Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

Four-year-old shot, killed while fishing

Such a shame. Such a waste.

From the Associated Press:

OSSIAN, Ind. (AP) — A 4-year-old boy who was fatally shot while fishing with his father in northeastern Indiana was struck in the head by an errant bullet, a sheriff and a family friend said.
Wells County Sheriff Monte Fisher told The Associated Press on Sunday that Jacob Michuda was shot in the head late Friday night while he and his father were fishing from a pier at a pond outside Ossian, a rural community about 15 miles south of Fort Wayne.
Trisha Ulmer told The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne for a Sunday story that the boy’s mother told her the boy was shot in the temple.
Fisher said an autopsy was performed Saturday.
Forty-six-year-old neighbor Bruce Pond was being held without bond on a preliminary charge of reckless homicide and due to appear in court Monday. Fisher told the Bluffton News-Banner alcohol was involved and Pond apparently shot at a light on the pier where the father and son were fishing.
“I think it was just a freak accident,” Ulmer said.
Police and medics were called to the scene at 11:07 p.m. Friday. Police said an ambulance took the boy to a hospital in Fort Wayne, where he was pronounced dead at 3:12 a.m. Saturday. Police arrested Pond later that day.

357 sharks poached from Galapagos reserve

AP Photo

Nothing is sacred anymore. From the Associated Press:

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Ecuadorean authorities say they have seized 357 dead sharks from a boat that was fishing illegally in the protected waters of the Galapagos Islands national park.
The government news agency says criminal proceedings will be pursued against the crew of the Ecuadorean fishing boat. The report says the boat was detained Tuesday southeast of Genovesa island inside the marine reserve.
The Galapagos area has been a United Nations natural heritage site since 1979 because of its unique marine and land species. It is prohibited to catch, sell or transport sharks in the reserve.

A hard-time sentence for deer poaching

You poach, you lose

An Oregon judge has figured out how to keep two convicted deer poachers out of the woods. For the next four years, 60-year-old Rory Donoho and his son — 37-year-old Shane Donoho — will spend the deer season in jail. They’ll also have to pay $62,000 in restistution to the state, and will be barred from hunting for life.

If the sentences seem harsh, consider that the two pleaded guilty to more than 130 poaching-related charges. Between them, they admitted to killing more than 300 deer during the past five years.

Their four annual 90-day sentences will begin Oct. 1, the first day of Oregon’s deer season. For a poacher, spending deer season in jail has to be the very definition of hard time. Kudos to the judge for handing down such a clever and creative sentence.

The full story is here, in the Eugene Register-Guard.

Hat tip: J.R. Absher in The Outdoor Pressroom.

Hand-feeding bears? Baaaad idea!!!

Don't feed the bears!

Authorities in Colorado are looking for two people who were seen hand-feeding cheeseburgers to a trio of dumpster-diving black bears.

The incident occurred at a Burger King restaurant in Eagle. The bears — a sow and her two cubs — were rifling through trash, and their activity drew a crowd. According to witnesses, at least two people approached the bears and hand-fed them burgers.

The full story is here, in the Denver Post.

Feeding bears is illegal in Colorado. Hand-feeding bears is insane. No matter how tame they might appear, bears are large, powerful, unpredictable wild animals. One wrong move could trigger an attack.

It took a similar incident to get bear feeding banned in West Virginia. Bears used to gather at a Cabin Creek trash dump every evening, and folks came out to watch. Some of the people started tossing food to the bears. Eventually, the bears began approaching people, and the people responded by extending their hands and letting the bears take the food from them.

The situation got out of hand one evening when the parents of a baby dipped the baby’s hand in a jar of honey and held the baby’s hand out to let a bear lick the honey off. Someone videotaped the incident. When the video was shown to members of the state Legislature, it took about 12 seconds to get an anti bear-feeding bill drawn up and passed.

Here’s hoping the people who violated the law in the Colorado incident are found and fined.

Eagles eerily absent this year

Hurtin' in W.Va.

For the past four years, part of my summer vacation has been spent on rail tours of West Virginia’s South Branch valley, particularly the 5-mile section known as “The Trough.”

There are no roads into the area. The only ways in are by rail or by canoe. The scenery is spectacular. The fishing is great.

The best things about those trips, though, was the number of bald eagles I saw. In five trips through The Trough, I averaged seeing seven to eight eagles per trip.

Until today.

My family and I took a dinner train from Moorefield through The Trough to a whistle stop called Sector and back. Along the way we saw exactly one eagle.

If this had been an ordinary year, I’d just pass the lack of eagles off to happenstance. This year, though, has been a rough one for Mountain State eagles. Since spring, four have been shot and killed. Two of those birds were found in or near The Trough.

