Officer Alsobrooks was patrolling near the Hathaway Bridge and saw two subjects in a vessel fishing under the bridge. He conducted a resource inspection and found the subjects to be in possession of 18 undersized red snapper and two undersized lane snapper. The captain of the vessel was issued a citation for harvesting undersized red snapper and issued written warnings for over the bag limit of red snapper and harvesting undersized lane snapper.
Officers Land and McHenry were on patrol in Pensacola Bay when they saw a vessel anchor fishing near the Pensacola Pass. The officers saw one of the subjects reel in an undersized red snapper. One of the men on board stated, “That’s a good one.” Officer Land boarded the vessel to conduct a fisheries inspection and located 13 undersized red snapper. Two of the fishermen on board claimed possession of the fish. It is illegal to possess red snapper measuring fewer than 16 inches. It is also illegal to possess more than two red snapper per person. The appropriate action was taken for the violations.
Officer Pettey responded to a report of an individual that had a dead deer on his front porch. After interviewing one of the residents about the deer, the resident first claimed someone put it there to set him up, but then admitted to killing it the evening before. He stated he was driving around when he decided to shoot a deer. He shot the deer, brought it home and was still deciding what to do with it more than 12 hours later. The gun and deer were seized and the individual was issued a notice to appear citation for killing a deer during closed season.
Officers Nichols and Wilkenson responded to a boating accident with injuries involving a PWC and a swimmer. The accident occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, and the investigation determined a rented PWC struck a swimmer, causing a laceration to the head. The swimmer was later transported to a local emergency facility in Destin and his injury was treated with stitches. The accident is under investigation.
Officer Maltais responded to the Destin Pass where a boating accident occurred involving two rental PWC. One of the operators sustained a laceration to her left knee and was transported and treated at a local hospital in Fort Walton Beach. The investigation determined that the two PWC were traveling south toward the Destin Pass when the lead PWC slowed and turned east into the path of the second PWC. A citation for navigational violation was issued to the operator that turned into the path of the other PWC.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
Officer Land was on patrol in Eglin Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and saw multiple vehicle tracks entering a closed area of the WMA. Officer Land tracked the tire sign to a clay pit within the WMA and located two vehicles. Each vehicle had multiple occupants and only one individual possessed a valid Eglin permit. Officer Land informed Eglin Range Patrol of the violation and asked for their assistance. The appropriate action was taken and individuals were banned for two years by the Eglin Range Patrol.
Officers Hutchinson and Mullins responded to a shot they heard on the Blackwater River. They found two men on a dock in the area. After questioning the men, they determined that the shooter was just shooting into the water. While talking to him, they determined that he had multiple felony warrants. Officer Mullins placed him under arrest and transported him to the Santa Rosa County Jail.
Officer Roberson was conducting fisheries inspections when he found a subject to be in possession of undersized and over the bag limit of redfish. The subject was issued the appropriate citations.
DIRECTED CONSERVATION PATROLS
Officers made several fisheries-related cases this week while conducting water patrol. These included three cases of possession of undersized red snapper and one case of failure to land red snapper in whole condition.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
The Gulfarium scheduled a sea turtle release at Henderson Beach State Park. Twelve green sea turtles were rehabilitated at Gulfarium and released in the Gulf of Mexico. Approximately 250 individuals attended the event. Officer Nichols provided security and traffic control and answered questions from the public.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
Officer Jernigan assisted with a Hunter’s Safety Course at the Jay Community Center. Officer Jernigan spent a little over an hour going over the hunting laws and regulations of the state. The class was small with only 15 present, but all were very attentive and asked questions concerning hunting regulations in Florida.
NORTH CENTRAL REGION
Officers Stanley and Troiano worked the Lochloosa WMA throughout the weekend. After receiving several complaints about mudding and damage to state-owned lands the officers began surveillance of known mudding areas. Several citations were issued for operating ATVs in the area and alcohol violations that included underage drinking.
Officer Burnsed received a complaint about trespassing on private property where two vehicles had illegally entered the property and had gotten stuck. The suspects had driven around a locked gate which has been a common problem for the property owners. Lieutenant Huff responded to the area and contacted two of the three subjects who were trespassing. One of the subjects fled on foot due to outstanding warrants issued for his arrest. The subjects’ information was documented and all will be charged with trespassing on private property by direct file. An effort with the Baker County Sheriff’s Office is being conducted to locate the fleeing subject.
Officer Tyler received a call about a vessel that had been illegally dumped on private property. The officer retrieved the previous owner’s information off the dumped vessel and spoke with the registered owner of the vessel. It was determined he had knowledge of the vessel being illegally dumped. Charges of criminal dumping will be filed with the state attorney’s office.
