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Six charged in Texas hunt; Delaware hunters bought trip through sportsman group

Six charged in Texas hunt; Delaware hunters bought trip through sportsman group

By Jenny Maher, Delaware State News

DOVER - Delaware Ducks Unlimited will not take action against six Delaware hunters charged with violating game laws while on a hunting trip in Texas in January, the group's state chairman said Tuesday.

Four of the hunters are believed to be members of Delaware Ducks Unlimited, a waterfowl conservation group, an official of the state organization said.

The men purchased the Texas trip at a Rehoboth Beach Ducks Unlimited auction, said David Riddell Jr., the organization's state chairman.

Mr. Riddell said the organization does not have the authority to punish its members.

"It will be handled by the national Ducks Unlimited Law Department," he said.

Mr. Riddell will discuss the violations on Saturday at the state Ducks Unlimited Convention at the Sheraton Dover Hotel.

The citations, issued by Texas game wardens on Jan. 20, include exceeding daily bag limits, wantonly wasting migratory birds, hunting without proper hunting stamps and licenses, using weapons and ammunition that are illegal for waterfowl hunting, and other related offenses.

Jim Young, group manager of volunteer leadership and grassroots fund-raising at Ducks Unlimited's national headquarters in Memphis, Tenn., said it is unlikely the agency will reprimand the hunters, because they were paying members, not volunteer representatives.

"Our policies provide for actions against volunteers ... it is my understanding these men were not volunteers," he said.

"It simply isn't practical to try to police 700,000 (members) across the country."

Mr. Young said he doubts their membership will be revoked.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the hunting violations occurred in the Guadalupe River Delta in Calhoun County, Texas.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Victoria Fox said the hunters killed 41 ducks, five more than legally allowed, as well as two white-front geese during closed season.

They also failed to retrieve many of the remains, leaving 36 ducks and one goose on the water, she said.

A Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden and a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent witnessed the violations, Ms. Fox said.

Dick Carelli, a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, identified the hunters as William Catts, William Emmert, John Floyd, Joseph Shockley, Ken Simpler and Roger Smith.

Mr. Carelli said their hometowns were not listed on the citations.

The hunters were slapped with 32 federal violation notices and paid $18,775 in fines, Ms. Fox said.

In addition, they were assessed civil wildlife restitution of $4,644 by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Tony Senn, regional director for Delaware Ducks Unlimited, said he believes that Mr. Simpler, Mr. Emmert, Mr. Smith and Mr. Floyd are Delaware Ducks Unlimited members, although he could not confirm membership.

Mr. Riddell said he does not have a registry of all the state members.

Attempts to reach Mr. Catts, Mr. Emmert, Mr. Floyd and Mr. Shockley were unsuccessful.

Mr. Smith, who was reached by phone Tuesday morning, would not comment.

"If they are guilty, their actions were in very poor taste," Mr. Riddell said.

He has received several calls and letters from concerned Ducks Unlimited members who feel the hunters' actions reflect poorly on the organization and the hunting community.

He hopes Saturday's convention will help answer some of their questions regarding disciplinary action.

"I'm going to outline Ducks Unlimited's policy in brief and how we deal with members," he said... <snip>

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