Delaware Natural Resources Police Arrest Two Individuals for Hunting and Firearms Related Charges

Delaware Natural Resources Police arrested two individuals during the opening weekend of shotgun deer season who were both hunting after being convicted of felony charges in the state of Delaware.

On November 12, Brian L. Dill, 47, of Lincoln who was previous convicted of felony theft was charged with three counts of possession of a firearm or ammunition by a person prohibited, two counts of possession of a deadly weapon by a person prohibited, one count of no hunter orange, and one count of possession or transportation of an unlawfully taken antlerless deer.

On November 13, John W. Hitch, 81, of Seaford who was previously convicted of felony possession of child pornography was charged with ten counts of possession of a firearm or ammunition by a person prohibited and one count of possession of a deadly weapon by a person prohibited.

Separate consent searches of the residence for both Brian Dill and John Hitch resulted in the seizure of a total of ten firearms, three crossbows, and numerous rounds of ammunition.

As a result of the arrests, Brian Dill was released on $19,002 unsecured bond and John Hitch was released on $26,000 unsecured bond. Both have preliminary hearings scheduled in the Sussex County Court of Common Pleas. Defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a jury trial at which the State bears the burden of proving each charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities, and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife conserves and manages Delaware’s fish and wildlife and their habitats, and provides fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and boating access on nearly 65,000 acres of public land. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov; Brooke Mitchell, brooke.mitchell@delaware.gov


Deer in Rehoboth Beach Tests Positive for Rabies

The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is advising Rehoboth Beach residents who live or spend time in the vicinity of Kings Creek Circle and Road 273 of a positive case of rabies in a white-tailed deer in the area. The deer was showing signs of symptoms and was removed from a residential property on September 1. It was then tested for rabies, which yielded positive results on September 8.

Anyone who thinks they may have been bitten, scratched, or come in physical contact with a white-tailed deer in this area should immediately contact their health care provider or call the DPH Rabies Program at 302-744-4995. An epidemiologist is available 24/7.

Although rabies is very infrequently found in white-tailed deer, with Delaware’s deer hunting season having begun on September 1, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) recommends the following for anyone hunting in the area where the rabid deer was found:

Minimize handling and do not consume any deer that was acting abnormal or appeared to be sick when harvested.
Always wear latex or rubber gloves when field-dressing deer.
Minimize the handling of the deer’s brain and spinal cord.
Do not allow pets around your field dressing area to prevent contact with deer blood and other tissues.
Wash hands, boots and knives thoroughly after finishing field dressing a deer.
If you harvest a deer and have it commercially processed, request that your venison is processed individually.
Properly cook and prepare your venison.
Rabies is a preventable disease. DPH recommends that individuals take the following steps to prevent rabies exposure:

All dogs, cats and ferrets 6 months of age and older are required by Delaware law to be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian.
Pet owners can reduce the possibility of pets being exposed to rabies by keeping them indoors and not letting them roam free. It is especially important for pet owners who do allow their cats to roam outdoors to vaccinate their pets.
Do not touch or otherwise handle wild or unfamiliar animals, including cats and dogs, even if they appear friendly.
Do not keep your pet’s food or water outdoors; bowls can attract wild and stray animals.
Do not feed feral animals, including cats, as the risk of rabies in wildlife is significant.
Spaying or neutering your pet may reduce the tendency to roam or fight and, thus, reduce the chance they will be exposed to rabies.
Keep your garbage securely covered.
Consider vaccinating livestock and horses, as well. It is recommended to consult with your private veterinarian if you have any questions regarding whether your animal(s) should be vaccinated against rabies.

Since Jan. 1, 2021, DPH has performed rabies tests on 139 animals, 11 of which were confirmed to be rabid, which includes one dog, one raccoon, one skunk, one fox, three cats, three bats and this deer. DPH only announces those rabies cases for which it is possible the animal had unknown contacts with additional humans or pets.

 

In 2020, DPH performed rabies tests on 121 animals, four of which were confirmed to be rabid, including one raccoon, one bat, and two cats.

Rabies is an infectious disease affecting the nervous system of humans and other mammals. Infection can occur through the bite or scratch of an infected animal or if saliva from such an animal gets into the eyes, nose, mouth, or an opening in the skin. Rabies in humans and animals cannot be cured once symptoms appear. Therefore, if a human has been exposed, and the animal is unavailable to be quarantined or tested, DPH recommends that people receive post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment, a series of four vaccinations, as a precautionary measure.

