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Are You Being Watched?
A report of possible night deer poaching to Fish and Wildlife Conservation Police Officer Adam Merritt resulted in the successful prosecution of two poachers in Wantage Township, Sussex County.
Evidence was found in December leading to an investigation that continued for weeks.
On January 31, the same witness notified CPO Merritt of two people entering the woods, one carrying a crossbow, just an hour before sunset — not the time when most would begin a hunt. Within minutes after legal hunting hours ended, Conservation Police Lt. Sutton arrived to the area. The permit bow deer season in DMZ 2 was now officially closed.
Watching through binoculars, a person in a tree stand was observed with a crossbow across his lap, shining a red light onto a nearby tripod feeder. Another red light was observed in the woods nearby.
CPO Merritt arrived as backup shortly before the individuals left their stands — 2 1/2 hours after dark. When the officers made contact, one person's crossbow was still cocked with a bolt on the rail. The crossbows of both individuals had mounted lights. One individual had a loaded pistol in a belt holster. Cellular trail cameras and remote motion sensors were also found in the area.
Upon conviction, the violators, one from Garfield, the other from Lodi, were assessed $4,234 and $2,234 in penalties and court costs.
Fish and Wildlife Director Dave Golden said, “Practices like those employed by these two violators are unacceptable to legal hunters and to the non-hunting public alike. I thank the witness who first observed this suspicious activity and reported it to our Conservation Police.”
All wildlife law violations and other environmental concerns such as illegal dumping can be reported to the DEP’s emergency response line at 1-877-WARN-DEP (877-927-6337.)