Officer McHenry received a complaint that an individual was operating a PWC in a reckless manner in a small canal off Pensacola Bay. Shortly after arriving, the PWC was observed being operated at night and violating the idle speed zone. After being addressed, the operator of the PWC turned toward Officer McHenry, got within 15 feet of the dock and then fled. At a nearby boat ramp, a trailer for two PWCs was located and one was missing. The operator who fled was the owner of the second PWC. Officer McHenry contacted the operator and was arrested for fleeing and transported to jail.
Lieutenant Hahr was patrolling in Perdido River Wildlife Management Area (WMA) when he observed a man and woman trying to smoke methamphetamine while the woman’s three children were present. Both subjects were charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia and accessing the management area after hours and were booked in the Escambia County Jail.
Officer H. Webb observed a vessel at anchor on St Joe Bay with were four people on board. He noticed one was squatting down in front of the console cooler while the other three were standing around him looking down at him. As he greeted them, a large pile of whole bay scallops was seen dumped out in front of the cooler. The cooler was empty and dirty as though the scallops had just been dumped out of it. The captain said they were measuring their limit. He then asked Officer Webb if the bag limit was 3 gallons per person. Officer Webb corrected him with, “No, sir, it is two gallons per person per day.” After measuring their scallops, Officer Webb found they were in possession of 12 gallons of whole bay scallops – four gallons over their legal bag limit. The captain of the vessel was charged with over the daily bag limit of bay scallops.
Officer Corbin was on land patrol conducting state fisheries and boating safety inspections at the Cinco Bayou Boat Ramp. At about 2:00 am, he observed a boat returning to the ramp with fishing gear present. The vessel’s registration was expired. The fisheries inspection revealed a grossly undersized red drum. The operator acknowledged he knew the red drum was undersized. In addressing the expired vessel registration, Officer Corbin determined the operator had purchased the boat but failed to transfer the title/registration within the required 30-days. The individual was cited and issued notice to appear citations for undersized red drum and failure to transfer title.
Officer Pifer was on land patrol conducting state fisheries inspections at the Alconese Fishing Pier in Ft. Walton Beach. He observed an individual actively engaged in fishing. The fisheries inspection revealed the individual was in possession of an egg bearing blue crab. The individual was issued a notice to appear citation.
Officer Corbin was on land patrol conducting state fisheries inspections at the Mariner Plaza in Cinco Bayou and observed individuals actively fishing from the seawall. The fisheries inspection of their cooler revealed two grossly undersized gray mangrove snapper. One individual was cited and issued a notice to appear citation.
Officer Corbin was on land patrol conducting state fisheries inspections at the Shalimar Bridge and observed several individuals actively fishing. One of the subjects had a cart with a white bucket which contained one mangrove snapper, one bluefish and one mullet. A fish tail underneath the bucket revealed an undersized red drum. The individual was issued a notice to appear citation.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
Officer Hutchinson and Investigator Milstead observed two men selling shrimp on the side of Highway 90. They conducted a license and resource inspection and discovered that neither subject had the proper license to sell saltwater products. Both men were issued notices to appear for selling saltwater products without a retail dealers license.
Officers Gore, Forehand, Baber and Burkhead checked a dove shoot in the Orange Hill area. Approximately ten hunters were shooting over a plowed field that had been baited with corn, birdseed, and other grains. A search of the hunters’ areas and a bag limit check revealed birds hidden in the bushes near two of the hunters. The subjects were cited for taking migratory birds over bait and the subjects who were over the limit were cited for taking over the daily bag limit of doves.
SEARCH AND RESCUES
Officers Jarvis and Maltais were requested by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office in the search of a 14-year-old subject. The officers responded by water and searched the Destin Pass, Destin Bridge and jetty area for the subject. FWC Pilot Todd Tolbert along with Investigator Armstrong searched for the missing person from the air by helicopter. The Sheriff’s Office called off the search after several hours. The body of the subject was recovered near the West Jetty.
NORTH CENTRAL REGION
Flooding of the Santa Fe River due to Hurricane Irma caused a wildlife facility on the river to request assistance in transferring a 600-pound black bear to another facility. Captive Wildlife Investigator Holmes had to chemically immobilized the bear and with the assistance of Captive Wildlife Investigator Bean, Officers Stanley, Troiano and Yate along with the facility personnel successful moved the bear to safe quarters.
