NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Police Department says they’ve arrested an upstate New York man who was illegally hunting in a Staten Island park.
The 28-year-old hunter was spotted sitting near a tree holding a crossbow by an off-duty police officer who was out for a walk. The officer called for backup after the man acknowledged he was hunting deer, and the hunter was arrested Tuesday night.
It is illegal to hunt in all five boroughs of New York City.
The Norfolk man was charged with criminal possession of a weapon and prohibited use of a weapon.
He was released on his own recognizance and has another court date scheduled for Dec. 15.
The start of hunting season is underway, and this year the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers made a significant change to its hunting rules. Through the duration of deer hunting season, hog hunting is no longer allowed on Corps land. Deer hunting season is Sept. 30 until the first of January.
According to Mike Stephens, Collin County game warden, this rule was instituted to reduce the risk of illegal hunting White Tail deer in Collin County.
As Collin County has changed and developed, rural spaces are now being developed for homes, businesses and community centers. This change has significantly reduced the roaming space for wildlife in the county.
“With all the urbanization in Collin County, we’re really pushing a lot of the animals in different directions, and one of those animals is our deer herd,” he said.
The county’s deer population is quite small; however, what the herds lack in numbers, they make up for in antler size.
“We have very very large antlers in Collin County. Trophy bucks in any other county are your typical deer here in Collin. We’re very fortunate because we have a lot of trophy here, but there’s not [as much] range for these deer,” Stephens said.
The majority of the deer herds call 6,000 acres of Corps land home near Lake Lavon. This land is free and open to the public – with a permit – for dove, squirrel rabbit, and, until recently, feral hog hunting. Wardens have had an issue with illegal deer hunting on Corps land in the past, Stephens said and hog hunting was often the main reason why.
According to Stephens, if approached by a game warden, hunters tell wardens they’re hog hunting even though they plan on deer hunting. Hunters can have all the tools that suggest they’re deer hunting, but there’s nothing wardens can do to prove them otherwise, he said. “We have to take their word for it. That has been the norm.”
But now that hog hunting is outlawed, “that excuse doesn’t fly anymore,” he said, which will help game wardens crack down on poachers in the area.
All deer hunting in Collin County occurs on privately owned land, “so unless you know somebody or you’re paying for a lease, the possibilities of deer hunting are not going to be available to you,” he said. Illegally hunting deer is a state jail felony, and the Corps is prepared to prosecute and demand restitution for any lost deers.
Stephens added that first-time hunters looking to legally hunt this year must also attend a hunting education course. The latest legislation states anyone born on or after Sept. 2, 1971, must attend a classroom or online course to obtain this education license. Veterans, law enforcement or current military personnel are exempt from this rule.
First-time hunters should also keep their rifles or shotguns at home if they plan to hunt deer in Collin County: It’s an archery-only county.
“With the rifle, you have the distance on the animals. It’s a lot easier to kill the deer. With archery, it’s a lot more competitive. It’s more of a sport hunt,” he said. “And a lot of that deals with our herd. We don’t have a very large herd here, so we want to preserve that herd for future generations to hunt.”
ROCKVILLE, Ind. – Two Indiana women were filming a TV show when they were cited for allegedly using bait to hunt deer, according to Fox59.
Now, Jody L. Davies, 47, and Sarah Ross, 32, are facing multiple counts of hunting deer with the aid of bait as well as charges for an illegally taken deer.
Conservation officers say the charges are the result of an extensive investigation conducted over the past three years.
DNR says multiple baited stands have been identified and documented on hunting properties used by the women in both Parke and Putnam counties beginning in 2015.
Officers say Davies has been featured on social media and in articles with many prominent outdoor magazines in reference to the two trophy class whitetail bucks she killed in 2015 and 2016, both of which were harvested during the investigation. She also reportedly films for a hunting TV show.
Officers want to remind hunters that all substances placed for animal consumption, along with any affected soil, must be completely removed from the hunting area at least ten days prior to the hunting.
JOHANNESBURG — Hundreds of vultures in Namibia died after feeding on an elephant carcass that poachers had poisoned. Poachers in Zimbabwe used cyanide to kill dozens of elephants for their ivory tusks. In Mozambique three lions died after eating bait infused with a crop pesticide.
Poisoning Africa’s wildlife is an old practice, but conservationists fear such incidents are escalating in some areas, saying relatively easy access to agricultural chemicals and the surging illegal market for animal parts are increasing pressure on a number of already beleaguered species. The threat is compounded by the indiscriminate nature of killing with poison, in which a single contaminated carcass can take down a range of animals, particularly scavengers such as vultures.
