Maryland Natural Resources Police Report — Spring
The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) this spring issued citations throughout the state for waterfowl poaching, deer spotlighting, turkey baiting, illegal fishing and oystering, outdoor fire violations, and more.
A Montgomery County man was charged with illegal possession of river herring and hickory shad. On May 14 at about 12:25 pm, officers on patrol in the Potomac River observed two men, one of whom was carrying several large bags. Police approached the man, identified as Xinpei Yu, 45, of Silver Spring; Yu dropped his bags and both men fled in opposite directions. When officers recovered the bags, they discovered 20 river herring and a hickory shad, both of which are catch-and-release fisheries. Police found both individuals with the assistance of Montgomery County Police. Officers charged Yu and issued a summons for a mandatory appearance in Montgomery County District Court at a later date. The maximum penalty for each offense is $1,000 with additional charges potentially filed pending further investigation.
Six men face charges for illegally fishing for striped bass on Tilghman Island, Talbot County. Officers conducting surveillance May 13 found six men fishing on the south side of the Knapps Narrows Bridge, where numerous conspicuously “no trespassing” signs are posted. As officers approached the bridge, they observed five of the six males walk off the bridge, each holding fishing rods that were set up with lures used to catch striped bass. The sixth man was fishing on the west side of the bulkhead. Police located a backpack that contained five striped bass belonging to the suspects. They found an additional striped bass within the suspects’ vehicle. Police charged Elmer Antonio Villatoro Hernandez, 40, of Virginia; Jose Fermin Escobar Bonilla, 40, of Severn; Juan Villatoro Bonilla, 64,of Virginia; and Oscar Hernan Escobar Bonilla, 35, of Severn with trespassing on posted property. They face up to $500 in fines, 90 days in jail, and must appear in court. Jose Ignacio Mejia Cruz, 32, of Hyattsville and Luis Alberto Nativi, 41, of Virginia were both charged with targeting striped bass in a spawning area, trespassing, and using more than two hooks per line. They face up to $2,500 in fines and 90 days in jail if convicted.
A Washington County man was charged with hunting within a safety zone and other charges. On May 2, officers were on patrol in Clear Spring investigating illegal hunting. According to police, they previously located whole kernel corn on a property and learned that Bernard Henson, 51, shot a turkey on the same property before their arrival. Henson showed police the ground blind where he was hunting. Within the area, officers located black sunflower seeds and whole kernel corn on the ground near the blind. As a result, Henson was charged with hunting within a safety zone of the nearest residence – archery hunting in Washington County within 50 yards of an occupied building. Police also charged Henson with illegally taking or attempting to take wild turkey or black bear by the aid of bait. He faces up to $1,000 in fines if convicted. The turkey was seized and donated.
Police charged two Frederick men with hunting turkey with the aid of bait, which is illegal during all seasons in Maryland. On April 29, at 9:30 am, officers conducted a check of private property in Myersville and observed two turkey hunters, Keith Brisbane, 55, and Aldo Branham, 59, actively hunting the area. Police also located a battery-operated tripod feeder containing corn. If convicted they each face up to $1,500 in fines.
Police issued more than 100 charges against six seafood workers in St. Mary’s County for multiple violations. NRP received information about alleged illegal activity at Nelson Seafood in Hollywood; officers conducted surveillance and investigated the establishment throughout March. Officers observed three individuals participating in illegal commercial oystering-related activities, including selling and harvesting while on suspended and revoked licenses. Additionally, officers reported observing false tagging information, false oyster reporting, and storage of oysters in an unlicensed cooler facility, Police issued charges on April 20, including multiple health department violations for storage and facility licensing. Those charged were Caleb Hancock, 20; Andrew Nelson, 26; Robert Nelson Jr., 39; James Nelson, 45; Tyler Nelson, 19; and Melanie Wheeler, 43. Fines range from $350 to a maximum of $25,000 and up to one year in jail.
