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Division of Law Enforcement
March 31, 2017 through April 6, 2017
This 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.
Patrol, Protect, Preserve
Officer Gore saw a vehicle operating in a careless manner and weaving out of its lane. During a traffic stop, it was discovered that the subject was in possession of cannabis, several different non-prescribed pills that are considered controlled substances and was consuming alcohol. He was arrested and transported to the Bay County Jail for the felony and misdemeanor charges.
Officer Hayes located two turkey blinds with cracked corn spread within 20 yards and three active feeders within 50 yards. Over the weekend, Officers Hayes and Little checked the blinds and found two subjects actively calling and hunting for turkey. Both hunters were charged with hunting turkey over bait.
Officer Allgood was on vessel patrol in the Big Lagoon when he saw a vessel on plane in violation of the idle speed zone. He stopped the vessel and spoke to the operator, noticing several signs of impairment. After performing poorly on the field sobriety exercises, the operator was arrested for BUI. The operator agreed to give a breath sample and the result was .152 g /210L. The operator was booked into the Escambia County Jail.
Officer Manning received information about illegal redfish being harvested at the Bob Sikes Fishing Bridge. As one individual was leaving the bridge, and inspection of his cooler revealed two redfish measuring 30 and 32 inches. The individual was cited for possession of oversized redfish and over the bag limit of redfish.
Officers Long and Manning were on patrol on the Bob Sikes Fishing Bridge when they stopped to speak to a group of fishermen and discovered a recently cleaned redfish. After questioning, one of the fishermen admitted to catching and cleaning the fish. The fisherman was issued a notice to appear citation for failure to maintain the redfish in whole condition.
While patrolling in state waters on board the offshore patrol vessel Guardian, Lieutenant Marlow and Officers Matechik and Nelson located a commercial shrimping vessel inside the nearshore/inshore boundary line in St. George Sound trawling with more than two shrimp nets, which is an unlawful practice. The nets also measured too large, exceeding the 500‑square foot legal limit. The nets were seized as evidence and the captain of the vessel was issued the appropriate citations and warnings for the offenses.
Officer Arnette was working private land where the landowner had been having problems with hunters trespassing from the adjoining Blackwater Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Two young subjects were found trespassing while turkey hunting. The landowner agreed to a trespass warning for the subjects, despite the seriousness of the offense of armed trespass. The young mens’ parents were contacted as well.
Officer Corbin saw a 16‑foot vessel returning from a fishing trip to a local marina off the Santa Rosa Sound near Brooks Bridge. A resource inspection revealed the operator was in possession of two undersized spotted seatrout. The operator was cited and issued a notice to appear citation.
Officers Pifer and Corbin were on vessel patrol conducting saltwater fisheries and license inspections in the Destin Pass on the east side of Crab Island and saw a vessel displaying rods and reels returning to a local marina/dock. In conversation with the owner/operator, it was determined a cobia was harvested and filleted. The officers inspected two clear plastic bags containing cobia fillets. The operator was issued a notice to appear citation for failure to land the cobia in whole condition.
Officers Pifer and Corbin were on vessel patrol conducting saltwater fisheries and license inspections in Cinco Bayou and saw two kayaks with individuals on board who were actively engaged in fishing the dock lights in the area. The officers initiated a vessel stop on the two kayaks and a resource inspection on one of the kayaks revealed three undersized spotted seatrout. The operator was issued a notice to appear citation.
Officers Pifer and Corbin were on vessel patrol conducting saltwater fisheries and license inspections in the Destin Harbor and saw a local charter boat displaying harvested fish at the Fisherman’s CO-OP. The officers saw what appeared to be undersized scamp and undersized vermilion snapper. Upon closer inspection, the scamp and one of the vermillion snapper were undersized. The operator was issued a notice to appear citation for the undersized scamp and a warning for the undersized vermillion snapper.
Officers Pifer and Corbin were on vessel patrol conducting saltwater fisheries and license inspections in Cinco Bayou and conducted a vessel stop on two kayaks actively fishing near lighted docks. A resource inspection on one of the kayaks revealed an oversized red drum, an undersized spotted seatrout, and an undersized gray mangrove snapper. The operator was issued a notice to appear citation for the oversized red drum and a warning for the undersized spotted seatrout and undersized gray mangrove snapper.
