Baby wild animals in your yard? DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife recommends “If you care, leave them there”

DOVER (April 19, 2013) – With spring mowing season underway and having fielded recent calls from people who have found what they believe are “abandoned” baby rabbits, DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife would like to remind well-meaning wildlife watchers not to “rescue” young wild animals. Young Eastern cottontail rabbits, in particular, may appear to be alone, since their mothers often temporarily leave their ground nests to avoid attracting predators, returning only to feed their young.

“Before handling or moving any wildlife species, please contact the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife and speak to a trained wildlife biologist. We can help you determine whether the animal needs help or should be left alone,” said Wildlife Biologist Joe Rogerson, Division of Fish and Wildlife. “This will not only help ensure your safety, but also help to ensure the best possible outcome for the animal.” 

Precautions to take with both juvenile and adult wild animals: 

  • If you see a young animal alone, watch from a distance to see if its mother returns, which could take several hours. 
  • Some wild animals can be unpredictable and sometimes dangerous, especially if they are in pain. They also can carry parasites or illnesses that can affect you or your pets, such as rabies. If you must handle any wild animal, wear gloves and use extreme care. 
  • Remember that it is illegal to raise or keep any wild animal in Delaware.

“In almost every case, wild animals should be left where they are found. The hard truth is, if you take a young animal from the wild, you are almost certainly ensuring its death,” said licensed wildlife rehabilitator Dawn Webb. “While you may see a baby animal alone, what you don’t see is its mother, who is most likely nearby, waiting for you to move on. The bottom line is, if you care, leave them there.”

For more information, please call DNREC’s Wildlife Section at 302-739-9912.

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

 Vol. 43, No. 158


DNREC Fish & Wildlife Enforcement Blotter: April 9-16; Reminder for the week: Before turkey hunting, know the regulations

DOVER (April 19, 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 9 and April 16 made 669 contacts with hunters, anglers, boaters and the general public, including 26 boating safety/fishing regulation compliance checks. Agents responded to 38 complaints and issued 24 citations. Incidents of particular note included: 

  • On April 15, following an investigation, agents cited James J. Spence, 39, of Dover, with two counts of illegally offering antlered deer for sale and two counts of commercialization of native wildlife in connection with an online posting to sell mounted deer antlers. Spence has the option of paying the citation or requesting a court date and, if guilty on all four counts, faces a total of $2,607 in fines and court costs.
  • On April 13, opening day of Delaware turkey season, Fish and Wildlife agents made eight arrests involving a total of 11 charges. K-9 Enforcement agent Warden, a 7-year-old Labrador retriever, assisted agents in Sussex County by locating bait and spent shells and tracking suspects. Charges included hunting wild turkey over bait, taking non-bearded (female) wild turkey, no safety certificate, prohibited shot size and unplugged gun. Turkey violations carry a penalty starting at $250, with a mail-in ticket for the minimum offense totaling $342 with court costs.

Citations issued by violation type included the following, with the number of charges in parentheses:

Wildlife Conservation: Hunting wild turkey without required safety certificate (1), and hunting wild turkey over bait (6), Kent and Sussex counties; Hunting wild turkey with prohibited shot size (1), hunting wild turkey with unplugged shotgun (1), and illegally taking non-bearded (hen) wild turkey (2), Sussex County; Illegally offering antlered deer parts for sale (2), and commercialization of native wildlife (2), Kent County; Possession of unlawfully taken game/antlered deer (1), and littering on a state wildlife area (2), New Castle County.

Fisheries Conservation: Recreational: Unlicensed fishing (1), Sussex County; Illegally taking striped bass from spawning area (1), New Castle County.

Boating Safety: Operating a vessel with insufficient number of life jackets aboard (1), and no required visual distress signals (1), New Castle County.

Public Safety: Felonious possession of a deadly weapon by a person prohibited (1), New Castle County. (A press release on this case was issued on April 18, 2013 – click: Bear man charged with weapons, hunting violations.)

Are you AWARE?