Officer Troiano was waiting for a complainant to show up at a local hunt club in the Hawthorne area when he observed an occupied vehicle parked next to an open hunting club gate. Upon making contact, the individual tossed something on the floor board of the vehicle. Officer Troiano saw in plain view a small baggie containing marijuana. After identification of the person, a citation was issued for possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis.
Officer Stanley received information of a possible stolen boat left behind from previous renters in the Jonesville area. The owner was located and provided written statements on the time the vessel went missing. Officer Stanley also received a written statement from one of the renters which was the girlfriend of the suspect. After talking with the State Attorney’s Office, charges were filed for grand theft of the vessel.
While Officer Stanley was answering an alligator hunting complaint on Bivens Arm Lake at Paynes Prairie, he observed an individual through his binoculars smoking from what appeared to be a homemade pipe while he was fishing. During a slow approach through the trees, a strong odor of marijuana was evident. Citations were issued for no fresh water fishing license, possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Lieutenant Futch received information through dispatch about a dead alligator in a residential area. Once on scene, he observed a dead alligator in a canal directly behind a private residence. He discovered a shotgun shell on the canal bank a few feet away from the alligator. There were signs that the property owner stayed the weekend at the home. Lieutenant Futch went to meet with the homeowner and, following a brief interview, the homeowner admitted to shooting the alligator the day before with his shotgun. Charges will be directly filed with the State Attorney’s Office for unlawful take of alligator.
Lieutenant Futch was working night hunting in Dixie County when he observed a vehicle displaying lights capable of disclosing the presence of wildlife. After watching the subject for a while he conducted a vehicle stop. While making contact, the driver quickly exited and attempted to divert his attention away from the vehicle. Lieutenant Futch walked over to the driver’s side of the vehicle and observed a drug pipe in the seat. Backup from Dixie County Sheriff’s Office arrived and a subsequent search of the vehicle revealed the driver was in possession of methamphetamine. The subject was arrested and booked into the Dixie County Jail for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.
Lieutenant Futch was working in the Jena Wildlife Management Area, focusing on the illegal harvest of palmetto berries, when he observed a vehicle turning on the boundary line between the WMA and a local hunting club. He followed the vehicle on foot and eventually contacted the four subjects inside of the hunting club. One of the subjects did not provide any form of identification. A short time later, he discovered that the subject provided the name and social security number of his brother. Eventually, the subject admitted to using his brother’s name because he had an active warrant out for his arrest. The subject was arrested for the warrant and was also charged with trespassing and providing a false name to a law enforcement officer.
While on state forest patrol in Cary State Forest, Officer Rorer contacted two individuals who were participating in the archery hunt. In the bed of the individuals’ truck, Officer Rorer noticed a harvested spotted fawn. Officer Rorer read both individuals their Miranda Rights. One of the individuals confessed to shooting the fawn. The individual was issued a notice to appear for illegally taking a spotted fawn.
Officer Albritton and Lieutenant Guy were working the Aucilla WMA when a vehicle was spotted parked in a remote hunting area. It had a partial bag of corn in the bed of the truck along with tree stands. The officers left the area and contacted K-9 officers Wiggins and Gill. The K-9 team performed an area search and quickly located three tree stands that had just been put up. One stand was freshly baited with corn along with a trail camera. Officer Albritton located a subject hunting in the stand two days later. A second subject was found in one of the nearby stands and admitted to placing the corn out and knew it was a violation. Both subjects were issued the appropriate citations and warnings.
Officers Robson, Albritton and Wilder received a photo from the social media website Snapchat showing a dead velvet spike with the caption “He’s Down.” Investigator Ayers and K-9 Officer Wiggins were requested to help with the case. After interviewing the female subject who posted the snapchat photo, it was determined that she was with two other male subjects who were riding around a few days earlier when they saw the spike and shot it. After interviewing the male subject and searching his property with consent, he was found to be in possession of 10 bags of fresh deer meat and a .270 caliber rifle in the truck. A further search led to the discovery of bear skulls in his barn. Charges were directly filed for taking deer at night with a gun and light, taking deer out of season and possession of bear parts.