If You Encounter an Animal Behaving Aggressively:

If you encounter a wild animal behaving aggressively, it is recommended you contact the DNREC Wildlife Section at 302-739-9912 or 302-735-3600. Staff will determine whether it is more appropriate to refer callers to a private nuisance wildlife control operator. A listing of nuisance wildlife control operators can be found at https://wildlifehelp.org/. Calls after hours and on weekends can be made to the 24-hour dispatch number at 800-523-3336.
Do not throw items at the animal or make loud banging noises, which may startle the animal and cause it to attack. Instead, your initial response – if the animal is behaving in an aggressive manner or appears to be foaming at the mouth – should be to raise your hands above your head to make yourself appear larger to the animal while slowly backing away from it. If the animal starts coming toward you, raise your voice and yell sternly at it, “Get away!” If all that fails, use any means to protect yourself including throwing an object at the animal or trying to keep it away by using a long stick, shovel, or fishing pole.
If you encounter a stray or feral domestic animal, such as a cat or dog, behaving aggressively, contact the Office of Animal Welfare at 302-255-4646.
If You Encounter a Sick or Injured Animal:

To report a sick or hurt wild animal, Delaware residents are asked to contact the DNREC’s Wildlife Section at 302-739-9912 or 302-735-3600. Staff will determine whether it is more appropriate to refer callers to a permitted volunteer wildlife rehabilitator.
If you encounter a sick stray domestic animal, such as a cat or dog, contact the Office of Animal Welfare at 302-255-4646.
For more information on the DPH rabies program, visit www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/dpc/rabies.html or call 1-866-972-9705 or 302-744-4995. For more information on rabies, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/rabies/.

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A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

 

The Department of Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.

 


Motorists Urged to Watch Out for Deer Crossing Roadways

Peak Deer Activity Calls for Vigilance at Dawn, Dusk and Night

Late October through November is prime time for increasing white-tailed deer activity in Delaware, leading up to their peak mating season in mid-November. With more deer crossing roadways, along with shorter days ahead, especially after the Nov. 1 change from daylight saving time back to Eastern Standard Time, motorists are urged to be on high alert to avoid collisions with these large animals.

“Bucks are very single-minded in their pursuit of does during the rut, their mating season, which lasts from October to December and peaks from Nov. 10 to 20. If that pursuit takes a buck or doe across a roadway in front of your vehicle, that’s where they’re going to go, whether it’s Route 1 or a rural road,” said Program Manager Joe Rogerson with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. “Drivers should pay particular attention on roads bordered by woods or agricultural fields, since deer typically cross between areas of cover, but not always.”

Although deer in roadways are a year-round hazard, national and state statistics indicate the last three months of the year are the most likely time for accidents. The Delaware Office of Highway Safety (OHS) reported the peak time in November 2019 with 461 crashes, more than double the 224 in October and triple the number reported in December, the other two highest months.

Deer tend to be most active in early morning and at dusk. According to OHS, deer-vehicle collisions occur most often between 6 and 7 a.m. and peak again between 5 and 7 p.m., a timeframe when many workers are heading home.

“Crashes involving deer are more frequent at dawn and dusk. Reduced visibility for drivers during these time periods make it more difficult to see deer approaching or crossing roadways,” said Kimberly Chesser, Director of the Delaware Office of Highway Safety. “The Office of Highway Safety urges drivers to remain focused, keeping their eyes on the road at all times, and reduce their speed when visibility is an issue.”

According to Delaware State Police (DSP), more than 1,800 crashes involving animals occurred on Delaware roads in 2019, 60 of which caused personal injuries and one resulted in a fatality.

“Deer dart across secondary roadways on a frequent basis, especially in the fall, but keep in mind they may also cross roadways during the day or in areas where there is ample lighting at night,” said Sgt. Darren Lester, Delaware State Police. “Travelers are always much safer when keeping full attention on their driving. This may not always prevent a deer-related crash, but it can certainly help minimize damage and/or injuries.”

The average white-tailed deer in Delaware weighs about 130 pounds, with larger bucks tipping the scales at 200 pounds or more. Hitting an animal that size can do serious and expensive damage to vehicles. Such a collision may also cause injury to drivers or passengers or trigger an accident involving other motorists.

AAA Mid-Atlantic notes the average claim submitted to AAA Insurance for a deer strike is more than $4,000. To avoid a large out-of-pocket expense, AAA recommends purchasing an auto policy including comprehensive coverage, which covers collisions with deer or other animals.

Based on reported insurance claims from July 1, 2019 to June 20, 2020, State Farm Insurance ranked Delaware 27th in the nation, with Delaware drivers having a 1 in 109 chance of animal collision.

DNREC, OHS, police agencies and auto insurance companies all agree: the best way to prevent or lessen the severity of deer collisions is attentive driving, which includes avoiding distractions that might take a driver’s eyes off the road, such as mobile phones, adjusting the radio, eating or passenger activities.

