Officers Brady and Rice were conducting offshore patrols in federal waters near the Madison Swanson when they observed a vessel actively fishing in the closed area. The officers conducted an inspection of the vessel and issued the operator of the vessel a federal citation for the violation.
Officers Brady and Rice were conducting offshore patrols in federal waters when they conducted an inspection of a vessel that was actively fishing. During the inspection, the officers discovered the vessel was in possession of greater amberjack during closed season and in other than whole condition.
Officers Alsobrooks and Hayes received information about a suspect who killed an eight-point buck in violation of deer depredation permit rules. The officers located the suspect and conducted an interview. The officers found that the deer had been killed and removed from the property without being tagged. The officers seized the deer and a bow. The suspect was charged with violation of deer depredation permit rules.
Officer Forehand was on water patrol on the Apalachicola River when he saw a small boat occupied by three subjects. He noticed there were no fishing poles on board the boat. As surveillance was being conducted, one of the occupants placed electrical wires into the water and it was determined the suspects were using an electric shocking device to take fish. The vessel was stopped and the shocking device was seized. The three suspects were cited with taking fish by an illegal method.
Officers Fletcher, Burkhead and Hayes responded to the Apalachicola River near the Jim Woodruff Dam about a complaint that three suspects were using a net to take freshwater fish. When the officers arrived, they saw the three suspects placing a seine net into their vehicle. The officers stopped the suspects and found they had taken 59 panfish, seven black bass and three striped bass. All three suspects were charged with taking freshwater game fish by an illegal method.
While patrolling the Apalachicola National Forest several weeks prior to the opening of archery season, Officers Raker and Nelson observed a vehicle parked in a manner that suggested its owner was hunting nearby. After some time, the officers decided to try to locate the individual. The officers followed foot signs from the vehicle and then along a fire break and located a hunting stand, but no individuals. While searching the area, the officers located the individual’s bow, a bloody arrow, and eventually the owner of the vehicle. The individual was dressed in camouflage clothing and when interviewed, he told the officers he shot a buck and was searching for the deer. The individual was also found to be in possession of marijuana. The individual was cited for hunting out of season and possession of marijuana.
Officers Corbin and Pifer were conducting water patrol during the late night/early morning hours when they made the following cases. The officers stopped a vessel in the Destin Pass with one individual on board returning from a fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico. During a fisheries/license inspection, the individual was found to be in possession of 15 dolphin fish, five over the limit. Officer Corbin issued the individual a citation for the violation. The officers conducted a fisheries/license inspection of two individuals leaving the Destin east jetties and found one of the individuals to be in possession of an oversized redfish. Officer Pifer issued the individual a citation for the violation. The officers stopped a vessel in the Santa Rosa sound which did not have the required navigational lights displayed. During the stop, the officers learned the individual on board purchased the vessel three months prior and failed to transfer the title into his name. Officer Corbin issued the individual a citation for the violation.
Investigator Molnar and Officer Pifer were on routine land patrol when they observed two individuals fishing at a local park. During a fisheries/license inspection, it was determined that one of the individuals harvested an undersized redfish. Officer Pifer issued the individual a citation for the violation.
Officers Maltais and Nichols responded to several complaints of bears getting into garbage in the Casa Loma community. The officers contacted five homeowners whose garbage cans were targeted and knocked over with household garbage bags pulled out and torn, with contents spread out. The homeowners were given bear informational brochures explaining the importance of securing their garbage cans. The homeowners were issued non-compliance notification letters.
While on land patrol, Officer Trueblood received a tip called in to Wildlife Alert about individuals keeping undersized pompano. Upon arrival to the reported location, he observed several men, women and children fishing from the beach in Destin. After observing the individuals fish and place fish into a nearby cooler, the officer proceeded down to the beach and conducted a resource inspection. A number of unregulated fish were observed and five undersized pompano. Only one person within the group had a valid license. Officer Jarvis arrived on scene to assist. The officers addressed the undersized pompano and fishing license violations with the appropriate action. The illegal fish were documented as evidence.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
Officer Lewis was patrolling in Milton when he observed a truck being driven erratically. He turned around as it went out of sight behind him, but by the time he caught up to the vehicle, the driver had crashed into a tree and fled the scene on foot. After calling in the registration, he determined that the driver had an outstanding warrant. Several other officers arrived to assist as well as the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Corrections and Florida Highway Patrol. FWC Pilot Tolbert assisted at the scene with a helicopter. After several hours, the suspect was spotted by a resident and was soon apprehended. He was arrested on outstanding warrants and additional charges will be filed by other agencies.
