Poachers, smugglers, and other fish and game felons steal our shared natural resources, and “Cal’s Poaching Desk” is here with all the sordid details. For more stories of wildlife wrongdoing, be sure to tune in to“Cal’s Week in Review.” New episodes drop every Sunday.
Remember that woman who accidentally shot and skinned a husky and then bragged on Facebook about killing a “wolf?” There’s been an update in that case.
Amber Rose Barnes pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty and was given a six-month deferred sentence, according to TMZ. The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks did not charge her with a hunting violation because dogs are not under their jurisdiction, but the Montana animal cruelty statute prohibits killing an animal “negligently” and “without justification.” I don’t believe Barnes was trying to be cruel to domestic dogs, but that’s what the law says.
She must take an online hunter safety course, and she won’t be allowed to use her hunting rifle for the next six months. If she completes those requirements and doesn’t skin any more dogs during this probationary period, her entire case will be dismissed.
This might sound like a light sentence for an infraction that jumped the outdoor media barrier and swept across the country, but I think she’s probably learned her lesson. She claimed the dog was barking and growling at her, and she didn’t have any reason to expect to see a husky in Flathead National Forest. (Turns out someone released about 20 pups with parvo into the forest, the case is currently under investigation for animal cruelty.)
But she was still hammered on social media, mainstream media, and pretty much everywhere else you can go with a computer and an internet connection. I have a feeling she’ll be taking a hard look the next time she pulls the trigger on a fluffy, four-legged animal.
Speaking of skinning dogs, and I hope to never use that transition again, a different hunter in Connecticut has been criminally charged after he shot and skinned a pair of German Shepherds. Sixty-one-year-old Michael Konschak told a judge that he believed the dogs were coyotes when he killed them with a crossbow while deer hunting, according to CBS News.
He skinned both dogs and cut off their heads, which still haven’t been found. The dogs’ owners say the shepherds escaped through a damaged fence, and they launched a petition to have Konschak criminally charged.
They say that the “murder” of their dogs has caused “unimaginable trauma, suffering, and exhaustion” for their family. Looking at the images of the shepherds, whose names were Cimo and Liben, I can understand why someone would think they were big coyotes from a distance. But like Barnes, Konschak should have realized what he’d done upon closer inspection. The dogs have the right coloring, but they’re far too hefty for coyotes.
Two men in Nebraska hunted and killed a bald eagle and tried to eat it, according to the Stanton County Sheriff’s office. Officials received a report of a suspicious vehicle parked in a field near the Wood Duck Recreation Area in the northeastern part of the state. When they went to investigate, they found two 20-year-old Honduran nationals with a North American bald eagle in their possession.
The Sheriff's office cited both men for unlawful possession of the eagle, but they have since been released. Sheriff Mike Unger told the Washington Free Beacon that he’s tried to contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about the case but has yet to receive a response. Under the Eagle Protection Act, wounding or killing an eagle can result in a fine of $100,000 and one year in prison for a first offense.
Speaking of killing birds of prey, a Michigan man recently pleaded no contest after shooting and killing three young Cooper’s hawks earlier last year.
Officials say that sixty-five-year-old Arthur Anderson of Macomb Township had hired a utility company to cut down trees on his property. When the utility company refused to disturb the trees due to the birds’ habitat, Anderson retrieved a shotgun from his house and shot the nest at least five times. Three dead hawks then fell to the ground.
Anderson owes $4,500 in reimbursement to the state and $475 in fines and costs. He will also be on probation for six months, and the shotgun he used to shoot the birds was confiscated.
Over in Hawaii, poachers killed what the media described as eight “beloved” piglets at a Hawaii country club. Local media reports that members of the country club in Wahiawa are “mourning” after they say poachers trespassed onto the property and killed a litter of baby pigs.
The mother and piglets moved onto the golf course about eight months ago, and patrons say they became an immediate sensation. Golfers kept them safe along golf cart paths, and presumably yelled “Fore!” whenever the animals wandered onto the fairway.
Unfortunately for this pack of peaceful porkers, their paradise was soon shattered by two poachers who, in full view of patrons and groundskeepers, set hunting dogs loose on the golf course and shot all eight piglets. Police reports have been filed, and country club patrons are vowing to fight for tighter hunting restrictions in the state legislature.
Game wardens in Louisiana cited 10 hunters ranging from 19 to 54 years of age for possessing pods while bowhunting. Agents were on patrol along the Mississippi River earlier this year when they initiated compliance checks on hunters south of Lake Providence.
Agents found all 10 hunters in possession of pods, and they confirmed that one of them had taken an antlerless deer using one. For those unfamiliar, these pods are attached to an arrow and contain poison that causes death even after a poorly placed shot.
Archery hunters have debated the ethics of arrow pods, and Fred Bear famously developed and held patents for these devices. But every major bowhunting organization opposes their use, and I’d guess that the vast majority of hunters feel the same way.
Arrow pods are illegal in every state except Mississippi. In Louisiana, possession of pods while bow hunting brings a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.
Last one for you. Three East Texas men have been accused of running a multi-state poaching ring that officials say is responsible for illegally killing over 100 whitetail deer.
Twenty-one-year-old Carson Bottoms, 24-year-old Drake Cannon, and 18-year-old Reagan Farquharson allegedly poached deer in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Iowa. Texas Parks and Wildlife says the men trespassed and shot deer at night, and then took them home to process them.
More arrests could be made, and officials say they’ve contacted U.S. Fish and Wildlife for possible federal charges.
For more poaching and conservation news, along with dope animal facts, check out “Cal’s Week in Review.” New episodes drop every Sunday.