DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Blotter: March 4-10

Reminder for the week: Boaters urged to check gear before putting vessels in the water

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 March 4-10 made 1,082 contacts with hunters, anglers, boaters, and the general public, issuing 14 citations. Officers responded to 36 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 in the Community

  • Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers, along with other Division of Fish & Wildlife staff, will be attending the Ducks Unlimited Greenwing Conservation Festival on April 13 at Fish & Wildlife’s Owens Station complex near Greenwood, where we will be featuring the following displays and activities: Operation Game Theft trailer, a marine patrol vessel, hunter education, live archery trailer, Take a Kid Fishing casting activities, annual statewide youth Sport Fishing Tournament, and waterfowl and trout stamp displays, as well as K9 and waterfowl banding demonstrations. For more information, click Greenwing Conservation Festival.

Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Actions

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

Wildlife Conservation: Failure to register antlerless deer within 24 hours (1) and remove antlerless deer parts prior to registering (1).

Public Safety: Possession of drug paraphernalia (3)*.

Boating Safety: Operate a vessel with insufficient life jackets (1).

Other: Trespassing after hours on a state wildlife area (7)* and operating a vehicle off an established roadway in wildlife area (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. Citizens are 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 remind boaters that in addition to taking a boater safety course, making sure your vessel is water-ready increases your safety levels. Before putting your vessel in the water, you should perform a pre-departure check by ensuring that you have:

  • All current required licenses and registrations, including fishing license(s), boat registration, boating safety certificate, and, for vessels registered out-of-state launching at a Division of Fish & Wildlife tidal boat ramp, a boat ramp certificate;
  • Enough lifejackets for everyone on board, including for children age 12 or younger who are required by Delaware law to wear them when the vessel is underway and when not in an enclosed cabin, though lifejacket use is encouraged at all times when aboard a vessel; for vessels 16 feet or more in length, a throwable life preserver is also required;
  • Checked the local weather forecast;
  • Left a float plan with a responsible friend, family member, or local marina, including a description of your boat, when you plan to head out, who is going with you, where you plan to go, and when you plan to return;
  • Checked for working navigation lights, steering, and throttle controls;
  • Checked oil, fuel, and fluid levels;
  • Checked for fuel leaks, including hose clamps and connections;
  • Drained all water from the engine compartment or bilge, and replaced and secured the bilge plug;
  • A fully-charged engine battery and fire extinguishers;
  • Emergency flares and a fully charged cell phone or marine radio; and
  • Plenty of water to stay hydrated and sunscreen to protect against sunburn, which can be severe on the water.

For more information, including Delaware’s boating safety course schedule, access to the online Delaware Boating Handbook, and other boating information, please visit Delaware Boating Safety or contact Lt. John McDerby, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, at 302-365-8705 or email john.mcderby@delaware.gov.

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: Lt. John McDerby, 302-354-1386, or Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, 302-739-9913

DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife encourages boaters to ‘Spring Aboard’ for boating season by taking a safety course

National campaign urges boaters to ‘Keep Your Edge’ through education

DOVER – DNREC’s Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Office of Boating Safety and Education joins the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) in encouraging boaters to “Spring Aboard,” a March 17-23 nationwide campaign to prepare for boating season by enrolling in a boating safety course.

Under Delaware law, all persons born on or after Jan. 1, 1978 must successfully complete a boating safety course in order to operate a boat or personal watercraft in Delaware waters. Boaters required to complete a boating safety course must carry their boating safety card with them at all times while operating a vessel as proof of course completion. Other boaters are encouraged to take a boating safety course to sharpen their boating skills.

A wide variety of courses are available to fit every boater’s schedule, from classroom courses offered by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons to online offerings available anytime day or night. During “Spring Aboard,” several Delaware-approved online boating safety education providers offer courses at a discounted price or other incentives. Delaware’s Office of Boating Safety and Education also provides volunteer instructors for private and non-profit organizations, schools, clubs, and the general public to educate boaters on skills and seamanship.

Delaware’s course covers the rules and regulations for the state’s waterways, including appropriate speed limits, responsible boating skills and awareness, and how to distinguish navigational aids and water depths. Also covered are weather tips, information about basic engine mechanics, required and recommended safety equipment, what to do if a Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officer stops your vessel, and the dangers of boating under the influence.

