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FWC Weekly Report

FWC Weekly Report

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.

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The FWC Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Logo. Photo: myfwc.com

NORTHWEST REGION

The “Operation Dry Water” campaign launched over the past week. Northwest Regional officers focused on boating safety education and awareness on drinking and boating. Throughout the campaign, officers inspected 901vessels and contacted 2,510 citizens taking an educational approach. There were 36 boating citations issued and 152 boating safety warnings issued. Six arrests for BUI were made. Officer Kinney arrested a subject for BUI on Cypress Springs. The operator was transported to the Washington County Jail for booking and was determined to have a .152 blood alcohol level. Officers Molnar and Bartlett conducted a vessel stop on a personal watercraft. While conducting the boating safety inspection, the officers noticed the operator displayed signs of impairment. At the conclusion of the field sobriety tasks, the subject was arrested for BUI. The subject provided a breath sample of .209 and .215.

BAY COUNTY
Officer Brady was patrolling offshore when he conducted a resource inspection on a charter vessel whose captain said they had caught red snapper. When Officer Brady asked to inspect his catch, he noticed what appeared to be an undersized scamp and a grey trigger fish. As the captain removed the fish, he kept pushing the trigger fish and the scamp under the ice. When the captain closed the cooler lid, Officer Brady asked if that was all the fish on board and the captain said yes. Officer Brady then checked the box and found an undersized scamp and a trigger fish. Citations were issued for the undersized scamp and the trigger fish out of season.

Officer Gore checked a fisher at Lake Powell who had been cited for red snapper, gag grouper, and trigger fish violations the previous week. During the inspection, the fisher showed signs of impairment and he later failed his field sobriety tasks. A check found the fisher to have three previous DUI convictions. The fisher refused to submit to a breath test and was booked into the Bay County Jail for BUI.

Officers Kinney and Yates conducted a boating safety detail on Econfina Creek. Numerous boating violations were addressed as well as an arrest for resisting arrest. The arrest resulted from two individuals canoeing and refusing to allow a boating safety inspection after a lawful order was given. One individual stated, “You can check me at the next bridge,” and continued down the creek. The officers caught up with the individuals a few hundred yards down the creek and determined there was an insufficient amount of life jackets and the male occupant was arrested for refusing to allow the inspection.

ESCAMBIA COUNTY
Officers Cushing and Miller were working boating safety in the Intracoastal Waterway. The officers noticed an approaching boat with fishing gear commonly used for reef fish. Upon stopping and completing a boating safety inspection, the officers conducted a fisheries inspection. Officer Miller located a bag of freshly filleted red snapper in a cooler. Of these fillets, two appeared to have been from an undersized red snapper. Due to the fish not being landed in whole condition, the officers were unable to determine the actual size. The subject was issued a notice to appear for failure to land in whole condition.

Officer Livesay was on vessel patrol in Pensacola Bay when he checked a person that was fishing from a vessel. While performing a fisheries and boating safety check, the fisherman asked Officer Livesay what the size limit on flounder was. He claimed he had only one fish on board and it was a flounder. Officer Livesay checked the flounder, which was legal, but further inspection of the vessel revealed an undersized red snapper in the live well. Officer Livesay issued a notice to appear citation for the violation.

NORTH CENTRAL REGION

COLUMBIA COUNTY
Officer McDonald was patrolling the Osceola National Forest when he observed an individual litter by throwing an empty can on the ground. Officer McDonald spoke to the person, identified him and gave him an opportunity to pick up the can and then return to Officer McDonald. The officer then watched as the individual did not comply with his instruction and the person attempted to leave the location by getting into a vehicle with other people. Officer McDonald stopped the vehicle as it attempted to leave and after further investigation, he learned that the person that had littered provided a false date of birth during the initial contact. Officer McDonald arrested the person for the criminal violation of providing false information to a law enforcement officer and also issued a non-criminal infraction citation for the litter charge.

DUVAL COUNTY
While working during Operation Dry Water, Officer Sweat observed a vessel plowing in the Sister’s Creek “slow speed zone” very close to the dock. He observed that the female operator of the vessel was having a very difficult time docking the vessel. Officer Sweat docked his vessel and made contact with the operator of the vessel. He conducted a boating safety inspection and during the inspection he smelled an alcoholic beverage coming from the operator. Officer Sweat asked permission to examine the operator’s eyes and she agreed. During the check, Officer Sweat realized that the operator was showing additional signs of possible impairment. At that point, Officer Sweat asked the individual to perform the seated field sobriety tasks (SFST). One of the occupants on the vessel stepped forward and told Officer Sweat that he was the operator’s attorney and that she was not participating in any SFST. Officer Sweat again asked the operator to participate and on the advice of her attorney she refused. Officer Sweat then informed the operator that her refusal will be noted in the report and that he will have to make a determination as to her impairment based on his observations prior to the request for a SFST. The operator still refused the SFST and Officer Sweat arrested the operator for BUI. He transported her to the Duval County Jail for processing. At the jail, he requested a breathalyzer and she refused to participate. She was charged with BUI, refusing to submit to a breath sample, not having enough life jackets on board and was issued a warning for the slow speed violation.

