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Reward Offered for Poachers

Article published Dec 11, 2003

EAST MANATEE (FL) -- A Myakka City property owner is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a poacher.

Tampa resident Lee Pallardy said he is tired of people trespassing on his 560 acres off State Road 70 and Ogleby Creek Road. On Friday, his 19-year-old son, Matthew, found the carcass of a deer with its head cut off.

Lying near it were a dead turkey and hog. Pallardy's "No Trespassing" sign was on top of the carcasses.

Pallardy said he is offering the reward in hopes of catching those responsible and deterring others from trespassing on his property.

Manatee County Sheriff's Sgt. Bill Riley said the poachers probably cut off the deer's head for its rack of antlers. He said that is common among poachers, and there are many poaching incidents in the area of Pallardy's property.

"That road is real prime for poaching," he said. "Lee has a very, very nice piece of property where there would be a lot of game."

Pallardy's neighbors also experience illegal trespassers hunting for game.

Bradenton resident Tom Howze said he has noticed on his 1,000 acres gates that someone -- he suspects poachers -- had opened gates and tampered with feeders. His property is about a mile east of Pallardy's.

Howze said he is working with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials and Manatee County sheriff's deputies to catch the poachers on his property. He said poaching is a problem year-round.

"We are trying to see if we can catch the guys," he said. "If we can, we will certainly prosecute them."

The penalty for trespassing is up to five years in jail and a $1,000 to $5,000 fine, depending if a poacher is armed, Riley said. The penalty for illegally taking wildlife and game is up to five years in jail and a $50 to $5,000 fine, depending on the wildlife and the season, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The task is not easy, Riley said. He said they easily can escape patrolling deputies because poachers typically are dropped off on the edge of the private property line and go deep into the woods. When the poachers need a ride back, they call their driver.

"They'll just lay there and hide in the woods," Riley said. "You've got to be at the right place at the right time."

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