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Natural Resources Police Handle Oyster, Striped Bass and Turkey Violations

Photo of Maryland Natural Resources Police helicopter and truck

A Dorchester County man caught illegally harvesting oysters inside a state sanctuary November by Natural 1, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources helicopter, was found guilty and fined $1,000.

Jody Daniel Jackson, 18, of East New Market pleaded guilty in Dorchester County District Court to a single count of harvesting oysters about 2.5 miles inside a sanctuary in the Little Choptank River.

Additional charges of failing to obtain a commercial license, failing to pay the harvester surcharge, failing to measure and return oysters and cultch to the original oyster bed, and multiple vessel violations were dropped as part of the April 18 plea bargain.

Jackson faces further sanctions by state regulators that could prohibit him from holding a commercial oyster license or being able to work as a mate.

A commercial inspection of a St. Mary’s County aquaculture company April 23 resulted in citations for violations of the state’s oyster regulations.

Officers checked a site on the Patuxent River and Hog Neck Creek leased by the Hollywood Oyster Co., in Hollywood. The company was cited for failing to attach state-issued tags to oyster containers before leaving the site and failing to comply with National Shellfish Sanitation Program regulations. The company also was issued five written warnings.

The charges require the company to appear in St. Mary’s County District Court. It could be fined as much as $1,000 on each citation. A hearing date has not been set.

A separate written warning was issued to a company manager for having untagged oysters March 15.

A Dorchester County waterman whose oyster harvesting privileges were revoked last year, but was appealing the decision, was charged again with harvesting during the final days of the 2017-18 season.

Officers on surveillance in Broad Creek March 28 saw the vessel, “Annie Buck,” actively harvesting oysters with a power dredge in an area designated for hand tonging only. David Bryan Phillips, 55, of Vienna was the vessel operator.

After collecting and reviewing data, Phillips was charged with the same violation that led to his revocation. He is required to appear in Talbot County District Court, where he faces a maximum fine of $2,000. His hearing date is June 21.

Stepped-up enforcement in Cecil County April 25-26 resulted in six men being charged with illegally fishing striped bass.

Jeffrey Alexander Edwards, 27, and Kyle Lee Edwards, 29, both of Chesapeake City, and Daniel Louis Ford, 52, of Warwick, Kevin Neil Ball, 19, of Elkton, and Joseph Michael Savage, 20, of Townsend, Delaware, received a single citation for targeting striped bass in a spawning area after officers saw them fishing on the Elk River near Buoy 15.

Officers saw Morgan Coy Handy, 27, of North East, fishing in the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal shoreline near Elk Forest Wildlife Management Area. He had 20 river herring in his possession when checked and acknowledged he was using the fish as bait for striped bass. Handy received citations for possessing river herring and attempting to catch striped bass in a spawning area.

The six men are scheduled to appear in Cecil County District Court July 11. The fine is $250 each.

Several days before the start of the spring turkey season, officers located a baited area on private land in Friendsville in Garrett County and a new trail camera pointed at the feed.

On April 21, before dawn, officers revisited the location, set up surveillance and began hearing a hunter using a turkey call. They charged Robert David Sims, 35, of Bruceton Mills, West Virginia with hunting with the aid of bait, and aiding and abetting a juvenile hunter, who did not have a hunting license or hunter safety certificate. He also received written warnings for hunting without permission and hunting without a secondary form of identification.

Sims is scheduled to appear in Garrett County District Court June 7. If found guilty on all counts, he faces a maximum fine of $1,250.

A Carroll County man was charged with hunting with the aid of bait and received a written warning for hunting with an unplugged shotgun on the morning of April 14.

Officers found Robert Wayne Johnson Jr., 36, of Keymar, in a blind with a juvenile at the edge of a field that contained cracked corn. Johnson said he was attempting to help the younger hunter bag her first turkey. That evening, the pair went to an un-baited field, and the juvenile was able to harvest a turkey.

Johnson is scheduled for a hearing in Carroll County District Court May 17, where he faces a maximum fine of $1,500 if found guilty.

Officers in Cecil County charged three men with illegal hunting April 18, the start of the spring turkey season.

After locating large amounts of wheat scattered in a field bordered by Maryland Line and Edgar Price roads, officers set up surveillance. At 6:30 a.m., they charged Harold Johnny Huffman, 74, of Baltimore, with two counts of using bait to aid his hunting. At 8 a.m., they charged Terry Michael Otto Sr., of Rosedale, and Martin Charles Wildt, 64, of Baltimore, with two counts each of using bait to aid their hunt. In addition, Wildt received a citation for hunting turkey with shot larger than No. 4.

All three men are scheduled to appear in Cecil County District Court June 20.

A Pennsylvania man was charged April 25 with illegally harvesting a turkey after officers found he was hunting over bait on his 25-acre property in Garrett County.

Craig Steven Durst, 57, of Salisbury, who has been hunting in Maryland for more than two decades, told officers he was unaware of regulations prohibiting baited hunting.

Durst is scheduled to appear in Garrett County District Court July 12. The maximum fine is $1,500.