Officers Fox and Starling patrolled and conducted vessel safety/resource inspections at the main boat ramp in Cedar Key during the Independence Day weekend. During one inspection, the captain of the vessel informed Officers Fox and Starling that he had three black tip sharks inside his cooler. The officers saw three black tip sharks, not in whole condition, inside the cooler. The captain was issued a notice to appear for over the bag limit of sharks and was issued a written warning for not landing shark in whole condition.
Officer Fox was conducting safety and resource checks at the Waccasassa Boat Ramp in Gulf Hammock when he saw an airboat approaching the boat ramp with an expired registration. He approached the captain and asked if he had any luck fishing. The captain admitted to catching and keeping two undersized red drum. Officer Fox issued a misdemeanor citation for possession of undersized red drum and issued the captain three written warnings for various boating safety/registration violations.
DIRECTED CONSERVATION PATROLS
Officers are working area lakes for boating and resource compliance. All lakes have high water conditions and have been producing some records speck limits for this time of the year.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officer Stanley attended a school function and discussed FWC’s role in public safety and resource protection.
Officer Boone conducted a public outreach event at the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Youth Camp at Branford High School. He spoke to several participants about boating safety, alligators and Florida’s natural resources.
Officer Mobley spoke to several groups including the Police Athletic League, Suwannee County Library Outreach and the 21st Century Program. Numerous participants were in attendance where topics on job diversity, the importance of life jackets and wildlife safety were covered.
Officer Edson was conducting marine fisheries inspections in Daytona Beach when he encountered a man in possession of five undersized mangrove snapper. In the recent past, the man had been issued a written warning by FWC for undersized seatrout. Officer Edson issued him a citation for the violation.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officer Hargabus and Investigator Sumpter conducted an outreach event for 52 kids at Rainbow Springs State Park for Marion County Fire Wise Camp. The officers set up a mock illegal turkey hunting crime scene. The kids and Officer Hargabus received a report of a shot fired in the state park the previous day. They responded to the area and located an individual (Investigator Sumpter) dressed in camo sitting against a tree with a camera and turkey calls. He stated that he was just taking pictures of turkeys. The kids located a hidden gun, spent shell casing, blood, turkey feathers and cracked corn on the ground with sign of turkey feeding. After observing the evidence, searching the suspect and locating a live shell that matched the spent shell, Officer Hargabus and the kids interviewed the subject and got a confession that he had shot a turkey the day before in a state park. The kids learned how important the game laws are and how locating evidence at a crime scene can piece a case together.
Officer Caldwell responded to the delayed report of a boating accident that had occurred four days earlier on Lake Magdalen in Tampa. His investigation revealed that the operator of one vessel struck an anchored vessel cutting it in half while two people were on board fishing. There were no reported injuries as the two people on board the anchored vessel abandoned the vessel before it was struck and swam to safety. The operator of the vessel that struck the anchored vessel was cited for violation of navigation rule “proper lookout.” He was also issued a written warning for failure to report a reportable boating accident within the required timeframe.
Officer Baker responded to a citizen’s complaint of a subject keeping an out-of-season snook at the Gandy Boat Ramp. He identified and stopped the subject’s vehicle and, upon inquiry, the subject openly admitted to keeping a snook and placing it in a garbage bag in the trunk of his car. The subject was cited for possession of snook out of season.
Officer Price was working near New Pass when he saw individuals wading in the water and throwing a cast net. He watched as a man threw the net repeatedly, and then put fish into a sack that a female was carrying. He approached the individuals as they walked back to their vehicle. When asked if they caught anything, the man said no and then began covering the sack to conceal the catch. Officer Price then told the man he had been watching them fish, but the man would not admit to having any fish. An inspection of the sack revealed several undersized fish including snook, mangrove snapper and sheepshead. The man was charged with three misdemeanors for possession of undersized snook, sheepshead and mangrove snapper, and two misdemeanors for out- of-season snook and illegal method of catching snook.
Officer Price was in a concealed location near New Pass while he watched two men fishing. One of the men was throwing a cast net and the other was fishing with a rod and reel. A subsequent resource inspection revealed that one of the men did not have a valid fishing license and the other had a small snook concealed inside a bucket and covered with the net. The man with the net admitted to catching the snook. He was issued two misdemeanors for possession of undersized and out-of-season snook. The other man was issued an infraction for not having a valid fishing license.
Officer Hinds was on land patrol near the King Fish Boat Ramp and witnessed a man pulling his vessel out of the water. During a subsequent boating safety and resource inspection, the officer noticed that the man was obviously under the influence of alcohol and his normal faculties were impaired. After further investigation, the man was cited for DUI and booked into Manatee County Jail.
While on land patrol at the Gandy Bridge, Officer Bibeau saw four individuals walk out of the nearby mangroves carrying fishing poles and miscellaneous fishing equipment. During a subsequent fisheries inspection, three undersized snook were located. One individual claimed that the fish belonged to him and he was issued a misdemeanor citation for possession of undersized and out-of-season snook.