A Washington County man was charged with hunting turkeys with bait and a firearms violation. On April 18, officers visited a property in Clear Spring belonging to Steven Startzman, 65. Police said they found kernel corn, which is typically used to lure turkeys, around a ground blind on the property. Police also learned that Startzman hunted on his property with a shotgun capable of holding more than three rounds. In addition to receiving a charge for hunting wild turkeys with the aid of bait, Startzman was issued another charge for possessing an unplugged firearm. As a result, he faces up to $3,000 in fines. Police also gave him two warnings for failing to carry a hunting license and a secondary form of identification.
A Wicomico County man faces charges for illegally hunting a Canada goose. On April 16, police received a tip that Jacob David Emmert, 19, had shot a goose that had been nesting on a pond in Hebron earlier that evening. The next day, officers located Emmert in a vehicle traveling on Spring Hill road, and conducted a traffic stop. Emmert stated that on April 15, he was fishing at the pond and was attacked by a goose nesting, so he returned to his truck, pulled out his pellet gun, and shot the goose. He then took pictures with the goose and it into the nearby woods. He also admitted to going back to the same pond with a few friends to go fishing and attempted to shoot another goose that was nesting but ended up missing. As a result, police charged Emmert with hunting wild birds during the closed season. In addition, he faces up to $1,500 in fines.
NRP charged a Carroll County man with poaching deer after receiving a complaint about a pile of rotting deer carcasses. Officers responded to an area in New Windsor on March 14 and observed six deceased bucks. While police were investigating they were approached by John Wolohan, 22, who claimed the deer and said he had checked them in to DNR. However, officers found that he only checked in two antlered deer, at which point Wolohan claimed he thought they were females when he shot them, and checked them in as such. In Maryland, hunters can harvest two antlered deer, plus with a bonus stamp. Wolohan was charged with hunting on a property without written permission, exceeding the antlered deer limit all seasons combined, exceeding one antlered deer with less than 3 points exceeding 1 inch, and knowingly recording false harvest information. He faces up to $6,000 in fines.
NRP charged a Wicomico County man for an outdoor fire that damaged two yards and a shed. On March 7, officers responded to a residence in Salisbury in response to an unattended fire that had burned overnight during prohibited hours. According to police, Bradley Bellacicco, 67, started the fire but did not possess an open-air burning permit. The fire had spread from Bellacicco’s residence and crept within two feet of a neighbor’s residence, damaging both yards and burning down a small shed on Bellacicco’s residence, various trees in his yard, and part of his neighbor’s boat dock. Police issued Bellacicco multiple charges for improper open-air burning and he faces up to $2,000 in fines.
NRP officers charged a Westminster man with spotlighting deer in Carroll County. On March 6, officers received a tip that a truck stopped along a road, and the driver was shining a spotlight onto a nearby pasture. The tipster added that two gunshots followed. During their investigation, police identified Michael Strine Jr., 18 as being in the area at the time. Strine initially told police that he had hit a deer with his vehicle, but police located the deceased deer nearby with a bullet wound and no blunt force trauma. When confronted with this information, Strine admitted to shooting at the deer from within the truck’s cab and using a spotlight to find the deer. Officers charged him with having a loaded weapon in a vehicle, shooting from the roadway, and hunting at night. He faces up to $4,500 in fines if convicted.
Police charged two Montgomery County men for poaching deer in Frederick County. On March 6, officers patrolling the Frederick City Watershed Cooperative Wildlife Management Area observed Feddous Ahammad, 40, crouching behind a tree facing the pond. Ferdous raised his shotgun at an angle level with the ground and shot toward the pond a few moments later. According to police, they saw a bird in the pond splashing around after being hit. Suddenly they heard a volley of shots from Ahammad and Ashish Kumar Sarker, 41, across the pond. Both men told officers that they were goose hunting, but police said neither had purchased a Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp. Officers also discovered that Sarker’s 12-gauge shotgun was not plugged as required. Police also identified the bird that was shot as a mallard duck, for which hunting season ended on Jan. 31. Police seized the duck and charged both men with hunting waterfowl during closed season and hunting without a migratory game bird stamp. They both face up to $3,000 in fines.