This FWC Weekly 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.
The FWC Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Logo. Photo: myfwc.com
Officers Gore and Basford were checking local fishing areas when they checked two subjects in a vehicle who appeared nervous and were evasive with responses after being approached by the officers. A consent to search the vehicle was obtained and baggies of methamphetamine, three hydrocodone pills, a yellow pill, drug paraphernalia and synthetic marijuana were discovered. The vehicle’s owner/driver took responsibility for all the items and was arrested and booked into the Bay County Jail for possession of methamphetamine, possession of synthetic marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Lieutenant Berryman and Officers Miller and Cushing went on patrol in the FINCAT (Offshore Patrol Vessel). Covering more than 140 nautical miles, the crew inspected several recreational, charter and commercial vessels. One spear fisherman was issued a Federal citation for being in possession of a greater amberjack during the closed season.
Officers Miller and Cushing worked the Pensacola Fishing Bridge late Saturday night into early Sunday morning. Officer Miller issued a citation to an individual for oversized redfish. Upon the initial contact, the individual stated that they only had catfish. An inspection of the cooler, on top of which he was cutting bait, revealed several catfish and one oversized redfish. The subject said the fish was given to him hours ago, but the fish were still moving. A few moments later, they conducted a fisheries inspection of another group of fishermen. The fishermen initially denied having any fish and quickly revealed the contents of their drink cooler, which had only drinks. When asked if there was any fish in the cooler covered by a blanket in the back of their pickup, the fishermen declared “no.” One of the individuals opened and closed the cooler quickly and continued to deny having any fish. When he realized the officers would look all the way in the cooler, he admitted that he had an illegal fish. Officer Cushing issued him a citation for an oversized redfish.
Investigator Field and Officer Louque were on patrol in Aucilla Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and found a tree stand that had rye planted around the stand. A game camera was over the rye. On opening day of archery season, Officers Anderson and Louque made contact with the subject sitting in the tree stand. The subject admitted to planting rye and putting peanut butter out at the stand. Two other adults and two juvenile subjects were also located sitting over rye and peanut butter in the same area. Citations and warnings were issued for hunting over bait in a management area and other management area rules.
Officer Louque was on patrol in western Leon County and observed black smoke coming from behind a residence. Officer Louque made contact with the subject who was burning insulation off of several large metal pipes. A citation was issued for burning prohibited materials.
NORTH CENTRAL REGION
Officer Stowell observed several subjects catching and hiding numerous undersized fish. When the subjects were confronted by Officer Stowell, they attempted to leave the scene and denied any knowledge of the fish. Officer Stowell went to the location where he saw the subjects hiding the fish and found five undersized red drum under 12 inches and one 10-inch spotted sea trout in the mud covered with trash. All six subjects were cited for possession of undersized red drum and undersized spotted sea trout.
Investigator Izsak and Officer Stowell were on ATV patrol on City of Jacksonville property when they observed a subject dressed in camouflage sitting on a roadway with a rifle. When the subject spotted the officers, he quickly jumped into the woods and dumped the gun. They were able to find the subject and learned that he was also hunting with his father. Officer Stowell was able to locate the father down the road. He was also dressed in all camouflage and actively hunting with a rifle. Dispatch advised that these two subjects have been cited before for hunting at night with gun and light as well as numerous other trespasses and hunting violations. The father was booked into the Duval County Jail on numerous violations including hunting on city property, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, knowingly and willfully allowing a minor to possess a firearm, attempting to take game with other than bow or crossbow during archery season and no valid hunting license. The son, who is 15 years of age, was charged with hunting on city property, possession of a firearm by someone under 16 years of age, and attempting to take game with other than a bow or crossbow. Two rifles were also seized.
