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Tag Archive | "Report All Poaching"

DNR seeks info on bald eagle death


Bald eagles are no longer endangered, but they are protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. This eagle was spotted a few weeks ago in Solon Township. Photo by J. August.

Anyone with a tip should call or text the Report All Poaching line

Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers are asking for citizen assistance with an investigation into the death of a bald eagle in Mecosta County.

On Thursday, March 1, conservation officers were called to the vicinity of 20 Mile Road near Grant Center in Grant Township, where the mature bald eagle was discovered. The bird was lodged in the limbs of a large tree near the road.

Officers recovered the eagle, which had sustained a traumatic injury. It will undergo a necropsy at the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Lansing. Lab results may be used to confirm a cause of death and provide evidence that will be critical to the investigation.

“Bald eagles are a majestic, protected species. It’s important we resolve this case and that any violators are held accountable,” said 1st Lt. John Jurcich, district supervisor for the DNR Law Enforcement Division. “The public’s cooperation often makes a positive difference in these types of investigations. We value our partnership with the communities we serve and ask that anyone with information do their part by reporting it.”

Anyone with information is asked to call or text the Report All Poaching (RAP) hotline at 800-292-7800. The RAP line is a convenient, effective way for citizens to report the illegal taking of fish or game, or damage to the state›s natural resources. The line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

An individual offering information that leads to a successful conviction may be eligible for a reward through the RAP program. While citizens can remain anonymous, they must provide their names if they wish to be eligible for a reward.

The penalty for killing a bald eagle is up to 90 days in jail, a fine ranging from $100 to $1,000, or both; and reimbursement to the state of $1,500 per eagle.

Learn more about eagles and other bird species at www.allaboutbirds.org/.

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Report fish and wildlife observations


 

Use the Eyes in the Field app 

The Department of Natural Resources invites Michigan residents to contribute to conservation efforts by reporting their fish and wildlife observations with the new Eyes in the Field application. Available at michigan.gov/eyesinthefield, the application replaces 15 separate observation forms the DNR had been using to gather important information about the state’s fish and wildlife populations.

“Observation is a key part of managing Michigan’s diverse natural resources, and we rely on the public as additional eyes in the field to help in our monitoring efforts,” said Tom Weston, the DNR’s chief technology officer. “This new application is a one-stop shop where citizen scientists can report what they observe while spending time outdoors.”

Eyes in the Field includes forms for reporting observations of diseased wildlife, tagged fish, mammals such as cougars and feral swine, fish such as sturgeon, birds such as wild turkeys, and reptiles and amphibians such as eastern massasauga rattlesnakes. Additional observation forms will be added in the future.

The application is mobile-friendly, so it will work well on any device – smartphone, tablet or desktop computer – and is compliant with federal Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility guidelines.

To report their data, users select an observation location point on a map and submit other details, including habitat type and appearance of the animal, depending on the type of observation. Observers also can submit photos, videos and audio files through the application.

It’s important to note that Eyes in the Field does not replace the DNR’s Report All Poaching (RAP) hotline (800-292-7800). The RAP hotline – now accepting text messages, which may include photos, in addition to telephone calls – is a toll-free, 24-hour, seven-days-a-week number that enables the public to report violations of fish and game laws, as well as other natural resource-related laws. The DNR also offers a web-based RAP form, which is available via a link from Eyes in the Field.

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Duck poachers sentenced in Ottawa County


Nearly 60 mallards and wood ducks were shot illegally Oct. 9 in Ottawa County. Four men from that area were sentenced in the case last week. Photo from Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Nearly 60 mallards and wood ducks were shot illegally Oct. 9 in Ottawa County. Four men from that area were sentenced in the case last week. Photo from Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Four Ottawa County men ticketed recently for poaching nearly 60 wild ducks from a private agricultural pond near the Grand River watershed were sentenced last week in district court.

Tyler John Meerman, 24, of Conklin, Colson Thomas Modderman, 22, of Wyoming, Justin Allen Beckman, 20, of Coopersville, and Michael Duane Sorenson III, 20, of Marne pleaded guilty Tuesday, December 13, and were sentenced the same day in Ottawa County District Court.

The convictions resulted from an October 9 incident, near a popular waterfowl hunting area in Chester Township, which is situated in the northern part of the county. A total of 58 ducks were killed.

“These four individuals used over 200 pounds of corn to illegally entice these ducks in for the kill,” said DNR conservation officer Dave Rodgers. “The men were not using decoys or duck calls and therefore were not hunting, but rather, they were poaching.”

