Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Blotter: Feb. 27- March 5

Reminder for the week: Time to purchase your 2017 Delaware fishing license

DOVER – 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, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers between Feb. 27- March 5 made 999 contacts with anglers, hunters, boaters and the general public, including 10 vessel boardings for boating safety, hunting and fishing regulation compliance checks, issuing 10 citations. Officers responded to 35 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 associated recreational trail.

DE F&W Natural Resources Police logoFish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Actions
Citations issued by category, with the number of charges in parentheses, included:

Public Safety: Theft of services (1), and drive a motor vehicle without a valid license (2).

Other: Trespassing after hours on a state wildlife area (6)*, and operating a motor vehicle off an established roadway on a state wildlife area (1)*.
*Includes citation(s) issued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area.

Are you AWARE?
Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police remind anglers to purchase their 2017 Delaware fishing licenses. A valid fishing license is required for fishing, crabbing and clamming in Delaware in both tidal and non-tidal waters.

A resident annual fishing license costs $8.50 for ages 16 through 64. Anglers under the age of 16 and residents age 65 and older are not required to purchase fishing licenses in Delaware. Some requirements differ for non-resident anglers. Exempt persons may purchase fishing licenses if they so choose to help support fisheries management in Delaware.

Recreational anglers 16 years and older fishing Delaware waters also are required to obtain a Delaware Fisherman Information Network (FIN) number; this number is generated automatically on all individual fishing licenses sold through Delaware’s electronic licensing system. License-exempt anglers, including Delaware residents 65 and older; non-resident boat fishing license holders who do not have an individual license; and individuals who do not have an individual license fishing on licensed boats must obtain their free FIN number by visiting http://www.delaware-fin.comor calling 800-432-9228 toll-free.

Delaware fishing licenses are sold online, at the licensing desk in DNREC’s Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, and by license agents statewide. To find a participating agent, or to purchase a license online, visit Delaware Licenses. For additional information on Delaware fishing licenses, call 302-739-9918.

For more information on fishing in Delaware, click on 2017 Delaware Fishing Guide. The guide also is available in printed form at DNREC’s Dover licensing desk and from license agents throughout the state.

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.

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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Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Blotter: Aug. 29-Sept. 4

Reminder for the week: Hunters reminded to avoid using railroad tracks for hunting access

DE F&W Natural Resources Police logoOfficers responded to 72 complaints and issued 41 citations, five of which were related to the C&D Canal Conservation Area and associated recreational trail, where there is an increased Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police presence.

An incident of note:

  • On Sept. 1, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police cited two New Castle County men for illegal deer hunting activities at the C&D Canal Conservation Area. One was cited for hunting deer over bait on a wildlife area and littering; he was fined $214, including court costs. The other was cited for hunting deer over bait on a wildlife area, possession of unlawfully taken deer and littering on a state wildlife area; he was fined $379, including court costs. K-9 River, a Labrador retriever deployed by NRP, aided the investigation, using her tracking skills to lead Fish & Wildlife officers to a wooded area baited with corn and evidence that a deer had been harvested there.

Citations issued by category, with the number of charges in parentheses, included:

Wildlife Conservation: Hunting deer over bait on a wildlife area (2)*, possession of unlawfully taken deer (1)*, hunting with an unplugged shotgun capable of holding more than three shells (1), hunting migratory waterfowl without required HIP number (1), hunting doves on a wildlife area without a permit (1), trespassing after hours on a state wildlife area (4), and littering on a state wildlife area (2)*.

Fisheries Conservation: Recreational: Unlicensed fishing (2), possession of undersized blue crabs (8), improperly marked recreational crab pots (3), and trespassing to fish (1).
Commercial: Unlawful transfer of commercial tags/striped bass (9).

Boating and Boating Safety: Operating a vessel with insufficient number of lifejackets (1), no lifejacket on a child age 12 or younger as required by law (1), allowing use of a non-compliant vessel (2), operating a personal watercraft after sunset (1), and no boating education certificate (1).

