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http://www.ohiodnr.com/home_page/Ne...-Erie-Bass-Poachers-Pay-More-Than-16-000.aspx

Out-of-State Lake Erie Bass Poachers Pay More Than $16,000
Jun
4 Written by: news editor
6/4/2010 12:00 AM

6/4/2010 Three Tennessee men and three Georgia men appeared in Ottawa County Municipal Court in Port Clinton Wednesday for sentencing.

Out-of-State Lake Erie Bass Poachers Pay More Than $16,000
Poachers forfeited two freezers and three bass boats and trailers

SANDUSKY, OH - Three Tennessee men and three Georgia men appeared in Ottawa County Municipal Court in Port Clinton Wednesday for sentencing for taking 141 more than the legal limit of smallmouth bass on Lake Erie last April, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife.

"The Western Basin of Lake Erie remains a prime location for anglers from around the country, and wildlife officers are working hard to keep it that way," said Gino Barna, supervisor of the Division of Wildlife's Lake Erie Law Enforcement Unit. "The 1-800-POACHER hotline is an important source of information for protecting this valuable natural resource."

The six men pled guilty to 30 charges on May 3, 2010, and Magistrate Lou Wargo ordered a pre-sentence investigation. The six fishermen appeared in Ottawa County Municipal Court on June 2, 2010 for sentencing. Magistrate Wargo ordered them to pay a combined total of $16,290 in fines, court costs and restitution.

The restitution included $50 for each fish taken illegally in accordance with legislation that places a value on wild animals unlawfully held, taken, bought, sold or possessed. The men were also ordered to forfeit three bass boats, three trailers and two freezers, which have an estimated value of $32,000. Including the forfeited items, the total cost for the six men was $48,290.

A total of 900 days in jail was handed down between all six men. Magistrate Wargo suspended the jail time pending completion of a probationary period of three years of good behavior. Their fishing licenses were revoked for three years and they will be entered into the Wildlife Violator's Compact and most likely will lose privileges in 33 other states.

During a surveillance project by Division of Wildlife investigators in the Bass Islands area of Lake Erie between April 25 and April 30, investigators observed the men "double and triple tripping." ("Double and triple tripping" refers to catching a limit of fish, returning to shore, then returning to the water the same day to catch an additional limit of fish.) The legal limit for smallmouth bass on Lake Erie is five fish per day from the last Saturday in June through April 30 with a minimum size limit of 14 inches.

Individual sentencing included:
Freelan C. Leffew, 66, of Soddy Daisy, Tennessee - $1,500 in fines, $348 for court costs, three years license revocation, $1,300 in restitution, and forfeiture of a bass boat, a trailer and a freezer.

Freddie Warren, 63, of Wildwood, Georgia - $1,250 in fines, $290 for court costs, three years license revocation, $1,250 in restitution, and forfeiture of a bass boat and trailer.

Charles H. Burkhart, 67, of Ringgold, Georgia - $1,250 in fines, $290 for court costs, three years license revocation, $1,250 in restitution, and forfeiture of a freezer.

Samuel J. Carroll, 65, of Ringgold, Georgia - $1,000 in fines, $232 for court costs, three years license revocation, $1,000 in restitution, and forfeiture of a bass boat and trailer.

Herbert S. Stephens, 58, of Soddy Daisy, Tennessee - $1,000 in fines, $232 for court costs, three years license revocation, and $1,000 in restitution.

Michael T. Leffew, 38, of Hixon, Tennessee - $1,500 in fines, $348 for court costs, three years license revocation, and $1,250 in restitution.
 

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Great a judge that listens and follows the law. thanks for posting this
 

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I think Washington does nail 'em pretty good when they catch them, the problem is not enough 'boots on the ground' to catch everyone. Also, when you are an unemployed meth head, what good does a fine do? I did check and Washington is part of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, so we got that going for us!
 

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Joe Streamer
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Similar enforcement all over the Midwest (I grew up there). I remember watching the DNR in Minnesota confiscate a truck, trailer and boat for being over the limit on walleyes. They were stopping cars on the main highway between Duluth and Int'l Falls one Saturday and searching them.
 

