On eve of Delaware’s shotgun deer hunting season, a reminder from DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police:

 Certain state lands – particularly DelDOT’s created wetlands – are closed to public access, including hunting

DOVER – DNREC’s Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police remind the public that certain state-owned lands are closed to public access – including hunting. Anyone found accessing these sites is subject to trespassing and other charges. Other state-owned lands are designated as accessible to the public for recreational use, including hunting.

Picture of the DNREC Natural Resources Police Badge

Particularly, those state-owned properties closed to the public include numerous created wetland sites established by the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) to offset environmental impacts from transportation projects throughout the state. These created wetlands are protected properties closely monitored to evaluate how well they are becoming established and whether they meet environmental standards. Any damage to these sites as a result of trespassing or other activities – such as illegally erecting blinds or clearing vegetation for hunting, or using the sites for other outdoor recreation activities – may impact DelDOT’s compliance with state and federal environmental permit requirements.

“No trespassing” signage is posted at these sites, with additional signage being installed on DelDOT properties to inform the public. Delaware Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police are patrolling these sites to help achieve awareness and compliance.

For information on designated public hunting areas in Delaware, click on 2019-2020 Delaware Hunting Guide. Additional information on Division of Fish & Wildlife public lands open to hunting is available at Delaware Wildlife Area Maps. The guide and wildlife area maps are also available in printed form at DNREC’s Dover licensing desk or by calling 302-739-9912.

The public is urged to report trespassing and hunting violations to the Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police via Operation Game Theft by calling 800-292-3030, going online to http://de.gov/ogt, or using the DENRP Tip app. Verizon customers can connect to Operation Game Theft directly by dialing #OGT. The public can also call the Natural Resources Police 24-hour dispatch line at 302-739-4580.

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

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DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Blotter: Oct. 7-13

Reminder for the week: Don’t forget to download the enforcement app DENRP Tip

DOVER – To achieve public compliance with laws and regulations through education and enforcement actions that help conserve Delaware’s fish and wildlife resources and ensure safe boating and public safety, DNREC’s Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers between Oct. 7-13 made 2,857 contacts with hunters, anglers, boaters, and the general public, issuing 28 citations. Officers responded to 44 complaints regarding possible violations of laws and regulations or requests to assist the public. An increased Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police presence continued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area and Michael N. Castle Trail.

Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Actions
• From Oct. 7-10, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers continued to search the C&D Canal for one missing occupant from a submerged vehicle incident. The missing occupant was recovered Oct. 10 and pronounced deceased on scene. The Delaware State Police Reconstruction Unit is currently investigating the cause of the incident.

• On Oct. 8, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers responded to and initiated an investigation of a non-injury, property-damage incident in which a sailboat struck the Reedy Island Jetty in the Delaware River. The vessel was removed by a private salvage company.

Citations issued by category, with the number of charges in parentheses, included:
Wildlife Conservation: Wildlife area map violation – using a firearm in an area closed to Sunday firearm deer hunting (1).

Fisheries Conservation: Commercial: Possession of undersized oysters (17). Recreational: Possession of undersized tautog (2).

Other: Trespassing after hours on a state wildlife area (4), littering on a state wildlife area (1), and target shooting at Blackbird State Forest (3).

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. The public is encouraged to report fish, wildlife, and boating violations to the Delaware Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police by calling 302-739-4580 or through the DENRP Tip app on a smartphone, which can be downloaded free of charge by searching “DENRP Tip” via the Google Play Store or the iTunes App Store. Wildlife violations may also be reported anonymously to Operation Game Theft by calling 800-292-3030, going online to http://de.gov/ogt, or using the DENRP Tip app. Verizon customers can connect to Operation Game Theft directly by dialing #OGT.

Are you AWARE?
Delaware Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police encourage the public to download our law enforcement app as described above, which enables you to connect with our officers, receive alerts, and submit anonymous tips from your smartphones.

