FWC Law Enforcement Report: Hunting, Fishing Violations

December 12, 2018

The Florida FWC Division of Law Enforcement reported the following activity during the period ending November 29 in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

ESCAMBIA COUNTY

Officers participated in a targeted enforcement action organized by Officer Allgood working illegal bait sites within Escambia Wildlife Management Area. Officers Allgood and Hutchison with K-9 Zara located two locations where bait was placed within the management area. Both baited areas were located on the ground near tree stands. After monitoring the baited sites, Officers Allgood and Pettey located a subject hunting over one of the baited sites. The subject admitted to placing bait in the management area to attract hogs. Later that day, Officer Allgood located two subjects hunting at the second bait site. One of the subjects admitted to placing bait on the management area. Resource citations were issued to both parties for placing bait on a management area to attract deer or hogs. Several warnings were issued to both subjects as well.

Lieutenant Lambert was working duck hunting from a concealed location at Salter’s Lake within the Escambia River. He saw a subject arrive at the boat ramp and launch a small boat at sunset. The subject shot at ducks until 25 minutes after sunset. Legal hunting hours for duck hunting ends at sunset. Appropriate citations were issued for the violation.

Officer Clark was on a social media website that was known for local fishing posts. He saw a post that had an individual holding up an undersized bull shark. Officer Clark spoke with the individual and the subject stated that he did catch the shark but gave it away. Officer Clark educated the suspect on the laws of undersized sharks and the definition of harvest. Charges were filed for harvesting a shark with a fork length of less than 54 inches.

Officer Allgood was patrolling Ft. Pickens conducting resource inspections when he saw two subjects carrying a cooler off the beach towards their vehicle. He contacted the subjects and saw a large red drum located in the cooler with the head and tail cut off. The fish appeared to be grossly oversized and was not landed in whole condition. Officer Allgood issued the subject a resource citation for failure to land a red drum in whole condition.

SANTA ROSA COUNTY

Officer Hahr and Lieutenant Clark were patrolling in the Blackwater Wildlife Management Area when they heard two shots. Officer Hahr coursed the shots to a location in the management area. He went to that location and saw a subject exiting private property with a rifle. The subject stated that he shot two does. When they checked the deer, they discovered that he had killed three deer, two over the daily bag limit. The subject was cited for taking over the bag limit of antlerless deer. The meat from two deer was seized and donated to a charitable organization.

Officer Hahr was patrolling private property during crossbow season when he heard two rifle shots. He located the area from where the shots came and saw a subject in the process of cleaning a deer. Both deer had bullet wounds and no sign of a broadhead wound. The subject admitted to taking the deer with a rifle. Both illegally harvested deer were seized and donated to a charitable organization. The subject was cited for taking deer with a firearm during crossbow season.

Officer Ramos located an illegal bait site on Eglin Wildlife Management Area. A person planted a non-native seed as an attractant for deer and cut small oak trees down to create a shooting lane from a ladder stand. Later, the suspect also laid corn on the ground near the illegal food plot. Officer Ramos found the man actively hunting on the site and after a brief interview, the suspect admitting to cutting the trees, planting the food plot and spreading the corn. The subject was issued criminal citations for the violations. Additionally, the suspect’s access to the Eglin WMA was revoked for one year by Eglin Range Patrol security forces.

Officer Ramos saw a vehicle leaving Eglin Wildlife Management Area and conducted a traffic stop to check for licenses and permits. During the inspection, the officer learned that the suspect didn’t have a valid driver’s license. Additionally, the subject had dug up and removed several bags of expended ammunition from Eglin property. Range patrol was called, and the subject was issued a Notice of Violation for digging/disturbing ground on the WMA, a violation that all users who access the reservation are made aware of when an entry permit is granted. The subject’s access to Eglin was revoked for one year due to the violation. Officer Ramos also issued the appropriate citation to the suspect for driving with a suspended license.

