DNREC Fish & Wildlife Enforcement Blotter: April 16-23; Reminder for the week: As season starts, crabbers need be attentive to regs and rigs
DOVER (April 26, 2013) – 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 Enforcement agents between April 16-23 made 597 contacts with hunters, anglers and boaters, and other members of the public, including 57 boardings for boating safety/fishing regulation compliance checks. Agents responded to 33 complaints and issued 22 citations for violations of fish, game, traffic and criminal regulations. Of particular interest were:
- The arrest of a Townsend man for trespass and theft on the Cedar Swamp Wildlife Area. A Fish & Wildlife agent investigating vandalism and illegal entry into buildings on the wildlife area noticed a man attempting to remove a lightning rod from the roof of a barn behind a DNREC-owned 19th century property known as the Chabbott House. Charles J. Bachman, 70, was cited for one count of trespass and one count of theft under $1,500.
- Agents charged two Seaford men with illegal possession of river herring during a closed season. One of them, Brice M. Smart, 54, was hit with a third charge of illegal possession since a ban on river herring went into effect last year in Delaware. Smart was transported to Justice of the Peace Court #3 and arraigned on one count of unlawful possession of river herring and one count of failing to produce a fishing license. He was released on $150 unsecured bond with the special condition that he not fish in Delaware waters until the case is adjudicated. Michael J. Schaffers, 25, was cited at the same time for illegal possession of river herring.
- Increased Fish & Wildlife enforcement presence on the new C&D Canal Trail under construction resulted in six of the citations mentioned above: two for illegal dumping, three for fishing without a license, and one for driving without a license.
Also on the C&D Canal Wildlife Area, an enforcement agent checking a complaint of illegal hunting near the new trail was approached by citizens who reported four pit bull dogs running loose in the area. The agent contacted the SPCA for assistance, and SPCA officers located and captured the dogs, then took them to a shelter.
Citations issued by violation type included the following, with the number of charges in parentheses:
Wildlife Conservation: Hunting wild turkey over bait, Sussex County (1).
Fisheries Conservation: Recreational: Illegal possession of river herring, Sussex County (2); Fishing without a license, New Castle County (3), Sussex (1).
Public Safety: Illegal dumping, New Castle (2), Kent (1) and Sussex (1) Counties; Operating a motor vehicle without a license, New Castle (1); Trespassing on state property, New Castle (1); Theft of state property less than $1,500 in value, New Castle (1).
- Agents throughout the state are continuing to prepare patrol boats stored over the winter for the start of the upcoming spring boating season.
- Half of Fish & Wildlife Enforcement agents have completed spring firearms training and recertification. All are expected to be recertified by the end of May.
- Agents noted an increase in complaints related to nuisance/injured wildlife; on April 22, Fish & Wildlife Dispatch documented seven calls related to foxes alone.
Are you AWARE?
The Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Section reminds recreational crabbers who are setting up for the season about state regulations for catching blue crabs:
- A Delaware recreational fishing license is required for crabbing.
- Recreational crabbers may not use, place, set or tend more than two crab pots.
- Recreational crab pots must be tended by the owner at least once every 72 hours and must be marked with white buoys with the owner’s name and permanent mailing address.
- A turtle by-catch reduction device is required to be attached in the funnel entrance of recreational crab pots to reduce the possibility of diamondback terrapins entering the pots and drowning. The device is a rigid rectangular frame made of metal or plastic that measures 1.75 inches by 4.75 inches. By-catch devices are available at local tackle shops or may be handmade of heavy wire.
- Recreational crabbers may use any number of hand lines or traps.
- Minimum “keeper” size for male blue crabs and immature female crabs with the V-shaped apron is 5 inches, measured across the shell from point to point.
- Mature female crabs, identified by the U-shaped apron, are exempt from the minimum size of 5” because many females reach maturity at a smaller size.
- Mature female blue crabs bearing eggs, known as sponge crabs and recognizable by the orange eggs visible under the apron, may not be taken and should be returned to the water immediately.
- The recreational daily limit on blue crabs is one bushel per person.
Recreational anglers and crabbers also are reminded that fishing or crabbing off of courtesy docks at state-owned boat ramps is prohibited. Anglers and crabbers also should remember that these areas are “carry in, carry out,” and gather up leftover bait, bait containers, crab lines and other trash for proper disposal; those who do not can be cited for littering. “When left behind, crabbing lines are not only an eyesore for other anglers, crabbers and area visitors, they present a danger of entanglement to wildlife attracted to leftover bait,” said Sgt. Gregory Rhodes of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement. This reminder also serves recreational notice to crabbers and anglers, as the Division of Fish & Wildlife has in the past restricted access to areas where littering and dumping become a constant problem, and will do so again if warranted.
With spring finally warming our waterways, anglers also are reminded that using any type of net to catch fish within 300 feet below a dam or spillway is illegal, with the exception of using a landing net on a fish caught with hook and line.
The DNREC Division of Fish and 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 and wildlife and boating violations to the Delaware Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Section by calling 302-739-4580. Wildlife violations may also be reported anonymously to Operation Game Theft by calling 800-292-3030 or online at www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Hunting/Pages/OpGameTheft.aspx.
Contact: Sgt. Gregory Rhodes, Division of Fish & Wildlife Enforcement, 302-739-9913 or 302-542-6102, or Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902
Vol. 43, No.172