Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Blotter: June 20-26

Reminder for the week: Observe safety precautions when towing water skiers

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 June 20-26 made 1,696 contacts with anglers, boaters and the general public, including 169 vessel boardings for boating safety and fishing regulation compliance checks. Officers responded to 43 complaints and issued 30 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.

An incident of note:

  • On June 25, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police cited Gerard M. Centofanti, 68, of Reading, Pa., Todd Sheridan, 51, of Thomasville, Pa., John Krinex, 70, of Ellenton, Fla., and Bradley Sheridan, 73, of Spring Grove, Pa., for one count each of recreational crab pot tampering on Vines Creek in Indian River Bay. The four men were fined $107 each, including court costs.

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

Wildlife Conservation: Trespassing after hours on a state wildlife area (1)*, and operating an unregistered motor vehicle on a state wildlife area (1).

Fisheries Conservation: Recreational: Unlicensed fishing (6), recreational crab pot tampering (4), use of recreational crab pots without required turtle excluder (1), possession of undersized blue crabs (5), and possession of undersized summer flounder (2).

Boating and Boating Safety: Operating a vessel with insufficient number of lifejackets (2), no lifejackets on water skiers (2), failure to observe slow-no-wake zone (3), operating an unregistered vessel (1), no fire extinguisher (1), and no boating education certificate (1).

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

Are you AWARE?
DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police remind boaters of some important safety regulations when towing water skiers.

“Water skiing is a three-person sport – the water skier, the boat operator and the observer,” said Sgt. John McDerby, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police boating safety coordinator. “Under Delaware law, any vessel towing a water skier must have a person aboard other than the operator to act as the observer. To ensure the skier’s safety, the observer faces backwards, watches the skier and alerts the boat operator of any hand signals from the skier or if the skier goes down.”

Other safety requirements for water skiing:

  • Recreational water skiers must wear lifejackets.
  • A water skiing tow line cannot exceed 75 feet in length.
  • Observe all “Slow-No Wake” areas.
  • Avoid traveling at unsafe speeds, including congested areas.
  • If water skiing or tubing behind a personal watercraft (PWC), the PWC must have the capacity to legally carry the operator, observer and the person being towed.
  • Observe marked “No Water Skiing” areas, which include all marked swimming areas, Assawoman Canal, Indian River Inlet, Roosevelt Inlet, Whites Creek, a portion of the channel through Masseys Landing and portions of the Rehoboth-Lewes Canal.
  • Maintain a safe and reasonable distance from shipping lanes, other vessels, persons and property.
  • Water skiing is prohibited at night between sunset and sunrise, and within 100 feet of persons in the water, piers, docks, floats, wharfs, vessels anchored or adrift and private or public boat launch ramps.

For more information, 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

Contact: Sgt. John McDerby, DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, 302-739-9913 or 302-354-1386, or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 243

DNREC’s Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police encourage safe boating practices over holiday weekend

DOVER – With many boaters heading out on the water for the long 4th of July holiday weekend, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police advise “steady as she goes” for practicing safe boating on Delaware waterways. “We need everyone on our waterways to be alert, use common sense and avoid actions that will put themselves, their passengers and other boaters at risk,” said Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Chief Robert Legates.

Recent statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard show the top five primary contributing factors for boating accidents are operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and alcohol use. With these factors in mind, Sgt. John McDerby, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police boating safety coordinator, offered some tips for safe boating:

Safety-check your vessel and equipment before getting underway
Preparations for putting your boat in the water each season should begin with servicing the motor or engine to ensure it is in good operating condition. Before heading out, always check engine oil levels and make sure you have enough gasoline in your tank, as well as making sure all navigational lights are working.

“Unexpected engine failure or running out of gas can strand you and your passengers – and this rarely happens at a convenient time or place,” Sgt. McDerby said. “Add nightfall, an approaching summer storm, rough seas or other hazards, and you place yourself and your passengers in danger.”

Additional items to check include the appropriate number of life jackets and a fully-charged cell phone and/or marine radio, as well as the following safety equipment: flares, a whistle or sound-producing device, and a fire extinguisher.

Wear a lifejacket
In 2015, the number of boating accident fatalities nationwide totaled 626, including 22 children under the age of 13, according to U.S. Coast Guard statistics. Where cause of death was known, 76 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims when lifejacket usage was known, 85 percent were not wearing a lifejacket.