Officers Brown and Troedson were conducting fisheries inspections at Mount Pleasant Creek when one of the individuals checked during the inspection came back with two active warrants one of which was for a level two resource violation. The warrants were confirmed and Officer Brown along with Officer Troedson transported the individual to the Duval County Pre-Trial Detention Center.

Officer Brown was contacted by the property manager of Beach Boulevard Marina in reference to an unknown subject that was stealing a front-end loader/tractor that was parked on their property for demolition/new construction. The property manager contacted the owner of the tractor and verified if he knew someone was taking it, and the owner said that no one had permission to take it. Luckily Officer Brown was near the location of the incident and saw the front-end loader being driven on Beach Boulevard. Officer Brown initiated a traffic stop and the subject rammed a car that was stopped at the traffic light of Beach Boulevard and San Pablo Road in an attempt to flee. Officer Brown was finally able to get the front-end loader stopped just past the intersection in the parking lot of Starbucks. The subject then exited the front-end loader and began to flee on foot when Officer Brown confronted him. The subject physically resisted Officer Brown and disobeyed all verbal commands. Officer Brown deployed his issued pepper spray with no effect on the subject. Officer Brown then deployed his issued Taser, but it missed the subject. Officer Brown was then in a hands on fight with the subject when a citizen jumped in to assist. The subject was eventually restrained and handcuffs were applied. The subject was charged by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office with DUI, and leaving the scene of an accident. Officer Brown charged the subject with grand theft, resisting arrest with violence, and battery on a law enforcement officer. The subject also had warrants issued for his arrest out of Clay County for DUI. The subject was transported to the Duval County Pre-Trial Detention Center after being treated by emergency medical personnel in compliance with the warrants and for the additional charges.

Officer Shearer was patrolling the area of the Mayport Jetties when he observed an 85-foot shrimp boat inside state waters with one net in the water. He approached the shrimp boat, and noted that the boat was stationary in an area near a sunken vessel. He spoke with the captain who said the net was hung up. Officer Shearer asked the captain if he knew the regulations pertaining to net size in state waters and the captain said he had been cited for the violation before. A records check confirmed that he was found guilty less than a month ago for a similar net violation. Officer Geib arrived to assist with the net transfer from the shrimp boat to a patrol vessel for seizure The captain was cited for having a net greater than 500 square feet in state water. Once ashore the net was measured and found to be in excess of 1,100 square feet with a mouth opening that was seven feet too large.

MADISON COUNTY
Officer Wilcox was conducting surveillance inside Blue Springs State Park due to complaints of underage drinking. Officer Wilcox observed two subjects near the spring head drinking out of red Solo cups. The individuals kept returning to the parking lot and refilling their cups with an unknown substance from the back of a SUV. After watching this activity occur two separate times, Officer Wilcox made contact with the two subjects. The subjects were identified as being 21 and 15-years-old. Officer Wilcox received consent to look inside the vehicle and discovered a cooler containing a bottle of vodka and beer. Both subjects admitted to drinking alcoholic beverages, the 15-year-old subsequently provided a breath sample in a portable breath tester registering .077. Both individuals were charged with consuming alcohol in a state park, with the older subject additionally being charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The juvenile’s parents were contacted and arrangements were made for a safe disposition.

NASSAU COUNTY
Lieutenant Wright was on patrol in Crandal Pasture when he received several complaints with reference to people trespassing in the hunting clubs. At approximately 11:30 p.m., he was alerted by FWC pilot Cara Cain that a vehicle was inside the pasture working a light capable of disclosing wildlife. Lieutenant Wright made contact with the vehicle and its occupants and witnessed them working the light. He stopped the vehicle and inquired about their activity. The defendants stated that they were lost and were trying to find their way back to their club. He asked them if they were hunting and they stated that they were not. After a consensual searched of the vehicle, Lieutenant Wright found a pistol inside and a 12-gauge shotgun on the roof. None of the occupants had identification and alcohol was in the vehicle. The defendants then admitted to hog hunting. Citations were issued.

TAYLOR COUNTY
Investigator McMillan and Officer Wilcox were working opening weekend of scallop season when they saw individuals offload scallops and depart on another trip. A few hours later the officers observed the same boat return with what appeared to be another limit of scallops. The Officers stopped the individuals and asked questions about the two trips. The individuals admitted to getting 6 gallons the first trip and 8 gallons the second. The vessel was over the daily bag limit by 4 gallons; the officers charged the captain of the vessel for the violations.