This month, a continent-wide database was launched to gather data on wildlife poisoning and better understand a phenomenon that has been widely documented in southern Africa, where a reported 70 lions have been fatally poisoned in the last 18 months, according to managers. While the African Wildlife Poisoning Database lacks records from underreported areas including Central Africa, it dates to 1961 and lists nearly 300 poisoning incidents in 15 African countries that killed more than 8,000 animals from dozens of species, including leopards, hyenas, impalas, cranes and storks.
“It’s still a big work in progress,” said Darcy Ogada, a Kenya-based database coordinator and assistant director of Africa programs at The Peregrine Fund, a conservation group. The goal, Ogada said, is to get governments to pay more attention to the “underground world” of wildlife poisoning that also threatens livestock, water sources and people who eat meat from birds and other poisoned animals.
In 2013, between 400 and 600 vultures died after feeding on the poisoned carcass of an elephant that was killed for its ivory in Namibia’s Zambezi area, said Andre Botha, a poisoning database manager and special projects manager at the Endangered Wildlife Trust, a South African group.
“This is the highest number of vultures killed in a single poisoning incident that we have on the database to date,” Botha said.
Some of Africa’s species of vulture, whose body parts are also precious in traditional medicine in parts of the continent, are listed as critically endangered. South Asian vulture populations are a fraction of what they were, largely because of feeding on carcasses of livestock treated with diclofenac, a veterinary drug that is toxic to vultures. Government bans on the drug, however, helped level those declines.
African lions are in peril partly because of human encroachment on habitats and the poaching of animals for food, which deprives lions of prey. The killing of lions by poison, once largely a result of livestock owners trying to protect their herds, appears to reflect growing local and Asian demand for lion claws, bones and other parts used in traditional medicine, according to Botha.
“What we see now is people purposely going out and targeting lions,” he said. Some 70 were poisoned in southern Africa since last year, Botha said. The database reports a total of 51 lion poisonings between 1980 and 2015.
In July, officials in Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park on the border with South Africa found poacher tracks, bait laced with poison, and the carcasses of three lions and a hyena, according to the Peace Parks Foundation, which develops cross-border conservation areas. It said authorities believe poachers used a substance containing the pesticide aldicarb, which South Africa banned because of its environmental threat.
Another pesticide, carbofuran, is the “abused product of choice” in countries including Botswana, Tanzania and Kenya, said Tim Snow, a South African conservationist who helps train southern African rangers in how to deal with poisoning sites by wearing surgical gloves for their own safety and collecting samples for study in a laboratory.
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He said poachers in Zimbabwe have killed more than 90 elephants since 2015 by poisoning water sources with cyanide, a chemical used to extract gold from ore. Authorities have seized cyanide stashes from vehicles at police roadblocks and a warehouse in Bulawayo city, Snow said.
Educating communities about the environmental fallout from poisoning wildlife is key, said Mark Anderson, CEO of BirdLife South Africa. Banning poisons, he said, has a limited impact because “there’s an unlimited supply and variety of poisons that can be used.”
For individuals who apparently got a thrill by stalking and illegally killing wild animals, William J. Haynes and Erik Christian Martin did a poor job of covering their own tracks.
The suspected poachers unwittingly provided law enforcement officers with a huge cache of evidence, allowing Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife investigators to build a massive case against them and five other members of an alleged poaching group.
Based on case reports reviewed by The Daily News, there’s little sign the men ever thought about getting caught.
Instead, the 23-year-old Longview residents are suspects in an investigation into the killing of more than 50 animals including deer, elk, bears and bobcats in two different states. Along the way, they left a digital trail of shocking evidence for Fish and Wildlife investigators to follow.
The painstaking task required two Fish and Wildlife officers and a sergeant, who spent a majority of the past winter and early spring diligently retracing the suspects’ bloody steps.
Investigators were also assisted by more than 30 officers from multiple agencies, including the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office.
“We’ve used a lot of our manpower in this region in Western Washington to accomplish this case,” Fish and Wildlife Sergeant Brad Rhoden said in an interview.
Rhoden said he doesn’t want intense interest in the case to lead to a negative perception of honest hunters.
“I don’t want anybody to view the majority of our hunters in Washington as these types of individuals,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a sportsman out there who would say this is OK.”