The use of bait for duck hunting is not allowed. The ducks poached included 35 wood ducks and 23 mallards, including 13 mallard hens.

Of the six ducks allowed in a daily bag limit, hunters can shoot four mallards, only two of which may be hens. Only three wood ducks may be harvested per hunter.

The four men were each ordered to pay $5,000 reimbursement, plus a $10 judgment fee. This total of $20,040 will go into the State of Michigan’s Fish and Game Fund, which is used to support healthy populations of fish and game through various activities, ranging from fish stocking to improving wildlife habitat.

In addition, the men were each ordered to pay $880 in fines and costs to the court. They were sentenced to serve 18-month probation terms, in lieu of 90 days in jail. If the men violate any condition of their probation, they will serve jail time at the discretion of the judge.

The convicted poachers have lost their hunting privileges for the rest of this year and the next 3 years. The firearms they used in the incident were condemned by the court and will go to state auction this spring, with proceeds going to the Fish and Game Fund.

“The citizens of Michigan play a vital role in protecting Michigan’s natural resources,” said Lt. Gerald Thayer, DNR District 7 law enforcement supervisor. “We very much appreciate the call that came in on October 9 to report these poachers.”

Operators of the DNR’s Report All Poaching (RAP) line received the call at 7:38 a.m. that day, reporting an immense amount of shooting during the opening of the South Zone waterfowl hunting season.

Minutes later Rodgers and conservation officer Chris Simpson responded, headed for Chester Township. Rodgers said he found the four men on private property along an agricultural pond. He saw them shooting at crippled ducks on the water and gathering them.

One of the men left the area, but was located by Simpson during a traffic stop. Officers said he had a loaded firearm in the vehicle.

The ducks confiscated will be used at the DNR Law Enforcement Division’s Waterfowl Training School for training new officers on duck identification and necropsy studies.

Any ducks not used for this purpose will be donated to the Braveheart Raptor Rehabilitation Center in Twin lakes to help feed injured birds of prey, including bald eagles.

The DNR’s toll-free Report All Poaching (RAP) line number is 800-292-7800. Tips may be left anonymously.

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DNR offers reward in Houghton County wolf poaching case


 

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is offering a Report All Poaching (RAP) reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual who shot a gray wolf in Houghton County Saturday, November 19.

The shooting took place along M-26, one half-mile south of Twin Lakes.

DNR conservation officers said the shooter’s vehicle would have been parked along the west shoulder of M-26, heading southwest. The shooting took place sometime between the hours of 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. EST.

“The subject shot from the vehicle and struck the wolf as it was standing on the snowmobile trail (Trail No. 3) to the west of the highway,” said Sgt. Grant Emery of the DNR’s Baraga Field Office.

OUT-Wolf-poaching

Gray wolves are a federally endangered species and are protected in Michigan. Wolves cannot legally be killed except in the defense of human life.

The maximum penalty for poaching a wolf is 90 days in jail or a fine of up to $1,000, or both, plus reimbursement of $1,500 to the state for the animal. Poaching convictions also usually include a suspension of hunting privileges for a period of four years.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Marquette DNR District Office at 906-228-6561 or the Report All Poaching line at 1-800-292-7800. All information provided is confidential.

For more information about gray wolves in Michigan, visit the DNR’s webpage at: www.michigan.gov/wolves.

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Cubs survive illegal black bear killing in Oceana County


 

Arraignment date set for Ottawa County man

Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists say the recent illegal killing of a female black bear, which had three cubs with her, has aroused great public interest.

With the help of the public, DNR conservation officers were able to present a case to Oceana County Prosecuting Attorney Joseph Bizon. On Thursday, October 1, Bizon issued a warrant, charging a 27-year-old Ottawa County man with the unlawful taking of the bear.

Biologists said the cubs have a good chance of surviving on their own, but they would have been better off had the sow accompanied them through the rest of the fall, and selection of a winter denning site.

“Fortunately, in this situation, these cubs were born in early 2015,” said DNR bear specialist Kevin Swanson, in Marquette. “Cubs at this age can already be the size of some yearlings and they understand how to collect food for themselves.”

The bear, killed Sept. 23, in the Ruby Creek area of Oceana County’s Colfax Township, was an animal DNR biologists had been studying. It had blue tags in each of its ears.

“This sow was also radio-collared,” Swanson said. “We had been tracking her, and her young were of good size.”

Shooting a collared study bear is not illegal but killing a female bear accompanied by bear cubs is.

Bizon said the name of the man charged in the warrant is being withheld pending his arraignment at 10 a.m. Oct. 14 in Oceana County District Court in Hart. On Saturday, the man turned himself in at the Oceana County Sheriff’s Department and was released after paying 10 percent of a $2,500 bond.

