Shearwater’s sinking as Delaware artificial reef addition debuts on DNREC YouTube Channel

DOVER (Feb. 12, 2016) – A DNREC YouTube Channel video premiering this week shows there was a little drama on the high seas before the latest addition to Delaware’s artificial reef system could go below the Atlantic Ocean to occupy a new berth as marine habitat.

The video shows how Shearwater, a 180-foot-long former coastal freighter and military survey ship turned menhaden boat, was sunk by DNREC last December – but not before the ship insisted on navigating its own course to the bottom. “We wanted the ship to settle upright on the sea floor, (making it) more attractive to reef divers,” Jeff Tinsman, DNREC environmental scientist who leads the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s artificial reef program, says in the video. “We made considerable effort to flood the three interior compartments in advance, thinking that would reduce the tendency of the ship to roll over on the surface before sinking.”

But Shearwater had other ideas, as the video shows the ship listing to port, then capsizing with eight feet of her bow remaining above the surface – before reef contractors cut holes in the hull, allowing air to escape and onrushing water finally to flood Shearwater and send her down stern-first in 120 feet of water and onto the Del-Jersey-Land artificial reef some 26 miles off Lewes.

The ship “came to rest on her side, from what we can tell at this time,” Tinsman said, “and while upright would’ve made her more appealing for divers, the fish don’t really care one way or the other” how Shearwater’s positioned – artificial reefs (including ships and smaller vessels such as tugs, not to mention the 1,300-plus former New York City subway cars that help comprise Delaware’s system) have been proven to be up to 400 times richer as marine habitat than bare ocean bottom.

Media Contact: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 39


Bear man faces more than 70 charges for weapons, deer hunting violations

DE F&W Natural Resources Police logoTOWNSEND – DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers concluded an investigation into illegal deer hunting Tuesday with the arrest of a New Castle County man for illegal weapons possession charges along with numerous charges related to the illegal take of at least 14 deer during Delaware’s 2015/16 deer season.

Photo of James Smith
James R. Smith III

James R. Smith III, 38, of Bear, was charged Feb. 9 with two counts of possession of a firearm or ammunition by a person prohibited; three counts of failure to register antlered deer within 24 hours; three counts of failure to tag antlered deer; three counts of butchering antlered deer prior to registration; six counts of possession of or transporting unlawfully taken antlered deer; 10 counts of failure to register antlerless deer within 24 hours; 10 counts of failure to tag antlerless deer; 10 counts of butchering antlerless deer prior to registration and 24 counts of possession of or transporting unlawfully taken antlerless deer. Two shotguns, ammunition, a compound bow, a crossbow, several deer antlers and a large quantity of packaged deer meat were seized as evidence.

Smith was released on $14,900 unsecured bond, pending a court appearance at a later date.

“Under Delaware law, persons whose criminal and legal history includes prior felony convictions or misdemeanor convictions associated with violent crimes, drug convictions or mental conditions as defined under the law or court-issued protection from abuse orders (PFAs) are prohibited from possession of ammunition, firearms and other deadly weapons,” said Sgt. John McDerby of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police. “Any deer taken by a person under this prohibition is considered an illegal take, and subject to arrest.”

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.

Media Contacts: Sgt. John McDerby, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, 302-739-9913 or 302-354-1386, or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 37


DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife to propose 2016/17 waterfowl season dates at Feb. 23 Advisory Council meeting

New sea duck regulations, migratory game bird seasons will also be discussed

DOVER – The Advisory Council on Wildlife and Freshwater Fish will address dates proposed by DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife for the 2016/17 waterfowl and migratory game bird seasons at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23 in the auditorium at the Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover.

Changes to sea duck hunting regulations that are being implemented by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) also will be discussed at the council meeting, and the Division of Fish & Wildlife invites sea duck hunters to attend to learn about these changes and provide input on new season dates for Delaware.

Sea ducks – scoters, eiders and long-tailed ducks – are commonly found in the coastal waters and bays of Delaware, primarily during fall and winter, providing consistent hunting opportunities. For decades, states within the Atlantic Flyway have held a special 107-day season for sea ducks with a separate sea duck bag limit within a designated special sea duck area. Delaware’s special sea duck area begins at and extends beyond 800 yards from shore between Port Mahon/Elbow Cross Navigation Light and the Delaware-Maryland line.

Over the past 10 to 15 years, waterfowl biologists in the Atlantic Flyway, and around North America in general, have become concerned about the status and harvest pressure on sea ducks. Sea ducks have a low reproductive rate, smaller clutch sizes, mature sexually at a later age and have populations that are more difficult to monitor compared to other waterfowl species. These factors, combined with technological advances for hunting sea ducks, caused biologists within the flyway to begin examining sea duck harvest sustainability. In 2015, USFWS completed a preliminary analysis for scoters, eiders and long-tailed ducks, and the results suggested that the Atlantic Flyway is exceeding the allowable harvest for all sea duck species.