*Citations issued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area.

Are you AWARE?
With early fall hunting seasons now open, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police remind hunters to avoid using railroad tracks for access to hunting areas.

“All railroad tracks are private property, and no one should be walking, driving or parking on tracks without landowner permission. If found on the tracks, violators will be charged with trespassing and fined,” said Sgt. John McDerby, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police. “Those considering using railroad tracks for access to hunt doves or other game also need to consider the safety hazard involved – many railroad tracks throughout the state are still in active use.”

With dove, resident Canada goose and archery deer seasons now open, teal season opening today and squirrel season opening Sept. 15, hunters also are reminded that early-season hunting opportunities are offered on many wildlife areas throughout the state. Non-toxic shot must be used for all dove hunting on state wildlife areas during the month of September.

Season dates and legal hunting hours are as follows:
• White-tailed deer: Archery and crossbow seasons, Sept. 1, 2016-Jan. 31, 2017 (½ hour before sunrise to sunset)
• Doves (early season): Sept. 1-Oct. 1 (½ hour before sunrise to sunset)
• Resident Canada Geese: Sept. 1-24 (½ hour before sunrise to sunset)
• Teal: Sept. 9-27 (½ hour before sunrise to sunset).
For later season dates and other migratory game bird seasons, hunters should consult the 2016-2017 Delaware Hunting & Trapping Guide.

Hunters also are reminded to purchase their 2016/2017 hunting license if they have not already done so. A Delaware resident annual hunting license costs $25 for ages 16 through 64. A resident junior hunting license costs $5 for ages 13 through 15. To hunt waterfowl in Delaware, including teal, residents age 16 through 64 are required to purchase a state waterfowl (duck) stamp, which costs $9. Higher license prices apply to non-resident hunters, and no exemptions are made for non-residents age 65 and older on purchasing a Delaware hunting license or waterfowl stamp.

Hunters who are exempt from purchasing a license must obtain an annual, free License Exempt Number (LEN). Teal, dove and goose hunters also must obtain a Federal Harvest Information Program (HIP) number. Both are available online at https://egov.delaware.gov/htr or by calling 855-335-4868 toll-free.

If hunting waterfowl on a state wildlife area from a blind that was selected through a lottery, all hunters in the blind are required to carry the $20 annual blind permit, available for purchase online or where hunting licenses are sold. This requirement is waived for hunters participating in Division of Fish & Wildlife-designated youth hunting days.

Delaware hunting licenses, blind permits and waterfowl stamps are sold online, at the licensing desk in DNREC’s Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901, and by license agents statewide. To find a participating hunting license agent, to purchase a license or blind permit or to obtain a HIP or LEN number online, click Delaware Licenses and Permits. For additional information on Delaware hunting licenses, call 302-739-9918.

A Federal Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp, available for purchase online, at U.S. Post Offices and at Bombay Hook and Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuges, is required for all waterfowl hunters age 16 and older; no exemptions are made for persons 65 years or older for purchasing federal stamps.

For more information on hunting in Delaware, including specific wildlife area rules, hunters should consult the 2016-2017 Delaware Hunting & Trapping Guide along with this year’s newly-revised wildlife area maps. Both are available online at Delaware Hunting Information. Hard copies of the guide and the hunting maps are also available at the licensing desk in DNREC’s Dover office at 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901, or by calling the Wildlife Section office at 302-739-9912.

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.

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.

Contact: 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. 330

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Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Blotter: July 4-10

Reminder for the week: Personal watercraft operators need to review rules for their vessels

DOVER – 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’s Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers between July 4-10 made 1,610 contacts with anglers, boaters and the general public, including 304 vessel boardings for boating safety and fishing regulation compliance checks. Officers responded to 71 complaints and issued 57 citations, one of which was related to the C&D Canal Conservation Area and associated recreational trail, where there is an increased Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police presence.