“Like seatbelts in automobiles, we know without question that lifejackets save lives. Delaware law requires that children age 12 and younger wear a life jacket while underway in any vessel on Delaware waters,” Sgt. McDerby said, noting that no children age 12 or younger have died as a result of drowning in Delaware since this law was passed in 1991.

“Though lifejackets are not legally required to be worn by adults, they should also wear them, especially anyone with limited swimming skills,” Sgt. McDerby continued. “Boating accidents can happen very fast – and there’s no time to reach for a stowed lifejacket and put it on.”

While operating a vessel, stay alert and keep a sharp lookout
When operating an automobile, safe driving includes keeping your eyes on the road and avoiding distractions that take your attention elsewhere.
“The same applies to operating a vessel,” Sgt. McDerby said. “At all times, boaters need to watch where they are going, looking for other vessels and anything in the water that poses a hazard or redirects vessels.”

Things to look out for include: swimmers, water skiers and smaller vessels such as kayaks or jet skis; floating hazards such as large branches or logs in the water; shallow areas where your vessel can become grounded; and directional channel markers or other signage.

Watch your speed
As with land vehicles, boaters need to remember that the faster you drive your boat, the more you reduce your reaction time and increase your chances of being involved in an accident.

“Operating a vessel at excessive speed poses a hazard to you and your passengers as well as everyone else on the water around you, especially in areas with a lot of boat traffic – a common occurrence on popular waterways, especially during busy summer holiday weekends,” Sgt. McDerby said. Boaters should take particular care to observe posted slow-no-wake areas, he added.

Don’t drink and boat
According to Coast Guard statistics, alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents and was listed as the leading factor in 17 percent of the 626 boating-related fatalities reported nationwide in 2015, with 306 accidents resulting in 122 deaths and 258 injuries.

“Drinking while boating is a choice. The best way to minimize the risk of an accident is to make the wise choice – don’t drink and boat,” said Sgt. McDerby, noting that boaters should plan ahead to have a non-drinking designated boat operator aboard if alcohol is being consumed.

While it is not illegal for recreational boat operators to consume alcohol, the same blood alcohol limit used to measure intoxication in automobile drivers applies to boat operators: 0.08 or above is legally intoxicated. Sgt. McDerby also noted that boat operators above the limit put themselves and their passengers at risk, and those found operating under the influence face fines and potential jail time.

Delaware’s emphasis on boating safety education

Taking a boating safety course to improve your skills can help reduce the chances of an accident. Coast Guard statistics show that in states where instructional data was available, 71 percent of reported fatalities occurred on boats where the operator had not received boating safety instruction.

“Last year, we had one boating-related fatality and 25 reportable boating accidents in Delaware. We’d like to see the number of accidents go down,” Chief Legates said, noting that to date this year, Delaware has had 10 reported boating accidents and no fatalities.

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 in Delaware waters, including personal watercraft. “We recommend that everyone who is going to operate a boat in Delaware waters take a safety course first, regardless of their age,” Sgt. McDerby said.

Delaware’s 8-hour basic boating safety course, which fulfills Delaware’s mandatory boating safety class requirement, is offered in multiple locations statewide in one to four sessions. An online version of the course also is offered. Upon completing the course, boaters receive a boating safety certificate, with those required to take the course having to carry the certificate while boating as proof of course completion.

For more information, including the boating safety class schedule, access to the online Delaware Boating Handbook and other boating information, visit Delaware Boating Safety, or contact Sgt. John McDerby at 302-739-9913 or by email at

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. 236

Enhanced Public Education Website Launched During Radiation Protection Week in Delaware

DOVER – It’s no surprise that radiation is emitted through many medical devices such as X-ray machines, but fewer people know that it can be produced by, or found in, smoke detectors, granite, and fluorescent lightbulbs. To encourage Delawareans to learn more about radiation, its sources and its benefits, the Authority on Radiation Protection launched its upgraded website on Monday Nov. 9, 2015.

The launch of the enhanced site coincides with Governor Jack Markell’s proclamation of November 8-14, 2015, as Radiation Protection Week in Delaware, which commemorates the discovery of X-rays on November 8, 1895, by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen.

