TN: Gone from fishin': Man casts line, lands in jail
July 22, 2010
Agreement with Georgia helps send TN man to jail
Repeat offender gets two years, ban
For the first time, a Tennessee outdoorsman has been sentenced to jail
time as a result of state law enforcement agents relying on the Interstate
Wildlife Violator's Compact, an agreement between states to track offenders.
Kurt Wesley Ellis, 31, of Cleveland, Tenn., — on probation after being
convicted of multiple other offenses — received two consecutive 364-day jail
terms last week after being caught earlier this year fishing for trout
without a license in Murray County, Ga. He also received a lifetime ban on
entering any government-managed wildlife areas in Tennessee or Georgia.
Wildlife officials in Georgia were looking for Ellis after being tipped
by agents from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency that Ellis was
fishing streams in their state.
After pleading guilty in Tennessee to 12 wildlife violation charges last
year, Ellis was on intensive probation, meaning he could leave his home only
when necessary. His hunting and fishing privileges were revoked for 20 years
to life after that plea, and he also received 10 days in jail and 100 hours
of community service.
In 2009, Ellis was found guilty of multiple violations for illegal
possession of wildlife, illegal transportation of wildlife and violation of
big game tagging requirements in addition to hunting without a license and
hunting on a revoked license. He has 30 total wildlife violation convictions
in the state.
Tennessee and Georgia are among 34 states in the Interstate Wildlife
Violator's Compact, which began in 1989 when Colorado, Nevada and Oregon
joined forces. Tennessee joined in 2005, but it had never before been
involved in an arrest that led to jail time.
"The Western states is where the Wildlife Violator's Compact started,
where folks that pursue big game like elk and sheep would get violations in
one state and then just go to another state and apply for a license and
continue hunting,'' said Fred Funte, the TWRA compact coordinator who works
out of the Nashville office. "With the (Driver's License Compact) if you get
a speeding ticket in Georgia, for convenience, they allow you to return to
your home state and pay the citation by mail.
"That's how the Wildlife Violator's Compact got set up, as a convenience
to the hunter or fisherman for these minor violations so that they didn't
have to post a cash bond in that state to get out of jail."
After being charged by Georgia wildlife officials with violations,
including fraudulently purchasing a fishing license under a false name,
Ellis was transferred back to the Bradley County jail and went before Judge
"The Georgia officers were super to work with,'' said TWRA officer Philip
Earhart, who made initial contact with his Georgia counterparts. "The fact
that we had so much history with Mr. Ellis, that he'd been caught so many
times by us, it meant something special to us that we were dealing with him.
And it was neat to see those guys in Georgia take as much care to it as we
did with them not having all that history."
Added Funte: "The judge wasn't very happy as you can tell. He said,
'Enough's enough.' .
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