Officer Travis saw a subject on Facebook posting photos of taking deer by illegal method: using a rifle and suppressor. After three days of monitoring by officers, the subject returned to his residence with a car and immediately left with a truck and flatbed trailer. Officers followed the subject and later observed a deer in the trailer being pulled back to the subject’s residence. A traffic stop was made and through observations and interviews they proved the deer had been shot in the head with a firearm. The subject admitted to killing the deer with a .22 rifle and suppressor. The suppressor permit was in the name of the subject’s wife. Officer Travis issued a citation to the subject for taking deer by illegal method. Division of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has become involved regarding the suppressor permit.
While Investigator Molnar and Officer Pifer were checking fishermen at a park at Santa Rosa Beach, they approached a couple sitting inside their vehicle. The female was crying and acting erratically. Concerned for the female, the officers contacted the driver. The driver stated the vehicle belonged to him and gave consent for Investigator Molnar to search it. A baggie of methamphetamine and a syringe was found in the center console. Both subjects claimed ownership of the contraband. They were both arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. The female was additionally charged with resisting without violence.
Officer Jarvis and Lieutenant Clark responded to two different complaints of a bear in garbage in the Forest Lake community off Highway 30A. Contact was made with both homeowners. The community was recently canvassed providing informational brochures regarding securing food attractants, including garbage cans. Both homeowners were issued non-compliance notification letters.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Lieutenant Allen attended Tyndall Air Force Base “National Night Out.” There were approximately 400 people in attendance. During the event, he talked about black bear issues on base and hunting and fishing regulations.
NORTH CENTRAL REGION
A captive wildlife investigator identified an individual who was in possession of a fox without the proper license. Additionally, the fox was housed in substandard caging and in poor sanitary conditions. The owner was cited and the fox was transferred to a properly licensed facility.
Early Thursday morning, Officers Christmas and Sweat received calls about the illegal taking of a deer. When they arrived at the location, they located a shot seven-point buck. A spent .22 magnum shell was located at the edge of the highway. A tag number and a vehicle description were obtained from an employee of the property owner. Later that morning, Officers Christmas and Sweat, along with assistance from Jacksonville Sheriff’s officers, located the shooter hiding in his grandmother’s closet. Three other suspects were located and interviewed. One Marlin .22 magnum rifle, a magazine with two rounds and a flashlight were seized as evidence. All four suspects gave verbal and written statements admitting to the crime. Several charges are pending.
Officer Mobley responded to a complaint of two shots being heard near a residence. Upon arriving at the location, fresh blood was discovered in the nearby planted pines and further information was received that there was a pickup truck in the vicinity when the shots were fired. Officer Mobley canvased the neighborhood and discovered a vehicle at a residence that met the description. After interviewing the owner of the pickup truck, it was determined that two occupants had shot a doe with a rifle and had processed it. Charges will be direct filed with the state attorney’s office for unlawful take of doe deer.
Officer Drew responded to a complaint of trespass on private property. Upon locating the empty vehicle, the officer could hear movement in the adjacent woods. Officer Drew located two subjects picking palmetto berries with a pair of hedge clippers and a bucket of berries. Both individuals were given a notice to appear for trespassing.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officer Davenport spoke to approximately 25 hunter safety attendees at the Mayo Public Library. The topics covered ranged from lawful methods, wildlife management areas, private property and other laws associated with hunting in the State of Florida.
