By Rob Parsons
Eight defendants in a federal poaching case out of Sutter County pleaded guilty earlier this week in U.S. District Court.
Mary Wenger, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Sacramento, said the four remaining defendants — Jeffery A. Catlett, Cody E. Shogren, Jeffrey L. Dombo, and Nevada D. Smith — are scheduled to appear in court again July 31 for arraignment.
Magistrate Judge Kendall J. Newman accepted guilty pleas from the eight defendants, most of them from Sutter County, on Wednesday. Each pleaded to a single misdemeanor count of improper tagging game birds.
The U.S. Attorney's Office filed charges last month against 12 hunters in connection with the Jan. 16 poaching incident in Sutter County.
Federal prosecutors filed six misdemeanor counts against each defendant, including unlawfully possessing untagged migratory game birds, unlawful storage of migratory game birds, exceeding the possession limit of waterfowl, White Geese, ducks, and migratory game birds and unlawful transportation of migratory game birds.
Smith, Catlett, and Shogren are each charged with multiple counts, according to the complaint.
Smith and Catlett are charged with possessing 134 waterfowl, 41 pintail ducks, and 24 white geese. Shogren is charged with possessing 30 white geese. Dombo is charged with possessing 28 ducks, the complaint says.
Investigators with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife said the hunters were using questionable hunting methods, including surrounding the birds with numerous hunters and shooting into a large flock as the startled birds tried to fly away.