An officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) arrested a Florida Man for unlawfully harvesting saw palmetto berries after running his information and discovering multiple felony warrants out for his arrest, a release states.
According to the release, Officer Specialist Delano was on patrol at a nearby boat ramp when he observed a vehicle pull into the parking lot. The vehicle appeared to have saw palmetto berries and harvesting equipment in the back and the tag of the vehicle was facing the wrong way and was not well secured.
Officer Delano conducted a traffic stop for the license plate violation and as he approached the vehicle, he confirmed the subjects had been harvesting saw palmetto berries.
Upon asking the driver for his identification, the driver provided an ID card and stated he did not have a valid driver’s license. The subject also did not possess a valid saw palmetto berry permit and had been trespassing on nearby properties.
The improperly attached tag to the vehicle was not assigned to that vehicle, and the vehicle wasn’t registered or insured. Officer Delano ran the subject’s information and confirmed the subject had felony warrants. The subject was arrested and taken to jail for the warrants and appropriately charged for the additional saw palmetto violations.
It appears that FWC officers are cracking down hard on saw palmetto berry harvesting this year, as the felon was not the only case of saw palmetto harvesting to occur and result in charges or citations.
Officer Delano observed another vehicle on the side of the road loading bags of saw palmetto berries from St. Sebastian River State Park while on patrol. After pulling off to investigate, it was determined that the driver of the vehicle was there to pick up other subjects illegally harvesting the berries from the state park. Each subject was cited accordingly, and the berries were returned to the state park.
In Marion County, Senior Officer Campbell and Officer Roberts discovered two subjects illegally removing saw palmetto berries in a wildlife management area (WMA). During their investigations, one of the subjects was found in possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.
Citations were issued for the removal of the saw palmetto berries from the WMA, while one subject was arrested and transported to the Marion County Jail for possession of the meth and paraphernalia.
In Charlotte County, Lietenant Ruggiero observed a vehicle parked in an obscure location of a wildlife management area. He approached the driver and heard what he believed were people moving in the bushes nearby. The driver stated he was there by himself.
Ruggiero located saw palmetto berries and the driver then said he had picked the berries himself. K-9 Officer Garcia arrived on scene and deployed K-9 Jenny, who almost immediately found a backpack and located another subject attempting to crawl away on his hands and needs. Eventually, both individuals admitted there was a third subject in the woods.
After another track using K-9 Jenny, the third subject had contacted the driver, telling him he fled and was not coming back. The officers were able to determine a general location where the man might be before Officers Salem, Adkins, and Perry made their way to the location to look for him.
Officers were able to locate the subject hiding in the bushes and waiting to be picked up about three-quarters of a mile away. The subjects were charged with harvesting saw palmetto berries without a permit, harvesting palmetto berries from the management area, and interference with an FWC officer.
In Martin County, Officer Reinhardt was on Hutchinson Island when he observed a truck pulled off the road with it bed full of saw palmetto berries. He observed two subjects on private property cutting and transporting the berries to the truck.
Officer Reinhardt initiated a stop to inspect the two individual's permits. When asked, the two individuals advised they did not have any permits to harvest the saw palmetto berries, nor did they have landowner permission to be on the property.
The two individuals were given citations with mandatory notices to appear at the Martin County Courthouse. The berries were seized and returned to the property owner.
To read more actions taken by the FWC, check out their weekly law enforcement report in full here.
Article by Rachael Volpe