Community Oriented Policing (COP)
Lieutenant Lee, Officers Brookes, Yates and Deweese attended the annual boating safety and scallop seminar in Steinhatchee. The officers spoke about boating safety, dive flag regulations, BUI, and fresh and saltwater fishing regulations to the 75 citizens in attendance.

NORTHEAST REGION
FWC Officers in the Northeast Region conducted over 1,400 vessel safety inspections during Operation Dry Water in the last weekend of June. Operation Dry Water is an annual nationwide event to help make waters across the nation safe and to reduce the amount of drunk drivers on the water. A total of nine BUI cases were made in the region along with 385 warnings and 93 citations for other violations.

BREVARD COUNTY
While on patrol of Sebastian Inlet State Park, Officer Lightsey conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle speeding inside the state park. The driver did not have a driver’s license. A records check revealed that the driver had been cited two previous times for operating a motor vehicle with no driver’s license. The man was placed under arrest and delivered to the Brevard County Jail.

Officers Horst, Rasey, Rutherford and Lightsey conducted a public safety and traffic detail at Sebastian Inlet State Park, due to the annual increase in traffic in local State parks. The detail resulted in multiple citations being written for vehicles exceeding the speed limit, non-registered motor vehicles and driving while license suspended. Three arrests were made for drugs and warrants.

Due to complaints of anglers keeping snook after the closed snook season at Sebastian Inlet State Park, FWC officers conducted a special detail targeting resource violations. Officers Rasey, Horst, Land, Zamonis, Sidor, Investigator Saunders and Lieutenant Urban participated. Using plain clothes and uniformed officers, they conducted surveillance of the jetties, catwalk and parking areas of the park. Two subjects were overheard by Investigator Saunders talking about having a spiny lobster, which was in a closed season. When the subjects got in their vehicle to leave, Officers Horst and Land made contact with them to conduct a resource inspection. They were found to be in possession of an undersized, out of season spiny lobster, and a whole, out of season stone crab. Two of the males in the vehicle each admitted to harvesting the lobster and crab. Both were issued misdemeanor citations for the violations.

While on patrol, a covert resource investigator observed one of the areas’ known violators cast netting in the Indian River Lagoon in Palm Bay. The investigator began surveillance on the subject and observed him putting fish in the cooler. Once the subject was finished cast netting he loaded the cooler into his vehicle and left the area. The investigator began following the subject to determine where he was taking the fish, knowing the subject did not have a commercial saltwater products license. The investigator followed the subject to a local convenience store and observed him sell the fish to the store owner. The investigator alerted uniformed patrol of the transaction. Officer Rutherford responded to assist. Officer Rutherford attempted to locate the subject to address the violation. The subject eluded Officer Rutherford’s attempts to make contact with him. The next day Officer Rutherford made contact with the subject and completed his investigation by arresting him for the sale of saltwater products without a license. Officer Rutherford is also filing the charges as a major violation due to this subject having an extensive history with FWC.

While traveling west bound on SR 528 Officer Humphrey noticed a truck swerving slowly from lane to lane. A traffic stop revealed the female driver to have watery eyes, slurred speech and the odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle. The operator agreed to do field sobriety exercises and showed multiple indicators of impairment during the field sobriety exercises. She was subsequently placed under arrest for DUI. At the jail, a property inventory search of the woman’s purse revealed two plastic containers filled with cannabis, a rolled cigarette containing cannabis, a clear plastic bag containing 18 unknown pills and a metal container with four additional unknown pills. The operator could not provide a prescription for any of the pills. The operator was cited for one traffic infraction, six misdemeanors and charges are pending for possession of prescription pills without a prescription.

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY
While on patrol, Officer Lightsey was contacted by an angler. The angler advised that a male was taking undersized sheepshead from a local park in Vero Beach. Officer Lightsey arrived at the park and observed a male fishing that fitted the description given. When first asked how the fishing was going the male advised that he was not doing very well. A resource inspection revealed that the male was in possession of five undersized sheepshead. A citation was issued for the offense. The anonymous angler was registered for Wildlife Alert Reward money.

While on patrol of Sebastian Inlet State Park, Officer Rasey received a phone call from Officer Lightsey. Officer Lightsey, who was off duty, advised that he received a Wildlife Alert tip from a local fisherman that someone caught an oversized redfish near the South Jetty Catwalk. The information stated that the suspect declined to return the fish back to the water after being told it was oversized. Officer Rasey responded to the scene and located the suspect described. The suspect was found to be in possession of a redfish just over 29 inches. A further inspection of the suspect’s gear revealed an 11 inch mutton snapper as well. A second suspect was located who advised that the snapper was his fish. Both subjects received misdemeanor citations as well as regulation guides. The fisherman who provided Officer Lightsey the information was registered for Wildlife Alert Reward money.

