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Connecticut's Environmental Police Use Dogs To Catch Fish Poachers

Davis Dunavin

Last weekend, environmental conservation police in Connecticut charged a fisherman in Milford with possession of illegal fish. He allegedly had two striped bass hidden on his boat. That’s not unusual. What’s unusual is how police found the fish. It was the first time the state’s conservation police used a police dog to find suspected fish poachers.


Officer Logiodice is one of four K9 officers on staff. He says his dog, Ruger, is a pretty high-energy dog.


“Sometimes a little too high-energy, it’s tough to keep up with him,” says Logiodice. “But we look for that. Because if he has a high energy and a high drive and he wants to play, then he’ll want to find the fish, because his reward is that he gets his ball and he gets some free play time.”


They’re going to be out all summer, looking for poachers who illegally store fish, like the striped bass police found in Milford. It’s a delicacy, but there’s a strict one-per-fisherman limit in Connecticut.


Last year, police logged 715 incidents of illegal fishing in total. Captain Ryan Healy of the Environmental Conservation police says that ranges from small-time poaching like a fisherman hiding an extra catch under a rock, to more complex operations like the one Ruger was practicing.


“Sometimes on the boats we’ll get ‘em put in hidden compartments, they’ll be stowed away where life jackets would be kept instead of fish,” said Healy. "As you can see, he went to it.”

Healy says by this fall, the department also wants to train the dogs to track poachers of game like deer, turkey, and waterfowl.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.