As a result, the Atlantic Flyway, including Delaware, must begin implementing changes to reduce sea duck harvest by 25 percent beginning with the 2016/17 season. The total daily limit of sea ducks in the special sea duck area is being reduced from seven to five, and bag limits for scoters, eiders and long-tailed ducks are being reduced to no more than four of any kind statewide. In addition, the hunting season for sea ducks within the special sea duck area is being reduced from 107 days to 60 days.

“Now that we know more about sea duck populations, Delaware and our Atlantic Flyway neighbors fully support these regulation changes and have voted in favor of implementing them,” said Wildlife Administrator Rob Hossler, Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife. “However, the Division would like to involve our hunters in the process by hearing what they believe would be the best 60-day timeframe for holding a shortened sea duck season.”

For more information, please contact the Wildlife Section at 302-739-9912.

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 36


Six arrested on drug charges in C&D Canal Conservation Area

DE F&W Natural Resources Police logoMIDDLETOWN – DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers while on patrol Feb. 8 arrested six Maryland residents for drug possession and other charges after stopping them for illegally operating a motor vehicle and motorcycles in a habitat-sensitive area of the C&D Canal Conservation Area.

Arrested were:

  • Matthew W. Williams, 22, of Elkton, Md., was charged with possession with intent to deliver heroin; possession of marijuana; possession of drug paraphernalia; conspiracy 2nd degree; operating a motor vehicle off an established roadway on a state wildlife area; operating an off-highway vehicle without a helmet; operating an unregistered motor vehicle on a state wildlife area; damaging state property on a wildlife area and criminal impersonation. Williams was committed to Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington in default of $54,200 secured bond.
  • Domonque L. Wesley, 23, of Elkton, Md., was charged with possession with intent to deliver heroin; possession of marijuana; possession of drug paraphernalia; conspiracy 2nd degree; operating a motor vehicle off an established roadway on a state wildlife area; operating an off-highway vehicle without a helmet; operating an unregistered motor vehicle on a state wildlife area; damaging state property on a wildlife area and criminal impersonation. Wesley was committed to Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington in default of $54,200 secured bond.
  • Anthony J. Favarulo, 24, of Chesapeake City, Md., was charged with possession with intent to deliver heroin; possession of marijuana; possession of drug paraphernalia; conspiracy 2nd degree; operating a motor vehicle off an established roadway on a state wildlife area and damaging state property on a wildlife area. Favarulo was committed to Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington in default of $53,200 secured bond.
  • Three 18-year-olds – Deanna Wesley, Breana Blackstone and Tamera Webster – all from Elkton, Md., also were arrested and charged with one count each of possession of marijuana. The three received fines totaling $131 each, including court costs, and were released.

mug-shots-williams-wesley-favarulo
Left to right: Anthony J. Favarulo, Matthew W. Williams and Domonque L. Wesley

“Fish and Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers routinely patrol and enforce state laws and regulations on wildlife areas throughout the state,” said Capt. Drew Aydelotte of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police. “Our officers’ vigilance in these areas goes beyond the concrete buildings and off the pavement, where many would mistakenly believe they are out-of-sight to conduct their illegal acts.”

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.

Media Contacts: Sgt. John McDerby, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, 302-739-9913 or 302-354-1386, or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 35


Missing boy found safe at Eagles Nest Wildlife Area

TOWNSEND – Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers and the Delaware State Police Aviation Unit found and safely returned to his family mid-day Sunday a 13-year-old boy reported lost earlier that morning while looking for shed deer antlers on the Eagles Nest Wildlife Area.

After the youngster became separated from family members at the Sandom Tract of the wildlife area, the family searched until late morning and called 911 after they were unable to find him. Fish & Wildlife officers set up a command post and coordinated search efforts by responding agencies on the 130+ acre property, with the Delaware State Police Aviation Unit locating the boy standing in waist-deep water in Blackbird Creek.

Fish & Wildlife officers on foot reached the boy and led him out of the woods to be reunited with his family. He was later transported to Christiana Medical Center for medical evaluation and treatment for minor hypothermia.

Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police were assisted in the search by DSP aviation and Troop 9 patrol units, DNREC Parks & Recreation Natural Resources Police, the Townsend Fire Department and New Castle County Paramedics.

Media Contacts: Sgt. John McDerby, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, 302-739-9913 or 302-354-1386, or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 34