Wildlife-area visitors asked to respect state’s natural resources

With the arrival of spring weather, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police are increasing patrols and monitoring state wildlife areas, fishing piers, public boat launching facilities and multi-use areas for visitor safety and compliance, as well as checking for illegal activity, such as vandalism, littering, dumping and damaging wildlife habitat.

“The public is encouraged to enjoy our wildlife, fishing and boating access areas and the unique outdoor experiences they offer,” said Sgt. John McDerby of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police. “However, as stewards of these areas for Delaware, we cannot allow the few people who do not respect our conservation mission to ruin things for the many who do. Those caught abusing our natural resources through illegal activities will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

McDerby noted that state wildlife areas, fishing piers and boat launching facilities are closed to the public from sunset to sunrise unless a person is actively and lawfully engaged in fishing, hunting or boating in accordance with state regulations and individual wildlife area rules. Individuals not meeting those requirements and found at such sites between sunset and sunrise face fines up to $100 for trespassing after hours.

Wildlife-area visitors also are reminded that it is illegal to operate motor vehicles — including motorcycles, cars, trucks and SUVs — off established roadways in state wildlife areas. Violators who cause damage will be cited for destruction of state property. In addition, operating a motor vehicle that is not licensed for use on established public roadways — including ATVs — is prohibited both on- and off-road on state wildlife areas.

The following rules also apply to all state wildlife areas, fishing piers, public boat launching facilities and multi-use areas:

• Camping, swimming, target shooting (including paintball), dumping and littering, and fires are prohibited in state wildlife areas.

• Dog training is permitted only within established dog training areas or during open hunting seasons for the game animals that the dog is being trained to hunt.

• Hunting is permitted only in specified areas and only during designated hunting seasons.

• Firearms are prohibited on state wildlife areas from March 1 to Aug. 31, except during legal hunting seasons or as authorized by the Division of Fish & Wildlife.

“Littering can be a problem, especially in many fishing areas, so please leave no trace behind and take your trash with you,” McDerby said, noting that the policy of carry-in, carry-out of trash is required in all state wildlife areas, fishing piers, public boat ramps and multi-use areas.

For more information on individual wildlife areas, including the rules and regulations specific to each area, visitors can check Delaware wildlife area maps published by the Division of Fish & Wildlife. The maps are available in hard copy at DNREC’s Dover licensing desk in the Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901. The maps also are posted online.

Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers between April 25 and May 1 made 692 contacts with anglers, boaters, hunters and the general public, including 53 vessel boardings for boating safety and fishing regulation compliance checks. Officers responded to 24 complaints and issued 17 citations.

Citations issued during the week included unlicensed hunting, hunting turkeys on a state wildlife area without required permit, harassing migratory waterfowl, hunting migratory waterfowl without required state waterfowl stamp, hunting migratory waterfowl without required federal waterfowl stamp, hunting migratory waterfowl without required federal harvest information program (HIP) number, damaging state property on a wildlife area, two citations for operating a motor vehicle off an established roadway on a state wildlife area, net-marking violation, no fire extinguisher (on a boat), four citations for possession of a firearm/deadly weapon by a person prohibited (in an incident in which a Hartly man was arrested on numerous charges), possession of ammunition by a person prohibited and operating an uninsured motor vehicle on a state wildlife area.