OSCEOLA COUNTY
Officer Trusley was on patrol in Prairie Lakes Wildlife Management Area when he observed some people fishing at Parkers Slough. He stopped to conduct a fisheries inspection. The man that was fishing was doing so with a cast net catching armored catfish. During the inspection Officer Trusley noticed some water bottles that appeared to be floating in the canal. Upon a closer look the water bottles appeared to be tied off to a rope, and secured to the water control structure. Officer Trusley left the immediate area, to observe from a concealed location. When the man began to retrieve the rope Officer Trusley was able to determine that the water bottles were being utilized as floats on a gill net. Officer Trusley approached the man and addressed the violation. Officer Trusley seized the net and charged the subject accordingly. The net measured over 1,348 square feet.

Officer Mendez was on water patrol on Lake Cypress when he noticed an individual standing on the shore line next to a green van. As he approached the boat ramp near where the green van was located, he noticed that the individual was holding one fishing pole in his hand. There were also two more poles lying down next to him. All three of them had lines extended into the water. The individual quickly stated that he didn’t have any fish. He also stated that he hadn’t had any luck. After conducting a fisheries and license check Officer Mendez found the individual in possession of a freshwater turtle. The turtle was in a cooler in the van. Officer Mendez issued the individual a notice to appear for possession of fresh water turtle out of season.

Officer Mendez was on water patrol on West Lake Toho when he noticed two vessels exiting Shingle Creek, both had fishing gear on board. Officer Mendez conducted a boater’s safety and fisheries inspection. Both individuals stated they were in a tournament but did not have waivers. The first individual claimed his catch of an undersized black bass (11 inches), and the second individual claimed two black bass (12 and 13 inches). Each one was issued a noticed to appear for undersized black bass.

ST. JOHNS COUNTY
While on Joint Enforcement Agreement (JEA) vessel patrol just after sunrise, Officers Miller and Hickman boarded a 33-foot shrimping vessel out of Duval County. They had boarded the vessel two weeks prior when it was in violation of Article X, Section 16 of the net ban. Once again, the shrimper was trawling approximately .66-mile offshore in nearshore (within one mile of the coast) waters. Due to the favorable sea state, Hickman and Miller were able to measure the shrimper’s two nets on scene and found both nets to each have a total mesh area of approximately 1,700 square feet, well exceeding the 500-foot limit. Furthermore, each net had a mouth circumference of approximately 105-feet, well in excess of the allowable 66-foot maximum. The officers seized the two nets and issued the vessel captain a notice to appear in county court for the first degree misdemeanor violation of trawling oversized nets in nearshore waters.

SOUTHWEST REGION

HIGHLANDS COUNTY
Officer Zimmerman received information regarding an individual that had a spotted fawn deer in the basement of his house. Once she arrived at the residence, she observed the deer in the front yard with the suspect. The subject admitted to keeping the deer in the basement and feeding it bread. The subject was issued a notice to appear for possession of a spotted fawn deer without permit. The deer was then transported to a local rehabilitation center. Officers Ervin and Smith assisted in the investigation.

LEE COUNTY
Officer McColgin and Investigator Sushil were on water patrol for Operation Dry Water when they observed a small vessel with two men fishing anchored near a local marina. As Investigator Sushil and Officer McColgin approached the vessel they observed a small snook attached to a stringer that was tied to the boat. Officer McColgin identified himself to the two men aboard the vessel. As Officer McColgin and Investigator Sushil approached the vessel to conduct a marine fisheries inspection they observed that one of the subjects had untied the stringer from the boat. Officer McColgin was able to retrieve the stringer and snook before the tide swept them away. The two subjects were cited for possession of undersized snook during the closed season and interference with an FWC Officer.

PASCOE COUNTY
While conducting boating safety and fishery inspections on the Cotee River, Officer Pulaski observed a vessel heading west out to the Gulf of Mexico. He made contact with the operator and noticed several indicators of impairment. The subject performed poorly on the seated field sobriety tests and was subsequently arrested for boating under the influence. Additionally, the subject refused to provide a sample of his breath and was issued a civil penalty.

While conducting boating safety and fishery inspections at the Anclote Boat Ramp, Officer Pulaski observed a vessel heading inbound from the Gulf of Mexico that violated the idle speed zone. He made contact with the operator and asked him where he was coming from. The operator pointed in the opposite direction of travel and said he was just coming from his house. When asked to open the live well, the operator remembered he had been fishing. A further inspection revealed five spotted sea trout, two of which were undersized by half an inch. During the inspection, Officer Pulaski observed indicators of impairment. The subject performed poorly on the seated field sobriety tests and was subsequently arrested for BUI. The subject submitted to a test of his breath approximately an hour later and provided a sample of .06 and .059. Further, the subject was issued a fishery warning for undersized spotted sea trout and boating safety warning for not having a Type IV throw able device onboard.

