COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife has charged Szuch Fishery, Inc. with wildlife violations after investigators observed abuse and wanton waste of highly-prized game fish on March 31.
“This type of behavior is unexpected and unacceptable,” said Matt Leibengood, law enforcement supervisor for the division’s Lake Erie Enforcement unit. “I am proud of our investigators and officers working to protect Ohio’s natural resources.”
Division of Wildlife investigators observed and recorded Szuch employees intentionally injure a rare trophy-sized muskellunge after it was removed from a commercial fishing net in western Lake Erie. Employees were also observed removing numerous gar, a native fish important to the ecosystem, from commercial fishing nets and then breaking their spines and tossing the carcasses into the lake.
Szuch Fishery will appear in Oregon Municipal Court on charges of one count of causing intentional injury to a non-commercial fish species, 10 counts of stream littering and 10 counts of disposing of dead fish. Szuch employees Joseph Imre Jr., Holly Szuch, and Michael Szuch were each charged with one count of stream littering and one count of illegally disposing of dead fish.
If convicted, Szuch Fishery faces maximum penalties of $55,000 and a 30-day suspension of its ability to fish with commercial gear and to handle commercial fish or other fish at wholesale. The individuals face a maximum penalty of $750 and 90 days of incarceration.
Anyone can report a wildlife violation through the Turn-In-A-Poacher (TIP) Program. Wildlife violations can be reported anonymously via phone call or text at 800-POACHER (762-2437).
The mission of the Division of Wildlife is to conserve and improve fish and wildlife resources and their habitats for sustainable use and appreciation by all. Visit wildohio.gov to find out more.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.