Haynes is facing 61 separate charges in Skamania County District Court, including 26 charges of first-degree illegal hunting of big game. All of the charges are related to the use of dogs while hunting, which is illegal in Washington without a special permit that’s only granted in specific instances. Haynes was previously convicted of second-degree unlawful hunting of big game in Cowlitz County on Oct. 3, 2013. As a result, all of Haynes’ big game charges could be considered Class C felonies, which are punishable by up to five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Martin, who does not have any previous violations, is facing 28 separate charges for gross misdemeanors.
In addition to Haynes and Martin, three other suspects have been named in the investigation.
They are Joseph Allen Dills, 30, of Longview; Eddy Alvin Dills, 57, of Longview; and Bryan Christopher Tretiak, 31, of Morton. All of the suspects are awaiting preliminary appearance hearings in Skamania County later this month. Two female suspects were named in the case reports but no charges have been filed against them yet.
Dills, who has bear claws and dog paws tattooed on his left arm, pleaded guilty in Wahkiakum County District Court in 2008 to second-degree unlawful hunting of big game and second-degree criminal trespassing. He’s now facing 64 separate charges, including four first-degree unlawful big game hunting charges for the illegal use of dogs.
Had Haynes and Martin known that the contents of their phones would result in so many charges, it’s possible they may have opted not to document such a staggering number of alleged illegal hunting activities.
A mountain of evidence
Based on case reports, it’s not clear if Haynes or Martin thought twice before agreeing to allow two Oregon State police officers to look through their devices on December 3, 2016.
According to reports, the troopers had stopped the men after recognizing Haynes’ Toyota pickup as the same vehicle that appeared in several images captured by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife game cameras. The motion-activated cameras were set up in response to past illegal big game hunting activity in the Mount Hood National Forest during the months of November and December.
Upon questioning, Haynes and Martin confessed to illegally killing two buck deer and a silver gray squirrel, according to reports. The two men admitted to taking only the heads of the two deer and the entire squirrel back to a house in Longview, leaving the rest of the animals to rot.
At this point, Senior Trooper Craig Gunderson requested that Washington Fish and Wildlife Sergeant Brad Rhoden assist with recovering the illegally transported deer heads.
When Rhoden arrived, Gunderson informed him that Haynes and Martin had consented to having their cell phones searched. According to reports, it was at this point that the true scale of the ensuing investigation began to emerge.
An initial look through the devices revealed numerous photos of antlered deer skulls, dead bull elk, and — perhaps most disturbing — bear hunting with the use of dogs.
Gunderson seized the phones as evidence and obtained a search warrant to have a forensic analysis performed on the devices.
On Dec. 16, 2016, Rhoden met with Gunderson and several other officers to transfer evidence from the analysis.
The contents of Haynes’ phone provided hundreds of photos and videos documenting a pattern of brutal killings on more than 20 separate occasions.
In some cases, bears were still alive as Dills’ dogs gnawed on their flesh, Rhoden said.
Martin’s phone also held numerous photos and videos of the unlawful harvest of big game.
In addition to incriminating photos, videos and text messages, the evidence included crucial metadata which allowed investigators to pinpoint exactly where the illegal killings occurred using GPS coordinates.
Investigators could not have retraced the suspects’ steps if Haynes had not granted his phone’s camera permission to access its GPS location data.
“What was most difficult about this case is that we had to pore through so many records,” Rhoden said.
KAMLOOPS – Nine charges have been laid against a man who is accused of trafficking parts of a dead bear in B.C.’s Interior and Cariboo regions.
Hong Hui Xie, who’s in his 40s, faces charges including trafficking in bear gall bladders, trafficking in bear paws and unlawful possession of dead wildlife.
“Nine counts have… been laid against a 100 Mile House resident for alleged offences that occurred in 100 Mile House and Cache Creek between October 2015 and September 2016,” the B.C. Conservation Officer Service says on its Facebook page.
Court documents show from Oct. 27, 2015 to Jan. 21, 2016, Xie allegedly trafficked in a bear gall bladder, trafficked in bear paws separate from the carcass and trafficked in deer meat while in the 100 Mile House area.
On Sept. 7, 2016, Xie allegedly trafficked in bear paws and gall bladders while in the Cache Creek area.
Xie is not being held in custody and his first court appearance is expected to be in Kamloops Provincial Court later this month.
The two men killed two Wyoming bull elk, similar to the one pictured above. (Dana Critchlow/Unsplash)
Two Kentucky men pled no contest and face nearly $31,000 in fines after they killed two Wyoming elk on a national television show.