Incidents of note:

  • On July 10, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police cited James W. Short, 61, of Ocean View, for operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol and failure to observe slow-no-wake zone on Indian River Bay. Short was given a mandatory appearance at Justice of the Peace Court 14 in Georgetown at a later date.
  • On July 8, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police cited William J. Lis, 67, of Wilmington, for operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol and no navigation lights on Indian River Bay. Lis was given a mandatory appearance at Justice of the Peace Court 14 in Georgetown at a later date.
  • On July 4, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police cited Scott A. Focht, 38, of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., for operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol, clamming in a closed and/or polluted area, possession of over-the-limit hard clams, no boating education certificate and unlicensed fishing on Rehoboth Bay. Focht was given a mandatory appearance at Justice of the Peace Court 14 in Georgetown at a later date.

Citations issued by category, with the number of charges in parentheses, included:

Wildlife Conservation: Trespassing after hours on a state wildlife area (4), and hunting after hours (1).

Fisheries Conservation: Recreational: Unlicensed fishing (13)*, possession of undersized blue crabs (12), use of recreational crab pots without required turtle excluder (3), tending more than two recreational crab pots (1), improperly marked crab pot (1), failure to tend recreational crab pots at least once within required 72-hour timeframe (1), possession of over-the-limit hard clams (1), and possession of undersized white perch (2).

Boating and Boating Safety: Operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol (3), negligent operation of a vessel (3), operating a vessel with insufficient number of lifejackets (1), no life jacket on a child age 12 or younger as required by law (2), failure to observe slow-no-wake zone (1), operating an unregistered vessel (1), no boating education certificate (4), no boat ramp certificate (1), and no navigation lights (1).

Public Safety: Clamming in a closed and/or polluted area (1).

* Citation issued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area: unlicensed fishing (1).

Are you AWARE?
DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police remind personal watercraft (PWC) owners – especially new owners – to review Delaware’s boating laws and regulations and understand how they apply to PWC operation prior to heading out on the waterways.

As PWC manufacturers develop new and innovative technology increasing the comfort, size and speed of PWCs, also known as jet skis, their popularity and use continue to grow on Delaware’s waterways. As popularity and use of PWCs grows nationally, so do accidents, violations and conflicts with other recreational boaters.

Since PWCs are considered motor vessels, operators must comply with several safety and operation requirements, some of which are specific to PWC operation. The following laws apply to all PWCs operated on Delaware waters:

  • Anyone born after Jan. 1, 1978 must complete an approved boating safety course and carry their boating safety education card with them prior to operating a motor vessel – including a PWC – in Delaware waters.
  • PWC operators must be age 16 or older. Ages 14 and 15 may operate a PWC, but only under the direct supervision of a parent or legal guardian on board. Youth under age 14 may not operate a PWC on Delaware waters.
  • PWC times of operation are restricted to the hours of sunrise to sunset.
  • PWC operators and passengers must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved lifejacket at all times while underway.
  • PWCs are equipped with an emergency ignition safety “kill” switch attached to a lanyard required to be worn by PWC operators. This switch shuts off the engine if the operator is thrown from the proper operating position.
  • All PWCs must be equipped with safety equipment that includes a whistle, horn or other sound-producing device, and a Coast Guard-approved fire extinguisher.
  • Prohibited PWC maneuvers which endanger the safety of persons and property include:
    • Weaving through congested vessel traffic;
    • Jumping or attempting to jump the wake of another vessel;
    • Following within 100 feet of a water skier; and
    • Speeding in restricted speed areas.
  • Towing water skiers is prohibited without a rear-facing observer on board. The PWC also must be designed by the manufacturer to carry the operator, the observer and the person or persons being towed.
  • Do not exceed the manufacturer’s carrying capacity of any PWC.
  • Within the Delaware waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware’s Inland Bays adjacent to incorporated areas, PWCs are required to maintain headway speed or slower when operating less than 300 feet from all persons in the water and any shoreline, wharfs, piers, docks, boat launching areas, pilings, bridge structures, moored, drifting or anchored vessels, and all non-motorized vessels.
  • Except for the waters of Delaware’s Inland Bays adjacent to incorporated areas and the Atlantic Ocean, PWCs must maintain headway speed or slower when operating less than 100 feet from all wharfs, docks, boat launching facilities, piling, bridges structures, moored, drifting or anchored vessels, all non-motorized vessels and any shoreline. In all areas, PWCs must remain at least 300 feet from all persons in the water.