This raises a question: Has someone declared war on West Virginia’s eagles? I certainly hope not.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the kills. Here’s hoping they find the perpetrators — and bring the full weight of the federal Bald Eagle Protection Act to bear against them.

Brag on Facebook, get busted for poaching

The hammer drops again

You’d think they’d learn.

Once again, poachers who posted illegal kills on Facebook have been busted. From the Associated Press:

Officials say a Facebook posting spotted in Mississippi led to the conviction of two men for multiple hunting violations in northwest South Dakota. 

The Game, Fish and Parks Department said it started an investigation based on a tip from a wildlife conservation officer in Mississippi.

Authorities said they confiscated 10 deer taken illegally in South Dakota. Two Mississippi men pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of big game and violations of a federal wildlife law.

The GF&P says the two paid nearly $20,000 in fines, costs and restitution and received suspended jail sentences.

Editorial comment: Morons.

Poaching case leads to prison, big fines

Hammer drops on poachers

A Texas hunting guide has been sentenced to more than 3 years in prison and has been fined $50,000 for his role in alleged deer-poaching activity in Kansas. The man’s brother, also implicated, received a 27-month prison and was fined $20,000.

James Bobby Butler, 41, of Martinsville, Tex., got the stiffer of the two sentences, as outlined in this release from the U.S. Department of Justice. The Topeka Capital-Journal has the story of the sentence his brother, 36-year-old Marlin Jackson Butler, received.

Both men had earlier pleaded guilty to federal Lacey Act violations. Both apparently disagreed with the severity of their sentences, because both reportedly plan to appeal.

Kalashnikov AK-47

It wasn’t the gun that got Kyle Edwards in trouble. It was when and how he used it.

Edwards, 21, of Tampa, Fla., purchased a semi-automatic AK-47 at a gun show and apparently was eager to try it out.

Did he set up a paper target to test the rifle’s accuracy? Nooooooo. According to investigators for the state wildlife commission, Edwards went out and shot an alligator and a deer — both out of season.

He might have gotten away with the illegal kills had he not posted pictures of them on Facebook.

The St. Petersburg Times has the amusing details.

Somewhere in Russia, Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK-47,  is spinning in his grave — no doubt chagrined that someone so utterly idiotic had gotten hold of one of his rifles.

UPDATE: OOPS! I should have said “Kalashnikov would be spinning in his grave — if he weren’t still alive.” Seems that ol’ Mikhail, a tank sergeant in the Soviet Army during World War II, hasn’t yet shuffled off this mortal coil. My apologies to the 91-year-old Mr. Kalashnikov — and my sincere thanks to alert reader Glenn for pointing out the gaffe.

Feds hit deer breeder with $1.5 million fine

Whoa. Federal officials are taking a seriously no-nonsense attitude toward the illegal transportation of wildlife. In Texas, a 77-year-old deer breeder has been fined $1.5 million for it.

From the U.S. Attorney’s office for Texas’ Eastern District:

