Monday, January 24, 2022

FWC Division of Law Enforcement – COLLIER COUNTY

Officers Futch and Reams were working a resource detail focusing on hunters taking turkey over bait in northern Collier County.  They observed fresh tire tracks on a road leading to an area known for illegal hunting activity. They located a vehicle and observed a turkey yelper (a device hunters to use to mimic the sound of a female turkey) and other hunting related items in the vehicle.  The Officers then heard a gunshot.  Officer Reams stayed with the vehicle and Officer Futch followed fresh shoe prints heading in the direction of the shot.  The shoe prints led to an area where a large amount of grain had been deposited onto the ground and several turkey decoys were in a baited area along with a turkey blind. Officer Futch walked over to the blind and observed a recently killed Gobbler (a male bearded turkey) inside the blind along with a yelper and other hunting equipment.  Officer Futch then observed three male subjects dressed in camouflage and carrying weapons. They walked up to the decoys and began to remove them from the baited area.  Officer Futch stepped out from a concealed location and stated “Hey, don’t mess with my decoys!” in which one subject replied “What are you talking about, these are my decoys!”  Officer Futch identified himself as a FWC Law Enforcement Officer and asked if the blind and hunting equipment belonged to them.  One of the subjects indicated that all of the hunting equipment and the dead turkey belonged to him.  During the interview, another subject in the group also admitted to taking a turkey over bait in another location.  Both of the subjects were issued misdemeanor citations and the third subject was issued a warning.

Officer Futch received information from a witness that a subject did not report his turkey kill to the check station after hunting in the CREW WEA (Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed Wildlife and Environmental Area). The witness was able to show the officer the area in which the subject was hunting. Officer Futch found shot gun shells and turkey feathers in the area. When Officer Futch initially spoke to the subject, he denied killing a turkey.  The witness’ wife was able to produce a text that she received from the subject in which he bragged about killing the turkey. The subject later told Officer Futch that he didn’t want to check the turkey because he wanted to come back later and kill another turkey.  The subject received a citation for failing to report killing a turkey.

Officers Johnson and White were advised by Lieutenant Shea that a vessel had been catching and keeping undersized sheepshead. While on patrol, multiple local charter captains also approached the officers with the same information.  The officers located the suspected vessel catching the sheepshead and approached it to conduct a boating safety and resource inspection.  During the inspection the captain stated that there were no fish on board. However, during their inspection the Officers found 9 undersized sheepshead buried in a bucket underneath gear in the vessel.  The captain was cited accordingly.

Officer Futch was on land patrol in the Picayune Strand State Forest during the spring turkey quota hunt, when he observed a subject dressed in camouflage and riding a bicycle with a shotgun strapped to it. Officer Futch made contact with the subject in order to conduct an administrative inspection. As the subject provided Officer Futch with the required documents (hunting license and quota permit) he detected the smell of burnt cannabis emanating from the subject.  The subject was asked if he was in possession of anything illegal and he stated “no,” but he did confess to “smoking a little bit of weed earlier.”  Officer Futch asked the subject where the contraband was located and the subject produced drug paraphernalia and a vial of marijuana from one of his pockets.  The subject received a Notice to Appear for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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