patrol recently when he stopped to check two fishermen returning in a small vessel to Crandon Park Marina Boat Ramp. A fisheries inspection revealed that the two subjects were in possession of nine undersized gray triggerfish. Both subjects were also unable to produce a salt water fishing license. Citations were issued to them for the undersized fish violation.
Two FWC officers were on water patrol recently when they responded to a U.S. Coast Guard call for assistance, reference a reckless boater in the vicinity of PicnicIsland. The Coast Guard had stopped the reckless boater, but then called the FWC officers in for assistance. The FWC officers sensed that all the three subjects on board were very intoxicated, including the operator. One of the FWC officers conducted sobriety tests and determined that the operator was impaired. The subject was arrested for boating under the influence (BUI) and transported to a local jail. That night on the way home from having completed the BUI arrest, the same officer observed an operator of a vehicle driving erratically and flashing his headlights at the vehicle in front of him in an effort to pass. The officer conducted a traffic stop and quickly sensed that the driver was impaired. A sobriety tests was conducted on the driver and the officer arrested him based upon the poor test results. The drunk driver was then transported to jail after the appropriate processing.
Officers Alexander and Kleis were on foot patrol in the area of JolleyBridge on MarcoIsland conducting license and fisheries inspections among those fishing from shore. They came across two individuals sharing a cooler that contained live fish. Upon inspection, the Officers found 2 mangrove snapper and 1 mutton snapper, all of which were undersized. The two individuals indicated that the snapper was theirs. Both individuals received Notices to Appear for the fish that each person caught. The snappers were returned to the water alive.