According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Ricky J. Mills, 37, and Jimmy G. Duncan, 25, both of Bedford, Ky., also lost their hunting privileges for 15 years and will be entered into the Wildlife Violators Compact, which will prevent them from hunting and trapping in more than 40 states.
Wyoming officials report that, while watching Mills and Duncan’s show “Hunting in the Sticks” on the Pursuit Channel, a tipster noticed that the two men killed an elk in an area for which they weren’t licensed. A Game and Fish Department investigator looked into the incident, and both men eventually confessed.
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“I believe the two defendants were driven to get kill-shot footage for the television show, and that resulted in their making bad decisions,” Mike Ehlebracht, investigative supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish, said via a department news release.
Through their investigation, Wyoming game wardens determined that in 2014 Duncan and Mills each killed an elk on private property in northern Converse County.
The men had elk tags but for an area in extreme northwestern Wyoming. In the area where they illegally killed the elk — Hunt Area 113 — few tags are available, and bull elk can be harvested only every other year, according to the department.
Wardens found out that Duncan and Mills attempted to poach elk the same way in 2013, and that Duncan killed an antelope without a license that year as well.
According to the department, Duncan was sentenced to pay $7,500 in fines, $6,000 in restitution for the bull elk, $4,000 for the antelope, and $240 in court costs. Mills was sentenced to pay $7,460 in fines, $6,000 in restitution for the bull elk, and $240 in court costs.
The department also confiscated the elk mounts.
In a statement, “Hunting in the Sticks” said it would pause operations as it considers how to move forward.
“Hunting in the Sticks (HITS) regrets the activities engaged in by two of its team members,” the statement reads. “HITS wishes to assure everyone that the decisions made, and actions taken, by these two members do not reflect the position, belief or concurrence of our sponsors, endorsers or any other HITS team members.”
Monday 27 February 2017 11.45 ESTLast modified on Wednesday 1 March 2017 07.58 EST
Five wildlife rangers and three other men working in wildlife protection have lost their lives in four separate countries in the past month, highlighting the numerous hazards rangers and their colleagues face in protecting the world’s wild lands and species.
“It’s a tough week when we lose eight of our ranger family; some to poachers’ bullets and some to the other dangers that come with the territory,” said Sean Willmore, founder and director of the Thin Green Line Foundation, which supports widows and children of rangers killed in the line of duty.
“We are becoming accustomed to this sad reality. But we need the world community’s support to help provide training and equipment to prevent deaths and to support families left behind.”
On 17 February, a young ranger with the Kenyan Wildlife Service was shot dead by elephant poachers in Tsavo national park.
The ranger and a colleague were out on a de-snaring patrol when they came upon the tracks of known elephant poachers. The poacher ambushed the pair, killing one – officials have not yet released his name.
The other ranger pursued the poachers and reportedly killed one of them.
These particular poachers have become well known in Tsavo, which has one of the largest populations of savannah elephants in the world. A week earlier, the same group had shot and wounded an elephant, but abandoned it when they realised community scouts were on their tail. The elephant eventually perished from its wounds. Park rangers removed the animal’s ivory and sent it to Nairobi to keep it out of the black market.
The slain ranger was in his twenties and leaves behind a young wife. He had only recently graduated from the Kenya Wildlife Service Field Training school in Manyani.
“The threats [to rangers] are escalating and with that there is a corresponding need for increased support, which in many cases does not materialise.” said Chris Galliers, the chair of the Game Rangers Association of Africa and the International Ranger Federation African representative.
He added that rangers in Africa are working under difficult conditions with “reduced capacity, fatigue, and possibly the need for additional skills.”
“It creates a situation where cracks will begin to appear,” he noted.
Not all ranger fatalities are at the hands of poachers. Three rangers also died last week in the Democratic Republic of the Congo when their speed boat capsized in Virunga national park.
According to chief park warden, Jean Pierre Jobogo Mirindi, nine rangers were patrolling Lake Edward when a heavy wind capsized the boat. Local fishermen rescued six of the rangers, but three of them drowned after foggy conditions complicated the rescue: Bwambale Nyamikenge, Katu Mumbere, and patrol chief, Kasereka Mwana Zaire.
Virunga national park is home to a quarter of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. But militias and political instability have also made it one of the most dangerous parks in the world for rangers: 150 rangers have been killed in the park during the last ten years.
