We all agree that persons who blatantly break wildlife laws should be punished to the fullest extent of the law, and a particularly heinous case last week in Colorado should be met with disgust by every dedicated and ethical hunter.
According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, four South Carolina men were arrested September 7 for violating a variety of Colorado’s wildlife laws, including the use of poisons and toxicants with their archery equipment, hunting black bears over bait, hunting after legal hunting hours, and illegal possession of big game.
Appearing in Mesa County District Court in Grand Junction on September 10 were George R. Plummer, 51, and Joseph Nevling, 50, both of Timmonsville, S.C., James Cole, 50, of Sumter, S.C., and Michael C. Courtney, 25, of Florence, S.C.
According to Michael Blanck, district wildlife manager for the Colorado agency, Plummer told investigating authorities he’d been returning to the same leased cabin near Collbran, CO, and using drugged arrows to kill a variety of big game since the late 1980s.
“It’s hard to say how many animals they’ve taken illegally,” state wildlife investigator Rich Antonio told Judge Arthur Smith in court.
The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported that under terms of their plea agreements, the four received “several thousands of dollars in fines and court costs,” and lost their hunting privileges in Colorado and the 38 states belonging to the Interstate Wildlife Violator’s Compact for 4 years. Frankly, I wouldn’t have complained about a harsher sentence.
“You ought to be ashamed of yourself,” Judge Smith told one of the defendants during the sentencing. “This isn’t hunting. This is just going out and killing things.”
Although illegal, the use of toxicant-holding pods located behind a broadhead is nothing new, and it was the subject of a controversial book, The Bowhunting Alternative, published by Adrian Benke in 1989. The pods are filled with paralysis-causing muscle relaxants such as succinylcholine chloride, so the targeted animal is killed or quickly incapacitated despite where an arrow impacts its muscle tissue.
“They were guaranteeing themselves a kill by the use of a toxicant, and certainly that’s not what we consider to be ethical and fair hunting. It doesn’t fall into the tenants of what we call fair chase,” said Parks and Wildlife Officer Mike Porras.
Perhaps the most disturbing part of the September 10 hearing was the reaction by one of the four men, who not only totally lacked remorse, but literally thumbed his nose at the law.
“Back in South Carolina, everybody hunts with (drugged arrows),” said James Cole, calling the illegal method as an “insurance policy” that works for all types of game.