“We’re extremely excited to unveil our new website and mark this important week,” said Dr. Frances S. Esposito, Authority Chairperson and representative from the Delaware Medical Society. “We hope that people, especially teachers, students and professionals will find it to be a more user-friendly source of information about the science of radiation.”

The updated website features a new layout and updated content featuring resources for teachers, students, patients and their parents, the media and professionals engaged in dental, medical, industrial and veterinary fields on radiation and radiation protection principles and practices.

“Radiation protection professionals ensure that the beneficial uses of radiation are safe and available throughout the healing arts, industry, education, research and government, while minimizing the hazards of radiation exposure,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, Director of the state Division of Public Health (DPH). “They play a vitally important role in protecting the health of all Delawareans.”

DPH’s Office of Radiation Control provides administrative support for the Authority on Radiation Protection, a public board of volunteers appointed by the Governor, which was established in 1976. The Authority is responsible for instituting and maintaining a regulatory program for sources of ionizing radiation in compliance with state and federal standards, instituting and maintaining a program to permit development and utilization of sources of ionizing radiation, and encourage the constructive uses of radiation, and prohibiting and preventing exposure to ionizing radiation in amounts that are or may be detrimental to the public’s health.

The Authority on Radiation Protection’s website is housed at Delaware State University. For more information on the Authority, visit

Delaware 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.

Halloween Treats Can be Scary – Avoid a Bite from the Sweet Tooth

Dover – The extra weight and tooth decay that can sneak up on kids from a sweet tooth can be frightening. The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) recommends serving healthy Halloween treats instead of calorie-laden candy. There are more Halloween alternatives to sweets than ever before. Consider the following options:

• Mini boxes of raisins;
• Mini bags of fresh fruit and vegetables such as apples, grapes, carrots, or celery;
• Mini bags of dried fruit or vegetable “chips”;
• Squeeze fruit, fruit chews, or fruit rolls;
• Mini bags of trail mix made with whole grain cereals;
• Peanut butter or apple sauce in single-serve containers;
• Individually packaged granola, cereal, soy, yogurt, and fig bars;
• Mini bags of pretzels, animal crackers, mini rice cereal or granola bars, or whole grain cheddar cheese crackers; and
• Small bottles of water and sugar-free hot chocolate packets.

If candy is served, choose bite-size candy bars that are lower in fat and sugar. Non-food treats are increasingly popular at Halloween. Try these:

• Pencils, erasers, crayons, and coloring books;
• Stickers and tattoos;
• Glow sticks and glow bracelets;
• Play-Doh containers, play foam, and bottles of bubbles;
• Toothbrushes and tiny containers of hand sanitizer; and
• Coupons to a local yogurt store or a roller-skating rink.

“Halloween is a special time for treats and fun,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH director. “And, there are many fun and healthier alternatives to candy and sugary soda. Offering healthier treats and non-food items is good for your little ghosts and goblins, and adults, too.”

Children and adults should follow the 5-2-1-Almost None lifestyle goals: eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day; spending no more than two hours a day of recreational time in front of a screen; getting one or more hours of physical activity daily; and drinking almost no sugary beverages. Daily calories should be high in fiber, low in sugar and sodium, and contain essential vitamins and minerals.

Tips for trick-or-treating safety:

• Parents should walk with their children when trick-or-treating and stick to familiar neighborhoods. Do not let them go alone! Teach children never to go into strangers’ homes or cars. In case young children become lost, put a nametag with two phone numbers on their costumes. Children should know their home phone number and how to call 911.
• Choose light-colored costumes that are labeled “flame-retardant,” meaning the material will not burn. Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags. To prevent tripping, kids should wear athletic footwear, with pants and dresses hemmed. Costume glasses, hats, wigs, and beards should not cover eyes or mouths. Do not cover eyes or mouths with masks and instead use non-toxic face paint or make-up, testing it first on the child’s arm.
• At home, turn on outside lights and remove any tripping hazards. Walk on well-lit sidewalks and driveways with flashlights. Use crosswalks and never assume that vehicles will stop for pedestrians. Insist that trick-or-treaters walk, not run or ride bicycles at night.
• Avoid candles and other flames, and unknown pets.
• Discard treats that are unsealed, have holes in the packages, are spoiled, or are homemade treats that were not made by someone you know. To prevent choking, do not allow young children to have hard candy or gum. To prevent over-eating and weight gain, store treats out of sight and dole out one or two daily.

