By Bryce McVicker
In November 2013 I wrote a newspaper article asking for information from the public which would lead to the arrest of the individuals poaching deer north of Watertown in the Dakota Sioux Casino area. Shortly after I began asking for leads on both radio shows and in newspaper articles, calls began to come in. Many concerned sportsmen wanted to help officers put the poachers out of business.
With low deer populations in Codington County this case seemed to strike a nerve with many citizens around the area. In recent years it has been difficult for hunters to draw East River Deer (ERD) tags due to the low deer numbers and reduced tag numbers. When talk of individuals shooting deer during closed season at night began circulating I was astonished at the number of locals who wanted to help out.
This case took a long time to develop and involved many GFP personnel, landowners, sportsmen and non-sportsmen. There was approximately ten Turn In Poachers (TIPS) calls which led officers to the alleged shooters. After sorting through the TIPS calls and evaluating physical evidence taken in the field, officers were led to two 18 year old male suspects.
At the conclusion of the investigation both subjects admitted to shooting a total of three deer north of Watertown on October 21, 2013.
One male was charged in Codington County court on January 28, 2014 with one count of shooting big game out of season and assessed a $500 fine. In addition to the fine amount, the suspect was instructed to pay $1,500 in civil fines, along with a one year loss of hunting privileges. He was also given 30 days in jail with 30 days suspended and be a law abiding citizen for the period of one year.
The other suspect was charged in Codington County court on January 28, 2014 with one count of shooting big game out of season. The suspect was also given a $500 fine along with $1,500 in civil damages. He received a one year loss of hunting privileges, 30 days suspended jail time and must be a law abiding citizen for the period of one year.
Total fine amounts for the case totaled $1,000 along with $3,000 in civil damages, in conjunction with hunting revocations, probation and 60 days suspended jail time.
In my previous article I wrote about being blessed to live in a community with such a vested interest in the outdoors and wildlife populations. It is not only Game Wardens who take offense to the illegal taking of wildlife but landowners, sportsmen, and other outdoor enthusiasts as well.
Once again my thanks go out to everyone who helped Game Fish in Parks in this case.