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.
A Pennsylvania man is going to prison after he accidentally shot his elderly neighbor while trying to kill a deer. But this wasn’t your typical case of mistaken identity in the woods.
Michael Lloyd, 41, had returned from a hunting trip in December of 2021 when he stopped in his neighbor’s driveway to pop off two rounds at a deer from his .45-caliber handgun, according to local media. Lloyd missed the deer (of course), but he did hit his 83-year-old neighbor, who was standing in the bushes behind the deer.
Lloyd stayed at the scene to render aid, which is probably why he’s only spending between three months and 2 years in jail for reckless endangerment rather than a much longer stint for manslaughter. The elderly neighbor survived but has reportedly been struggling to recover, as you might imagine.
Along with his prison sentence, Lloyd will have his hunting license revoked for five years and will pay $29,000 in restitution. He also apologized multiple times before the sentencing, claimed to have given away all his guns, and said he’d never hunt again.
Yellowstone National Park caused a minor firestorm on social media after they posted an image of a man trying to carry a baby bison.
That’s actually not what got everyone so upset. Park officials explained that after the calf became separated from its herd crossing the Lamar River, the man pulled the calf away from the river and pushed it back onto the road. Park rangers later tried to reunite the calf with its mother, but the mother rejected it–presumably because it had been handled by a person.
Some folks were upset at the man for interfering with Yellowstone wildlife, but even more people were upset because park rangers had to euthanize the calf after they were unable to reunite it with its herd. Social media users wondered why Yellowstone did not care for the bison or send it to another facility.
Park officials explained that federal and state regulations prohibit the transport of bison out of Yellowstone unless those bison are going to meat processing or scientific research facilities. The park has a quarantine facility, but officials decided that a newborn calf abandoned by its mother was not a good candidate for quarantine. It sounds like the calf wasn’t likely to survive no matter what the rangers did.
So, they killed it and left its body on the landscape because, quote, “national parks preserve natural processes.”
The man, who some “Cal’s Week in Review” listeners pointed out looks exactly like Mike Ehrmantraut from the TV show “Breaking Bad,” has been identified as Clifford Walters of Hawaii. He pleaded guilty to one count of feeding, touching, teasing, frightening, or intentionally disturbing wildlife, the U.S. attorney's office for Wyoming said. He was ordered to pay around $1,000 in a fine and payment to the park's wildlife fund.
Pennsylvania game wardens busted six individuals last week for allegedly poaching between 100 and 200 whitetail deer over the last six months “just for fun.”
In what officials are calling a “complete disregard for our wildlife resources,” these six yahoos left most of those deer to rot after killing them last fall and winter. Three of the individuals–Hunter Atherton, Abigale Hoover, and Caillou Patterson–were 20 years old. The other three were juveniles.
Witnesses reported dead deer in their yards and fields, and wardens observed the poachers spotlighting deer at night and shooting them with a .22 Magnum rifle. When asked, they told wardens that they shot the deer, quote, “just for fun.”
They likely won’t be having much fun for a while. Some of their charges are felonies carrying a maximum sentence of 36 months in jail and a $15,000 fine. Let’s hope the court opts to teach these youngsters a lesson and nip these budding poachers before they blossom.
Up in Washington State, another poacher got busted after hunters reported seeing him on their trail cameras in real-time.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police reported that they received a call from a hunter who had seen a man with a rifle on his cellular trail cam. The hunter saw a pack of dogs chasing a bear, and then the man walked by about 20 minutes later.
A game warden was dispatched to the area, and it wasn’t long before she met the 31-year-old suspect walking out of the woods. He at first claimed that he was just exercising his dogs, and he was no longer carrying his rifle. But the warden noticed fresh lacerations on the dogs’ faces, and the man soon led wardens to the dead bear, his rifle, and handgun.
He will be facing charges for closed-season bear hunting, unlawful use of dogs to pursue bear, hunting while trespassing, and waste of big game.
“The stars lined up on this case,” said Captain Dan Chadwick. “We were fortunate that this crime was captured by a cellular trail camera that alerted the owner who then quickly called it in.”
All of the poacher’s charges except hunting while trespassing are gross misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine, plus a $2,000 criminal wildlife penalty.
A Wyoming man spent three days in jail and was forced to pay over $1,000 in fines and court costs after he released a bobcat from a trap.
Back in November, 40-year-old Adam Roich posted on his Facebook page that he had released a bobcat from a leg-hold trap and had been injured in the process, according to the news outlet SweetWaterNow. The Facebook post showed Roich with cuts to his arm and face and included a photo of the bobcat.
The man deleted the post, but not before someone notified Game and Fish officials. A warden visited the trap site later that day and found evidence that Roich had been at the scene. Even though the man pleaded no contest to unlawful release of a furbearer from a trap, he still maintains the cat attacked him first.
“This cat jumped on me and chewed me up pretty good. It took everything I had to get control of this bobcat,” he said. “During this process, I was able to free the cat from the trap as I really did not know what else to do in the situation.”
I have an idea or two that may have worked better.
Along with probation and fines, Roich was also ordered not to go within 500 yards of any legally set traps.
In Texas, a duck hunter was given multiple citations and warnings after game wardens found 18 whole duck carcasses in the dumpster at his mobile home park.
An employee at the park notified wardens about the ducks, and when confronted, the hunter admitted to throwing them in the trash. He explained that he had accepted ducks from two other hunters after attending a guided hunt. He threw those ducks in the bed of his truck and drove somewhere else for another hunt the next day. He said he no longer felt like cleaning the ducks when he returned home, so he threw them in a dumpster.
In a first-of-its-kind lawsuit, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife is suing a hunter for illegally importing a deer head from Wisconsin.
The hunter, Nicholas Behringer, already admitted to bringing a deer head back from Wisconsin in violation of Kentucky law, and he paid the $50 fine in addition to court fees.
But for the first time ever, the Kentucky DFW is bringing a civil suit seeking nearly $1,900 in damages. That amount represents the department's costs of investigation, testing, prosecution and disposal of the infected carcass parts.
Behringer legally checked his 8-point buck in accordance with Wisconsin's regulations, according to a Kentucky DFW press release. He then brought the intact head of the deer into Kentucky for taxidermy, in violation of Kentucky's prohibition on the importation of deer carcasses or high-risk parts having tissue potentially infected with Chronic Wasting Disease.
The deer tested positive for CWD and still contained the brain and spinal cord, but it remained frozen and so posed no risk of spreading CWD into Kentucky.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife was seeking the public’s help in identifying a woman who brought a baby raccoon into a Petco in the city of Auburn.
The woman brought the raccoon into the store trying to get its nail trimmed, and multiple store patrons handled the raccoon, and some even kissed it.
The Maine wildlife department later posted an update on its Facebook page that the raccoon had been located and did not test positive for rabies. No word on whether the woman is facing charges or penalties.