The charge is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail, $1,000 in fines, $1,500 restitution and revoking of hunting privileges for the remainder of the year of conviction and three years subsequent.

“This incident, involving the taking of an illegal bear during our bear season, was the direct result of citizen involvement assisting our conservation officers, with critical information that allowed for a rapid investigation, and collection of evidence,” said Gary Hagler, chief of the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division “Our officers benefit greatly when citizens take action, coming forward with accurate and timely information related to fish and wildlife violations.”

Lt. John Jurcich of the DNR’s Cadillac office said expanding bear populations are of great interest in this area to hunters and non-hunters alike. In this case, the illegal taking of a sow with cubs, that was frequently observed in the area by residents, and had been the subject of research by the department, prompted residents to step forward with valuable information.

“The investigation revealed that the hunter who was licensed to hunt bear in the Baldwin Unit had prior knowledge of the sow, with cubs, coming into his bait location, based on trail camera photos of this very distinctive collared bear,” Jurcich said. “On the evening the bear was taken, information further indicates the hunter witnessed the cubs prior to his decision to take the bear with archery gear.”

Jurcich said investigating officers were told the bear was taken at a distance of 15 yards with a compound bow. The hunter registered the bear as required by law and DNR wildlife division staff recovered the radio collar at that time.

DNR officers recovered the cape of the bear during their investigation near Port Sheldon in Ottawa County. The carcass of the animal will be donated for food.

To report violations to the DNR, call the Report All Poaching (RAP) hotline at 1-800-292-7800, or use the RAP online form. Incidents may be reported confidentially. The RAP line is staffed 24 hours each day.

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Man suffers injuries in black bear attack


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The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced that a 46-year-old man was injured Thursday evening, September 17, in a suspected attack by a black bear in Greenwood Township, Clare County. The man was treated for minor injuries at a local hospital and released.

At approximately 7:30 p.m., the man was alone in a ground blind, hunting for porcupine. The man said a black bear came from behind, knocked him over and attacked him. Using his hunting knife, the man stabbed the bear, which scared it off. The bear is thought to be injured.

The DNR was informed about 45 minutes later. Sgt. Jon Wood spoke with the individual and advised him to seek medical attention. The DNR’s Law Enforcement Division is continuing to investigate the incident.

OUT-Bear-attack-Clare-County-webThe DNR is placing a bear trap in the area. The DNR is asking the public to be mindful of the department’s efforts to capture the bear. If a bear is sighted in the area of Greenwood Township where the incident occurred, please contact the DNR’s Report All Poaching (RAP) Hotline, 800-292-7800.

Michigan has an estimated black bear population of 8,000 to 10,000 bears, with 90 percent of the population in the Upper Peninsula. Bear frequent locations in this area of Clare County, where this attack occurred.

The DNR reminds the public that black bears are generally fearful of humans and will usually leave if they become aware that people are present. Here are some important facts to remember when you are in an area where bears may be present:

  • To avoid surprising bears, travel in small groups and make noise.
  • If you encounter a bear, stand your ground and then slowly back away. Do not turn away. Do not show fear and don’t run. Do not play dead.
  • Make yourself look bigger and talk to the bear in a stern voice.
  • If actually attacked, fight back with a backpack, stick, or bare hands.
  • Carry pepper spray, which has been shown to be effective in fending off bear attacks.

For additional information on living with bears, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/bear.

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RAP hotline connects conservation officers with public


Conservation Officer Terry Short uses a plat map to cross-reference information he receives from the RAP (Report All Poaching) Line dispatchers while on patrol during deer season in Menominee County.


Conservation Officer Terry Short uses a plat map to cross-reference information he receives from the RAP (Report All Poaching) Line dispatchers while on patrol during deer season in Menominee County.

From the Michigan DNR

The sign—Law Enforcement Communications Section—is as nondescript as the standard office door on an unadorned white wall deep within the recesses of Constitution Hall, in the state building complex in Lansing, Michigan. But inside that secured door is a non-stop center of activity: the RAP Room.

The RAP (Report All Poaching) Room is staffed 24/7 by as many as seven personnel at a time. It is the main link between the public and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Law Enforcement Division.

The Report All Poaching hotline was created in 1980 when the state Legislature designated a small percentage of the money raised by hunting and fishing license sales toward developing an easy method for citizens to report illegal hunting and fishing activity to the DNR. It has grown into a 1,000-square-foot room, outfitted with the kind of high-tech equipment one often finds at county or state regional dispatch centers. At each of the workstations, six computer screens give dispatchers as much information as they could possibly need to direct the state’s conservation officers to the scene of a complaint—and what the COs need to know once they get there.