Officers Boone and Johnston attended a local community neighborhood watch program with the Sheriff of Suwannee County. During this program, both officers answered questions from the attendees, giving information to better prevent violations of fish and wildlife state laws from occurring in their neighborhood.
Due to Hurricane Irma, a spillway in Lake County has had an influx of black bass. On separate occasions, Officers Scrambling and Morrow have checked the area for resource inspections. Both found multiple subjects in violation for over the bag limit, too many oversized bass and illegal method of take.
Officer Dias was conducting surveillance on several subjects fishing from the bank at the Moss Bluff Lock and Dam and observed one subject catch and retain several fish. Officer Dias believed the subject might have exceeded the daily bag limit for black bass, so he contacted Officer Seiler who took over surveillance. After observing the subject catch and retain several fish, Officer Seiler made contact and conducted a fisheries inspection, which revealed 11 black bass, 3 of which were over 16”. The defendant was issued a misdemeanor citation for taking over the allowable daily bag limit of black bass, and issued a written warning for possessing more than one over 16″ in length.
In the early morning hours, Officer Dias was on patrol around Forest Road 14 in the Ocala National Forest, when he observed a truck driving slowly with an LED light bar illuminating the woods. The truck continued to slowly move through the area to Lake Mary. Two subjects exited the truck and shined the shoreline of the lake. The two subjects started walking down a dim forest road shining lights in a manor capable of disclosing the presence of deer. One subject had a rifle slung over their shoulder. During the subsequent traffic stop on the truck, he found a scoped Savage Axis 30-06 loaded to capacity in the front seat, skinning knives in the back seat, and a spotlight and flashlight on the dash of the truck. A warrant check on the driver revealed an active warrant out of Lake County for failure to pay child support. The driver was also charged with felony driving while license suspended. Based on Officer Dias’ observations and material evidence, both subjects were charged with attempting to take deer at night with a gun and light. The driver was placed under arrest and transported to the Marion County Jail.
Officer Jones was patrolling at night when he observed a vehicle driving toward him flashing its lights and failing to stay in its lane. During a traffic stop on the vehicle, the officer smelled alcohol emitting from the driver. After administering field sobriety tasks, the driver was charged with driving under the influence (DUI) and transported to the Putnam County Jail.
Officers Jones and Bernard were on patrol when they heard Palatka Police Department Officers yelling “shots fired” over the radio. They responded to the scene and Officer Jones was the first to arrive at an officer involved shooting. Officer Jones helped maintain the scene until Officer Bernard and more backup arrived. They held a crime scene perimeter while the crime scene was processed.
Lieutenant Tye and Investigator Douglas were working the statewide alligator hunt at CS Lee Park, when they watched as two subjects loaded a boat and placed an alligator on the tailgate of their truck. The alligator clearly did not have a CITES tag in the tail. A Seminole County Deputy pulled into the parking area and one of the subjects walked over and got the CITES tag but just kept it in his hand. Lieutenant Tye and Investigator Douglas watched as the subjects finished loading up and pushed the alligator back in the truck, closed the tailgate and stepped away without putting the tag on it. The officers approached the subjects and Lieutenant Tye asked where the CITES tag was. One of the subjects showed her the tag in his hand and told her he was just about to put it on the alligator. The alligator hunt permit holder was issued a notice to appear for not tagging his alligator immediately after harvesting it.
Officer Edson was patrolling the Tiger Bay State Forest during the archery hunt when he conducted a resource inspection on a subject and discovered a crossbow in the subject’s vehicle. The subject admitted to using the crossbow and informed Officer Edson he had been hunting with it the entire morning. The subject was charged with hunting with a crossbow in a wildlife management area (WMA) during the established archery season.
Officer Edson was patrolling the fishing piers of New Smyrna Beach when he conducted a fisheries inspection on a subject fishing near the North Causeway. During the inspection, A bag containing a redfish and two mangrove snapper was discovered in the subject’s cooler. The subject informed Officer Edson those were the only fish in his possession. Further inspection of the cooler revealed a separate bag located under the ice. In the bag was another redfish. The subject was charged with over the bag limit of redfish and fishing while license expired.