For more information on safe boating practices in Delaware, including more details on PWC laws and regulations, please visit Delaware Boating Safety.

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.

Contact: 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. 257


Two new K-9 teams join DNREC’s Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police

photo of AFC Allen and K9 River
AFC Chelsea Allen, with K9 River

DOVER – Two new officers with unique skillsets and specialized training have joined DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police. Working with their human partners, AFC Josh Hudson and AFC Chelsea Allen, K-9 Rosco and K-9 River will be on the job, using their sensitive Labrador retriever noses to locate everything from discarded weapons to poached wildlife to lost children.

The two new K-9 teams graduated from the Maryland Natural Resources Police K-9 Academy on June 17 following an intensive 10-week training course, with certification in human tracking, evidence location and wildlife evidence tracking of deer and wild turkeys.

“Their training is scent-specific. If you hold up an article of clothing from, say, a lost or missing child, that’s what they will track, and what they will find,” said Lt. Casey Zolper, who oversees the Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police K-9 program. “They can dig up game that someone’s hidden when over-the-limit or taken out of season, or find illegal guns and ammunition that have been discarded by somebody breaking the law. Just seeing these dogs on duty is a great deterrent to potential violators.”

Photo of AFC Hudson and K9 Rosco
AFC Josh Hudson and K9 Rosco

AFC Hudson began his law enforcement career as a seasonal officer eight years ago, becoming a full-time officer in 2012 and graduating from the police academy in 2013. He brought Rosco home at eight weeks old from a Felton kennel and was well into training him as a hunting dog when an opportunity to join law enforcement came up for the two-and-a-half-year-old chocolate Lab. “Our natural resources police section was looking for new K-9 officers,” AFC Hudson said. “Rosco tested, met their tough criteria and was accepted into the program.”

AFC Allen also worked as a seasonal officer before entering the police academy, graduating in 2014 and joining Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police as a full-time officer. Her new partner, River, a black Lab, was donated to Fish & Wildlife’s K-9 program by Bill Adams of Milford. “I was very excited to hear the agency was looking for new K-9s – partnering on a K-9 unit is something I’ve always wanted to do,” said AFC Allen. “As soon as I met River, I knew she would make a great K-9 partner.”

The two new K-9 teams will walk in some big pawprints. The Fish & Wildlife K-9 program began in 2006, when then-AFC Zolper was paired with K-9 Officer Warden – who proved his skills on a wide variety of cases, from search-and-rescue to natural resource cases to DNREC criminal cases as well as in assisting other police agencies. He tracked all types of articles, people and wildlife, including illegally-taken doves, turkeys, ducks and deer. Warden also helped locate marijuana growing in state wildlife areas, tracked missing and wanted persons and found key evidence in criminal cases that included firearms, ammunition and even a personal item related to an attempted homicide.

When not working in the field, Warden often served as Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police’s K-9 ambassador, demonstrating his unique skills at schools and attending statewide community events, which the new K-9 officers also have as their charge. Warden died in 2014, just a few days shy of retirement at age 10. “Following K-9 Warden’s distinguished service, we knew we wanted to continue the program,” said Chief Robert Legates, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police. “We feel confident these two new K-9 teams will pick up the work Lt. Zolper and K-9 Warden did so well and provide the same outstanding level of service to the people and wildlife of Delaware.”

AFC Hudson and K-9 Rosco are based in Sussex County and AFC Allen and K-9 River are based in New Castle, but will respond as needed throughout the state. In addition to handling DNREC natural resources police cases, the two K-9 teams also will be available to assist state, county and municipal police agencies.

Contact: 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. 239