Officer Mims received information from Officer Troiano of a man who was lost while hiking in San Felasco State Park. Officer Troiano described the location of the hiker and Officer Mims quickly located him. The man was a little dehydrated but was given water and declined to have EMS called. After observation during the ride back to his vehicle, Officer Mims determined the man was capable of driving home.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officer Troiano attended a “Touch a Truck” youth outreach event. There were several hundred children in attendance. Officer Troiano brought a boat and spoke to the children in attendance about the duties of a FWC officer and answered questions about the vessel on display.
Officers Teal and Rice were on patrol together in the Ocala Wildlife Management Area (WMA) when they responded to a call referencing a red truck suspected of picking saw palmetto berries. The officers contacted three subjects. A subsequent investigation revealed they were in possession of berries on the WMA. They were unable to satisfactorily identify two of the individuals and they were later booked into the Lake County Jail. The other subject was issued a notice to appear for the violation.
Officer Shaw was on patrol in Seminole State Forest where he came across a subject illegally picking saw palmetto berries. The subject was cited appropriately.
Officer Scrambling was on patrol near Lake Griffin when he received information that a subject was keeping oversized and over the bag limit of black bass. Upon checking the area, he conducted a resource inspection of a subject, which revealed he had two oversized black bass. The subject was cited appropriately and the fish where returned unharmed to the resource.
Officer Weber was on patrol when he came across a subject fishing in a canal off Lake Griffin. A resource inspection revealed five black bass. Three of the five fish were over the size limit. The subject was cited appropriately and the oversized bass were returned to the resource.
Officer Morrison received a call concerning a subject taking snook with a cast net on the Gasparilla Trestle. During surveillance, the fisherman was seen catching one snook in a cast net and storing his catch. A resource inspection located six undersized snook that had been caught in the cast net. The subject was issued a citation and several warnings for the violations.
Officer Salem responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle in Babcock Ranch. Upon locating the vehicle, he ran the out of state license plate which came back to a valid tag and was not listed as stolen. He knew something wasn’t right because the vehicle was loaded with personal items and the vehicle was unsecured. Officer Salem contacted the local Sheriff’s department to ask if they had received any reports of a possible stolen jeep. Officer Salem described the jeep which was, as it turned out, recently stolen. He coordinated a response with the Sheriff’s department for the recovery of the vehicle, and assisted with returning the vehicle to the owner.
Investigators from the Captive Wildlife section responded to the Desoto County Educational Center to assist with the removal of three wolves. These wolves were potentially in danger of drowning in their enclosure due to rising water from Horse Creek that was flooding the property. The water in some areas of the property was as much as 6 feet deep. The wolves were removed from their enclosure using catch poles and tranquilizing drugs with the assistance of a veterinarian. While on the property, other animals were observed that were potentially in harm’s way. Also removed were a bobcat, 4 raccoons, one coyote, one iguana and a house cat. All animals were placed for safe keeping at other facilities. This effort was led by Captive Wildlife Investigator Gregory with assistance from Captive Wildlife Investigator Williams and Lieutenant Harrison.
Officer Little was on land patrol near the Annutteliga Hammock trailhead when he located a vehicle with equipment in it that led him to believe the occupant was hunting in the closed Wildlife Management Area (WMA). After a short surveillance, a male subject walked out of the woods carrying a compound bow and arrows, wearing camouflage clothing. During an interview, the subject admitted to hunting in the WMA. It was also found that the subject failed to have a WMA stamp, deer permit, and an archery permit. The subject also had an active warrant out of Hernando County. The subject was cited for hunting during a closed season, issued warnings for the license violations, and was booked into the Hernando County jail for the active warrant.
Officers Browning, Little and Canamero were conducting hunting resource inspections on private property for hunters harvesting dove. After contacting a group of hunters, several infractions and one misdemeanor for unplugged shotgun having more than three rounds were issued.
While on water patrol, Officers Wilkins and Godfrey responded to a vessel accident in which a vessel hit a jet ski. The officers arrived on scene and, during their investigation, observed signs of impairment from the vessel operator. Officer Wilkins conducted seated field sobriety tasks with the subject and determined he was impaired. He arrested the subject for boating under the influence with property damage. Almost two hours after the accident occurred, the subject had a blood alcohol level of .15, nearly twice the legal limit.