PINELLAS COUNTY
Officers Bibeau and Bibler responded to a tip called in by a fisherman at Fort Desoto Park involving multiple fishermen harvesting snook and hiding them in their car. Officer Bibler arrived on scene and watched the subjects suspiciously walk from the parking lot back to the beach where they were fishing. While Officer Bibeau approached the fishermen on the pier, Officer Bibler walked down to the jetty and made contact with the suspected snook poachers. The two subjects stated that only one of them had been fishing and that their fish were in a net halfway submerged between the rocks. Located in the net were seven spotted trout and two mangrove snapper. While talking to the fisherman on the bridge, Officer Bibeau was able to find out the snook poachers had their female counterpart transport multiple snook back to their car. Some of the fish were obviously too short so the officers escorted the fishermen back to their car. Once at their car the officers gained consent to search the car for more fish. Although the car did not have any more fish, Officer Bibler was able to locate a hidden bag full of ice and two undersize snook hidden behind some bushes. The fisherman eventually admitted to catching the snook and was cited with possession of two undersized and out of season snook, over the bag limit of spotted trout and failure to obtain a saltwater shoreline fishing license.

Officer Cocke and Lieutenant Parisoe were participating in Operation Dry Water in the Hurricane Pass area by conducting random vessel inspections to determine boating safety and fisheries compliance. A stop was initiated on a vessel returning from off shore that had fishing gear and dive equipment on board. An inspection of the anglers catch revealed they were in possession of five gag grouper and also an undersized hog snapper. A citation and several warnings were issued for the violations. The fish were seized and donated to a local homeless shelter.

Lieutenants Wells and Parisoe were participating in Operation Dry Water on Lake Tarpon by conducting random vessel inspections to determine compliance. During one vessel stop they incurred several boating safety violations and determined the vessel was rented from a local livery. An inspection of the livery revealed numerous violations. The manager of the business was issued a citation and several warnings for the violations. They were also educated on what was needed to be in compliance and continue operating.

SOUTH REGION A

This past weekend officers participated in “Operation Dry Water” a nationwide awareness effort to stop vessel operators from consuming alcohol or illicit drugs while behind the helm. The effort is sponsored by the National Association of State Boating Law Enforcement Administrators or NASBLA. The main objective is to increase education and awareness relating to this most dangerous combination of recreational boating and the consumption of alcohol by the operator. Officers contacted nearly 85 vessels with 287 educational contacts. Several citations were issued for boating related violations along with multiple warnings for the same.

BROWARD COUNTY
Officer Strader was patrolling Sheridan Street at West Lake to conduct saltwater fisheries inspections. Officer Strader encountered a subject fishing on the seawall at West Lake. Upon further investigation, it was determined the subject had an active felony warrant. Officer Strader placed the subject under arrest and transported him to the Broward County Jail. Officers Carman and Read provided assistance in making the arrest.

Officer Vacin performed a vessel inspection at the 15th Street Boat Ramp in Fort Lauderdale. Officer Vacin found three undersized grey snapper, two undersized mutton snapper, and three undersized schoolmaster snapper on the boat. The operator stated it was dark out and that he had a hard time measuring the fish. The operator was cited for undersized grey snapper and mutton snapper. He was given a written warning for the schoolmaster snapper.

FWC South Region Investigators Cambi, Gilbert, Lieutenants Carpenter and Sacco participated in a multi-jurisdictional task force to include the United State Coast Guard, Customs and Border Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. The Task Force boarded a foreign freighter docked in a Port Everglades berth along the ICW Canal in search of environmental violations, vessel/vehicle/heavy equipment theft and other associated crimes. Port Everglades refused to off load the cargo the first day due to Law Enforcement presence, a lock down was placed on the freighter and crew until the next morning when commencement of off loading began. Investigator Gilbert found indications of illegal bilge pumping while out at sea and improper storage of hazardous waste and materials. This is the fourth operation of this kind since the development of the newly formed FWC-sponsored “Environmental Workshop” for Miami-Dade & Broward Counties.

Officer Brock assisted the individuals involved in the annual Gator Youth Hunt in western Broward County. This program enables kids to attempt to hunt alligators before the regular season begins. It also teaches them the correct methods to use to avoid injury and enforces ethical hunting and the importance to follow the rules and laws. Officer Brock assisted with hands on as well as an educational period of communication.

Lieutenant Laubenberger and Officer Brock were on offshore patrol off Ft. Lauderdale conducting fisheries inspections on vessels when a vessel with one person on board flagged them over. He was approximately two miles offshore. He reported that his propeller fell off and the two divers he had in the water had now drifted far away. The officers headed in the direction the vessel operator pointed. They observed a dive flag just less than one mile away. At the flag were the two divers that belonged to the disabled vessel. The officers had the two divers remove their scuba gear, put it all in their vessel and climb aboard. A quick check of the divers was completed and they were returned to their disabled vessel. Sea Tow Ft. Lauderdale was already en route to the vessel to tow it back into port.

Officer Vacin was on patrol in the Port Everglades area. He conducted boating safety and marine fisheries inspections on a vessel returning into the inlet. The vessel was found to contain numerous dolphins on board, seven of which were undersized. With this information Officer Vacin issued one individual a criminal notice to appear for possession of undersized dolphin. The undersized dolphins were seized as evidence.

Officer Vacin was on patrol early in the morning in the vicinity of the 15th Street Boat Ramp in Ft. Lauderdale when he observed a vessel pull into the boat ramp with fishing poles. He conducted boating safety and marine fisheries inspections on the vessel. An individual on board was found to be in possession of undersized snapper. With information gathered Officer Vacin issued one individual a criminal notice to appear for possession of undersized mutton and mangrove snapper. The fish were seized as evidence.

Dispatch received a call in reference to someone in possession of a Burmese python at the War Memorial in Ft. Lauderdale. Officer Strader responded to Repticon at the War Memorial. He made contact with the person that had a large Burmese python. The individual had the correct license to possess and offer the snake for sale. The individual knew that he could only sell the snake to someone that possessed the correct license as well.

Captive Wildlife Investigators in the South A Region gave a presentation to Broward County officers. The presentation provided captive wildlife training, and an overview of the rules and regulations associated with the industry. The presentation also gave local officers the opportunity to ask any questions they had regarding captive wildlife.

Officers Ryan and Read conducted a boating safety and fisheries inspection during Operation Dry Water. Following a non-compliant boating safety inspection, a fisheries inspection was conducted during which the captain of the vessel was found to have possession of an undersized yellowtail snapper and gray triggerfish. The subject had previously been warned for the same violation. He received a notice to appear for the fish violations and several warnings for safety violations.

While Investigator Teems was on patrol at the John Lloyd State Park, observed a black Audi with a tag expiration of 5/14. A computer check of the tag indicated that that attached tag had no vehicle information. The vehicle identification number indicated a different tag number and vehicle owner indicating an expiration of 8/13. The driver had a suspended license for multiple failures to pay traffic fines and had several previous convictions. Investigator Teems seized both tags to be turned into the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). The driver received a notice by court order for prior moving violation for driving on a suspended license. The vehicle was towed and driver was issued four citations and transported to the Broward County Jail where he was booked and processed.

Investigator Teems was on patrol at John Lloyd State Park Marina when she observed a silver boat trailer with a tag that expired in 9/13. She also ran a white van registration that the trailer was attached to and that came back to a silver Lexus. Approximately 30 minutes later, she conducted a vessel inspection and issued a warning to the operator. A few minutes after the inspection, she noticed the same subject pull up to the ramp with the same white van and trailer. The owner stated that the van and trailer was not registered nor did the van have insurance. Investigator Teems seized both tags to be turned into DHSMV. The vehicle was towed and the owner was issued five citations and advised of a court date and time.

PALM BEACH COUNTY
A Palm Beach County woman permitted to possess venomous snakes was bitten by a spectacled cobra. The bite occurred at the facility she is licensed at. The victim was cleaning the snake’s enclosure when the bite occurred. She was taken to a local hospital, where she was treated and has since been released. After the incident, a Captive Wildlife Investigator responded to the scene to assure the facility was secured, safe, and the snake was accounted for. He then proceeded to the hospital to check on the victim’s condition and gather further information. The investigation is on-going.

ST. LUCIE COUNTY
Officer Pifer was on land patrol when he observed two individuals cast netting in a canal in Ft. Pierce. When Officer Pifer started making his way towards the individuals, they fled the area on foot. Officer Pifer contacted K-9 Officer Payne and K-9 Morgan to help track the individuals. K-9 Morgan’s track led the Officers to a house where one of the individuals was observed for a brief moment cleaning fish, later identified as bluegill, before disappearing inside the home. Officer Payne provided cover from the rear of the house while Officer Pifer made his way to the side of the house, to an open door, where he made his presence known and began giving commands for the two individuals to come outside. After a few minutes, the individuals came out of the home without incident. The individuals were placed under arrest, transported to the St. Lucie County Jail and charged with taking freshwater game fish by an illegal method, interfering with an FWC officer, resisting arrest without violence and issued infraction citations for no freshwater license.

Officer Pifer was on land patrol when he observed three individuals returning to a vehicle from wade fishing. Officer Pifer made contact with the adult and two children to conduct a fisheries inspection. When asked if they had any luck, the adult stated that they had only caught pinfish. Officer Pifer observed a cooler in the back of their vehicle and asked if any fish were inside it, and the adult stated that there were no fish inside. An inspection of the cooler revealed that there actually was a fish inside and was an out of season and undersized snook. The adult was issued a citation for possession of snook during a closed season, possession of undersized snook, and an infraction citation for not possessing a valid non-resident saltwater license.