Officers Pifer and Corbin conducted a vessel stop on two kayaks actively fishing by the Cinco Bayou Bridge. On one of the kayaks, the operator did have the required U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) safety gear, a life jacket and a sound-producing device. The officers asked the operator for his saltwater fishing license and the individual stated he did not have one. The individual stated he attempted to buy one at a local vendor, but was informed his fishing and hunting licenses were suspended. The individual explained his licenses were suspended in the State of Maryland for harvesting a striped bass in a closed area. Florida and Maryland are both part of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, an interstate compact to provide reciprocal sharing of information regarding sportsman fishing, hunting, and trapping violations and allows for recognition of suspension or revocation. The individual was issued a notice to appear citation for fishing with a suspended/revoked license and two written warnings for no life jacket and no sound-producing device.
Officer Corbin was conducting state fisheries and boating safety inspections at Marler Park and saw a vessel return to the boat ramp with an expired vessel registration. The officer confirmed the operator was the owner of the vessel. The individual had been the owner of the vessel for two years, but had failed to transfer the vessel title into his name within the required 30 days. The owner issued a notice to appear citation for failure to transfer vessel title.
Officer Nichols and Investigators Armstrong and Molnar responded to a boating accident with injuries, involving two PWCs, in Joe’s Bayou. One of the PWCs collided with the starboard stern of the other, ejecting both operators. A boating accident investigation is ongoing.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
While conducting resource inspections at Archie Glover Boat Ramp, Officer Land noticed two individuals with cast nets on the dock. He approached the two men and asked if they had caught anything. One of them replied, “Just finger mullet,” as he pointed to a five‑gallon bucket. Officer Land looked in the bucket filled with mullet and upon closer inspection, discovered a 13‑inch striped bass. It is illegal to possess striped bass under 18 inches and to harvest them with a cast net. The appropriate citations and warnings were issued for the violations.
Throughout the weekend in Blackwater River State Forest, Officer Lewis issued various citations and warnings for operating a vehicle off the established road in a state forest, possession of alcoholic beverages where posted as prohibited, and possession of glass containers in and around waterways. One of the cases he made was at Krul Lake where he saw a man in possession of a glass bottle of beer. Glass containers and alcoholic beverages are prohibited in that area. A woman was sitting next to the man and smoking cannabis. When he approached the couple, the woman attempted to conceal the cannabis cigarette she was smoking but eventually gave it to the officer. Additional cannabis was seized as evidence from the woman. The man was cited for possessing the glass container and alcoholic beverage. The woman was issued a notice to appear for possession of cannabis not more than 20 grams and drug paraphernalia.
Officer Hutchinson was patrolling a primitive camping area when he saw a man and a woman walking towards a vehicle from the creek. He saw the man carrying a drug pipe and cannabis grinder. The man admitted that he and his girlfriend just finished smoking marijuana with the pipe. When attempting to identify the man and woman, the woman provided a false name. After searching the vehicle and identifying the woman by her identification that was found during the search, two active warrants for her arrest came back. Officer Hutchinson issued the man a notice to appear for the possession of cannabis and drug paraphernalia. The woman was placed under arrest and transported to jail.
Officer Jones was checking fishermen on the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier and contacted a subject who had eight pompano in his possession. The daily bag limit is six fish per day. A citation was issued with a mandatory court appearance. The illegal fish were returned to the water.
Officer Brooks checked a subject fishing on the Choctawhatchee Bay who was in possession of a legal redfish in a cooler. The subject was asked about another cooler he had in his possession and he stated it only contained his lunch. An inspection of that cooler revealed undersized redfish and gray snapper. The subject was cited for the resource violations.
