By Chris Trenkmann
Ranchers and their families living on the picturesque landscape of southeastern Hillsborough County are dealing with an increasing threat. Poachers are increasingly trespassing on their property carrying dangerous weapons.
"We don't know if we're coming around the corner and somebody's going to be sitting there with a high powered rifle," said Anthony Gill, who owns several cattle ranches along Sun City Center Drive in Wimauma and parts eastward.
"Going out there with our family and our grandchildren and all. It makes it rough," Gill said.
Sheriff's investigators are getting increased complaints from property owners about poachers, who pose a threat not only with their weapons, but with wire cutters. Many of the trespassers cut the fencing to get in and out of the property.
"Then the farm animals that are on these lands can get out from the fences," said Sgt. Ed Raburn, an agriculture crimes investigator. "The animals can get into traffic which poses a danger to the public."
Some ranches and public preserves are adjacent to schools and shopping centers, and deputies are worried about the possibility that innocent people could get shot.
"There's always the risk associated with things like stray bullets going into residential areas and places like schools," Raburn said. More....