When considering what type of tips to report, note that Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, including two K-9 tracking units, investigate hunting, fishing, and boating violations; respond to and investigate hunting and boating incidents; respond to poaching complaints through Operation Game Theft; and patrol state-owned boating access areas, fishing ponds, piers, and 19 state wildlife areas encompassing nearly 65,000 acres statewide. Our officers also conduct marine law enforcement patrols and boating safety checks on Delaware waterways, including within the state’s three-mile offshore limit in the Atlantic Ocean.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police assist in search for missing windsurfer who was found safe on shore

DOVER – DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers responded to a report from Dewey Beach seasonal police officers of an overdue windsurfer who went missing on Rehoboth Bay Thursday evening after embarking from Towers Road Bayside in Dewey Beach. The uninjured missing male windsurfer was located at 7:45 a.m. today at Bay City off Long Neck, and was subsequently transported to his vehicle by Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers.

The windsurfer, who was outfitted with required safety equipment including a lifejacket and whistle, indicated to Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police that the sail disconnected from his board and could not be reset, and that his whistle was unheard while he was on the water, resulting in him floating for about six hours from his starting location to Bay City, where he was able to safely reach shore.

Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers were part of the search team consisting of the Dewey Beach Police Department, Delaware State Police, Delaware State Police Aviation, USCG Station Indian River, and USCG Aviation.

Windsurfers (also known as sailboarders) and kiteboarders are reminded that they must have a life jacket and a sound-producing device, such as a whistle or horn, when underway. Additional safety tips for board sports include informing someone of your expected course and when you expect to return; not straying too far from shore; wearing a wetsuit to avoid hypothermia; looking out for and avoiding other vessels and their wakes; and staying aware that your sail can block your view of other vessels.

Contact: Sgt. Brooke Mitchell, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, 302-739-9086 or 302-354-1386

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DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Youth Academies graduate 59 students

DOVER – This year’s DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Youth Academy program was a huge success, with 59 students completing the academies’ curriculum the past summer. Now in its fourth year, the popular program is geared to students ages 12 to 15 with an interest in natural resources and law enforcement, with a focus on acquiring or enhancing boating, fishing, and hunting skills.

Sessions for the Basic Youth Academy were held at the DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Little Creek Hunter Education Training Center near Dover and Ommelanden Hunter Education Training Center near New Castle. In addition to introductory boating, fishing, and hunting skills, the students were exposed to various aspects of a Natural Resources Police officer’s daily routine. For patrol work, students completed field scenarios that included checking deer stands and duck blinds, using a decoy deer to nab poachers in the act, and making contact with visitors to Delaware’s wildlife areas managed by the Division of Fish & Wildlife. They were also given instruction in the safe operation of boats and learned about on-the-water enforcement activities.

Students who completed the Kent County Basic Youth Academy were: Michael Atchley of Frederica, Nathaniel Atchley of Frederica, Jaden Azato of Lewes, Aaron Bartsch of Townsend, Ben Barwick of Georgetown, Logan Boyer of Magnolia, Ethan Couch of Laurel, Kenzey Curran of Smyrna, Justin Didden of Dover, Aiden Dill of Camden, Aiden Durham of Camden-Wyoming, Sean Jones of Wyoming, Joshua Kenton of Harrington, Elizabeth Krajewski of Lewes, Jamieson Martin of Clayton, Faith Mitchell of Milford, Kieran Morris of Middletown, Victoria Pedigo of Camden-Wyoming, Samuel Pluta of Carlisle, PA, Rhett Robbins of Frederica, Carissa Towery of Dover, Olivia Tryon of Harrington, Benjamin Warren of Dagsboro, and Walker Weiss of Selbyville.

Students who completed the New Castle County Basic Youth Academy were: Rachel Antonio of New Castle, Gavin Bradley of Middletown, Tyrone Brown of Middletown, Cayleb Catherman of Middletown, Edward Cobb of Newark, Bradyn Coleman of Newark, Jimmy David of Middletown, Vinny Helms of Townsend, Kolin Kaiser of Middletown, Hunter Landry of Magnolia, Harry Long of Wilmington, Gabrielle Marrero of Bear, Chris Napolin of Townsend, Isabella Poore of New Castle, Dawlat Refaie of Wilmington, Walter Samuels of Middletown, Justin Saylor of Wilmington, Makenzey Stephenson of Newark, Maddison Stubblebine of Newark, and Sawyer Wilkins of Landenburg, Pa.