Dispatch received a Wildlife Alert complaint about a suspicious vehicle parked at Mary Farms Road off State Road 40. Officers Edson and Sapp responded and located a beige truck parked in front of the gate on Mary Farms Road. The vehicle was warm to the touch and was unoccupied; however, there was a plastic bow case and hunting related items in plain view on the front seats. Two subjects were located down the road. Both subjects were carrying compound bows and were wearing full camouflage. Neither subject possessed a quota hunting permit. Each subject was issued a misdemeanor citation for failure to use designated entrance and each a citation for hunting in a quota-required area with no quota permit.
Officer Norris responded to a Wildlife Alert at the El Jobean Fishing Pier. He found a man in possession of 17 mangrove snapper, all of which were undersized. The man was cited for bag limit and size limit violations.
Officers Pettifer and Godfrey were conducting boating safety and resource inspections in Tampa Bay. Upon spotting an anchored vessel with several people on board actively fishing, they stopped the vessel to conduct a resource inspection. The subjects made several statements that indicated they were possibly in possession of undersized fish. Upon inspecting their catch, the officers located two undersized cobia. The two subjects admitted to catching one cobia each. They were both issued citations for possession of cobia less than 33-inch fork length, along with multiple warnings for boating safety and license violations.
Officer Hazelwood and Lieutenant Spoede were patrolling offshore when they stopped a recreational boat for a fisheries inspection. Initially, the two men on board stated that they did not catch anything. However, during the inspection Officer Hazelwood found an 8-inch red grouper that had been used for bait. Appropriate citations were issued.
Officers Babauta, Davidson and Klobuchar were on land patrol in east Manatee County concentrating their efforts on illegal deer hunting activities. They witnessed a subject trespass on private property with two firearms in his possession. When the officers attempted to stop the subject, he tried to get rid of both firearms by hiding them in a field. During the inspection, the officers located both guns and discovered that the subject was also a convicted felon. Furthermore, the officers also found that the subject was in possession of drug paraphilia and methamphetamine. The subject was ultimately charged with three felony violations, four misdemeanor violations and several infractions. He was arrested and taken to Manatee County Jail. The firearms and drugs were taken and booked into evidence.
Officer Gonzales was on land patrol around the Bridge Street Pier on Anna Maria Island, witnessed a subject fishing from the pier and performed a fisheries inspection. During the inspection, the subject had caught and kept several undersized spotted seatrout. The subject was cited for possession of undersized spotted seatrout and must appear in court for his violation.
While on land patrol in Tierra Verde, Officer Bibeau observed a wade fisherman that was actively fishing from the shore. During a subsequent resource inspection, the subject was found to be in possession of a 15-inch gag grouper. The subject was issued a misdemeanor citation for possession of an undersized gag grouper.
While on foot patrol at the North Skyway Fishing Pier, Officer Bibeau approached an individual that was actively fishing to conduct a fisheries inspection. The subject was found to be in possession of a 9-inch gag grouper and was issued a misdemeanor citation for the fisheries violation.
While on foot patrol at Gandy Beach, Officer Martinez approached two subjects that were actively fishing from the shoreline to conduct a resource inspection. The first subject stated he had no fish, but Officer Martinez noticed a bucket next to the second subject. Upon further inspection, a grossly undersized gag grouper was found mixed in with other fish and beer cans. The subject was issued a misdemeanor citation for his violations.
While on foot patrol at Gandy Beach, Officer Martinez approached a subject who was filleting fish, asked if he had any other fish and was directed to a pot with numerous fish inside. It was discovered the subject had his entire bag limit of mangrove snapper, all of which were undersized. The subject was issued a misdemeanor citation for possession of undersized mangrove snapper.
Officer Bibler and Lieutenant Van Trees were on water patrol near Gulfport when they observed a vessel violate a slow speed zone and approached the vessel to conduct a stop. As the officers got closer, they observed numerous spear guns and other fishing gear. After addressing the speed zone violation, the officers found one subject to be in possession of a cobia that was well undersized. The subject was cited for the misdemeanor violation and later admitted he didn’t measure the fish because he feared it was too small.