With eight arrests on the opening day of Delaware’s 2013 turkey season, Fish and Wildlife Enforcement reminds hunters that they should review Delaware’s turkey regulations before heading out into the field. The season runs through Saturday, May 11. Regulations include:

  • Hunters must carry their hunter education card certifying completion of Delaware’s mandatory one-day turkey hunter education class.
  • Hunting on public lands is by preseason lottery permit only.
  • Hunters must carry their public lands permit while hunting on public lands and may only hunt the designated area and season segment/dates specified in the permit.
  • Bag limit is one bearded bird per year.
  • Birds without beards (hens) may not be taken.
  • Hunting wild turkey over bait is prohibited.
  • Hunting wild turkey with dogs is prohibited.
  • Temporary blinds of vegetation or camouflage are permitted.
  • Artificial turkey decoys are permitted.
  • Non-electric calls are permitted.
  • For safety reasons, hunters should not imitate the male gobbling call.
  • Shotguns in 20, 16, 12 and 10-gauge and smoothbore muzzleloading shotguns -may be used with #4, #5, or #6 steel or lead shot. (See Delaware Hunting Guide for more information.)
  • A longbow, compound bow or crossbow with a minimum broadhead width of 7/8 inches may be used.
  • For safety reasons, wearing any visible garment having red, white or blue is prohibited.
  • Hunting hours are a half-hour before sunrise until 1 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
  • All birds taken must be checked by 2:30 p.m. on the day of the hunt at an authorized turkey check station. For a list of check stations, click Turkey Check Stations.

For more information, pick up a copy of the 2012-2013 Delaware Hunting and Trapping Guide at your local hunting license dealer, or check it out online at Delaware Hunting Guide .

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 .

Contact: Sgt. Gregory Rhodes, Division of Fish & Wildlife Enforcement, 302-739-9913 or 302-542-6102, or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902


Vol. 43, No. 161


Plan Would Strengthen Teacher Preparation

Senate Bill 51, sponsored by Senator Sokola, Raises the Bar on Educator Prep

 Dover, DE – Following on a pledge he made in his State of the State 2013, Governor Jack Markell announced measures to strengthen licensure requirements for prospective teachers while improving teaching training and better tracking data on teacher preparation programs.

 “Teacher quality is the single most important school factor in a child’s academic success.   Nothing contributes to student learning as much as a quality teacher,” said Governor Markell.  “We want new teachers ready to make a difference the first day they step in the classroom.  A key part of raising the education profession is how we attract the best candidates into teacher preparation programs and make those programs as strong as possible.  Our state’s success in the future is dependent on how well we educate our children today.”

 SB51, sponsored by Senator David Sokola, would raise the bar for entering the teaching profession, with required content exams and performance assessments before licensure; improve teacher training with high-quality, student teaching experiences, and better track data on our preparation programs, with required reporting of program effectiveness.

 “I hope this legislation will help ensure the new teachers we’re sending into our classrooms are as prepared as we can possibly make them for the challenge of preparing our young people for competing in the global marketplace,” said Senator David Sokola, D-Newark, the bill’s sponsor.  “I think this new exam will help make sure those teachers have the skills they need to do that most important job.”

 “We must ensure those entering our classrooms are prepared from Day 1. Since I have taken office, this need is something I have heard repeatedly from our educators, and this proposal includes feedback I have received from our Teachers of the Year,” said Secretary of Education Mark Murphy.

 “The demands of teaching make in-depth, comprehensive teacher preparation essential,” said Frederika Jenner, President of the Delaware State Education Association (DSEA).  “The time has come to involve working teachers as part of teacher training—who better for new teachers to learn from than their colleagues who teach well?”

 “Governor Markell’s focus on improving educator preparation is much needed and it illustrates how Delaware is committed to providing the absolute best teachers for our students,” said John Sell, Delaware’s Teacher-of-the-Year 2013.  “The teaching profession has changed dramatically in the 21st century, and it requires specialized skills covering a wide variety of areas.  Ensuring our teachers enter the profession armed with those skills should be a key focus so that our students can receive the very best education possible.  Preparing and retaining highly qualified teachers in Delaware needs to be a central focus if we aim to make our schools national models of excellence.”

 Research shows:

 The top education systems recruit and retain top educators: Only 23% of U.S. teachers come from the top third of college graduates compared to 100% in Singapore, Finland & Korea.

  • A significant portion of Delaware teachers are new to the profession, and the majority of those teachers were educated in Delaware: 1 in 4 teachers employed in Delaware public schools have 5 or fewer years of education experience.  Of those teachers, 59% received their bachelor’s degrees in Delaware.
  • New teacher turnover is significant, and state efforts to improve educator preparation lag the nation: 2 in 5 new teachers leave teaching in Delaware within 4 years.  The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has consistently given Delaware a “D-” for “improving teacher preparation,” placing Delaware in the bottom 8 states nationwide for addressing this issue.

