ON PATROL: HUNTER CRACKED CORN, OFFICER CARES

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Each issue we share Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Law Enforcement Reports for Northwest Florida. This article originally appeared in our July/August 2019 issue.

WALTON COUNTY

GOBBLERS GOBBLING – Officer White checked a site on Eglin Wildlife Management Area where he had previously located a baited area containing cracked corn. Cracked corn is commonly used for baiting and attracting turkeys. While checking the area, Officer White saw a subject turkey hunting approximately 15 yards from the baited area. The subject was identified and cited for attempting to take turkey over bait.

OKALOOSA COUNTY

LIKE TAKING FISH FROM A KID – Officer Corbin received information of a subject fishing at Anderson Pond, which was closed for fishing while being stocked for a kid’s fishing rodeo. There were numerous signs around the pond and on the walkways that said, “Closed to fishing.” When Corbin arrived on scene, Eglin Range Patrol had already contacted the subject while he was fishing. A notice to appear citation was issued for fishing in an area posted as closed.

SHOULDN’T HAVE PULLED THE TRIGGERFISH – Officer Corbin was on patrol when he saw a vessel returning from offshore with fishing rods displayed. A vessel stop was conducted to perform a resource inspection. Upon inspection, two undersized triggerfish were located on the vessel. A notice to appear citation was issued to the captain of the vessel.

JUST BOUGHT IT ... LAST YEAR! – Officer Corbin was on patrol when he saw a vessel in violation of the idle speed/no wake zone in the Destin Harbor. A vessel stop was conducted to address the violation. During the vessel stop, the vessel owner stated he did not have the registration for the vessel because he had recently purchased it. He later admitted to not having a bill of sale onboard and purchasing the vessel in October of 2018. A notice to appear citation was issued for failure to transfer title and a warning was issued for the idle speed/no wake violation.

LEAVE NO TRACE – After receiving a complaint from a state forest employee, Officer Hahr began investigating a case involving several subjects dumping trash on the Blackwater Wildlife Management Area. Throughout the investigation, Hahr developed suspects in the case which later led to interviews of the individuals involved. Based on their statements, witness statements, and the amount of trash that had been discarded in the WMA, Hahr obtained an arrest warrant for two of the individuals for felony dumping. A misdemeanor arrest warrant was also issued for the third individual.

A BRIDGE TOO FAR – Officer Hahr and Lieutenant Bartlett were on water patrol at Destin’s Crab Island when they saw a rental pontoon boat nearly collide with the Destin Marler Bridge. After clearing the bridge, the operator accelerated the throttle, bringing the vessel on plane in the idle speed/no wake zone. A vessel stop was conducted to address the boating violation. Throughout the boating safety inspection, Bartlett saw several signs of impairment being displayed by the operator. Field sobriety tasks were conducted and based on the operator’s performance he was arrested for BUI. The operator later provided a breath sample of 0.163 blood alcohol content.

WALTON COUNTY

NUMBERS GAME – Officer Tison saw a vehicle parked along Bruce Creek and saw three subject’s bass fishing at different locations along the creek. A fishery inspection revealed one of the subjects had caught nine bass over his daily bag limit and two of the subjects were in possession of illegal size bass. In addition to the fish violations, two of the subjects did not have a freshwater fishing license. The subjects were cited for over the daily bag limit, size limit and license violations.

SANTA ROSA COUNTY

WRONG SEASON, FOLKS – Officer Ramos was on water patrol in Santa Rosa Sound when he saw a recreational vessel returning from offshore. A boating safety and resource inspection was performed. During the inspection, Ramos located three greater amberjack that the subjects harvested on their trip. The subjects were issued citations for taking and possessing greater amberjack during the closed season.

AWW, SHUCKS – While on water patrol in East Bay, Officer Ramos saw a man harvesting oysters. A resource inspection was performed, and the man possessed 78 undersized oysters, which was 55 percent of his catch. The law only allows for 5 percent of oysters harvested to be less than three inches. The man was issued a notice to appear in court along with several warnings pertaining to the taking of oysters.

CHOP, CHOP – Officer Hoomes responded to assist a Santa Rosa County deputy who was investigating a suspicious person in Navarre who was in possession of an undersized redfish. Officer Hoomes arrived and determined the redfish was less than 18 inches in total length. The subject had cut the fish up and was using the redfish for bait. The subject was issued a citation for possession of an undersized redfish and issued warnings for failure to land a redfish in whole condition and no saltwater fishing license.

FEDERAL WATERS

A SPEEDY RETREAT – While on patrol in the offshore patrol vessel “Vigilance,” Officers P. Rockwell and Matechik boarded a recreational vessel approximately 15 miles south of Pensacola. While approaching the vessel to conduct a fisheries inspection, the vessel operator saw the officers’ approach and quickly attempted to leave the area at a high rate of speed. The Vigilance quickly caught up to the vessel and stopped it. During the fisheries inspection, the officers found the occupants in possession of several undersized gray triggerfish. The violations were addressed, and appropriate action was taken.

– Courtesy of FWC Division of Law Enforcement: Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Walton counties