While on land patrol at Gandy Beach, Officer Bibeau saw an individual actively fishing from the shoreline. He saw the individual catch two small fish and place them on a stringer. Officer Bibeau approached the individual as he was preparing to leave the area to conduct a fisheries inspection. The inspection revealed two, 13-inch red fish. The individual was issued a misdemeanor citation for the fisheries violations.
Officer Bibeau and Lieutenant Van Trees stopped a vessel to conduct a safety and resource inspection while on water patrol near the Fort Desoto Boat Ramp. As the officers went through the inspections, they noticed signs of impairment from the operator and numerous empty beer cans on the deck of the boat. After completing field sobriety tasks, the operator was arrested for BUI. The operator refused to give a breath sample and was booked into the Pinellas County Jail.
Officer Baker received a complaint from a citizen about a subject keeping out-of-season stone crab at Gandy Beach. He located and approached the subject, and an inspection revealed that the subject possessed undersized and out-of-season stone crab claws in a five-gallon bucket. The subject was cited for possession of undersized stone crab claws and warned for possession of stone crab claws out of season.
FWC officers responded to two alligator bite incidents on the Peace River. The bites occurred days apart from each other at the same location. An alligator trapper caught and removed a seven-foot alligator at the location. Both bite victims received puncture wounds on their foot and are expected to make full recoveries.
Lieutenants Holcomb, Mack, Laskowski, Investigators Tsongranis, Dallarosa, Schefano, and Officers Lehman, Messman and Cristofaro responded to the report of a missing boater and distressed swimmer on Lake Thonotosassa. The officers recovered an unmanned solo skiff circling in the middle of the lake. A shoreline fisherman advised he heard someone yelling for help from the middle of the lake and called 911. Both the FWC and Hillsborough County Dive Team members searched until dark, and FWC officers continued the search until 2:00 am. The search resumed the following morning at 5:00 am. The body of the missing boater was recovered later that morning by the FWC Dive Team.
DIRECTED CONSERVATION PATROLS
Officers Hardgrove, Price, Winton and Lieutenant Barrett targeted night-time snook anglers over the weekend. Calm winds, clear weather and strong tides drew many people to area bridges, beaches and lighted docks overnight. By working in plain clothes and blending in with other fishermen, the officers targeted compliance with catch and release regulations during the closed summer season.
SOUTH REGION A
ST. LUCIE COUNTY
Officer Payne received an anonymous tip of a person on Facebook posing with an alligator. The subject was identified and his residence was in Fort Pierce. An interview revealed that the subject had in fact shot the alligator that measured approximately 10 feet. While the subject was showing Officer Payne pictures of the alligator on his phone, he scrolled to another photo of another dead alligator. Officer Payne asked about the other alligator and the subject stated that it was a smaller alligator he had killed a few days prior. The subject reported the location where the carcasses had been dumped. Officer Payne located the carcasses and collected the evidence. Charges are currently pending.
SOUTH REGION B
Officers Wilkins and Garcia responded to an anonymous tip of subjects possessing illegal lobster. Upon locating the subjects at a rented house in Islamorada, the officers explained to one of the subjects that they had received a tip that individuals at the residence possessed illegal, out-of-season lobster. The subjects showed the officers a large cooler containing several lobster and admitted that there were several more inside the residence in a freezer. The subjects were found to be in possession of 20 out-of-season lobster, including 4 undersized lobster. The subject was cited accordingly.
While on patrol in Key West, Officer Martino received a call about a subject on Duval Street taking pictures with a sea turtle. When Officer Martino arrived, he encountered an intoxicated male in possession of a hatchling sea turtle. The subject told Officer Martino that he had found the turtle on a nearby beach. The subject was charged accordingly and the hatchling sea turtle was returned to the ocean.
Officer Wilkins was on state land patrol near the Long Key Bridge when he saw a white vessel anchored near the shore with two individuals in the water snorkeling. Officer Wilkins was watching the two individuals from a nearby parking lot across US-1 when he saw one of the individuals with a spear in his hand and diving underneath the water. Deputy Guerra of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office arrived on the scene a short time later to assist. After some time, the two individuals decided to pull anchor and drive back to a dock a short distance from where they were anchored. Officer Wilkins and Deputy Guerra then stopped the vessel at the dock and performed a resource inspection. The officers found nine lobsters that had been speared, eight with wrung tails, inside a hatch on the front of the vessel. The individual who had been seen with the spear gun in the water confessed to spearing all the lobsters. Five of the nine lobster were also undersized. The subjects were cited accordingly.
MAJOR WILDLIFE ASSISTANCE
An FWC officer responded to Miami Beach to follow up on a report of an alligator stuck at the jetty. The FWC officer and assisting Miami Beach police officers recovered the 4- foot-long alligator and turned the unharmed alligator over to the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program.