While on water patrol in Tampa Bay, Officers Caldwell and Boogaerts observed a vessel occupied by one individual leaving a spoil island. The officers conducted a vessel stop and boating safety inspection. During the safety inspection, the officers observed fishing rods and coolers inside of the boat which led to a resource inspection. Initially, the resource inspection revealed five legal sized spotted seatrout located in a bag in the front cooler. The officers asked if there were any other fish on board the vessel besides the trout and the subject hesitantly stated that he had a 27-inch snook in the cooler. The snook was recovered from a plastic bag within the cooler and measured 25.5 inches. The subject was issued one misdemeanor resource citation for possession of undersized snook, and issued a warning for over the bag limit of spotted seatrout. The snook had been recently caught and the officers released it alive.
Officer Winton conducted a commercial blue crab enforcement patrol in the Caloosahatchee River. During the patrol, multiple crab boats were checked for compliance, and several citations and warnings were issued. An investigation into blue crab trap theft was also opened.
While on patrol, Officer Hardgrove encountered two subjects putting their recreational fishing vessel onto their trailer. Officer Hardgrove asked if they had caught anything and one subject responded by saying, “a few ladyfish and a couple trout.” An inspection of the vessel revealed a cooler containing multiple fish fillets. Two appeared to be snook fillets, and under those were four fillets that were consistent with that of sheepshead, and two others that were consistent with that of snapper. The subjects admitted that there was one snook, one mangrove snapper and two sheepshead filleted. Officer Hardgrove then asked how big the snook was and one subject stated, “maybe 28-inches”. He asked both subjects where they had measured their fish and both stated that they did not have a measuring device onboard. The snook fillet was approximately 8-inches long. The subjects were issued citations for not landing the fish in whole condition.
Officer Gonzales was on land patrol around E. 77th Street. During his patrol, he came across some fishermen fishing from a small relief bridge that crosses a portion of Terra Ceia Bay. While performing a resource inspection, one of the subjects tried to get into his vehicle and drive away. Officer Gonzales stopped the individual from driving off, and could immediately tell that the man was most likely impaired by alcohol. Field sobriety tasks were conducted on the individual to see if he was impaired. After conducting his investigation, the subject was placed under arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) and booked into the Manatee County jail.
While Lieutenant Hinds was on land patrol around the South Skyway Rest Area, he stopped and performed a fisheries inspection on a group of men loading up their vehicle after fishing around one of the relief bridges all day. During his inspection, he discovered that the men were in possession of 11 undersized gray (mangrove) snapper and one undersized sheepshead. One of the fishermen in the group claimed responsibility for all the undersized fish and was cited criminally for possession of undersized gray snapper. He was also given a warning for possession of undersized sheepshead. He must appear in court for his violation.
While on land patrol near the North Skyway Fishing Pier, Officer Bibeau conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle with a faulty taillight. While addressing the traffic violation, Officer Bibeau observed fishing equipment inside the vehicle and was given permission from the driver to conduct a fisheries inspection. After the inspection, Officer Bibeau found the subject to be in possession of three undersized mangrove snapper and an undersized gag grouper. Officer Bibeau wrote the individual a misdemeanor citation and a warning for the fisheries violations.
While on land patrol at the North Skyway Relief Bridge, Officer Bibeau observed multiple individuals fishing from a bridge posted “No fishing.” On approach, he observed an individual attempting to conceal a plastic bag filled with fish. During a resource inspection, an undersized mangrove snapper and gag grouper were located. The individual that attempted to conceal the bag was issued a misdemeanor citation for possession of an undersized gag grouper and warnings for the other violations.
While on land patrol near Dunedin, Officers Ferguson, Cocke, Guerin and Investigator Dallarosa responded to a single jet ski accident with injuries. After conducting a brief investigation with the operator, the officers noticed signs of impairment and asked the subject if he would be willing to perform seated field sobriety tasks. The subject became angry and aggressive and refused to do any tasks. Officer Ferguson attempted to arrest the subject for BUI, when the subject started fighting with the officers and Pinellas County deputies that were on scene. After a lengthy struggle, the subject was handcuffed and arrested for BUI, battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting with violence.