Officer Pifer was on land patrol when he observed an individual cast netting in a canal in western Ft. Pierce. Officer Pifer made contact with the individual to conduct a freshwater fisheries and license inspection. The individual stated that he did not have a fishing license or ID on his person. The individual provided a name and date of birth, and when ran through dispatch came back with no record found. The individual was asked several times what his name was and the individual continued to say that the name given was him. Officer Pifer told the individual that an FHP Trooper was on the way with a Rapid ID instrument and that would determine who he was. After a few minutes of waiting for the trooper, the individual approached Officer Pifer and apologized, and revealed his true name which was confirmed through dispatch and DAVID. The individual had an active warrant out of St. Lucie County. Officer Pifer placed the individual under arrest and transported him to the St. Lucie County Jail for the warrant. He was also charged with providing a false name to law enforcement and issued an infraction citation for fishing without a freshwater license.

Officer Pifer and K-9 Officer Payne were conducting water patrol when they observed three individuals wade fishing on one of the flats in Ft. Pierce. The officers made contact with the individuals to conduct a fisheries inspection. While inspecting two of the subject’s buckets, Officer Pifer observed the third subject walking towards the ICW channel, drop a stringer of fish, and then begin walking towards the officers. Officer Pifer told the individual to retrieve the fish that he was trying to get rid of. To ensure the fish were recovered, Officer Pifer jumped off the vessel into the knee deep water and made his way to the third individual. Officer Pifer recovered the stringer of fish and asked the individual why he was trying to get rid of the fish and he stated that he didn’t know if they were big enough. The fish were identified as sheepshead and seven of the eight fish were undersized. The individual did not have a fishing license or ID on his person and the name he provided to the officers came back with no record found. On their way to the dock, the individual provided a different name that came back with a record however the picture in DAVID was clearly not the individual in custody. The individual finally provided the officers with his real name which was confirmed through dispatch and DAVID. The individual was placed under arrest, transported to the St. Lucie County Jail, and charged with possession of undersized sheepshead, interfering with an FWC officer, providing a false name to law enforcement, and received an infraction citation for no saltwater shoreline license.

Officer Payne conducted a fishery inspection and license check on a subject fishing in a small pond in Ft. Pierce. The subject fishing did not have a fishing license. When Officer Payne asked the subject his name and date of birth, the subject stated he did not know his date of birth. Officer Payne ran the subject and then tried to verify the subjects name and date of birth. This time, the subject advised he remembered his date of birth. When Officer Payne went to verify his name and date of birth for the second time on the computer, the subject ran off on foot. Officer Payne gave chase but lost the subject. The St Lucie County Sherriff’s Office was notified and within a few minutes they had found the subject, who again ran, and arrested him. Officer Payne went to the location and confirmed that it was the subject. The subject still refused to give his real name and was finger printed. At this time his true identity was determined and found that he had a warrant out of St Lucie. He was booked into the St Lucie County Jail for giving a false name to a Law Enforcement Officer, resisting without violence, interfering with an FWC officer, and arrest by warrant.

Officer Payne, while on land patrol, approached a popular fishing spot to conduct license and resource inspections when he observed two fishermen packing up their fishing gear and preparing to leave. When asked if they had caught anything, one subject paused and said “Yes, a snapper.” When Officer Payne looked in the cooler, he did not find any snapper but instead found a 20 inch black grouper. The legal harvest size is 24 inches. A citation was issued to the subject who had caught the undersized black grouper.

Officer Payne was doing fishery inspections in Fort Pierce when he encountered a subject fishing. The subject stated that he had not had any luck fishing. At this point he lifted up his bucket lid showing his cast net and then asked the officer if he wanted to look in his vehicle. When Officer Payne looked under the cast net an undersized mutton snapper was discovered. Officer Payne then checked the subject’s history and saw he had been issued a warning in the past for possession of undersized mutton snapper. The subject was issued a citation for the violation. In a related stop, Officer Payne made contact with a subject on a boat who was found to have four undersized mutton snapper in a cooler. A check of the live well revealed another undersized mutton snapper. The subject was cited for the violations.

Earlier in the year Officer Payne inspected a business which sells saltwater products to check their license and found that they did not have a valid Saltwater Retail License. Officer Payne explained the rules and requirements and advised the manager how to obtain a Saltwater Retail License. This week Officer Payne returned to the business to check and make sure they had obtained the Saltwater Retail License. The same Manager was working again and stated that he still had not gotten his license. The manager was issued a notice to appear for the violation.

