Central Ohio – Wildlife District One

During the December 2015 two-day deer-gun season, State Wildlife Officer Josh Shields, assigned to Union County, received a call from a landowner in reference to hunters unlawfully on his property. Officer Shields responded to the area and found a pickup truck back a muddy farm lane on the landowner’s property. Officer Shields contacted several hunters. The hunters were field dressing a deer and were approximately 300 yards north of the neighboring property line where they had permission to hunt. After photographing the scene and collecting evidence, Officer Shields ensured that the deer was properly tagged by the successful hunter. Each of the three hunters was issued a citation for hunting without permission and was ordered to pay $160 in fines and costs in the Marysville Municipal Court. Officer Shields showed the hunters how they can use tools like the county auditor’s website to keep them from getting property lines confused in the future. The hunters later apologized to the landowner.

While on patrol, State Wildlife Officer Tony Zerkle, assigned to Fairfield County, was flagged down by a motorist. The man advised Officer Zerkle that there was an ongoing problem with deer carcasses and trash dumped along a roadway near his residence. He stated that a carcass and trash had been dumped the night before. Officer Zerkle investigated the site and found the deer carcass dumped on the bank of a drainage ditch. Officer Zerkle also observed other trash including boxes, newspapers, and a bucket. A closer inspection of the deer revealed it had a temporary game tag attached to its ear. Officer Zerkle later contacted a suspect and questioned him about the dump site. Further investigation revealed the suspect had dumped the deer and the trash. He was found guilty in the Fairfield County Municipal Court and ordered to pay $215 in fines and court costs.

Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District Two

During the 2015 deer-gun season, the Defiance County Sheriff’s Department received a call from a landowner in reference to someone hunting without permission on his property. The sheriff’s office then contacted State Wildlife Officer Matt Smith. When Officer Smith pulled into a driveway near the property, the caller pulled in behind him. The caller said that he had just witnessed someone take his orange vest off and run across the road into a woods just south of their location. Officer Smith was able to use his binoculars to spot the suspect slowly moving down a fencerow and away from his location. Officer Smith proceeded across the field to contact the suspect. Once the suspect realized he was being pursued by Officer Smith, he quickly put his orange vest back on and sat down as if he had been hunting there the entire time. Further investigation revealed another suspect had dropped him off to push deer out of property they did not have permission to hunt, and had planned on picking him up on the next road. A summons was issued for hunting without permission.

During the December 2015 two-day deer-gun season, State Wildlife Officer Kelsey Brockman was patrolling Erie County when she observed a group of hunters preparing to leave Milan Wildlife Area. Officer Brockman stopped to contact the group to check for licenses and observed two deer in the bed of a truck. Two of the men from the group said they had shot the deer on the wildlife area. Neither of the deer had a temporary tag attached to it. One of the two men did not have his hunting license or deer permit with him at the time of the contact. The men were each issued a citation for failing to attach a game tag on their deer. Both men were found guilty in court and assessed a $285 fine plus court costs.

Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District Three

State Wildlife Officer Mark Basinger, assigned to Stark County, and Wildlife Officer Supervisor Scott Angelo were working enforcement activities during the deer-gun hunting season. The officers received information that three individuals were hunting on Berlin Wildlife Area without wearing the proper hunter orange clothing. The officers arrived and contacted the individuals in the field. The group was escorted out of the woods and charged with failing to wear the proper hunter orange clothing. The men were convicted in the Portage County Municipal Court and each paid $185 in fines and court costs.

State Wildlife Officer Aaron Brown, assigned to Wayne County, was patrolling Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area during a summer night. Officer Brown heard the sound of a loud vehicle indicative of off-road operation. Officer Brown drove toward the sound of the vehicle and saw headlights approaching. He initiated a traffic stop on the truck and observed fresh mud covering it. The results of the investigation revealed that the driver had been off-roading in a recently cleared field on the wildlife area. The field had been planted with warm-season grasses to provide habitat for ground-nesting birds. The man was issued a summons and ordered to appear in court. He was convicted and ordered to pay a fine and costs of $171. The man was also ordered to pay restitution of $173 for damages to the field.

Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District Four

State Wildlife Officer Darin Abbott worked on an ongoing complaint about out-of-state hunters poaching deer in Lawrence County. After receiving some timely information, Officer Abbott contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission for assistance. Officers in Florida contacted the suspects and seized two deer taken from Lawrence County as evidence. The case is still under investigation and charges are pending in Florida and Ohio for possessing weapons under disability and for falsification to obtain a resident license by a nonresident, among other possible Ohio charges. Subjects were charged in Florida with transporting a whole deer carcass into the state.

Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District Five

In August 2015, several state wildlife officers and investigators responded to a water pollution event in Darke County that resulted in a substantial fish kill. The initial investigation showed signs that manure had entered into a large creek. Officers traced the manure upstream to a field tile that emptied into a tributary of the creek. The tile was draining from a field that had recently had swine manure applied on it, according to the landowner. There were also several areas in a wheat stubble field with manure-contaminated water. In addition, there was evidence of surface runoff of the liquid manure into an adjacent field. An investigator followed the saturated soil to a sinkhole in the field which was created by a broken underground tile. The manure flowed into this hole. In total, the team of officers counted 2,119 wild animals (mostly fish) that were killed as a result of the manure entering the creek. The responsible party was identified during the course of the investigation and paid $2,718.20 to the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s conservation fund as restitution for the wild animals killed and investigative costs incurred.

Staff report