On the way back to the marina after patrolling the offshore waters off Jacksonville in the offshore patrol vessel, Sea Hawk, Officers Geib, Tucker, Lieutenant Givens and Major Krause approached a commercial shrimp vessel trawling in Florida waters near the St. Johns River entrance. Trawling for shrimp at night is currently prohibited in Florida waters off Duval County. Officers Geib, Tucker and Major Krause boarded the vessel to conduct an inspection of the fishing vessel’s gear and to discuss the violation of trawling in Florida waters at night. A citation was issued to the captain of the fishing vessel. No other violations were noted.
Officer Dwain Mobley spoke to a group of preschoolers at the Public Library in Madison. Officer Mobley addressed the importance of wearing life jackets to the young crowd, and displayed two small alligators for the kids to see.
Officer Mobley was the guest speaker at a recent Kiwanis Club meeting in Live Oak. Officer Mobley spoke about recent rule changes concerning this upcoming hunting season and had two small alligators on display.
Officers Davenport, Langford, Mobley and Nichols assisted the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office with the Kiwanis Club’s Annual Raft Race. The officers were tasked with controlling vessel traffic and speed while escorting the homemade rafts along the Suwannee River. A total of seven homemade rafts competed in the race.
Officer Kazmierczak located in Tiger Bay WMA a ground blind that was baited with corn. On the opening day of archery season, she made contact with a bow hunter in the blind. He was cited for hunting over bait in a WMA.
Officer Yetter located a climbing stand within 15 yards of a pile of corn in Lake George WMA. On the opening day of archery season, he made contact with a bow hunter sitting in the climbing stand over the corn. The hunter was cited for hunting over bait in a WMA.
While on patrol in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge on the Volusia/Brevard County line,Officer Lightsey conducted a resource inspection on a man fishing from the shoreline. When asked if he had caught any fish, the man replied that he had caught a trout earlier. When asked where the fish was, the man pointed out in the water where he said it was on a stringer. Lightsey advised the man to go get the fish. The man then stated that he had a redfish also and thought that it might be oversized, but he had not measured it yet. A measurement of the fish revealed that it was 34 1/8 inches in length, well over the legal 18-27- inch slot size for redfish. The man admitted to being deceptive about the redfish and its size. A citation was issued for possession of over the slot size for redfish.
While on patrol in Three Forks Bay WMA, Officer Lightsey was conducting resource inspections due to the alligator harvest in the area. In the early morning hours, the officer heard an airboat approaching with no lights displayed. A boating safety check was conducted alerting the officer to the fact that the operator was under the influence of alcohol. The operator was not able to perform any of the field sobriety tasks and was placed under arrest for operating a vessel while impaired. A test of the vessel operator’s breath revealed .14 which is over the .08 legal limit in the State of Florida. The vessel operator was then transported to the Brevard County Jail without incident.
Investigator Trusley and Officer Cybula, were patrolling in Three Lakes WMA when they observed a subject hunting in Prairie Lakes Bay WMA. Prairie Lakes Bay WMA was closed to hunting. Investigator Trusley and Officer Cybula conducted an investigation and determined the subject to be in violation and charged him accordingly.
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY
While on patrol of Sebastian Inlet State Park, Officers Boyer and Rasey were dispatched to a disturbance between a male and female. After arriving on scene, it was determined that there was a verbal altercation between two intoxicated parties. Once things settled down, a taxi service was called for the two and the officers departed from the vicinity. Fifteen minutes later, another altercation erupted and FWC was called back to the scene. After speaking to witnesses and documenting evidence of a head laceration, officers arrested the female subject for battery (Domestic Violence) and disorderly conduct. She was transported to the Indian River County Jail.
While on ATV patrol in Prairie Lakes WMA, Officer Arendas found two hunters archery hunting. Prairie Lakes WMA does not open for archery hunting until September 26. Officer Arendas issued both hunters citations for hunting during a closed season.
Officer Laskowski was patrolling the south Skyway fishing area for fishing activity. Officer Laskowski was watching an individual fishing when he observed him catching a shark and put it in a large bucket. Officer Laskowski approached the individual and asked to inspect his catch. The individual had three bonnethead sharks in the bucket. The individual was informed that the daily bag limit for sharks is one. The individual was issued a citation for possession of over the bag limit of sharks.