Lieutenant Wells, Investigator Prouty and Officers Smith, Hughes, Alvis and Pettifer conducted a three-day patrol on the Offshore Patrol Vessel Gulf Sentry. The officers patrolled from Pensacola to St. Petersburg. They focused on shrimp boat inspections on the first day and issued a warning for an improper turtle excluder device (TED). On the second and third day, the officers inspected several commercial fishing vessels. The officers issued seven criminal violations to three different commercial fishing boats. Some of the violations included interfering with the duties of an officer (throwing filleted fish over the side as the officer approached the vessel), undersized snapper, using reef fish for bait and using shark for bait.
While on foot patrol at the Tierra Verde Bridge, Officer Bibeau approached an individual that was actively fishing from the shoreline to conduct a fisheries inspection. A 16-inch gag grouper and an undersized sheepshead were located inside a bait bucket. The subject was issued a misdemeanor citation for the undersized gag grouper and a warning for the undersized sheepshead.
While on foot patrol at the Structure C Bridge, Officer Bibeau observed two individuals actively fishing from the seawall. The male subject placed small fish on a stringer. After a fisheries inspection, an 11-inch gag grouper and an undersized sheepshead were located on the stringer. The subject was issued a misdemeanor citation for possession of an undersized gag grouper and a warning for the undersized sheepshead.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Captain Carpenter and Lieutenant Ruggiero attended a bald eagle webinar which was designed to educate stakeholders (conservation organizations, utility industry, consultants and government) on recent rule revisions, eagle program changes and the current permitting structure. The webinar also covered key actions in the draft species action plan. Stakeholders asked questions about state/federal coordination, the future of the nest database, species action plan development/finalization process and appropriate contacts for future inquiries.
SOUTH REGION A
ST. LUCIE COUNTY
Officer Payne was on land patrol in Fort Pierce near the area of the Belcher Canal spillway and observed two male subjects cast netting fish on the freshwater side of the spillway. Further observation determined that neither subject had a rod and reel and were fishing exclusively with the cast net. Officer Payne contacted the subjects and determined that several fish were illegally harvested with the cast net and were in a bucket nearby. Two largemouth bass and one black crappie, among other unregulated fish, were observed. Both subjects were cited for the violations.
Investigator Patterson booked a subject into the St Lucie County Jail on an outstanding warrant. The warrant had been issued because of investigations involving gill-net violations in St. Lucie and Indian River Counties. The charge for the arrest was: carriage of prescribed nets across Florida waters, a violation of Section 379.2423(2), Florida Statutes, a major net charge.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
ST. LUCIE COUNTY
Lieutenant Rogerson attended the monthly Sheriff’s Office Citizens Observation Patrol (COP) meeting in Port Saint Lucie. He was invited to attend and provide information to the volunteers. Information was primarily related to their water patrol efforts on the North Fork of the Saint Lucie River. This waterway provides access to many private residences. COP patrols conducted are high in visibility and are meant to deter crimes from occurring. Other items discussed were methods and ways they could assist FWC with monitoring vessel traffic and violations they observe and forwarding that information for planning of future law enforcement patrols.
Officer Arnold attended the National Night-Out for Crime, held at the Port Saint Lucie Police Department. The theme for the event was “Giving Crime a Going Away Party.” It was well attended by the community. There were K-9 and SWAT demonstrations, fingerprinting and tours of the police department. Officer Arnold provided the public with information regarding wildlife laws and regulations, as well as boating safety regulations and common violations encountered.
