DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Blotter: June 24-30

Reminder for the week: Have a safe holiday weekend on Delaware waterways

Picture of the DNREC Fish & Wildlife Police ShieldDOVER – 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 June 24-30 made 2,410 contacts with anglers, boaters, and the general public, issuing 76 citations. Officers responded to 82 complaints regarding possible violations of laws and regulations or requests to assist the public. A 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

  • On June 25, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers arrested Willard Burris, 61, of Felton, for 17 counts of failure to tend commercial crab pots at least once within the required 72-hour timeframe on the Delaware Bay. Burris was arraigned at Kent County Justice of the Peace Court 7, where he plead guilty, was fined $187, including court costs, and released.

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

Fisheries Conservation: Recreational: Failure to tend crab pots at least once within required 72-hour timeframe (2), use of crab pots without required turtle excluder (3), crab pot tampering (2), possession of undersized blue crabs (8), possession of undersized largemouth bass (1), possession of undersized summer flounder (1), unlicensed fishing (6)*, and no Fisherman Information Network (FIN) number (2).
Commercial: Failure to tend crab pots at least once within required 72-hour timeframe (17) and crab pot tampering (2).

Boating & Boating Safety: No life jacket on a child age 12 or younger as required by law (2), operating a vessel with insufficient number of life jackets (4), operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol (1), negligent operation of a motor vessel (1), allowing use of a non-compliant vessel (2), jumping the wake of another vessel on personal watercraft (1), failure to observe slow no wake (3), and no boating education certificate (5).

Public Safety: Passing in a no passing-zone (1) and possession of drug paraphernalia (1).

Other: Trespassing after hours on a state wildlife area (10)* and littering (1).

*Includes citation(s) issued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area.

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?
Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police want the many boaters heading out for the long 4th of July holiday weekend to enjoy safe boating on Delaware’s waterways, and remind boaters that drinking and boating don’t mix. Boat operators found to have blood alcohol levels of .08 or higher will face charges for operating a vessel under the influence as well as putting themselves, their passengers, and other boaters at risk.

Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers will be out on the water during the holiday weekend, increasing their presence for Operation Dry Water, an annual nationwide awareness and enforcement campaign aimed at preventing alcohol and drug-related boating accidents and fatalities. For more information on Operation Dry Water visit DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police promoting Operation Dry Water July 5-7.

Other tips for recreational boaters to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend include:

  • Exercise patience and courtesy at crowded boat ramps and docks.
  • Observe all Slow No Wake areas.
  • Maintain a lookout for other vessels and keep a safe distance away.
  • Avoid traveling at unsafe speeds, including congested areas.
  • Make sure children 12 and younger are wearing life jackets while underway as required by law.
  • Check navigation lights and make sure to turn them on when operating at night.

For more information on safe boating practices in Delaware, please visit Delaware Boating Safety.

To report boating, fisheries, and wildlife violations, please call the Delaware Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police 24-hour dispatch line at: 302-739-4580 or 1-800-523-3336.

Follow Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/DEFWNRPolice/.

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

Contact: Sgt. Brooke Mitchell, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, 302-739-9913, or 302-382-7167.


DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police promoting Operation Dry Water July 5-7

DOVER – DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police today announced their active participation in Operation Dry Water, an annual nationwide awareness and enforcement campaign aimed at preventing alcohol and drug-related boating accidents and fatalities.

Over the July 5-7 weekend, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers will increase their presence on Delaware’s waterways to educate boaters on the danger and risk of operating a vessel under the influence. Enforcement efforts against operating under the influence (OUI) also will be intensified during the Operation Dry Water campaign. Boat operators found with blood alcohol levels at or exceeding the state and federal limit of 0.08 percent will be arrested and may have their vessel impounded, as well as face fines and potential jail time for OUI.

According to national statistics released by the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol use is a leading contributing factor to fatal boating accidents. To avoid putting themselves, their passengers, and other boaters at risk, boat operators are urged to stay sober and follow safe boating practices, or to plan ahead by having a non-drinking, qualified designated boat operator on board if alcohol is consumed.