Operator inexperience and inattention continue to be leading factors in accidents and deaths on our nation’s waterways according to the U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics. Where boating safety course participation was known, 81 percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction.

NASBLA is a national nonprofit organization that works to develop public policy for recreational boating safety, and represents recreational boating authorities in all 50 states and the U.S. territories, including Delaware. Through a national network of thousands of professional educators, law enforcement officers, and volunteers, NASBLA serves more than 73.5 million American boaters.

For more information, including Delaware’s boating safety course schedule and access to the online Delaware Boating Handbook, please click Delaware Boating Safety, www.springaboard.org, or contact Lt. John McDerby at 302-739-9913 or email John.mcderby@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: Lt. John McDerby, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, 302-739-9913, or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 49, No. 56

Drivers reminded of ‘Rules of Road’ to keep children safe at bus stops

There have been several accidents at school bus stops in the national news lately, a good reminder for us in Delaware to make sure drivers are aware of the rules of the road. School buses are one of the safest forms of transportation on the road, and Delaware drivers can help ensure the safety of our students by paying special attention to school buses. Most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related crashes are pedestrians, many hit by motorists illegally passing stopped buses.  In the spring, Delaware public school bus drivers conducted their eighth annual survey of vehicles illegally passing their buses while they were loading/unloading students with their overhead red lights flashing and lighted STOP arms extended. The survey, conducted on May 4, 2018, included 1,108 bus drivers who reported 572 illegal passes, 8 of which were by the right side of the bus. Almost 300 of the illegal passes (296) were drivers approaching from the rear of the bus. More than half of the illegal passes (294) occurred on the morning bus runs.

The Delaware Department of Education – in partnership with the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security Highway Safety Office, Delaware Department of Transportation and Delaware State Police – reminds vehicle operators of the state’s “Rules of the Road” to keep our children safe when they are getting on or off a school bus: – Bus drivers will turn on the overhead amber flashing lights to give motorists advance notice that they are preparing to stop to pick up or discharge students. – Once stopped, the bus drivers activate the overhead red flashing lights and extend their bus STOP arms. – When a bus is stopped on a two-lane road with the overhead red flashing lights illuminated and STOP arm out, the driver of any vehicle approaching the school bus from the front or the rear of the bus shall stop and remain stopped until the red lights are no longer flashing and the STOP arm is retracted. – On a roadway with four or more lanes, the driver approaching the bus from the front shall not stop. – Drivers should stop far enough from the bus to allow students to safely enter and exit the bus. – Be alert. Children can be unpredictable.

DNREC’s Natural Resources Police launch new tip411 mobile app for reporting crimes and concerns

DOVER – Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) has launched a new law enforcement app, enabling the public to connect with the department’s Natural Resources Police officers, receive alerts, and submit anonymous tips from their smartphones.

“Technology is playing an ever-increasing role in the ways we communicate, and this new Natural Resources Police app offers the public an easy electronic means of reporting crimes and concerns,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “The app also gives our Natural Resources Police officers an efficient new tool to gather tips and share information and alerts with app users.”

Developed by software company tip411, the Delaware Natural Resources Police (DENRP) app encourages the public to provide DNREC’s Natural Resources Police (NRP) with factual and anonymously reported information leading to the arrest of poachers, polluters, and other violators. The app is available for free download by searching “DENRP” via the Google Play Store or the iTunes App Store. The app can be used with 100 percent anonymity, as tip411’s technology removes all identifying information before NRP officers see the tips.

Delaware’s tip411 system enables the public to connect with the three branches of DNREC’s natural resources police to report crimes and hazards to public safety. In addition to enforcing all Delaware criminal and motor vehicle laws as do all Delaware police agencies, DNREC’s three law enforcement branches focus on specific enforcement areas:

Environmental Crimes Unit Natural Resources Police – text keyword ECUTIP
The Environmental Crimes Unit (ECU) investigates environmental violations, primarily focusing on unlawful releases of liquid, solid, and hazardous waste, and air pollution violations. Common complaints include illegal dumping, open burning violations, unlawful asbestos removal, illegal transportation of solid or hazardous waste, and water quality violations for wells, failing septic systems, and illegal disposal of wastewater. The ECU also has a K-9 tracking unit.

Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police – text keyword FWTIP
Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, including two K-9 tracking units, investigate hunting, fishing, and boating violations; respond to and investigate boating and hunting accidents; respond to poaching complaints through Operation Game Theft; and patrol state-owned boating access areas, fishing ponds and piers, and 19 state wildlife areas encompassing nearly 65,000 acres statewide. F&W NRP officers also conduct marine law enforcement patrols and boating safety checks on Delaware waterways, including the state’s three-mile offshore limit in the Atlantic Ocean.

State Parks Enforcement Natural Resources Police – text keyword STATEPARKTIP
Delaware’s Park Rangers patrol 16 state parks encompassing more than 26,000 acres. Rangers enforce park rules and regulations such as surf fishing regulations, campground policies, trespassing in restricted areas, and hunting, fishing, and boating on state parks properties. Rangers also respond to and investigate visitor injuries, motor vehicle accidents and all other crimes and offenses occurring in or near Delaware’s state parks. Alerts including park closings, special event notifications, and weather advisories also will be available through the tip411 app.

Anyone without a smartphone can send an anonymous text tip via their cell phone to Delaware Natural Resources Police officers by texting the appropriate NRP section keyword as listed above and their message/tip to 847411 (tip411). For more information on the new app, visit de.gov/tip411.

Tip411 users also are advised that DNREC’s new app does not take the place of dialing 911 for immediate emergency response. In the event of an emergency situation, call 911.

To report possible crimes, DNREC’s Natural Resources Police also can be reached by phone:

  • Environmental Crimes Unit Natural Resources Police: 24-hour Environmental Emergency Response Line, 800-662-8802
  • Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police: Illegal hunting, fishing, or boating activities, 800-523-3336; Operation Game Theft (wildlife crimes): 800-292-3030
  • State Parks Enforcement Natural Resources Police: 24-hour dispatch, 302-739-4580

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

Division of Fish & Wildlife urges motorists to watch out for deer crossing roadways – especially at dusk

DOVER – With shorter days ahead – especially after the Nov. 4 change from daylight savings back to Eastern standard time – DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife reminds Delaware motorists, especially 9-to-5 workers driving home at dusk, to be alert for deer crossing roadways.

A group of doesNational statistics show that at least half of all deer-vehicle collisions occur the last three months of the year, with the highest number of deer struck on the roadways in late October through mid-November. State Farm Insurance recently reported that motorists made 5,435 deer/vehicle collision insurance claims in Delaware between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018, a 2.9 percent decrease from 5,600 during the same time period last year. Delaware ranks 24th this year out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia included in State Farm’s report on where deer-vehicle collisions are most likely to occur; neighboring Pennsylvania ranks third. Delaware is considered a medium-risk state with a 1-in-139 chance of a collision, compared to the national average of 1-in-167. Average property damage claims in deer-vehicle collisions run $4,341.

Attentive driving is the best way to avoid deer collisions. Keep these tips in mind, as suggested by the Delaware Office of Highway Safety, Delaware police agencies, auto insurance companies, and the Division of Fish & Wildlife:

  • Turn your headlights on at dawn and dusk and keep your eyes on the road, scanning the sides of the road as well as what’s ahead of you.
  • When there is no oncoming traffic, switch to high beams to better reflect the eyes of deer on or near the roadway.
  • To reduce your risk of injury in a collision, always wear your seatbelt.
  • Be especially aware of any distractions that might take your eyes off the road, even if only momentarily, such as cell phones, adjusting the radio, eating, or passenger activities.
  • Watch for “Deer Crossing” signs that mark commonly-traveled areas, and be aware that deer typically cross between areas of cover, such as woods or where roads divide agricultural fields from woods.
  • If you see a deer crossing the road ahead, slow down immediately and proceed with caution until you are 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 a pole is likely to 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 and call police. Do not touch the animal or get too close; an injured deer may bite or kick, causing serious injury.

For more information about white-tailed deer in Delaware, contact the Wildlife Section at 302-739-9912.

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