Lieutenant Ware and Officer Babauta were working the “Robo” deer in the Duette area for illegal road hunting. After a short wait, a vehicle slowed down in the road, turned around and stopped at the “Robo” deer and fired one shot. The individual was quickly apprehended after he shot at the “Robo” deer. The individual was placed under arrest and booked in to the Manatee county jail for attempting to take deer during the closed season and attempting to take wildlife from a road right-of-way.
Officer Pulaski and Officer Beckman were on water patrol in the Hudson area when they observed a vessel operating without displaying the required navigational lights. After pulling alongside to conduct a vessel inspection they noticed the operator showing signs of impairment. Field Sobriety Tasks were conducted and the operator was subsequently arrested for BUI.
Officer Balfour and Officer Gaudion were on patrol in the Richloam WMA when they observed an alligator lying on the road side. They decided to conduct surveillance on the alligator from a position of concealment. While there, they observed a vehicle pass the alligator and then return. Several occupants from the vehicle then captured the alligator. A stop was conducted of the vehicle and the alligator was located. The two occupants that participated in catching the alligator were subsequently arrested and charged with unlawful possession.
SOUTH REGION A
Officers Corteguera and Vacin were on vessel patrol up the Dania cut-off canal. They conducted a vessel stop on a boat that was displaying an expired registration. Through documents checks, it was discovered that the operator of the vessel had warrants issued for him. With information gathered, the Officers issued the individual boating citations and placed him under arrest for Broward County warrants (burglary to a conveyance and criminal mischief). He was delivered to Broward Sheriff’s deputies without incident.
Officers Corteguera and Vacin were on a dedicated boating safety detail in the area of the ICW and the Bahia Mar Marina. Several vessels that were stopped were found to be in violation of the marine sanitation device law, which makes discharge of human waste illegal.
Investigator Teems, while patrolling John Lloyd State Park, received a call from a park ranger regarding a park patron complaining of four teenagers who were on the beach near the jetty with a large stereo playing loud music and drinking beer. Investigator Teems observed a female and male subject sitting on the beach with a large stereo and clear plastic cups containing what appeared to be beer. Investigator Teems asked the female what she was drinking and she stated that she was drinking PowerAde. She then asked why her Powerade was fizzling with bubbles. They had a green cooler that belonged to them that contained several open and unopened beers. The female subject was found to be under 18 years of age and was asked for her parents’ phone number. She gave Investigator Teems a number which ultimately ended up being her own number. While on scene, alcohol was poured out, bottles and cans were discarded in the trash. Both the female and male were issued a notice to appear for possession of alcohol by a person under 21 years of age. Investigator Teems explained the situation to the female subject’s father who took custody of his daughter.
Lieutenant Brown was off-duty at his house when he received a call from the Glades County Sheriff’s Office in reference to a large snake that had been killed outside Moore Haven. Lieutenant Brown responded to the scene and discovered that it was a 12-foot, 6-inch Burmese Python that had been hit by a car. Lieutenant Brown picked up the snake and reported its location and size to an FWC biologist.
K-9 Officer Lilley was working trespassers harvesting saw palmetto berries on private property when he located a vehicle in the Spirit of the Wild WMA. The vehicle was unoccupied where there had been complaints of berries being picked. There were fresh foot prints where someone had walked out into the woods. Officer Lilley deployed K-9 Roscoe to begin tracking the subjects when suddenly the two subjects walked out to the road in possession of two bags full of saw palmetto berries. The subjects were subsequently issued misdemeanor citations for taking berries in a WMA without a permit.
K-9 Officer Lilley was working trespassers on private property harvesting saw palmetto berries when he observed a vehicle pull off the side of the road. The vehicle activated its emergency flashers before multiple subjects with bags and buckets came out of posted private property and got into the vehicle and drove away. Officer Lilley stopped the vehicle in which he discovered approximately 600 lbs of berries and six subjects inside. The subjects were issued citations for trespassing on private lands and the berries were turned over to the land owner.