During Operation Dry Water in 2018, Delaware Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers made 3,056 contacts with boat operators and passengers and conducted 573 boardings while performing standard vessel safety equipment checks and encouraging safe boating practices. Forty-six citations were issued, helping to raise awareness of and reduce unsafe boating practices, with one of the citations issued for OUI.

Operation Dry Water is coordinated nationwide by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), in partnership with state marine enforcement agencies and the U.S. Coast Guard. For more information on Operation Dry Water visit: http://www.operationdrywater.org/.

For more information, visit Delaware Boating Safety or contact Delaware Boating Safety & Education Coordinator Sgt. Brooke Mitchell at 302-739-9915 or email brooke.mitchell@delaware.gov.

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

Vol. 49, No. 180


DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police advise: Don’t drink and boat on Delaware waterways

DOVER – For a safer Memorial Day holiday weekend, DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police remind boaters that drinking and boating don’t mix. Boat operators who have consumed alcohol put themselves, their passengers, and other boaters in Delaware waters at risk, and boat operators found with blood alcohol levels of .08 or higher will face charges for operating under the influence (OUI) in violation of Delaware and federal laws.

Marine patrols are increased over the holiday weekend to ensure safe boating and public safety. Boat operators found at or above the legal limit will find their voyage terminated, will be arrested, and may have their vessel impounded. Anyone charged with boating under the influence also can face fines and potential jail time.

According to national statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol use is a leading known contributing factor to fatal boating accidents. In 2017, the most recent year for which U.S. Coast Guard statistics are available, In 2017, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 275 boat accidents involved alcohol use, resulting in 102 deaths and 227 injuries nationally.

The best way to minimize the risk of an accident is to make the wiser choice – don’t drink and boat. Environmental stressors aboard a boat – such as constant motion, heat, sun glare, and dehydration – all contribute to the negative effects of any amount of alcohol. Because of this, having a non-drinking, designated boat operator is strongly recommended.

Other tips for recreational boaters to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend include:

  • Make sure children 12 and younger wear life jackets while underway as required by law.
  • Wear your life jacket and encourage all your passengers 13 and older to also wear them.
  • Observe all “Slow No Wake” areas.
  • Maintain a lookout and keep a safe distance from other vessels.
  • Check navigation lights and make sure to turn them on when operating at night.
  • Carry your boating education card and all required safety equipment appropriate for your size vessel.
  • Canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards are considered vessels, and passengers are required to have a life jacket on board and carry a whistle or other sound-producing device. If you are out after sunset, a flashlight is also required.

For access to the online Delaware Boating Handbook and other safe boating information, visit the Delaware Boating Safety web pages, or contact Delaware Boating Safety & Education Coordinator Sgt. Brooke Mitchell at 302-739-9913 or brooke.mitchell@delaware.gov.

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


DNREC Shoreline & Waterway Management Section urges boater alertness for navigating Baker’s Channel this summer

Low tide leaves only 1.5 feet of water until Massey Ditch dredging

DOVER – The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Shoreline & Waterway Management Section advises boaters traveling in the Inland Bays over Memorial Day weekend and throughout the summer to be alert when navigating in Baker’s Channel. The channel extends from Rehoboth Bay to Indian River Bay around the eastern side of the island known as Lynch’s Thicket.

The entrance to Baker’s Channel in Rehoboth Bay between Channel Marker 1 and the gate at Markers 3 and 4 is very shallow at low tide. There is only about 1.5 feet of water at low tide for boaters to navigate. This portion of Baker’s Channel is scheduled to be dredged later this year as part of the Massey’s Ditch maintenance dredging project.

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


DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police investigating fatal boat accident in Sussex County

REHOBOTH – DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers responded to, and are investigating a fatal boat accident that occurred at approximately 3:45 p.m. Sunday, May 19 on the Rehoboth Bay near the Lewes/Rehoboth Canal.

A 16-foot boat capsized, resulting in the boat’s operator and single passenger entering the water. The boat operator and passenger were transported to shore, where the passenger was pronounced dead by Sussex County Emergency Medical Services. At this time, all names are being withheld pending notification of family members. The investigation is ongoing.

Follow 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. Brooke Mitchell, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, 302-382-7167, or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 49, No. 130ca