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WV: Ohio Hunting Party Charged with Baiting Bears

October 27, 2009

Ohio Hunting Party Charged with Baiting Bears

Summersville

Some crafty police work by Conservation Officers leaves eight out-of-state hunters facing huge fines in West Virginia. The C-O's along with the area manager from the DNR's wildlife section in Nicholas County had been hearing for quite some time that a party of bear hunters from Ohio were having unusually good luck when they would hunt near Summersville. The group had been hunting in the same area, locally known as Peach Orchard Road, since the mid 90's and they were killing a lot of bears.

"We had the same group of people coming in year after year after year and the public noticed that their success rates were considerably higher than what most people are when they're bow hunting for black bear," said Capital Mike Waugh with the DNR's Law Enforcement section.

Wildlife Area manger Tom Pratt is responsible for collecting check tags and started doing some research, comparing the tags those hunters were making to their license. It was noticed that almost all of the eight hunters in the party were tagging a bear within 24 hours of buying a license, at least 50-percent of the time. Such an occurrence raised a lot of red flags with Conservation Officers Dwayne Duffield and Tim White.

Armed with the information from the check tags along with numerous suggestions and tips from the public, Conservation Officers started to nose around the hunting territory and located a bait site.

"There were a number of elevated camouflaged sites that contained bait, including doughnuts and corn," said Waugh. "A significant amount of cover scent had been used also."

Officers had a narrow window of opportunity to catch the poachers, who were know to hunt the first week---then leave and not return until next year's opening week of bow season. Friday night they closed in and began questioning members of the hunting party.

"These gentlemen were much more successful at shooting bears over bait than they were keeping a consistent story going," said Waugh.

Soon after the questioning, officers visited the bait sites and used a little modern forensics mixed with traditional police work to match the bears killed to the bait sites.

The deeper the officers looked, the more they turned up. Wildlife Agents with the Ohio DNR assisted and were able to turn up ten-illegally killed West Virginia bears in Ohio as of this writing, and more are expected to be located.

Six of the eight have already pleaded guilty to the charges of violating the West Virginia bear statutes. The charges including hunting bear over bait, shooting bear over bait, possession of illegally killed wildlife, and transporting of illegally killed wildlife across state lines.

The total fines in the case so far top 13-thousand dollars among those six. Waugh says it's likely by the time the case is closed the eight will have been fined more than 20-thousand dollars and will pay well over two-thousand dollars in replacement fees.

Waugh gives the credit to Duffield, White, Pratt, and Sgt. Bob Johnson for acting on instinct and acting quickly. He says had they not moved in when they did, the case may never have been broken open.

Those arrested are listed below along with their individual charges:

David B. Moore, Felicity, Ohio - two counts of hunting bear over bait, fines of $2319 and 100 days in jail suspended, contingent upon payment of fines and costs.

Eric W. Lykins, Loveland, Ohio - one count of killing a bear over bait on
10/21/09 and one count of hunting bear over bait on 10/17/09, fines of $2319, replacement costs of $500 and 100 days in jail suspended contingent upon payment of fines and costs.

James E. Moore, New Richmond, Ohio - two counts of hunting bear over bait, fines of $2319 and 100 days in jail suspended contingent upon payment of fines and costs.

Frank J. Burns, New Richmond, Ohio - one count of killing a bear over bait on 10/23/09 and one count of hunting bear over bait on 10/17/09, fines of $2319, replacement costs of $500 and 100 days in jail suspended contingent upon payment of fines and costs.

Carl M. Ramsey, Amelia, Ohio - one count of killing a bear over bait on
10/21/09 and 1) count of hunting bear over bait on 10/17/09, fines of $2319, replacement costs of $500 and 100 days in jail suspended contingent upon payment of fines and costs.

Randy Durbin, New Richmond, Ohio - one count of taking a black bear over bait on 10/17/09 and one count of hunting black bear over bait on 10/25/08. Durbin was arraigned by telephone and entered a plea to these charges on 10/26/09. He was assessed a penalty of $2,319 and a $500 replacement fee. This individual surrendered the remains of one black bear to the conservation officers.

Anthony Parker of Sardinia, Ohio - cited for one count of taking a black bear over bait on 10/19/09 and one count of illegally possessing parts of a black bear on 10/20/09. His arraignment is pending. This individual surrendered the remains of one black bear to the conservation officers.

Robert Bradford of Amelia, Ohio - cited for one count of hunting black bear over bait on 10/27/08 and one count of illegally possessing parts of a black bear on 10/20/09. His arraignment is pending.

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