Canine Wildlife Detective Sniffs-Out Illegal Catch

Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts and wild tales from the outdoors

May 20, 2015

A Labrador retriever that just completed training in the detection of illegally caught fish was used by Connecticut authorities last week to lead them two striped bass that did not meet minimum length requirements. This week you’ll also read some good advice for living in bear country, and much more!

Connecticut Labrador on The Trail of Fishing Violators
Dogs can be trained to detect a wide array of substances while aiding law enforcement and military personnel in searches and safety screening, and a canine in Connecticut recently proved its mettle by leading game and fish authorities to an illegal catch of striped bass.

Saydee, a Labrador retriever with special training in detecting fish (pictured at top), demonstrated the value of its new skills to Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (EnCon) Environmental Conservation (EnCon) Police, resulting in charges for fishing violations against two men on the Housatonic River in Milford.

As a result, Ronaldo Oliviera, 30, of Bridgeport, was issued a misdemeanor summons for possession of short striped bass and was also cited for fishing without a license.  He was released on a promise to appear May 21 in Milford Superior Court. Eber Macario, 60, also of Bridgeport, was issued an infraction for fishing without a license, which carries a fine of $87.

EnCon officers saw the two fishing Friday evening on the Housatonic River in Milford and stopped to conduct a fishing compliance check. The men said they had not caught any fish, but the officers dispatched Saydee, who searched the shoreline and indicated a “find” of a black trash bag tucked in a rocky embankment.

J.R. Absher
J.R. Absher

An inspection of the bag revealed two striped bass that measured only 15- and 19 inches in length. State regulations limit the possession of striped bass to one fish per angler at a minimum length of 28 inches in an effort to protect the resource.

Minnesota Agency Reveals Top 10 Fishing Violations
And speaking of fishing violations, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently revealed its Top 10 List of the most common fishing violations.

Not surprisingly, the top two categories for citations and warnings involved license violations. Other common violations included no fishing license, extra lines and over the possession limit.

Here’s the DNR Top Ten List for 2014 violations:

  1. Fishing license not in possession (194 citations, 2,443 warnings)
  2. No license (742 citations, 397 warnings)
  3. Extra lines (634 citations, 144 warnings)
  4. Improperly/not marked fish house (300 citations, 47 warnings)
  5. Over possession limit (262 citations, 47 warnings)
  6. Length or slot limit violation (139 citations, 71 warnings)
  7. Unattended/set lines (122 citations, 69 warnings)
  8. Closed season (67 citations, 33 warnings)
  9. No reflective material on fish house (9 citations, 90 warnings)
  10. Fish house left on the ice after removal deadline (58 citations, 22 warnings).

“Only a small percentage of Minnesota anglers run afoul of the law,” said Col. Ken Soring, DNR Enforcement Division director. “A majority of anglers in our state abide by the rules and regulations.”

Bear Breaks Into Car, Filches Stew
A Sandpoint, Idaho, woman learned a valuable lesson last week about living in bear country: Don’t leave food inside your unlocked vehicle or you may pay the consequences of extensive damage to its interior.

Vivian Swansen looked out her window Tuesday night and saw the dome light was on in her car.

“My first thought was, ‘Oh my God somebody’s stealing my car.’ And then my second thought was, ‘Where’s the loaded gun when you need one?” she told local television station KXLY.

Concerned about her purse, Swansen went outside to investigate.

“The door was open on the driver’s side,” she said. “So I got in the car and I looked to see if they took my purse, but my purse was still there.”

Then she noticed the condition of her car’s seats.

“I saw this big chunk of foam in between the seats and I was like, ‘What kind of a thief comes in breaks in and leaves something for you?’ So then I turned and saw the damage,” she said.

She examined the car for further clues, spotting big paw prints on all the doors and a missing Tupperware container that had been full of beef stew.

With damage to the car estimated at $5,000, Swansen said she’s learned her lesson.

“Don’t leave food in your car, don’t leave the doors unlocked,” she said.

Supreme Court Rules Felons May Transfer Firearms
The U.S. Supreme Court this week ruled unanimously that while a convicted felon is prohibited from possessing firearms, the individual retains the right to sell or otherwise dispose of them.

The case involves a former U.S. Border patrol officer, Tony Henderson, who was convicted of a selling a small amount of marijuana in 2006 and sought to sell his gun collection that included a personal firearm and antique guns. Beginning in 2008, Henderson requested that the court transfer ownership of his weapons to his wife or a third party that agreed to pay for them, on the basis that he would not possess a firearm.

The high court ruled that once an individual is convicted of a felony, his or her lawfully owned firearms may be transferred from government custody to a third party if a court is satisfied that the recipient would not give the felon control over the firearms.

Quote of the Week
“The precious old swindler did give me a scrap of philosophy I shall not soon forget. ‘Never take enough bait when you go fishing. Fish always bite best when bait is scarcest,’ he solemnly adjured me. How many times have I confirmed the profound wisdom of his utterance!”
– Havilah Babcock,
“The Earthworm Cometh”,
Tales of Quail ‘n Such, 1951

J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for You may contact him at


 (Top Photo courtesy of EnCon)




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