On 24 January two men working for African Parks law enforcement team died in a helicopter crash in Central African Republic. The pilot of the helicopter was also killed. The pilot, Shaun Barendsen was from National Airways Corporation, while David Fine, head of law enforcement, and sous-lieutenant Mbenga-Nzongomblo Ponce Pilate, assistant law enforcement manager, were African Parks employees based in Chinko.
In a statement African Parks said: “The helicopter we had chartered in Chinko, Central African Republic, to assist with our law enforcement work, crashed killing all three on board. The helicopter crashed on approaching the landing strip and we are trying to gain a better understanding of the cause of the accident. We are devastated by this tragic news, for the enormous loss of three committed and passionate individuals, and for the loved ones they leave behind, to whom we send our heartfelt condolences.”
Finally, in India, a 28-year-old forest ranger passed out while trying to stamp down flames in Bandipur national park. Officials say Murigeppa Tammangol died from asphyxiation, burns and brain damage. Tammangol leaves behind a wife and a three-month-old baby.
The local press blamed the fires on “miscreants” from nearby communities. But Bandipur national park is also in the midst of a drought, with two years of unusually dry conditions.
Three other people were injured in the blaze and are recovering in the hospital.
The Thin Green Line estimates that around 100 rangers are killed in the line of duty every year – approximately two per week.
This article was amended on 1 March 2017. The original article stated that eight rangers were killed in a week, this was corrected to five rangers and three other people working for African Parks since the end of January.
Satao II, about 50 years old, is believed to have been shot with a poisoned arrow in Tsavo national park, Kenya
Agence France-Presse in Nairobi
Monday 6 March 2017 10.57 ESTLast modified on Monday 6 March 2017 14.35 EST
One of Africa’s oldest and largest elephants has been killed by poachers in Kenya, according to a conservation group that protects a dwindling group of “big tuskers” estimated to be as few as 25.
Richard Moller of the Tsavo Trust said Satao II, about 50 years old, was found dead on Monday and was believed to have been shot with a poisoned arrow. Two poachers believed to be responsible for the killing were apprehended not long after his carcass was spotted in routine aerial reconnaissance of the Tsavo national park.
“Luckily, through the work we do with the Kenyan Wildlife Service, we were able to find the carcass before the poachers could recover the ivory,” said Moller.
The elephant, named after another giant killed in 2014, was beloved by visitors to the park. Moller said about 15 tuskers, named for impressive tusks that nearly scrape the ground, remained in Kenya out of an estimated worldwide population of 25. “They are icons, they are ambassadors for elephants,” he said.
Satao II’s death comes two days after a KWS officer was killed during an anti-poaching incident in the park, the second to die in less than a month at the hands of poachers, according to the wildlife authority.
The killing shows no sign of abating, with approximately 30,000 elephants slaughtered for their ivory every year, mainly to satisfy demand in the Asian market for products coveted as a traditional medicine or as status symbols.
Moller said one of Satao II’s tusks weighed 51.5kg and the other 50.5kg. “I am pretty gutted really. This particular elephant was one that was very approachable, one of those easy old boys to find. Many are the others are much more difficult to see,” Moller said. “He has been through lots of droughts and probably other attempts at poaching.”
The Tsavo covers about 16,000 sq miles (42,000 sq km) and is a major challenge for rangers to patrol.
The Tsavo Trust helps monitor the elephants through aerial and ground reconnaissance, and works closely with KWS. Moller praised the “swift action” that led to the arrests.
This undated photo provided Tuesday March 7, 2017 by the Thoiry zoo shows the rhinoceros Vince, center, at the zoo, west of Paris. A zoo director says a five-year-old Rhinoceros living in the wildlife park he runs near Paris has been shot three times in the head by poachers who stole its ivory horn. (Domaine de Thoiry via AP)
PARIS (AP) — A zoo director says a 5-year-old rhinoceros at the wildlife park he runs near Paris has been shot three times in the head by poachers who stole the animal’s ivory horn.
Thierry Duguet told The Associated Press that poachers broke into the Thoiry Zoo overnight and used a chain saw to remove the horn from the rhino named Vince. Zookeepers discovered his carcass Tuesday in the rhinoceros’ enclosure.
Duguet says police are investigating and the suspects still are at large.
The Thoiry Zoo is famous for its safari park that can only be explored from inside a vehicle.
According to Le Parisien newspaper, a rhinoceros horn can be sold for up to 40,000 euros on the black market because of a strong demand linked to the belief that the horns have aphrodisiac powers.