SOUTH REGION B
Officers Arbogast and Kleis were conducting local panther zone enforcement when they observed a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed (72 MPH) in a 45 MPH zone. The officers conducted a vehicle stop and noticed the odor of alcohol emanating from inside the vehicle. There were several alcoholic containers and one that had recently spilled onto the floorboard of the vehicle. Officers observed what seemed to be cannabis inside of a container used as paraphernalia in plain view, in a cup holder, in the center console. Field testing later confirmed that the substance was cannabis. A quick investigation showed that the operator had no signs of impairment. Officer Kleis found a wallet, containing the operator’s Identification card. Officer Arbogast explained to the operator that, “this is only an identification card, not a valid driver’s license.” The operator quickly responded, “yes, mine has been expired and I am working on it.” Further investigation revealed that his driver’s license has been expired for 17 months and pending suspension for failure to pay a traffic fine. Driver and motor vehicle information system, DAVID results showed the operator having 13 prior driving while license suspended or revoked (DWLSRs). The Officers placed the operator under arrest for knowingly driving with an expired driver’s license of more than 6 months, possession of cannabis under 20 grams, and possession of drug paraphernalia. The operator was also cited for having open alcoholic containers and unlawful speed.
Officer Arbogast was at a local weir inside the Picayune Strand State Forest when he observed one vehicle without the proper day-use tag displaying from the rear-view mirror. A cooler and fishing equipment were seen inside the vehicle through the windows. During the encounter, one of the subjects acknowledged that he had fish in the cooler. Officer Arbogast observed one deceased tarpon without the proper tarpon tag. The individual was cited accordingly and the tarpon was submitted into evidence.
Officers Arbogast and Kleis were heading to conduct traffic enforcement in one of Collier County’s panther zones, when they observed a motorcycle operating carelessly, and nearly causing multiple accidents. The officers stopped the motorcycle, and detected multiple signs of impairment from the operator including slurred speech, odor of alcohol, and a lack of balance. The operator consented to field sobriety tasks, which he performed poorly. The driver was subsequently arrested for DUI and refused a breath sample. The officers then conducted traffic enforcement in the panther zone, and stopped multiple vehicles. They issued numerous traffic violations, and educated drivers on the importance of panther zones. Their traffic enforcement efforts were cut short due to a call to respond to a Burmese python complaint. Upon arrival, the officers observed a python near the front door. The python, approximately 7 feet in length, was captured and removed.
Officer Araujo was watching multiple fisherman one morning from a concealed location at Doctors Pass jetty and observed three subjects snorkeling near the rocks with spear equipment in-hand. One subject swam to the shallows towards a kayak, attempting to keep his spear gun under the water line. The subject moved his head around from side to side as if he was looking to see who was watching him. He leaned over the kayak and quickly lifted a snook out of the water into the kayak. The subject put his whole arm all the way into the front cavity of the kayak, as if he was pushing the snook up there to hide it. He placed his spear gun, dive fins, and mask inside the kayak. Officer Araujo approached the three subjects and read them their Miranda Rights. Each subject admitted to spearfishing but claimed that they had not shot anything. The subject that put the snook in the kayak continued to lie about its existence. Officer Araujo inspected the kayak and retrieved one snook with a clear spear hole in its side. The subject eventually confessed to spearing the snook and was cited for illegal method of take. All three subjects were cited for spearfishing within 100-feet of a jetty less than 1,500-yards in length.
MAJOR WILDLIFE ASSISTANCE
Officer McKay and Lt. Robison responded to an Oceanside residence in Islamorada about a stranded dolphin in the seagrass shoreline. The dolphin was a lone pygmy sperm whale. Our officers kept the whale covered with wet towels and then assisted the Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Rescue staff remove the whale from the shoreline and load it onto a transport van. The whale was taken back to the group’s Key Largo property after it was sedated so it could be transported. Unfortunately, the whale died shortly afterwards. A necropsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officer Dube along with PIC Parrish partnered with a news crew with the Florida Channel from Tallahassee on a segment on the displaced vessels due to Hurricane Irma. Officer Dube teamed up with members of the United States Coast Guard’s Strike Force team as they conducted surveys at several marinas in the Marathon area looking for sunken vessels that were leaking fuel or hazardous materials. Officer Dube later took the news crew to survey the Boot Key anchorage for displaced vessels and conducted an on-camera interview about FWC’s efforts before and after the hurricane in addition to the effects that the hurricane had on the environment, wildlife and commercial/recreational fishing in the Keys.