By Cory Olsen
KENT COUNTY, MI — A Lowell man pleaded guilty to poaching and was sentenced in Montcalm County District Court Friday.
Jacob Powers, 25, was arraigned on the charge of taking two white-tailed deer during the closed season, the Michigan DNR said in a statement Monday.
Powers has been sentenced to pay $335 in fines and costs, $12,000 in restitution for payment to the state’s Fish and Game Protection Fund and five days mandatory minimum jail time to be served as community service.
He also faces up to five years of hunting license revocations in Michigan and 41 other states that participate in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.
This case is the first to meet the new enhanced sentencing guidelines for poaching that became law in Michigan earlier in the year.
“The tougher poaching penalties were developed last year and approved by the Legislature and governor and represent the first major changes to poaching laws in our state since 1990,” DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler said in a statement released Monday.
Recent changes to penalties increased fines in this case by $10,000 and added two years of additional license revocations. Under the new law, antlered deer are assessed an additional $1,000 in restitution plus the standard $1,000 for illegally killing any deer. Deer with eight points but not more than 10 are $500 a point, while deer with 11 points or more are assessed a penalty of $750 per point.
After receiving a call on the RAP (Report All Poaching) line on Sept. 21, DNR conservation officers Sgt. John Jurcich, Officer Cary Foster and Officer Dave Rodgers began an investigation in Lowell and Grand Rapids. They located Powers around 3 a.m. at his workplace and were able to obtain a confession to the incident.
With assistance by the Lowell City Police, the officers returned to Powers’ home to recover evidence and complete their investigation.
Officers seized two large antlered heads, meat and a shotgun used to take the animals.
They determined Powers had taken both deer himself that morning in Bushnell Township in Montcalm County while accompanying an 8-year-old boy on his first hunt.
Powers illegally tagged a deer with the Mentored Youth Tag issued to the boy and got another tag from a 6-year-old female family member before transporting the animals.
Officers also surmised Powers had captured trial camera images of the large bucks prior to hunting the area.
He was issued an appearance ticket with a court date.
Five days, later a conservation officer discovered two hides and evidence of deer processing that had been dumped in a Lowell State Game Area parking lot.
When questioned again, Powers admitted to dumping the hides and was issued an additional charge of littering on state lands.
He has yet to appear for the charge of littering.
“Concerned hunting organizations and conservation officers have noticed an increased interest and demand for large antlered deer, which are frequently targeted by poachers who trespass, hunt at night and without a license,” Hagler said.
“Ethical hunters, wildlife viewers and our officers are hopeful that increased penalties will cause potential violators to rethink the temptation of poaching a trophy deer while providing additional protection for this valuable wildlife resource.”