K-9 Officer Lilley was on patrol checking recreational fishermen when he stopped and checked a male subject fishing from the shoreline. Officer Lilley asked the subject for his ID and his fishing license which were run through dispatch. Dispatch advised that the subject had an active warrant out of Lee County. The subject was subsequently arrested and transported to the Hendry County Jail and also issued a warning for not having a valid freshwater fishing license.
Officer McLendon assisted the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office with a trespass complaint in central Hendry County involving palmetto berry pickers. Security advised that the berry pickers had fled into a neighborhood adjacent to the property. Contact with one of the berry pickers was made in the neighborhood and a verbal warning was issued. An hour later, Officer McLendon observed the same subject on the same property he was just warned about entering. The subject was loitering near several pieces of agricultural machinery almost a mile from the property line. The subject was arrested and transported to jail for trespass and giving a false name to law enforcement.
Officer McLendon responded to a trespass complaint of a vehicle driving around on agricultural land. Contact was made with two individuals in an SUV who were looking for a friend on the property who was also trespassing. Both subjects were charged with trespass and escorted off the premises.
Officer McLendon encountered three subjects in an orange grove in central Hendry County. They had several bags of freshly picked citrus in their possession and admitted to picking them to take home. When questioned about permission to be in the grove, they claimed they were supposed to start working that day, but the job was cancelled. The grove manager was contacted and no jobs were scheduled to start any time soon. The citrus was returned to the landowner and the subjects were cited accordingly.
Officers Mullins and Jonathan Greene received a call about subjects picking saw palmetto berries in Spirit of the Wild WMA in Hendry County. When the officers arrived on scene, they confirmed one of the subjects had a valid warrant. Both subjects were arrested, one for the valid warrant along with the illegal taking of palmetto berries and the other for the illegal taking of berries on a WMA. Hendry County Sheriff’s Office transported the subjects to the Hendry county jail.
Officers Nasworth and Davis were dispatched to the Raulerson Hospital in Okeechobee regarding a subject suffering from an alligator bite. Officers Nasworth and Davis made contact with the subject who advised them that he was in the process of cleaning an alligator he had just killed. Its nerves were still activated causing it to bite him. The subject advised Officers Nasworth and Davis that he took the tape off the mouth of the gator and opened it to look at the teeth when its jaws snapped shut on his left thumb, lacerating it severely. The gator fell on the ground after its jaws closed on his hand and a tooth went through the subject’s boot, ultimately cutting his foot. Officer Nasworth and Davis completed the alligator bite report.
Officers Davis and Nasworth were traveling south on the Kissimmee River when a vessel on the eastern shore started shining at them with spot lights. Officers Davis and Nasworth made contact with the vessel at which time the occupants advised them that their motor had broken down and that they had drained all the batteries using the trolling motor to get back to the ramp. The subjects were less than a mile from the ramp. Officer Davis and Nasworth assisted the subjects back to the ramp.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Investigator Garzaniti responded to a complaint of an individual in Palm Beach County that reportedly may be in possession of snakes illegally. After making contact with the subject, the subject consented to allow an inspection. He initially showed the Investigator the non-venomous snakes in his room and said that was all he had. Further investigation inside of his closet revealed three Monocled Cobras hidden under sheets. Once again, he said that was all he had. Further investigation revealed five copperheads and a white-lipped pit viper hidden under his bathroom sink. It was then discovered that one of his snakes that was under a rock in its enclosure was a black and white spitting cobra. Initially, he stated it was a non-venomous snake. All of the venomous snakes were seized and turned over to a permitted holding facility. The subject was charged with possessing venomous snakes without a permit, and five other caging / safety violations.
ST. LUCIE COUNTY
Officer Willems was on vessel patrol during the night when he came upon a vessel anchored with no lights on with two individuals actively fishing. A boating safety and resource inspection was conducted and it was discovered that the boat had no lights at all on board and no fire extinguisher, and three undersized mutton snapper were found. The operator claimed to have caught the mutton snapper and stated he did not know the regulations on fish or navigation lights. The operator was issued a notice to appear for the resource violation and warnings for the boating safety violations.