TYLER, TX –  After a lengthy four year investigation a 77-year-old Cherokee County, Texas licensed deer breeder has pleaded guilty to illegally transporting wildlife in the Eastern District of Texas and then lying about it to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife agent, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.
Billy Powell pleaded guilty on June 14, 2011, to the felony offense of smuggling at least 37 whitetail deer, over a 3 year time span, from Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio into Texas in violation of state and federal laws. Powell also admitted that he made a false statement and submitted a false document to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife special agent who was looking into the matter. Powell has agreed to pay a $1 million fine, to be deposited into the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Lacy Act Reward Fund, as well as $500,000.00 in restitution to Texas Parks and Wildlife, on his sentencing date. Powell’s agreement with the government calls for Powell to serve 3 years probation with six months of home confinement which will be monitored with an electric anklet. During the term of probation, Powell will be prohibited from participating in any manner in commercial deer breeding. Additionally, Powell must forfeit any illegally imported deer, any progeny of those deer, and any biological material derived from said deer, which would include any semen, antlers, mounts, and cloned deer. Powell has already forfeited over 1,300 straws of frozen semen valued at approximately $961,500.00 to U.S. Fish and Wildlife.
According to information presented in court, on at least four separate occasions, spanning from October 2006 through June 2008, Powell knowingly imported at least 37 live whitetail deer, many of whom came from captive deer farms in Ligonier, Indiana, into the state of Texas and to his “5-P Farms”, high fenced deer breeding facility in Cherokee County Texas. These deer included bucks known as “Fat Boy” aka “Barry”, “Silver Storm” aka “Hit Man”, “Y 009”, “Eagle Storm” aka “BJ”, “Thunderstruck”, “High Five”, and “Primer” aka “Spikes”. At all times Powell knew that Texas law prohibited any person from possessing a deer acquired from an out-of-state source. In spite of this, Powell agreed to participate in the above-described transactions in which whitetail deer would be secretly transported from Illinois, Indiana, and/or Pennsylvania, to Texas in order to evade Texas laws and regulations.
Powell acknowledged that the fair market value of all of the illegally imported, whitetail deer exceeded approximately $800,000.00, that the value of the illegally accumulated white-tailed deer semen exceeded approximately $961,000.00, and that the value of the progeny exceeded approximately $290,000.00.
Powell further admitted that he lied to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Special Agent during a voluntary statement at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tyler, Texas. Powell told the agent that he had illegally imported approximately 35 white-tailed deer into the state of Texas when in fact he knew that he had illegally imported no less than 41 white-tailed deer, including 6 white-tail deer fawns. During the same statement, Powell also submitted lists identifying 35 white-tailed deer as the total number of white-tailed deer that he had illegally imported into the state of Texas when he knew that he had actually illegally imported no less than 41 white-tailed, including 6 white-tail deer fawns.
Findings of the investigation also prompted the Wildlife Division of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to conduct an epidemiological investigation in consultation with veterinarians and wildlife disease experts from Texas Animal Health Commission, Texas Department of State Health Services, and Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and accredited veterinarians actively involved in the deer breeding industry. This process was carried out in three separate phases. Ultimately all 334 deer contained in Powell’s deer breeding facility were euthanized to facilitate testing for chronic wasting disease (CWD) and bovine tuberculosis (TB). This process was necessary in order to provide an acceptable level of assurance that neither disease was prevalent in Powell’s deer breeding facility nor in any deer breeding facility that had received deer from Powell’s facility since October 2004.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has had an intensive CWD surveillance program since 2002, and this disease has yet to be detected in Texas. Likewise, bovine tuberculosis has not been detected in any Texas deer population. However, illegal entry of white-tailed deer from other states poses a serious risk of introducing these diseases and others into Texas. Introduction of these diseases into Texas could have a detrimental impact on the longtime cultural tradition of deer hunting, which generates an estimated $1.2 billion in retail sales and has a total economic output of more than $2 billion in Texas each year. Disease monitoring is also necessary to protect legal deer breeding activity from risk of disease exposure. Furthermore, bovine tuberculosis could have a significant impact on the Texas livestock industry. Prevention is the most effective tool to combat diseases because once established in wild populations, these diseases are extremely difficult, if not impossible to eradicate.
Since no live-animal test for CWD exists, TPWD consulted with trained experts to ensure the most humane euthanasia method and treatment of the animals was used. Texas Parks and Wildlife officials are presently awaiting the test results for the tissue samples submitted to the Texas Veterinarian Medical Diagnostic Laboratory located in College Station, TX
This case was investigated by the Special Operations Unit of the Texas Parks and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Noble.

Hat tip: J.R. Absher in The Outdoor Pressroom.

If you’re planning to go boating between June 24 and 26, you might want to go light on the booze.

From the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources’ Law Enforcement Section:

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Natural Resources Police Officers with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) will participate in Operation Dry Water and will be out in force June 24-26 looking for boaters whose Blood Alcohol Content exceeds the state limit of .08 percent. Operation Dry Water will include increased patrols, breathalyzer tests, and checkpoints as well as boater education.
“We intend to stop intoxicated boaters and to educate as many boaters as possible about the hazards of Boating Under the Influence (BUI),” said Lt. Tim Coleman, DNR’s State Boating Safety Program coordinator. DNR has added six additional patrol boats to its fleet this year and will be patrolling all major rivers and lakes during the boating season.
A boat operator or passenger with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit runs a significantly increased risk of being involved in a boating accident. When impaired by alcohol, boating accidents are more likely and more deadly for both passengers and boat operators, many of whom capsize their vessel or simply fall overboard.
BUI is a primary contributing factor in nearly one in five boating fatalities nationwide, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Five boating-related fatalities have been recorded in West Virginia in 2011.
Operation Dry Water, a multi-agency, education and enforcement initiative launched by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA ) in 2009 in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, puts thousands of local, state and federal marine law enforcement officers on the water nationwide the last weekend in June to give BUI enforcement high visibility during the peak boating season.
“There will be arrests this weekend, and some boaters will face the consequences of boating under the influence,” said Lt. Coleman “We want recreational boaters to enjoy themselves, but there will be zero tolerance for BUI.”
Operation Dry Water is a joint program of the West Virginia DNR, NASBLA, the U.S. Coast Guard and several local law enforcement agencies.
For more information, visit http://www.operationdrywater.org.