In addition to the Basic Youth Academy students being presented their boating and hunter education certificates at graduation, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police instructors presented awards to five students in each class. For the Kent County class, awards were presented to Michael Atchley for leadership, Jamieson Martin for sportsmanship, Aiden Durham for sharpshooting, Sean Jones for archery, and Ethan Couch for fishing skills. For the New Castle County class, award recipients were Tyrone Brown for leadership, Walker Weiss for sportsmanship, Kolin Kaiser for sharpshooting, Walter Samuels for archery, and Harry Long for fishing skills.

At the Advanced Youth Academy, students acquired skills for camping, fishing, and hunting, and were exposed to various aspects of a Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officer’s daily routine. Students obtained their turkey hunter certification, assisted wildlife biologists with capturing and banding mourning doves, assisted fisheries biologists with pond seining, participated in shotgun and rifle target shooting, a fishing derby and bird watching, and camped at Lums Pond State Park’s primitive campground. To finish up the camp, students participated in a public outreach event with officers displaying the Operation Game Theft trailer at Cabela’s in Newark.

Students who completed the New Castle County Advanced Youth Academy were: Aaron Bartsch of Townsend, Brooke Boileau of Middletown, Gavin Bradley of Middletown, Bradyn Coleman of Newark, Zoe Given of Middletown, Kolin Kaiser of Middletown, Hunter Landry of Magnolia, Harry Long of Wilmington, Gabrielle Marrero of Bear, Kieran Morris of Middletown, Domenick Rathoff of Bear, Harrison Rathoff of Bear, Emily Scott of Middletown, Heather Scott of Middletown, and Walker Weiss of Selbyville.

In addition to the Advanced Youth Academy students receiving their turkey hunter education certificate at graduation, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police instructors presented awards to Walker Weiss for sportsmanship, Aaron Bartsch for sharpshooting, and Zoe Given for fishing skills as well as leadership.

DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police thank the following sponsors who helped make this year’s youth academies possible: Cabela’s, Freemire & Associates of Camden, PSC Contracting, Inc., Safari Club International – Delaware Valley Chapter, and Logo Motive Custom Apparel.

To learn more about Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police and the Youth Academies, please visit http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Pages/Enforcement.aspx.

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

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DNREC’s Natural Resource Police Park Rangers conduct surf-fishing enforcement operation at two coastal state parks

DNREC LogoFENWICK ISLAND – On Saturday, June 15, and Sunday, June 16, DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation’s Natural Resource Police Rangers conducted a targeted enforcement operation for compliance with Delaware’s surf fishing regulations at surf fishing beaches and surf crossings at Fenwick Island and Cape Henlopen State Parks. The operation was in response to complaints of surf-fishers failing to abide by regulations, particularly the “actively engaged” rule for fishing from the beach.

“We are continuing to concentrate on compliance with state parks’ surf fishing rules and regulations as an enforcement priority,” said DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation Director Ray Bivens, who joined DNREC Park Rangers in the enforcement operation. “While we invite properly-licensed anglers to enjoy surf fishing on our state park beaches, we will work to ensure that they are actively engaged in surf fishing and abiding by the rules.”

On Saturday, Parks Rangers, along with officers from DNREC’s Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, checked every vehicle on the surf-fishing beach at Fenwick Island State Park, to ensure at least one occupant was actively engaged in surf fishing. The “actively-engaged” check resulted in 24 citations and warnings for various violations of surf fishing regulations, including anglers not possessing required fishing and vehicle equipment.

On Saturday and Sunday, Park Rangers, assisted by Park Watch volunteers, conducted four surf fishing compliance checks at surf crossings within Cape Henlopen and Fenwick Island State Parks. More than 300 vehicles were checked.

Park Rangers remind surf-fishing permit holders that all individuals who drive on designated surf fishing beaches must possess a valid surf fishing vehicle permit; must be actively engaged in surf fishing; must possess required surf fishing vehicle equipment, including a jack, shovel, low-pressure tire gauge, board, and tow strap; and also must possess proper saltwater fishing tackle.

Media contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 49, No. 164