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Maryland Natural Resources Police Charge Two Juveniles with Poaching and Theft
TRAPPE ó Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) officials recently charged two Eastern Shore juveniles with 35 hunting violations and five theft charges each following a two-month investigation that concluded when officers stopped the two individuals on a traffic violation.
NRP officers had received reports of illegal hunting activity and waterfowl decoy thefts in the southern part of Talbot County, some of which involved an identified vehicle being seen in the area before or after the incidents occurred. In response, a surveillance operation was set up in the area of Schoolhouse Road near Trappe. Some time later, a vehicle matching the description, operated by a 17-year-old male from Easton along with two male passengers, 16-year-olds from Easton and Trappe, was stopped on a traffic violation.
Upon approaching the vehicle, officers noticed a loaded rifle under a jacket on the front seat. A search of the vehicle revealed another loaded rifle in the trunk along with a pair of whitetail deer antlers, a spotlight, hand saw, night vision goggles and two cameras. The rifles and equipment were seized as evidence.
Officers later developed the film in the cameras and found photographs of two of the juveniles posing with several dead deer at night. One antlered deer matched the antlers seized from the vehicle. Officers later located a deer carcass near Kates Point and Bambury Roads and matched the antlers from the vehicle with the carcass. A copper projectile consistent with the same caliber of rifle from the vehicle was also found in the carcass. NRP officers located several other dead deer in the area containing similar projectiles along with empty shell casings of the same caliber. Some of the carcasses had the antlers or heads removed by a saw.
On February 10, NRP officers executed a search and seizure warrant at the Easton home of the 17-year-old. Five pairs of whitetail deer antlers were seized from the juvenileís bedroom. Also located and seized from a shed at the residence were 30 full body waterfowl decoys. Upon further investigation, 32 additional decoys were located at another location for a total of 62 decoys.
Two of the juveniles, the 17-year-old from Easton and 16-year-old of Trappe, were charged with five counts each of the following seven Natural Resources violations:
Each of the hunting charges has a maximum fine of $1,500 and or six months imprisonment for first time offenders. In addition, if found guilty, the individuals could lose the privilege to hunt in the state for a period of two to five years and all evidence seized can be forfeited to the state. Both juveniles were also referred to the Department of Juvenile Justice for five counts of theft under $500. All the decoys recovered were returned to their owners. The third juvenile 16, of Easton was not charged.
- hunting/possessing deer during closed season;
- hunting deer at night;
- hunting on private land without written permission;
- hunting from a vehicle;
- having a loaded weapon in a vehicle;
- using a rifle to hunt deer in an area restricted to shotgun only; and
- shooting on, from, or across a roadway.
Hunting at night (also known as jacklighting) is not only illegal but also unsafe. In addition, the NRP remind hunters to always:
The Maryland Natural Resources Police encourage citizens to call and report illegal hunting activity at 1-800-628-9944.
- Identify your target
- Be aware of what is beyond your target
- Treat every gun as if it were loaded
- Never point a gun at anything you donít want to shoot
- Unload guns when not in use
The Maryland Natural Resources Police is an enforcement arm of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). With an authorized strength of 285 officers and a dedicated staff of civilian and volunteer personnel, the Natural Resources Police provide a variety of services in addition to conservation and boating law enforcement duties throughout the State of Maryland. These services include homeland security, search and rescue, emergency medical services, education, information and communications services on a round the clock basis. NRP is the only police force aside from the Maryland State Police that has statewide jurisdiction.
March 22, 2005
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 446,000 acres of public lands and 18,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov