Central Ohio – Wildlife District One
During the statewide white-tailed deer gun hunting season, State Wildlife Officer Josh Elster, assigned to Pickaway County, was contacted about a butchered deer carcass, pizza box, and other trash observed along a road. The pizza box had a receipt with personal information attached. Officer Elster checked the harvest records for the address. He discovered a subject with a valid hunting license and deer permit, but no harvest. Officer Elster drove to the address to speak with the subject. Upon arriving, he noticed tools used for deer butchering and dried blood on the garage floor. Further investigation revealed the hunter had helped a friend butcher a deer. The subject then dumped the deer carcass and trash along the road. The subject was issued a summons for littering and ordered to pay $250 in fines and court costs.
State Wildlife Officer Tony Zerkle, assigned to Fairfield County, and Wildlife Officer Supervisor Bill Bullard attended the Hebron Fish Hatchery Open House in April. Over 300 visitors were in attendance to learn how fish are raised and studied. Officer Zerkle assisted dozens of children with bluegill fishing. Officer Bullard answered law-related questions about fishing in Ohio and educated visitors on the duties of Ohio wildlife officers.
Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District Two
During the white-tailed deer gun hunting season, State Wildlife Investigator Jason Parr responded to an incident involving property damage. Four hunters were conducting a deer drive and fired numerous times, with one of the rounds striking a nearby house. The homeowner, who was outside at the time, contacted wildlife officials. The hunters were identified and contacted, and their firearms collected as evidence. The bullet that struck the residence was recovered. With the assistance of K-9 Wildlife Officer May, numerous casings were found in the field where the hunters were shooting. Two of the four firearms were ruled out as being the gun that struck the house. The remaining two guns were taken to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), along with the bullet that hit the house. A forensic firearm examiner determined which of the guns submitted for testing was the one that damaged the house. The suspect pleaded guilty in Crawford County Municipal Court. He paid $325 in fines and court costs, received 180 days jail with all 180 days suspended, was placed on probation for 36 months, was required to complete a hunter education course, and had his hunting license suspended for three years.
Recently, State Wildlife Officers Charles McMullen, assigned to Sandusky County, and Matt D. Smith, assigned to Huron County, were contacted by a concerned citizen about an injured bald eagle near Bellevue. The officers arrived at the location and found the eagle about half-mile from the road in a woodlot. The officers believed the eagle was injured in a territorial dispute with another eagle. Once secured, the eagle was transported to Back to the Wild Rehabilitation Center for care.
Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District Three
In February, State Wildlife Officer Zach Hillman, assigned to Cuyahoga County, contacted an individual about a possible white-tailed deer hunting violation. This individual had harvested a buck a few weeks prior, in January. During the conversation, the hunter admitted that he did not possess a valid deer permit when the buck was harvested. One misdemeanor summons for hunting deer without a valid deer permit was issued. The court found the individual guilty and ordered him to pay $301.60 in fines and court costs.
In November and December 2021, several illegal tire dumps were located in Mahoning County. State Wildlife Officer Tom Frank, assigned to Mahoning County, located a large tire dump on private property in Berlin Township. Officer Frank assisted the landowner and coordinated with the Ohio EPA for removal of the tires. This effort provided critical assistance to community residents and alleviated a frustrating problem.
Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District Four
While reviewing white-tailed deer harvested in Monroe County during the 2021 season, State Wildlife Officer Wes Feldner noticed a possible violation. The hunter harvested a buck and possessed a 10-year hunting license, but Officer Feldner also discovered information that the hunter was not an Ohio resident. With the help of State Wildlife Officer Tom Frank and West Virginia Department of Natural Resources officers, Officer Feldner determined that the suspect had fraudulently purchased a resident hunting and fishing license, and also had had several other deer-related violations. The hunter was charged with fraudulently purchasing resident licenses and taking a deer without a valid deer permit. The suspect posted bond amounts in Monroe County Court totaling $385. The suspect was advised that the multiyear licenses he had purchased were invalid and he would need to purchase a nonresident license in the future.
State Wildlife Officers Chris Gilkey and Chris Dodge, assigned to Meigs and Hocking counties, respectively, received information from the Turn-in-A-Poacher hotline about a large buck deer found in someone’s yard. The officers arrived at the scene, found a buck with large antlers, and determined it was killed with a gun. The officers traced the deer to a corn pile at a nearby house, with a light nearby so the corn pile could be seen at night. Three individuals were staying at the house. Further investigation revealed the homeowner shot the deer with a rifle at 5 a.m. The deer and the rifle were seized, and the suspect was issued two charges and ordered to appear in court. The suspect pleaded guilty but disputed the restitution value. Officer Gilkey was called upon to explain to the court the importance of the restitution value. The judge found the suspect guilty on both counts. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail with 30 days suspended and ordered to pay $240 in fines and court costs, with $5,445 in restitution. The individual was placed on two years of probation and had his license revoked for three years.
Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District Five
While checking fishing licenses at Rush Run Lake, State Wildlife Officer Brad Turner, assigned to Preble County, contacted three men fishing along the bank. All three had fishing licenses, but Officer Turner found three largemouth bass shorter than 15 inches in their basket. Rush Run Lake has a 15-inch minimum length requirement and no more than 5 fish per day. One of the men admitted to catching all three bass. The bass were released back into the lake unharmed and the man paid $150 in fines.