DNREC issues air permit to restart cooling tower at Delaware City Refinery

DOVER (April 22, 2013) – DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara today approved issuance of an air permit for the Delaware City Refining Company to restart an unused closed-loop cooling water tower at the Delaware City Refinery. The restarted unit will help the facility achieve a required 33 percent reduction in cooling water withdrawal from 452 million gallons per day (mgd) to 303 mgd, which is anticipated to reduce incidents of aquatic life mortality by a corresponding 33 percent. The reductions are required to be achieved by the end of 2013, per the facility’s restart agreement with the State and other existing permit conditions.

“This project will significantly reduce the facility’s long-standing impacts on aquatic life in the Delaware River,” said Secretary O’Mara, “and represents a critical first step towards bringing the facility into compliance with the Federal Clean Water Act in the next few years. Unlike some previous owners, DCRC is making the much-needed investments to improve the environmental performance of the facility.”

 The Secretary’s Order approving the permit can be found on the DNREC website at

CONTACT: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 43, No. 164



Lt. Joe Szczerba Honored Posthumously with Congressional Badge of Bravery

New Castle County police officer was killed in the line of duty in September 2011

 NEW CASTLE, Del. – U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, U.S. Congressman John Carney, and U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly, III, presented the family of fallen Officer Joseph L. Szczerba with the Congressional Badge of Bravery Award during a ceremony at the New Castle County public safety building Monday. They were joined at the event by Attorney General Beau Biden, New Castle County Chief Administrative Officer David Grimaldi, and New Castle County Police Chief E. M. Setting, as well as officers from the New Castle County Police Department.

 “Born and raised in Delaware, Lt. Szczerba answered the call to protect the community he called home his entire life,” Senator Carper said. “The Congressional Badge of Bravery honors exceptional acts of bravery in the line of duty by a federal, state or local law enforcement officer. I can think of no better person to receive this honor today than Lt. Szczerba.”

 “There really is no way to fully express our gratitude for Joe’s service and sacrifice,” Senator Coons said. “Congress created the Congressional Badge of Bravery to honor law enforcement officers who distinguish themselves for exceptional acts of bravery in the line of duty, and I can think of no more distinguished, no more exceptional act of bravery than what Joe Szczerba showed that night. This award is one way we keep our promise to remember Joe’s sacrifice and protect his legacy.”

 “Any time an officer is killed in the line of duty, it shakes the entire community.  It is a heartbreaking reminder of the sacrifices made by brave men and women everyday to selflessly protect our lives with their own,” Congressman Carney said. “Lt. Szczerba was a model officer, as well as a loving husband, caring son, and loyal friend.  I feel privileged today to present his family with the Congressional Badge of Bravery in honor of his service to our community and ensure that generations to come remember the sacrifice he made for all of us.”

 Then-Sgt. Szczerba was killed in the line of duty shortly after midnight on September 16, 2011, as he attempted to take a suspect into custody in Penn Acres Park in New Castle. Despite being mortally wounded, Sgt. Szczerba remained engaged with the suspect, detaining him until additional officers arrived on the scene. His actions likely prevented other officers from sustaining knife-inflicted injuries and led to the apprehension of his murderer. Sgt. Szczerba, who had served on the New Castle County force for 18 years, was posthumously promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.

 “Lt. Szczerba served Delaware bravely and honorably without pause, even in the midst of imminent danger,” Governor Markell said. “He is a hero and deserves fitting recognition of that title. This honor serves to remember his courage, his strength and his conviction while protecting Delaware’s citizens.”

 “Today’s historic ceremony fittingly honors the ultimate sacrifice of Lieutenant Szczerba and also his family who allowed him to put on his uniform and put the public’s safety before his own,” Attorney General Biden said. “His family and our entire community continue to deeply feel the pain of his loss every day.”

 “We honor Lt. Joe Szczerba, a fallen member of our great New Castle County Police Department,” New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon said. “Today the rest of the nation knows what we all have known. Joe is a true hero. It is tragic to lose an officer, but Joe’s spirit lives on. He will be an inspiration to all future generations of our officers as they enter the Police Academy named in Lt. Szczerba’s honor. On behalf of NCC residents, I thank Lt. Szczerba for his service and thank his wife, mother, and family members for sharing this great man with all of us. He made the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of others. I am proud to be his brethren. On this day and each day, we thank all those who serve in uniform, as well as their families, for their commitment to New Castle County communities.”

 “We are proud to be recognizing Joe as a hero,” Colonel Setting said.

 To honor law enforcement officers’ acts of bravery, Congress created the Federal Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery and the State and Local Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery. A member of Congress may present a Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery to federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers who are recommended by either the Federal or the State and Local Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery Board.

 Lt. Szczerba is only the 23rd officer, nationwide, to be honored with the Congressional Badge of Bravery.