From time to time I like to go by the office or meet up for coffee with some of the wildlife enforcement agents who are still on active duty. It’s an opportunity to catch up on the latest goings-on, and the direction in which conservation law enforcement is headed. I’ve found out as time and technology march on, the ways violators go about breaking laws change, as well as their motivations for doing so.
More and more we see serious wildlife violations committed in pursuit of a trophy deer, as retaliation against landowners on private property, or simply for the thrill of killing.
And social media is all the rage for letting your ‘friends’ know all about it, so wildlife agents now routinely view social media sites for clues.
While agents may see shifts in violation trends, some things never change. In certain circles, the spotlight and small caliber rifle used to poach at night are handed down through generations like family heirlooms. The guys who can’t resist putting out bait for migratory game birds are still doing business with the feed store. People who view the daily limit as just a suggestion are still around — and still get caught on occasion.
Let’s take a look at some wildlife violation cases from this previous fall, along with sentencing in a baiting case. All are well worth mentioning, and are a reminder that protecting wildlife resources is a never-ending job.
In early November, wildlife enforcement Sergeants Gabe Guidry and Chad Watts, along with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Refuge Officer John Tarver, cited Keith Carmouche, 34, of Marksville for allegedly taking over the limit of antlered deer, possession of illegally taken deer and failure to comply with deer tagging and harvest card requirements.
The agents received several reports that Carmouche had allegedly taken two big bucks on Nov. 1 in Lake Ophelia Wildlife Refuge. (The daily limit is one antlered deer per day.)
Carmouche was contacted at his residence. During questioning, he admitted to harvesting two bucks on Nov. 1, then tagging and transporting only a 6-point on that day. He returned to tag and transport a 14-point non-typical buck on Nov. 2; both bucks are trophy class deer.
Agents seized the two deer heads along with quartered venison in the case. If found guilty of all offenses, he faces total fines ranging from $750 to $1,800, jail for up to 230 days, loss of hunting privileges and restitution totaling $2,033.
The venison was donated to the needy, and the heads are currently being held as evidence. A court date is undetermined as of now.
A pile of deer: A bigger pile of citations
A nighttime deer killing spree led to the apprehension of two Avoyelles Parish men for multiple alleged deer violations on Nov. 19.
Brice Rodgers, 19, of Plaucheville, and Brandon Prothro, 39, of Simmesport, were cited for allegedly taking over the limit of deer, taking deer from a moving vehicle, taking deer during illegal hours, taking deer with an illegal weapon, possession of illegally taken deer and intentional concealment of wildlife. Rodgers was also cited for failure to comply with deer tagging requirements.
Agents received a report that five freshly killed deer had been dumped under a bridge in Plaucheville. Lt. John Volentine, Sergeants Gabe Guidry and Byron Cammack, Cpl. Doug Anderson, Jr. and Senior Agent Cameron Densmore investigated, and discovered information leading to the suspects.
While questioning Rodgers at his residence, agents found two more untagged deer in ice chests. Rodgers said he had killed those two deer during primitive weapons deer season, but had not tagged them as required by law.
The investigation revealed that on Nov. 16, Rodgers and Prothro allegedly went hunting at night, killing four deer with a .17-caliber rifle and one with a crossbow. The “hunting” had been conducted on public roads from a truck. The agents also learned the two men had decided to dump the deer at the bridge when they began to fear LDWF agents might be looking into their activities.
Total fines for the two range from $2,750 to $4,450 and up to 510 days in jail, plus loss of hunting privileges. Since this case involves multiple counts of some offenses, penalties may run even higher. In addition, both men face civil restitution of up to $8,123. Rodgers also has a restitution assessment of $3,249 for his alleged primitive weapons season accomplishments. This case awaits a court date as well.
Expensive duck hunt
A Dec. 16, 2017 duck hunt proved expensive for two men pleading guilty to placing bait to take ducks and hunting ducks over a baited area.
On Sept. 26, 2018, Logan A. Blanchard, 25, of Oscar, pleaded guilty to those charges before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph H.L. Perez-Montes. The plea was accepted, and Blanchard was ordered to pay a $3,540 fine and his hunting privileges were suspended for three years.
On Nov. 7, the other offender, Tyler W. Smith, 33, of St. Francisville, also pleaded guilty to those charges, plus hunting ducks without a state duck license and a basic hunting license.
Judge Perez-Montes sentenced Smith to pay a fine of $3,610 and took away his hunting privileges for two years. Agents making the case were Sergeants Lee Tarver and Charlie Ferrington, and Cpl. Eric Little.
Remember to report violations: Call Operation Game Thief at 800-442-2511, or text tip 411 at 847411. You can remain anonymous and collect a cash reward.
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