This week’s column takes a hard look at today’s hunting videos:
- ‘The law of unintended consequences’ kills fish yet again
- WVU’s Ginny Thrasher claims Olympic air rifle gold
- Study shows there is only one North American wolf
- Tiger at Chinese wildlife park kills one visitor, injures another
- At least the Pokemongers are doing their thing outdoors
Search this blog
In this age of instant electronic communications, it amazes me that some people haven’t yet learned to keep their illegal acts to themselves.
The latest case in point: Troy Gentry of the popular Montgomery Gentry country-music duo. An animal-welfare group has obtained a court order that allowed them to post video of Gentry taking part in an illegal bear kill.
Gentry killed the 600-pound black bear three years ago in a 3-acre pen on a Minnesota game preserve. He paid the bear’s owner more than $4,000 for the privilege of shooting it. For some strange reason, Gentry made a point of having the “hunt” videotaped, and staged the event to make it appear as if the bear had been killed in the wild.
The law caught up with Gentry when he falsely claimed to have killed the bear in a location several miles distant from the game farm. Gentry paid a $15,000 fine and lost his Minnesota hunting privileges for five years.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confiscated the video. An animal-welfare group called SHARK — Showing Animals Respect and Kindness — sued to have it released. The group won, and on Monday posted the footage on YouTube.
I’m sure Gentry believed he had put the incident behind him. Now he knows a truism we bloggers deal with daily: Seasons come and go, but the Internet is forever.
Karpowitz, director of the Utah Division of Wildlife, struck a blow for hunting ethics recently when he called up wildlife law enforcement officers and asked them to write him a ticket.
He had been hunting sage grouse on a ranch near the borders of Rich and Morgan counties. After his hunt, he discovered that he had killed two grouse in Morgan County. His permit was good only for Rich County. The border was unmarked, and Karpowitz was unaware that he had crossed the boundary until afterward.
When he found out he had crossed the line, literally and figuratively, he asked to be cited for the incident. He also wrote all 500 Division of Wildlife employees to acknowledge his transgression. This week, Karpowitz pleaded guilty to the citation’s charges and was fined $138.
In a time when public officials consistently seek to avoid responsibility for illegal, immoral or unethical actions, Karpowitz readily assumed responsibility and accepted the consequences. Good for him.
Hat tip: J.R. Absher in The Outdoor Pressroom.
Add Steve Harmon of Dunlap, Tenn., to the list of poachers done in by their own braggadocio.
After poaching a huge 24-point buck from Pyramid State Park in southern Illinois, Harmon just couldn’t contain himself. He sent cell-phone photos of the kill to some of his friends.
Later, he went and bought an Illinois buck tag. After he bought the tag, he checked in the trophy buck.
Long story short, he got caught. A Tennessee conservation officer later caught Harmon hunting in his home state without a license. He found it odd that Harmon would have an Illinois license and not have a Tennessee license. The officer did some checking and found Harmon’s cell-phone photos of the 24-pointer. He called Illinois conservation officers and learned that Harmon had purchased the buck license after the cell-phone photos were taken.
Busted! Harmon was fined and was forced to give up the mount he’d had made of the buck. The mount was recently returned to Pyramid State Park, where it will be kept on display.
The full story is here, in the Chattanoogan.
Hat tip: J.R. Absher in The Outdoor Pressroom.
The battle against wildlife poaching is a lot like an arms race. Poachers find effective methods, and law enforcement officials discover effective countermeasures.
It appears the pendulum in Africa has swung the poachers’ way again. South African authorities report a twenty-fold increase in rhinoceros poaching in that country.
It’s easy to understand why. Rhino horns, prized in Asia for alleged medicinal qualities, can sell for as much as $30,000 a pound. The average horn weighs about 5 pounds, so there’s plenty of economic incentive to poach.
The Christian Science Monitor has a complete story on the situation, and it makes for an interesting read. Disturbing, but interesting.
Are Monday’s federal charges against two Kansas deer-hunting outfitters a legitimate attempt to go after big-game poaching, or is it — as the defendants’ lawyer called it — “our tax money … being spent making federal cases out of alleged rednecks who supposedly harvest an extra deer?”
