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NRP Apprehends Oyster Poachers

Deale Island, Md.(January 23, 2012) – The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) charged five watermen, on three boats, power-dredging for oysters in the Tangier Sound Oyster Sanctuary.

On January 20, at 7:30 a.m., an NRP Officer aboard a Maryland State Police helicopter saw eight commercial boats power-dredging for oysters within the sanctuary. The Officer was able to identify and plot locations of three of the boats before they scattered among the other commercial vessels working outside the sanctuary.

NRP charged the following individuals with oystering in an oyster sanctuary;

  • John Earhart III, 32, and Jason Abbott, 30, both of Princess Anne, aboard Miss Terry.
  • David Wheatley, 47 from Deale Island, and Stephen Webster, 58 from Wenona, aboard Just Faith.
  • Daniel Benton, 49 from Deale Island, aboard Chantilly Lace.

Under Governor Martin O’Malley’s leadership, increased law enforcement is part of an overall effort to deter poaching and toughen penalties for those who violate fishing laws in Maryland, under the Fisheries Management Reform Act of 2007. A noteworthy part of this effort is the launch of fresh enforcement initiatives and enhancements including the installation of a network of radar and camera units to assist the NRP in monitoring sensitive areas that are prone to poaching. DNR, the Office of the Attorney General and the District Court of Maryland have also expanded a successful program that sets aside specific days to try only cases dealing with natural resources violations.  

For a glimpse at how the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster population was regulated in the 1870s, visit This recently discovered report was written by Commander Hunter Davidson addressing status of the oyster to the legislature.

Note: If you choose to use an acronym, please refer to the Maryland Natural Resources Police as “NRP.” Thank you.

   January 23, 2012

Contact: Sgt. A.A. Windemuth
410-260-8003 office | 410-713-8449 cell

The Maryland Natural Resources Police is the enforcement arm of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). With an authorized strength of 247 officers and a dedicated staff of civilian and volunteer personnel, the NRP provide a variety of services in addition to conservation, maritime and law enforcement duties throughout the State of Maryland. These services include homeland security, search and rescue, emergency medical services, education, information and communications services on a round the clock basis. NRP is the only police force aside from the Maryland State Police that has statewide jurisdiction.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages nearly one-half million acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at