Officers Bibler and Martinez received a call about subjects keeping undersized black drum near Pass-a-Grille Pass Pier. The reporting party advised the subjects were catching the fish and then quickly moving them to an undisclosed location. After observing the subjects, the officers approached and eventually found a cooler with 14 undersized black drum inside. After being read his Miranda Rights, one of the subjects nearby admitted to catching and keeping the illegal fish and was cited accordingly.
Officer Brown was on land patrol around the Albee Road Bridge and stopped a vessel returning to the boat ramp at the bridge to perform a fisheries inspection. During the inspection, the captain of the vessel was found to have caught and kept one very undersized red grouper. The captain of the vessel was cited for possession of undersized red grouper and must appear in court for his violation.
Officers Hinds and Miller were working Resource Protection Service (RPS) in Sarasota Bay and observed three subjects fishing from the rock jetty at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron. Two of the subjects were in possession of five undersized mangrove snapper and the third subject was in possession of 13 mangrove snapper (4 of which were undersized). The subjects were issued citations for possession of undersized gag grouper and over the bag limit of mangrove snapper. Warnings were issued for over the bag limit of gag grouper and undersized mangrove snapper. The subjects were also issued trespass warnings for being on the property.
DIRECTED CONSERVATION PATROLS
While performing speed enforcement in the local panther protection zones, Officer Furbay stopped several vehicles for speed related violations. The highest recorded speed was 83 miles per hour in the 45 miles per hour protection area. Later that same evening, Officer Furbay received a call about a bear in a neighborhood. He located the bear as it was roaming around the houses. Officer Furbay successfully used aversion techniques to discourage the bear from staying in the area and the bear left the area without incident.
SOUTH REGION A
Officer Allen was on water patrol in the rim canal near Taylor Creek when he saw a commercial fishing boat come off plane in a no wake zone. When Officer Allen approached the vessel, a male subject quickly threw fish into the canal. After being detained, the subject still had 10 black crappie, 2 bass and 2 bream in his boat. He stated he had caught them with a cast net and did not have a chance to throw them back. He was issued a notice to appear citation for taking game fish by an illegal method.
Officers Davis and Dial were dispatched to assist the Seminole Police Department with a trespass complaint. The subjects had removed the staples from a fence, which allowed them to drive over the fence and enter the ranch. The subjects were detained on the property by the ranch foreman and turned over to the officers. While conducting warrant checks, one of the subjects was found to have an active warrant out of Okeechobee County. The two subjects were issued citations for trespassing. One of the subjects was also issued a citation for having an active warrant. Both subjects were placed under arrest and transported to the Glades County Jail.
While on land patrol, Officer Crosby observed a vehicle on the side of the road at the entrance to Starvation Slough. This is part of the public use area of the Kissimmee River and is managed by the South Florida Water Management District. Officer Crosby was aware that all public use areas associated with the Kissimmee River PUA are closed currently due to Hurricane Irma. Contact was made with the defendant who had jumped a closed gate and entered a closed area to hunt. He was issued two citations with mandatory court appearance. One for entering in a posted closed area, and the second for not using the correct designated entry or exit point of the public use area.
SOUTH REGION B
Officers Yurewitch and Araujo were conducting land-based water patrol near Doctor’s Pass in Naples and observed four individuals fishing the rocks along the pass and keeping multiple fish without measuring them. The officers conducted a resource inspection on multiple groups fishing and discovered over the bag limit and undersized pompano and black drum. Those individuals were cited accordingly.
Captive Wildlife Investigator Smith, along with Senior Nonnative Fish and Wildlife Technician Mercer with the Division of Habitat and Species Conservation, responded to the sighting of a large exotic lizard in an urban area. Upon arrival, they located a water monitor lizard in a culvert. They captured the lizard, which measured over four feet in length. A necropsy will be performed on the lizard to learn more about this exotic species.
Officers on two days of consecutive water patrol aboard one of Miami’s larger patrol vessels, conducted several inspections of subjects fishing offshore waters. Seven vessels with a total of eighteen people on board were checked for compliance with state fishery laws. Some subjects were cited for undersized kingfish (three), oversized barracudas (four), and undersized mutton (three) and yellowtail (one) snappers. A total of seven misdemeanor citations, three infractions and six written warnings were issued to the violators.
The region, along with out of town officers, are still assisting with Hurricane Irma recovery.