Officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were busy last month, policing everything from dove and duck hunting, to unshaded and untagged oysters.
Inspections by Officers Terry Martin and Matt Gore on a couple of hunters hunting dove in a field revealed the field had been baited with cracked corn. The two hunters were issued misdemeanor citations for this violation and for hunting dove during closed season.
While working the illegal night harvest of oysters near West Pass, Officer John Allen spotted a shrimp vessel inside the three-mile line with what appeared to be three nets in the water. The inspection confirmed Allen’s observations, and a misdemeanor citation was issued to the captain of the vessel for the violation.
While on patrol, Officer Gore spotted a vehicle driving through Eastpoint loaded with bags of oysters. He did not see any shade over the oysters and initiated a stop to speak with the harvesters about the violation. The inspection, in which Gore was assisted by Officer Steven Cook, revealed the oysters were both unshaded and untagged. The officers seized approximately 40 bags of oysters and the two harvesters were issued misdemeanor citations for possession of unshaded oysters and untagged bags.
While conducting fisheries inspections on the St. George Island fishing pier, Officer Allen found an angler who stated that he had only one fish in his cooler. An inspection showed the angler was in possession of six spotted sea trout, all undersized. The angler also failed to buy a saltwater fishing license. He was issued a misdemeanor citation for possession of undersized spotted sea trout and warnings for being over the bag limit and possessing no saltwater fishing license.
Officers Tyler Akos, Martin and Gore were conducting decoy deer operations in the Tate’s Hell Wildlife Management Area during the opening four days of general gun season. One of the contacts made was with a hunter who was cited by Martin during last year’s general gun season for taking antlerless deer. The hunter had failed to appear for his court date on that charge and a warrant issued for his arrest. The man told officers he had forgotten to appear for his previous court date. The man was placed under arrest and transported to the Franklin County Jail.
While on patrol at Alligator Point, Allen stopped to help some anglers returning from surf fishing who had bogged down their vehicle in the sand. After helping the anglers free their vehicle from the sand, Allen asked if they had caught any fish during their outing. The anglers replied, “Not really.” An inspection of their cooler revealed a 37-inch red drum, which the anglers said had just been given to them by someone else. Allen told them he had not seen anyone other than them either fishing in or leaving the area. At that point, one of the anglers assumed responsibility for the fish, and he was issued a misdemeanor citation for possession of oversized red drum and the fish seized.
While on patrol, Officer Gore was traveling behind a truck pulling a boat and trailer, when he noticed the boat trailer had no brake lights and a tag expired in 2007. Without being directed by the officer, the truck suddenly pulled over onto the shoulder of the road.
As Gore pulled in behind the truck, he activated his blue lights and the male operator exited and began walking unsteadily to the back of the truck, displaying signs of impairment. When Gore instructed the man to stand at the back of the truck, a female passenger got behind the wheel and attempted to drive away, stalling the truck.
As a result of Gore’s investigation, both the male and female operators were arrested for DUI, as well as driving while license suspended/revoked. A third passenger was arrested on a warrant for possession of undersized oysters. While conducting an inventory of the vehicle and vessel for towing, several open beer cans and an open bottle of whiskey were found. Two large monofilament gill nets were also located in the vessel. Officer Percy Cook responded to assist.
Later in the week, Officer Gore was off duty, duck hunting on Lake Wimico, when he observed a group of hunters who appeared to be taking over the bag limit of ducks. Without revealing his identity, Gore engaged the hunters in idle conversation and determined they had launched from the White City boat ramp.
The officer contacted an investigator to conduct surveillance at the boat ramp while he returned to his home to go on duty. Gore was able to make it to the White City Boat ramp before the hunters returned, and as a result of his and the investigator’s efforts, two notices to appear were issued for possession of migratory birds (ducks) without a head and wing attached and obligation to permit search. Twenty-six duck breasts were seized and placed into evidence. Two written warnings were issued for failure to properly tag migratory birds.