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LA: Trophy gator hunt leads to guilty pleas

Trophy gator hunt leads to guilty pleas in La.

Oct. 7, 2009

Two Louisiana men licensed to guide alligator hunts pleaded guilty this week to knowingly helping a sports hunter bag a trophy gator in areas where hunting is banned.

Travis Dardenne, a licensed alligator hunter, and Jeffery Brown, a licensed alligator helper, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge, La., to wrongfully guiding an out-of-state sport hunter to an unapproved area where the client killed a trophy-sized American alligator.

Louisiana regulates the hunting of alligators in the wild and requires licensed alligator hunters, like Dardenne, to have tags for each killed alligator that correspond to the area where hunting the armored reptile is allowed. It's against the state law to hunt gators in unapproved areas.

The Justice Department reported that in addition to being listed as a threatened species on the United States' list of Threatened and Endangered Species, the American alligator is listed as a crocodilian species in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which regulates trade in the species.

"American alligators are listed as threatened species and are given greater protection under the Endangered Species Act," said John C. Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "Licensed alligator guides are expected to comply with the law and individuals who choose to ignore it will be prosecuted."

Dardenne and Brown each face a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

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