Officer Willems was on foot patrol at one of the local boat ramps when he observed an individual at the fish-cleaning station filleting fish. He approached the individual and asked what he had caught. The individual stated “snapper” and showed him a bag with what he claimed were lane snapper. The bag had one lane snapper, and four mutton snapper which were undersized. The individual was educated on how to ID mutton snapper and was offered a copy of the saltwater fishing regulations. The subject refused the publication stating that he already had one. The individual was issued a notice to appear for the resource violation.
Officer Pifer and K-9 Officer Payne were conducting resource inspections at the South Jetty in Ft. Pierce. The officers first made contact with a person who was in possession of a 33-inch oversized snook. As Officer Payne was filling out a notice to appear for the violation, Officer Pifer observed people catching large redfish near the middle of the jetty. The officers went to the area and discovered an individual in possession of a 28-inch, oversized redfish. The officers issued the subject a notice to appear for the violation and as they were getting ready to leave, a fisherman approached the officers and told them about another person at the end of the jetty who had hid an oversized redfish in the rocks. Officer Payne and K-9 Morgan walked down to the person described and made contact. Officer Payne asked the subject where the fish was. The subject looked down at K-9 Morgan and told the officer the fish was hidden in the rocks at the end of the Jetty. A 28 3/4 inch oversized redfish was recovered from the rocks. The subject was issued a notice to appear for the violation.
SOUTH B REGION
A vessel was observed at Black Point Marina in southern Dade County returning from a day of fishing. A fisheries inspection revealed that the four men on board were in possession of undersized dolphin. After a brief conversation with the men, the captain of the vessel admitted to not knowing the size limits, but stated he attempted to measure the 17” dolphins with his foot. He stated he thought the limit was 14” even though there was a proper measuring device on board with fish identification and size limits printed on the ruler. He was cited for possession of undersized dolphin.
Officer Pestka and Investigator Landa were on water patrol near the Crandon Marina Channel in Biscayne Bay when they saw a vessel on plane in a posted slow speed manatee zone. The officers stopped the vessel and proceeded to conduct a boating safety inspection. During the course of the stop, the officers discovered that the vessel was not currently registered to the operator; however, the operator claimed to be the owner of the vessel. A records check revealed that the operator had purchased the vessel over a year ago and never transferred the title to his name. The officers cited the operator for failure to transfer title/registration and for violating the manatee zone.
Lieutenant Robison and Officer Adams were patrolling the waters off of Marathon when they saw a vessel close to shore near the entrance to the Marathon Coast Guard Station. The officers noticed two snorkelers in the water diving the rocky shoreline. A short time later, the divers boarded the vessel and the vessel began to motor away from the area. The officers initiated their emergency lights and proceeded to stop the vessel in question. A safety and fisheries check followed. During the fisheries inspection, the officers determined that the four men on board were fishing for lobster and asked to inspect the catch. It was then that the officers counted 17 lobsters, 15 of which were undersized. A speared hogfish, measuring less than the 8 inches allowed by law, was also discovered. The men each received a citation for the appropriate charges and the evidence was returned to the water.
While conducting an FWC Operational Detail dubbed “Lookie Lou”, an air and sea patrol of the Dry Tortugas North and South Ecological Reserves, the FWC offshore crew of the Peter Gladding assisted the National Park Service (NPS) with an early morning migrant rescue. The park rangers of the NPS and the FWC offshore crew responded with two vessels and were able to safely rescue 29 Cuban migrants in rough seas from the shores of Loggerhead Key. The migrants were transported to Fort Jefferson where they were given fresh water and food while they waited for pick up by the United States Coast Guard. The operation also resulted in one misdemeanor citation being issued to a commercial yellowtail fisherman for possession of undersized yellowtail.