Additional safety tips include:

  • Always wear your seatbelt to reduce your risk of injury in a collision.
  • Reduce speed at night, on curves and in bad weather.
  • Switch to high beams when there is no oncoming traffic to better reflect the eyes of deer on or near the roadway and scan the sides of the road as well as what’s directly ahead.
  • Watch for “Deer Crossing” signs marking commonly-traveled areas on the road ahead. Slow down immediately and proceed with caution until past the crossing point.
  • Deer usually travel in groups, so if you see one deer, there are likely to be others.
  • Slow down and blow your horn with one long blast to frighten deer away. Do not rely on devices such as deer whistles, deer fences and reflectors to deter deer, as these devices have not been proven to reduce deer-vehicle collisions.
  • Do not swerve to miss a deer — brake and stay in your lane. Losing control of your vehicle, crossing into another lane, hitting an oncoming vehicle, or leaving the roadway and hitting another obstacle such as a tree or pole will likely be much more serious than hitting a deer.
  • If you hit a deer, stop at the scene, get your car off the road if possible, turn on your vehicle hazard lights and call 911.
  • Do not touch the animal or get too close; an injured deer may bite or kick, causing serious injury.

For more information about deer in Delaware, visit white-tailed deer or contact the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife at 302-739-9912.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The Division of Fish and Wildlife conserves and manages Delaware’s fish and wildlife and their habitats, and provides fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and boating access on nearly 65,000 acres of public land. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

About Delaware Office of Highway Safety
The Office of Highway Safety (OHS) is committed to improving the safety of Delaware’s motoring public by focusing on behavioral traffic safety issues such as impaired driving, seat belt use, speeding, child passenger safety, pedestrian and bicycle safety, motorcycle safety, and teen driving issues. FAQs can be answered at ArriveAliveDE.com. You can follow the Delaware Office of Highway Safety by visiting us at: ArriveAliveDE.com, OHS, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and YouTube.

About AAA
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to 60 million members nationwide and more than 148,000 members in Delaware. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. AAA is a non-stock, non-profit corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.

Media Contacts:
DNREC: Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov
OHS: Kimberly Chesser, Kimberly.chesser@delaware.gov
DSP: Sgt. Darren Lester, Darren.lester@delaware.gov; Master Cpl. Heather Pepper, Heather.Pepper@delaware.gov; Cpl. Jason Hatchell, Jason.Hatchell@delaware.gov
AAA: Ken Grant, KGrant@aaamidatlantic.com

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DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife reminds hunters to remove temporary deer stands from state wildlife areas

DOVER – With Delaware’s 2019/20 deer hunting seasons having ended earlier this month, hunters are reminded to remove their portable deer stands from state wildlife areas by Saturday, Feb. 15. Any stands found on wildlife areas after that date will become the property of the Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife.

Hunters may temporarily set up portable stands starting Aug. 1 each year and must remove them at the end of the season – doing so with the knowledge that placement of a deer stand on a public wildlife area does not provide exclusive rights to hunting from their stand. Under state wildlife area rules, no parts of portable deer stands can be nailed or bolted to a tree. Hunters are also prohibited from cutting any vegetation or branches to hang a stand or to clear shooting paths on a wildlife area.

For more information, please contact the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Wildlife Section at 302-739-9912.

Follow the Division of Fish & Wildlife on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/DelawareFishWildlife.

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


DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police arrest Harrington man for weapons possession by a person prohibited

DOVER – A DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police investigation ended on Nov. 17 with the arrest of a Harrington man for multiple charges of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

Charles M. Bright Jr.

Charles M. Bright Jr., 58, was charged with three total counts of possession, purchase, ownership, or control of a firearm or ammunition by a person prohibited. Bright was arraigned at Justice of the Peace Court 7 in Dover and released on his own recognizance, pending a future court appearance.

Upon completion of the investigation, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers approached the suspect while he was deer hunting and in possession of a .50-caliber CVA muzzleloader. In addition to the muzzleloader confiscated at the scene, a Ten Point crossbow, 20-gauge Remington shotgun, and numerous rounds of shotgun ammunition were seized from Bright’s residence.

Delaware law prohibits a person from owning or possessing any type of deadly weapon whose criminal history includes prior felony convictions; misdemeanor convictions associated with violent crimes, drug convictions, or mental conditions as defined under the law; or court-issued protection from abuse orders. Deadly weapons consist of all types of firearms, as well as ammunition and any type of bow to include compound, recurve, or crossbow.

Media Contact: Sgt. Brooke Mitchell, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, 302-739-9913 or 302-382-7167, or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.

Like Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police on Facebook, www.facebook.com/pages/Delaware-Fish-Wildlife-Natural-Resources-Police.

Follow Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police on Twitter, https://twitter.com/DE_FW_NRPolice.

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