Photo courtesy of my_southborough.
It’s a long-established fact that breaking hunting, wildlife and angling laws doesn’t require the highest level of human intelligence. That said, here are our picks for the “Headline Hunter” blog’s “Dumbest Poachers of 2011.”
We all can agree poaching is dumb. But poaching on state prison property is decidedly dumber.
Three teenaged young men hailing from Lawtey, Florida, were arrested for using rifles to allegedly poach deer on state property near Raiford, Florida, on Jan. 6, 2011. The state property in question happened to be the grounds of the Florida State Prison, where the introduction and use of firearms constitutes a second-degree felony.
Beyond the obvious lack of reason and logic involved in the act, one of the three, Houston Fender, 19, had been to court just weeks earlier, charged with two counts of taking deer out of season. According to the “Lakeland Ledger” newspaper, Fender was sentenced to 1-year probation and a 3-year suspension of hunting rights by a Bradford County judge on Dec. 14.
As a result, Fender was charged with the introduction of firearms on prison property, taking deer during a closed season, hunting in a closed wildlife management area and violation of probation. The other two, Aaron Griffis and Shea Wilson, both 18, were charged with introduction of firearms on prison property, taking deer in closed season and hunting on a closed Wildlife Management Area.
Lion Poachers Treed
Authorities with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks say an online forum posting led to the arrest of four Wisconsin men who admitted to illegally hunting and killing five mountain lions in an area north of Helena over a 2-year period. The four were found guilty of a variety of charges in May 2011 and paid $5,000 in fines and restitution.
Montana game warden Kevin Cook said a tip and the Internet helped them track down Eric Steingraber, Daren Evenson, Jeremy Rosenberg, and Eric Hermansen in Wisconsin.
“We caught wind of this in December of 2009 and it finally made its way through the courts; we didn’t want to say anything until it was all wrapped up,” Cook told the “Helena Independent-Record.”
According to Cook, he and game warden Dave Loewen received a tip that several individuals from Wisconsin had been seen hunting mountain lions on private property without permission, and through their investigation managed to identify them. They discovered that one of the four also posted his version of the hunt on an online hunting discussion forum.
Along with the fines, each had their hunting, fishing and trapping licenses revoked in Montana and 36 other states for 2 years. In addition, they are restricted from applying for special licenses or permits for 7 years.
You’d think even lowlife game-law violators would know better than to post the results of their dirty deeds on Facebook. Well, they apparently don’t, and that’s why a growing number of state game agencies are successfully using the Internet to track down game and fish bandits and bring them to justice.
Authorities say convicted felon Darin Lee Waldo, 43, posted photos of his poaching exploits on his Facebook page, where he got the attention of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Internet Crimes Unit. As a result, Waldo was charged with seven felonies and six misdemeanors related to his illegal activities.
Investigators looking into Facebook posts by Waldo discovered he and friends were poaching game on Lake Marion Creek Wildlife Management Area in Polk County during closed season. Waldo is a convicted felon who cannot legally possess firearms.
“Our investigators were able to gain Waldo’s confidence over the Internet,” said Lt. George Wilson, supervisor of the FWC’s Internet Crimes Unit. Via the Internet, Waldo exchanged photographs of illegally killed game with FWC investigators, participated in chat rooms describing his actions and invited undercover agents to participate in two illegal hunts.