Lt. Steve Burton and dispatcher Jarrod Fletcher work out the details of a call to the RAP (Report All Poaching) Line.

Lt. Steve Burton and dispatcher Jarrod Fletcher work out the details of a call to the RAP (Report All Poaching) Line.

Computer screens display information on the current location of COs (through the GPS monitoring equipment on their patrol vehicles), as well as access to the state’s Law Enforcement Information Network, the state’s licensing records, the radio system, the Internet, and even the criminal history of those whom the COs contact.

“Our dispatchers try to gather the best information they can and send it to the officer as quickly as possible,” explained Lt. Steven Burton, who runs the RAP Room as part of his duties.

Each of the roughly 6,500 criminal complaints that come in by phone call or the Internet into the RAP Room each year is recorded. Some of them are so vague or untimely that nothing can be done to resolve them, but the DNR’s success rate in responding to these complaints is outstanding. So far, nearly 30 percent of the complaints (5,665 through the beginning of deer season) this year have resulted in an arrest.

“Recently, we’ve made quite a few illegal deer cases,” Burton said. “We are well upwards of $50,000 in reimbursement to the state and many of those cases haven’t been completed, as they are still under investigation.”

As many as 50 percent of the calls that come into the RAP Room do not involve a criminal complaint, Burton said. “We get a lot of calls about general rules or policy or people just seeking information,” he explained. “When people want information they often call the RAP line. We encourage these types of callers to try their local offices first, as this frees up phone lines for ongoing criminal complaints.”

“Our dispatchers are required to know all of our laws, rules and regulations—hunting and fishing, ORV, marine safety, land use—even environmental laws,” Burton said. “Lots of laws.”

The RAP Room is busiest from October through December, during hunting season, Burton said, with seasonal bumps during other periods of high outdoors activity—fish migration seasons, holiday weekends, snowmobile season, etc. Calls tend to come in most often during early-morning hours or the first hour or so after dark, he said, though they filter in all day long.

“Noon is busy, too,” Burton said. “People who don’t have cell phones and are out hunting in the morning might make their calls when they come in for lunch.” Calls also come in after people return home from work for the same reason. Dominique Clemente, a RAP Room emergency dispatch supervisor and an 18-year DNR veteran who has spent 16 years working at the hotline, calls it an interesting job. “It’s never the same day twice,” said Clemente, adding that the line receives a wide variety of complaints, including an occasional supposed Sasquatch sighting.

Sometimes it takes some coaxing to get the information they need out of callers, Clemente said. Callers are reminded to stay patient during the call as dispatchers ask very pertinent questions related to the specific crime being reported. “They want us to know about something illegal that’s going on but they don’t want to be a snitch,” she said. “I just remind them the violator is stealing from you and me.”

The Report All Poaching program also offers rewards. Information leading to an arrest for a hunting or fishing violation reported through the hotline can net a caller up to $1,500 or even more depending on the case.

Clemente said the staff’s main concern is giving the conservation officers the best information they can to help them do their job effectively and safely, though they do their best to satisfy the customer, too. In many cases, that involves answering broad questions—such as where’s a good place to fish—or advising some callers that their reported complaints are, in fact, not crimes. “The best we can do is point someone in the right direction,” she said.

As with any other office, the RAP Room is constantly changing, taking advantage of new and emerging technology. Right now, Burton said, the staff is figuring out how best to take complaints sent in by text messaging. A person sitting in a blind may not want to make the noise of the phone call, but is willing to text in a complaint. Other states have adopted this method of reporting violations and have seen a surge in contacts with the public. “I think it will increase the timeliness of our response, as well,” Burton said.

Besides interacting with the sporting public, the RAP Room also takes phone calls from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Pollution Emergency Alerting System. This line alerts the DEQ to emergency spills and releases in Michigan.

More than a dispatch center, the RAP Room is a lifeline for officers patrolling remote areas of Michigan, often participating in critical search and rescue operations involving lost children, hunters or imperiled boaters on inland waterways or the vast waters of the Great Lakes. Being a conservation officer is a demanding job. It takes focus, dedication and professionalism. Every day a primary concern of the RAP Room is to ensure that all Michigan conservation officers return safely at shift’s end to their families and communities. Those dispatchers play a vital role in Michigan’s natural resources protection team.

To report a natural resource violation, please call the Report all Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800. To learn more about the work of conservation officers or to access the online RAP reporting form, visit www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers.

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