Officer Cushing was driving across a bridge and saw a canoe drifting in Pensacola Bay. The canoe displayed a dive flag but there wasn’t anybody in or near the vessel which was nearly a half mile from the closest bridge. Officer Cushing proceeded to a local marina to respond by patrol vessel. Officers Ramos and Land responded to assist. Officer Ramos contacted FWC biologists who already had a boat in the water. With the help of the FWC biologist team, Officer Ramos began searching the bridge spans for a possible missing diver while Officer Land used binoculars to direct Officer Cushing to the canoe. Officer Cushing retrieved the canoe out of the water and placed it in his patrol vessel. A brief time later, Officer Ramos and the FWC biologists found three men swimming along the bridge spans heading towards a boat ramp which was about a quarter of a mile away. When the men got out of the water, two of them were borderline hypothermic from cold-water exposure. All three subjects had been spearfishing and had fish on their stringers. Officer Cushing returned the canoe to the subjects at the boat ramp. While the subjects were recovering from the cold water, a resource inspection of their speared fish was conducted. One subject was found to have speared a red drum, which is an illegal method of take. The red drum was also over the legal-size limit. The subject was issued citations for spearing a red drum and fishing without a saltwater license. All three men were issued warnings for other violations but remained grateful for the officers’ response and assistance.

Officer Ramos was on patrol in Eglin Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and discovered fresh ATV tire sign. ATV use is prohibited on the WMA. A vehicle and empty ATV trailer were located on Eglin property and Officer Ramos recorded the vehicle information. Later, he saw the ATV on a Range Road and attempted to catch up to it. The person driving the ATV eluded the officer by cutting through a closed area and doubling back on extremely narrow roads. Officer Ramos contacted Lieutenant Berryman and asked him to stand by with the suspect’s vehicle and trailer. When Lieutenant Berryman arrived at that location, the ATV had already been loaded on the trailer and the suspect was gone. Officer Ramos located the suspect’s vehicle heading south on a highway. The truck was pulling the same trailer with the ATV that fled from Officer Ramos earlier. A traffic stop was conducted, and two subjects were interviewed. The subjects were not truthful at first and denied they had been on Eglin WMA. After further questioning, the subjects admitted they had been riding in the WMA on two separate occasions. The operator of the ATV admitted he knew he was supposed to have an Eglin range permit but did not. Both persons were cited for operating an ATV on a management area along with warnings for other violations.

Officer Ramos was on patrol in Eglin Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and saw a man exit a wooded area with a compound bow and arrows during a period when all hunting was prohibited within Eglin WMA. Officer Ramos interviewed the subject and he admitted that he had been hunting deer from a ladder stand. He was issued a notice to appear for attempting to take game during the closed season.

Officer Hutchinson received a complaint from a landowner about a subject trespassing on their private property. Officer Hutchinson drove to the property and located a vehicle parked on state forest property near the private property. He deployed K9 Zara who tracked from the subject’s vehicle to the private property. While tracking, K9 Zara led Officer Hutchinson to a bag, a bucket and a shovel that were laying in the bushes. The bag and the bucket contained old bottles and other artifacts along with other tools used for digging. K9 Zara continued tracking until Officer Hutchinson heard a vehicle stop on a nearby roadway. He heard two doors shut which were the subjects attempting to get away. He contacted a sheriff’s deputy who was nearby and requested his help in locating the vehicle. A brief time later, the deputy stopped the vehicle and identified the male and female passengers as being the two whose truck was parked near the private property. After being interviewed, both subjects admitted to trespassing on the private property and digging for old bottles. They also admitted to fleeing the property when they heard the K9 team tracking towards them. Officer Hutchinson issued the subjects warnings for trespassing at the landowner’s request. The artifacts taken were given back to the landowner.

This report represents some events the FWC handled over the past week; however, it does not include all actions taken by the Division of Law Enforcement. Information provided by FWC.

NorthEscambia.com photo.

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