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Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Law Enforcement Report - March 22

March 23, 2012

From Newsherald.com

SANTA ROSA COUNTY
 
An eight week investigation into the illegal killing of a buck deer on the Eglin Wildlife Management Area concluded this week with arrest warrants and criminal summons issued to three suspects. On January 29, Officer Howard Jones was on patrol within the Eglin Wildlife Management Area off of Range Road 213 when he encountered three vehicles traveling west. A few minutes later, Officer Jones, also traveling west, encountered the same three vehicles; however, they were spread out along Range Road 213.
 
A subject was observed exiting a closed area and was verbally warned by Officer Jones for being in the closed area. All three subjects immediately left the area in their vehicles. Suspecting something was wrong, Officer Jones began a search of the area and observed a subject exit the woods.
 
The officer subsequently located a freshly killed eight point buck deer. A three day search of the area revealed evidence that suggested the suspect shot the deer from Range Road 213 with a 7 mm rifle, tracked the deer, and shot it three more times with a 12 gauge shotgun. Officers served two search warrants on two separate residences and recovered evidence directly related to the crime.
 
While serving one of the search warrants, officers seized an illegal short-barreled shotgun, a second degree felony. Lt. Doug Berryman and Officer Howard Jones conducted interviews with all three suspects and obtained full confessions from each of them regarding their role in this incident. Charges filed with the State Attorney’s Office include possession of a short-barreled shotgun, entering a closed area, hunting in a closed area, and obstructing an FWC officer.
 
Officers Joe Murphy and Ben Pineda were checking fishermen in Blackwater Bay when they encountered two subjects fishing under the I-10 Bridge. Neither subject possessed a valid saltwater fishing license and they were in possession of undersized redfish.
 
Additionally, a computer check revealed one of the men had an outstanding warrant for failure to appear. The subject with the warrant admitted to catching the redfish. He was cited for possession of undersized redfish and taken into custody for the warrant. Both subjects were cited for fishing without a license.
 
OKALOOSA COUNTY
 
Officer Ryan Nelson was on water patrol conducting boating safety inspections and state fisheries inspections in Choctawhatchee Bay when he observed a 23 foot vessel with two occupants onboard fishing. During the safety equipment inspection, Officer Nelson observed opened and unopened cans of beer and confirmed the individuals were underaged. Both individuals were cited for possession of alcoholic beverages by a person under 21 years of age.
 
WALTON COUNTY
 
Officer Ken White checked two subjects returning to their vehicle after turkey hunting on Eglin Wildlife Management Area. The subjects reported hearing two shots and directed Officer White to a nearby area which was open to spring gobbler hunting.
 
A short time later, Officer White located a subject exiting the woods from where the shots had been heard. The suspect was in possession of two turkeys; however, the daily bag limit for turkeys is one per day. The subject was cited for taking over the daily bag limit of turkeys. One of the turkeys was seized as evidence.
 
BAY COUNTY
 
Officer Neal Goss observed a fisherman catch and hide an oversized redfish.
Officers Jim Moore and Jeff Gager were contacted and they talked with the individual who said he hadn’t had any luck and was only trying to catch bait. When asked about the redfish, the fisherman showed it to them and agreed it was illegal. A citation was issued.
 
Officer Nick Price received a call from a Bay County sheriff’s deputy concerning a subject who killed a seagull on the beach and buried it.
Officer Dennis Palmer responded with Officer Price and located a witness and the suspect. The suspect used food to draw the seagull close, struck it with a shovel, and buried it in the sand.
 
The subject showed the officers where the bird was buried. When they dug it up, the bird was still alive. A statement was taken from the subject and a witness who observed the incident. The subject was cited for attempting to take a protected species and the seagull was transported to a rehab center.
 
FRANKLIN COUNTY
 
During patrol onboard the offshore patrol vessel, Gulf Sentry, the crew boarded several vessels inbound to East Pass. Following a fisheries and safety inspection onboard a Georgia registered vessel, Officer Will Raker issued citations for over the bag limit of red drum and possession of two oversized red drum.
 
Later that night, the crew was patrolling off Little St. George Island when they encountered several shrimp boats dragging inside three miles. Officers boarded one of the vessels that appeared to be dragging more than two nets.
 
Upon boarding the vessel, the officers confirmed the vessel was dragging two primary nets, as well as a try net within one mile from shore. Officer Josh Waite issued a citation for the above violation and a warning in reference to Turtle Excluder Device (TED) violations. Officer Waite provided the captain with the necessary information to correct the TED’s.
 
The crew of the Gulf Sentry was conducting a choke point patrol in the Carrabelle River utilizing smaller patrol boats. As the officers approached a vessel to conduct a fisheries and safety inspection, they observed what appeared to be a large red drum surface just off the stern of the vessel.
 
The officers recovered the red drum and boarded the vessel. Upon inspection and interviews, Officer Matt Gore issued citations for possession of an oversized red drum, interference with an FWC Officer, and possession of 13 undersized black sea bass. Later in the patrol, another vessel was inspected and officers observed that the operator showed indicators of impairment.

After completing the field sobriety tasks Officer Will Raker arrested the vessel operator for boating under the influence.


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