In the early morning hours, Officers Pifer and Payne were on water patrol in the Fort Pierce area when they observed what appeared to be a vessel in the distance. No navigation lights were displayed. On a slow approach they observed the vessel to have one individual on board who appeared to be gigging fish. A boating safety and resource inspection determined the subject to have purposely left his navigational lights off while harvesting fish with a gig. Unfortunately the fish he was gigging were spotted seatrout which are restricted to harvest with a hook and line or cast net only. Thirteen spotted seatrout were seized. The subject was cited for the violation.

SOUTH REGION B

COLLIER COUNTY
Officers Futch and Tolbert conducted a detail in the Ten Thousand Islands concentrating on offenders not paying state park fees to use facilities at Collier-Seminole State Park. The officers made several contacts and educated the public on fishing rules and regulations and answered questions.

Officers Futch and Tolbert participated in a detail concentrating on offenders collecting plant specimens and damaging foliage within Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park. The officers observed an unauthorized motorized vessel operating within state park waters closed for such use, but did not observe illegal specimen collection or foliage damage. They issued one citation and two warnings during this public outreach and educational detail.

Officers Johnson, Polly, Thurkettle and Tolbert participated in a Panther Zone enforcement detail. While the officers provided a public safety presence they issued 11 citations and eight warnings.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

Officer Pino and Officer Diaz were on patrol near Monument Island just off the waters of Miami Beach when Officer Diaz saw a vessel listing to one side and several people on board wearing their life jackets. When the officers approached the vessel they noticed that water was gushing into the boat causing the stern of the vessel to partially sink into the water. Several of the occupants on the vessel could not swim and were in the early stages of panicking. The officers immediately began to help the occupants onto their patrol boat, all the while making sure that the vessel maintained afloat. After rescuing all the occupants the officers secured the sinking vessel and hip towed it to Monument Island. As it turns out, the vessel that was in distress was a rental boat and all the occupants were Japanese nationals vacationing in Miami.

Officers responded to reports of a large grouper causing a navigational hazard in the main Miami shipping channel. Once on scene the officers found a 5-foot Nassau grouper floating belly up in the busy channel. The grouper was towed out to sea where the officers made several attempts to release the gas from its swim bladder, presumably caused from being brought up too quickly by a fisherman. The grouper was ultimately deflated and swam away happily.

While seeking shelter from a thunderstorm an Officer took refuge at No Name Harbor in Key Biscayne. Another vessel waiting out the storm was seen with three passengers on board, covered in what appeared to be fish blood. A fisheries inspection revealed the men to be over their limit with 40 dolphin, eight of which were undersized. They were cited accordingly.

MONROE COUNTY
Officer Mattson was on patrol in the waters off of Islamorada when he stopped a personal water craft (PWC). Officer Mattson began to conduct a boating safety inspection and quickly realized that the operator was demonstrating signs of impairment. Officer Mattson had the operator board his patrol vessel where he had the operator perform a series of field sobriety exercises. Due to the fact that the operator failed the tests he was handcuffed and placed under arrest. It was not long after that the defendant became uncooperative and combative to the extent that he jumped into the water and attempted to swim away from the patrol vessel. Officer Mattson called for assistance and soon was joined by Officer Bogue who jumped in the water in an effort to apprehend the subject. After several attempts to grab the subject Officer Bogue deployed his pepper spray and sprayed the subject causing him to immediately give up. The subject was subsequently transported to the Monroe County Jail where he was charged with a multitude of charges.

Officer Bulger responded to an early morning boating accident in New Found Harbor in the Lower Keys were a vessel struck a sailboat. The passenger on the sailboat told Officer Bulger that after the boat struck his sailboat the operator jumped in the water and swam away. Several hours later, FWC officers and a Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy located the striking vessel’s operator at his home. The local man told officers that he was texting on his phone when he struck the sailboat and after the accident decided to swim to shore. The operator only had minor injuries and refused medical treatment. The operator was issued two citations for improper look-out and leaving the scene of a boating accident.

Officers Mattson and Munkelt were patrolling the waters of the upper Keys when they saw a vessel and two divers in the water. As the officers approached they saw one of the divers swim to the vessel and then swim away. The officers came along side the vessel and started to check the vessel for any resource violations and also conduct a boating safety inspection. The subjects on board the vessel readily complied and laid out several mutton snapper and yellow tail snapper on the deck. One of the mutton snappers was found to be undersized. Officer Munkelt requested to see the contents in the coolers as well as in the live wells. Officer Munkelt saw what appeared to be a fin inside one of the live wells and looked into it more carefully. It was then that she discovered a speared black grouper hidden in the live well. The captain of the vessel was cited for possession of black grouper and was sent on his way. The officers waited for the subject vessel to leave the area and then conducted a search of where the vessel was anchored. The officers found a spear gun. Officer Munkelt dove in and retrieved the spear gun. The officers went to the hotel where the subjects had advised they were staying and issued additional charges for spear fishing in the upper Keys and interference with an FWC Officer.

Contact Info
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