The charges center on 60 hunters who paid 3,500 to $5,000 for deer hunts at the Camp Lone Star hunting club in Coldwater, Kan. The 23-count indictment alleges that the hunters illegally killed 119 deer between 2005 and 2008. The total included 70 trophy whitetails.
The most serious charges were brought against James Butler, 41, who owns Camp Lone Star; and his brother Marlin Butler, 36, who serves as a guide at the facility.
The brothers are accused of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, a federal law that prohibits the interstate transportation of illegally killed wildlife. If convicted, the Butlers face lengthy jail terms and serious fines.
The complete Associated Press story can be found here.
Word comes from California that rocker/hunter/activist Ted Nugent has pleaded no contest to two hunting-law violations and has been fined $1,750.
According to the account in the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Nugent used a commercial deer-scent attractant during a hunt filmed for his “Spirit of the Wild” television show. That’s a no-no in California, which has strict rules about deer-baiting.
During the hunt, Nugent shot a spike buck — also a no-no. And then he failed to check the deer “at the nearest possible location,” yet another no-no. Prosecutors eventually dropped the spike-buck charge, but made the other two stick.
Reading between the lines of the news account, it appears Nugent might not have been aware that he was breaking any laws. Sorry, that’s no excuse. Uncle Ted should know by now that there’s a whole nation full of anti-gun, anti-hunting activists eager to pounce on his first slip-up.
When you’re in the public eye and you preach ethics and “rule of law,” you darned well better make yourself familiar with the laws of the places you hunt. Ted apparently didn’t, and he’s paid a price. I’m afraid, though, that the $1,750 fine he’s paid isn’t nearly as significant as the credibility he’s lost. Sadly, his enemies will beat him over the head with this for as long as he remains a public figure.
Hat tip: J.R. Absher at The Outdoor Pressroom.
Late last week, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources got its first conviction under a new law designed to protect trophy bucks from poachers. Two men, 22-year-old Mike Chapman of Aurora and an unnamed juvenile from Tucker County, were fined $2,414.80 for shooting and killing a buck out of season.
The buck’s antlers — though still in velvet — measured nearly 16 inches at their widest point. The antlers’ size allowed Chapman and the juvenile to be prosecuted under the state’s new anti-poaching law, which requires higher replacement costs for bucks with bigger antlers.
The old law required a blanket $200 replacement fee for a deer of any size. The new law requires a supplemental $1,000 fee for a buck with antlers with spreads of 14 to 16 inches, $1,500 for bucks with spreads from 16 to 18 inches, $2,000 for bucks with spreads from 18 to 20 inches, and $2,500 for bucks with spreads greater than 20 inches.
Maybe now poachers will think twice before pulling the trigger.
A Sanford, Fla., man who tried to catch an alligator he saw alongside the road has only some nasty wounds and a wildlife citation to show for his trouble.
The Orlando Sentinel has the story of Dirk Alan Willms, who no doubt regrets his choice to catch the gator and take it home. The 45-inch reptile bit Willms when he tried to pick it up by the tail and bit him again when he tried to pull it out of a roadside bush.
A neighbor saw Willms carrying the gator into his home and called the authorities. Naomii Tye, an officer for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, investigated. She wrote Willms a ticket for illegal possession of an alligator and advised him to seek medical help for the rather nasty cuts and puncture wounds he’d accumulated.
Yesterday afternoon I ventured out to shoot some photos for an upcoming feature story. I visited two Kanawha River fishing-access piers — one at the Marmet Locks and Dam and the other at the Winfield Locks and Dam.
One can always find at least a little litter at those areas, but what I saw yesterday at Marmet made my blood boil. The concrete catwalk that straddles the piers looked as if someone had exploded a litter bomb. It was impossible to walk 5 feet without passing a Styrofoam worm tub, an empty lure box, a drink cup, a tangle of discarded monofilament, a chicken liver container or some similar piece of detritus.
How much effort would it have taken for the anglers (I won’t call them sportsmen) who discarded those items to carry them back home and dispose of them? We all know the answer — hardly any. And that’s what makes the sight of litter so galling to anyone who gives half a hoot.
One thing’s for sure — I’ll be addressing the subject of littering in an upcoming Woods & Waters page in the Sunday Gazette-Mail, and chances are I won’t be mincing any words. Grrrr……