Lieutenant Walsingham and Officer Greene responded to assist the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in a search and rescue on Holmes Creek. At approximately , the Sheriff’s Office received a call that a 70‑year‑old resident of an assisted living facility, who has dementia and was new to the area, walked down to Holmes Creek and had not been seen since . The banks of the creek were searched for extended distances up and down the creek, a Department of Corrections K-9 team was utilized, and the Bay County Sheriff’s Office deployed their helicopter with FLIR. Shortly after daylight, the subject was found in good condition at an elementary school a short distance from the assisted living facility.
DIRECTED CONSERVATION PATROLS
The following cases were made this past week in federal Gulf of Mexico waters.
Officers Morales, Nelson, and Pekerol stopped several vessels throughout the day. During one stop, a red snapper that was found not landed in whole condition and being used as bait. During another stop, vermillion snapper and lane snapper were found not landed in whole condition and being used as bait. The captains and occupants of those vessels were issued the appropriate citations and warnings for the offenses.
Lieutenant Marlow and Officers Fletcher, Hughes, and Richardson were on board the offshore patrol vessel Guardian when they located a vessel approximately 11 miles south of Dog Island. After boarding the vessel, the captain explained that his GPS was not working properly. A resource inspection was conducted and the officers located gag grouper on board the vessel during federal closure. The GPS worked when powered on and the individual had also marked his fishing location with a marker buoy using his GPS prior to the officers’ arrival. The captain and occupants of the vessel were issued the appropriate federal citations and warnings for the offense.
The crew of OPV Guardian located a vessel approximately 18 miles south of St. George Island. Upon the officers’ approach, the occupants reeled in their lines and the officers saw Spanish mackerel being used for bait. Upon further inspection of the vessel, the officers located bluefish and more Spanish mackerel not landed in whole condition and prepared as bait, spotted sea trout not landed in whole condition and gag grouper on board during federal closure. The vessel was also short multiple life jackets. The captain and occupants of the vessel were issued the appropriate federal and state citations and warnings for the offenses.
The crew of OPV Guardian located a vessel approximately 22 miles south of St. George Island. While approaching the vessel from several miles away, it temporarily stopped then came back on plane and headed north. Due to the rough conditions, the Guardian caught up to the vessel quickly. The officers boarded the vessel and located 14 vermillion snapper, which was over the vessel’s bag limit. The captain and occupants of the vessel were issued the appropriate federal citations and warnings for offenses.
Lieutenant Marlow and Officers Rockwell, Trueblood and Nelson, on board the offshore patrol vessel Vigilance, located a commercial vessel southeast of the Madison and Swanson Marine Protected Area. The officers boarded the vessel and during their inspection located 21 pieces of cut up regulated amberjack on three of their bait tables. The occupants admitted to failure to land in whole condition and using it for bait. The captain and crew of the vessel were issued the appropriate federal citations and warnings for offenses.
The crew of OPV Vigilance located a commercial vessel approximately 50 miles southwest of Apalachicola. The officers boarded the vessel and during their inspection located seven undersized lane snapper, two undersized red snapper and two undersized gray triggerfish. The captain of the vessel was issued the appropriate federal citations and warnings for offenses.
During other vessel stops of commercial and recreational vessels, Lieutenant Marlow and Officers Rockwell, Trueblood and Nelson, on board the Vigilance, issued multiple warnings and citations for not having the appropriate turtle mitigation gear for commercial vessels, failure to land fish in whole condition, littering, use of reef fish for bait and boating safety violations.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officers Long and Manning attended the 2017 Annual Anglers Night Outreach Event at the Pensacola Fairgrounds where more than 300 were in attendance. Numerous questions regarding resource and conservation were answered.
Lieutenant Clark coordinated with Topsail Hill Preserve State Park with an outreach event at the park. FWC Imperiled Species Biologist Moyers presented a PowerPoint presentation and a static display on sea turtles for the staff, volunteers, campers and members of the surrounding communities. The focus of the outreach event was sea turtle identification, the importance of reducing lighting at night and not disturbing nesting areas. Officer Jarvis attended the presentation. Approximately 30 people attended.
Officer Kinney attended Heritage Day at Falling Water State Park. Approximately 5,000 people attended the two‑day event, Officer Kinney answered questions and spoke with numerous groups throughout the event.