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FWC Law Enforcement Weekly Report (NORTH CENTRAL REGION)


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 Officer Shearer was on water patrol in Duval County. While conducting a fisheries inspection of a vessel, he observed a cooler containing black sea bass and other unregulated fish.  Upon further inspection, he discovered a small goliath grouper at the bottom of the cooler.  The individual stated the fish was 20 inches long and big enough to keep.  A records check of the individual revealed he had been cited in the past for numerous fisheries violations.  While Officer Shearer was issuing the individual a notice to appear for the violation, he recognized the man from approximately a year earlier, when he arrested him for felony driving a vehicle while permanently revoked due to driving under the influence (DUI) manslaughter.


Lieutenant Thompson was on water patrol in Duval County.  He was conducting a fisheries inspection on a vessel and discovered one of the subjects did not possess a valid saltwater fishing license.  The individual was issued a citation for the violation.  Approximately one-half hour later, dispatch contacted Lieutenant Thompson and advised the subject had a possible warrant for delivery of marijuana.  Lieutenant Thompson remembered from the stop the individuals had stated they were camping on an island in the area.  He was able to return to the area, locate the campsite the individual was at and arrest him for the felony warrant.

In June 2013, Officer Griffis received information from Officer Sweat about an individual possibly attempting to harvest a gator from the Boggy Creek Bridge in Callahan. Officer Griffis arrived on scene and found the individual to be in possession of a gator, for which he was issued a notice to appear citation. Officers Blackburn and Waldo were also present to assist. The individual plead guilty, received 12 months probation, $1,273 in fines and 100 hours of community service with the Humane Society.


While conducting an inspection on a subject bow hunting on private land, Officer LaRosa discovered 149 marijuana plants of various heights growing behind a mobile home. Officer LaRosa contacted the Bradford County Sheriff’s Officer who responded to the scene. The Bradford County Sherriff’s Office conducted an investigation which resulted in the arrest of two individuals.


Officer Waltman was dispatched to Camp Blanding Wildlife Management Area (WMA) check station #1 in response to a report of an illegal deer being taken. Upon arrival, Officer Waltman interviewed the hunter who stated that after taking the forked-horned deer with a bow, he realized it did not meet the area requirements. Camp Blanding regulations require that antlered deer taken in the archery and still-hunt areas must have at least one antler with three or more points, each point one inch or more in length. Officer Waltman cited the hunter with taking an illegal deer. The deer was seized as evidence.


 Several Officers participated in a special detail aimed at curbing the illegal harvest of oysters in the Levy County area. Officers Wiggins, Butler, Lamar, Johnston, Jenkins and Lieutenant Umhoefer participated in the effort which entailed waterborne surveillance, marked and unmarked units and coordination of resources on the coastal gulf waters and creeks of Levy County in the area of Waccasassa Bay. The detail resulted in seven misdemeanor citations being issued for violations ranging from illegal harvest of shellfish from closed waters to possession of undersized shellfish. One subject cited during this detail had been issued a citation for the same type of violation within the previous week. This individual was placed under custodial arrest and transported to the Levy County Jail and booked into custody as a repeat offender.


Officer Dishman continued efforts targeting illegal hunting over bait in Goethe WMA and was able to locate a bait site with two lock-on hunting stands at the site. Officer Dishman returned the following morning and made contact with the individuals hunting the baited area and issued the appropriate citations. They were friends of a previously cited person that had recently committed the same offense in the same general vicinity. Through information gathered from those individuals, Officers Dishman and Jenkins were able to locate an additional site (a planted food plot) in the WMA. They surveilled the area until making contact with a hunter actively hunting over the food plot. Officer Jenkins issued the appropriate misdemeanor citations and warnings for the violations.


 Oyster harvest details in the tri-county area bring the total law enforcement actions to date up to 9 custodial arrests, 78 misdemeanor citations, 11 non-criminal infractions, 26 warnings and over 2000 man hours for 2013 in the ongoing effort to curb illegal harvest of shellfish products from Florida waters in the Citrus, Levy and Dixie County areas. This is an ongoing problem which will continue to be actively addressed.


 Officer Huff received a call from dispatch that two people had drowned in the Suwannee River just south of the town of Branford. Apparently, two elderly people had been working on a dock on the river, and were now missing. The search went on for three days before they were able to recover the bodies of the victims, down river from the location where they had gone missing. Also assisting with recovery were Major Krause, Captain Redmond, Lieutenants Bevan and Farmer, and Officers Mobley, Humphries, Boone, Cooper, Hilliard, Davenport and Pilot Joe Johnston.


 Officer Huff was on patrol working illegal night hunting on the northeast side of Madison County, when he observed a vehicle displaying a spotlight in a manner capable of disclosing the presence of wildlife. He watched as the vehicle continued to display the light across an agricultural field. Officer Huff then stopped the vehicle and discovered that there were four male subjects in the vehicle, and in between the front two passengers was a .22 caliber rifle. Officer Huff interviewed all four subjects who admitted that they were looking for deer to shoot, and that they had unloaded the rifle as soon as they saw Officer Huff’s blue lights. The rifle and rounds were seized as evidence, and Officer Huff issued all four subjects a citation for attempting to take deer at night by gun and light.