By Ryan Sabalow
With raccoon pelts selling for at least $15, wildlife officers say two men last week were caught in Allen County trying to get a jump on the annual hunting season.
On Thursday night, Indiana Conservation Officer Andrew Harmon used a night-vision scope to spot a couple of men raccoon hunting in some woods. Harmon had received a tip that poachers had been using the spot.
Although some raccoon hunters use hounds, these men were on foot, shooting raccoons in the light of a flashlight, said Jake Carlile, an Indiana conservation officer.
It was two days before Indiana’s annual raccoon-hunting season opened Saturday. The season runs to Jan. 31. During the season, there’s no daily bag limit.
Carlile said poachers sometimes start hunting early to stockpile pelts so they can fetch top prices.
“That’s kind of the reason they do this before the season,” said Carlile. “Then they don’t have go out and compete with all the other hunters.”
Carlile said the going rate for pelts is from $15 to $20. Coon skin caps online sell from $100 to more than $180.
When Harmon confronted the two men in the woods, they had a freshly killed raccoon, Carlile said.
Later, Harmon found at least 17 other recently killed raccoons in one of the suspect’s home freezers, according to the DNR.
Carlile said the two suspects’ identities won’t be available until after Harmon files his case with the Allen County Prosecutors’ Office, likely later today.