For more Halloween health and safety tips, visit

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 Delaware 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, drink almost no sugary beverages.

DelDOT and Delaware Dept. of Agriculture Urge Drivers to Be Cautious When Sharing the Road with Farm Equipment

Harvest Time Means Slow-Moving and Large Agricultural Vehicles Will Be on Delaware Roads

DOVER — DelDOT and the Department of Agriculture are urging Delaware drivers to be alert for the presence of agricultural equipment on roads and to practice safe road-sharing techniques when encountering them.

The state is the midst of harvest season and farmers are moving large tractors, trailers, trucks and other large equipment on state roads as they move between fields or to equipment staging areas.

Farm equipment operators that are on the road understand that their presence can delay your trip and will often pull off the road at the first available safe location to allow you to pass. Don’t assume, however, that the farmer can move aside to let you pass wherever there is open space. Shoulders may be soft, wet, or steep, and pulling off the road could cause the farm vehicle to tip, or the shoulder or soil may not be able to support the heavy weight of the equipment.

If you encounter a wide vehicle, please yield. On rural roads, some farm equipment may be wider than the lane of travel. If you approach a piece of wide farm equipment traveling in the opposite direction on a rural road and you cannot pass safely, stop. Then consider your safest alternative: Either pull off the road, safely turn around or back up to a location that will allow the equipment to pass.

Never assume the driver of farm equipment knows you are there. Most operators of farm equipment will regularly check to see if there is traffic behind them. However, the farmer must spend most of the time looking ahead to keep the equipment safely on the road, and to watch for oncoming traffic.

Remember that farm equipment is very loud, and the farmer will probably not be able to hear your vehicle. Therefore, do not assume that the farmer knows where your vehicle is located. Before attempting to pass, be sure you have a clear line of sight down the road ahead and there is no oncoming traffic. If you are in an area where passing is allowed, use your car’s horn to signal to the farmer that you are there and then pass with caution. Do not pass if you are in a designated “No Passing Zone” or within 100 feet of any intersection, railroad grade crossing, bridge, elevated structure or tunnel. Also, be watchful of vehicles behind you that may also try to pass.

Do not assume that a farm vehicle that pulls to the right side of the road is going to turn right or is letting you pass. Due to the size of some farm implements, the farmer must execute wide left-hand turns. If you are unsure, check the operator’s hand signals and check the left side of the road for gates, driveways or any place a farm vehicle might turn.

While driving on rural roads, you may encounter farm equipment at any time. This equipment comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Sometimes you will see a single vehicle, such as a tractor or combine. Other times the equipment will consist of a tractor with an implement in tow. Farm equipment is designed to be used primarily in a field and is not designed to travel at typical highway speeds. Most farm equipment is designed to travel at speeds of 15-25 miles per hour. If you’re driving 55 mph and come upon a tractor that’s moving 15 miles per hour, it only takes five seconds to close a gap the length of a football field between you and the tractor.

Just as motorists are entitled to operate their vehicles on public roadways, farmers are legally allowed to operate farm equipment on these same roadways.

Tips for Farmers

Farmers have a role in road safety too. Following this safety advice will help:

• Place a slow moving vehicle reflector triangle on any machine that travels the road slower than 25 mph.

• Always point the triangle up, keep the emblem clean to maximize reflectivity, and replace the emblem when it fades, normally every 2-3 years.

• Mark the edges of tractors and machines with reflective tape and reflectors.

• Consider installing retrofit lighting on older machinery to increase visibility.

• Turn on your lights, but turn off rear spotlights when going onto the road. From a distance they can be mistaken for headlights.

• Avoid the highway during rush hours and bad weather. To increase visibility, it is best not to drive before sunrise or after sunset.

• Use pilot cars, one in front and one in back if you are going a considerable distance. Hang an orange flag out the window of these pilot vehicles.

• Consider installing mirrors on equipment to enable you to be aware of motorists around you.

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Media Contacts: Dan Shortridge, Department of Agriculture, (302) 698-4520; Sandy Roumillat, DelDOT, (302)760-2080