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Having heard and talked with local WDFW enforcement, I think it happens, it just doesn't get the press it deserves. They are working their tails off and unfortunately our underfunded, soon to be extinct papers don't find it news worthy. If they aren't paying for advertisement it won't make the paper. I think if we keep helping the WDFW staff out and without any further budgetary cuts, we should know that they are doing there best to prevent poaching and unlawful fishing.
 

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The thread title is not a slam against the folks working enforcement. It is however a slam against the State and its citizens for not looking at poachers as the slimey scum that they are. Up here on the Skagit some feel poaching is a right and game laws were meant to be ignored. Unfortunately a lot of other people that live in Washington just shrug thier shoulders when they hear of poaching. It is accepted here. I will even put myself into the catagory of the unconcerned at times.
 

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Washington is the only state that Ive ever been stopped for a license check. Last week leaving clear lake, we were landing the boat and before we could even tie it down we had a officer pull up. He proceeded to ask to check our coolers for fish and checked our licenses. Most people would complain, I was ecstatic that we got stopped. Just means that they are at least trin to enforce the rules. After our pleasant experience with the officer he took out a spotting scope and started watching other boaters fishing.
 

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I was wade fishing in the lower canyon this past February or March. I was landing a nice rainbow and my son was preparing the camera. After we landed the fish and took the gratuitous photo, he asked me for my license. I thought this was a great geasure to let me enjoy the moment and then go about his business. He was polite and I appreciated his efforts. I even told him that. I think the folks in Washington are doing a pretty good job considering the miles of unihabited streams and forests that they need to cover. When I lived in NY, the game wardens there were usually bold and crass in there efforts so that made the sight of their vehicles send chills through you, even if you were a good sportsman.
 

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They were stopping cars on the main highway between Duluth and Int'l Falls one Saturday and searching them.
If law enforcement did this in Washington State they'd get crucified! ACLU lawyers would be swarming and a feeding frenzy would begin.
 

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Kerry, great post and great commentary. I wish that WDFW had more resources to really get out and stick it to poachers.
 

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I have been checked very few times by WDFW in my 50+ years of fishing, but every encounter was pleasant and informative. I believe our enforcement people do a great job when they can, but there are just too few of them. I always thank them for checking and have, on a couple of occasions, asked them to take a look at someone else who I believe might be in violation of the law. I've always been thanked and encouraged to call it in when I see something suspicious.

Personally, the guys in Kerry's story need to lose their fishing privileges forever. IMHO.

Jeff
 

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It pays to have the hotline phone number on your phone. A couple of years ago, I watched the WDFW officers confiscate salmon, crabs, and fishing gear from an individual who was fishing illegally from the pier near my home. The issue was no license and over-fishing the two salmon limit from the dock as well as undersized crabs. They were not happy with the guy at all but there are just palin too few enforcement officers to go around. It doesn't appear as we will get any more for a while so I would think it's up to us to get pictures, license plate numbers, etc. so that the State PAtrol and Sheriff's departments can help out.
 

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As most of us know WDFW can conduct vehicle checkpoints for fish and wildlife violations. This is commonly seen during deer and elk season on popular hunting roads. However per state statute WDFW cannot do these check stations on state highways, and many of the smaller roads in eastern washington for example are actually state highways. Actually during abalone season in California they bring in officer from all over the state and conduct mandatory check stations and the lineup can be miles long, however there are many good citations made via this method.
 

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It pays to have the hotline phone number on your phone. A couple of years ago, I watched the WDFW officers confiscate salmon, crabs, and fishing gear from an individual who was fishing illegally from the pier near my home. The issue was no license and over-fishing the two salmon limit from the dock as well as undersized crabs. They were not happy with the guy at all but there are just palin too few enforcement officers to go around. It doesn't appear as we will get any more for a while so I would think it's up to us to get pictures, license plate numbers, etc. so that the State PAtrol and Sheriff's departments can help out.
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The hotline number is a good tool, but definitely not the best, and I've been told this by WDFW Officers. WDFW Officers are dispatched by the state patrol. The poaching hotline only operates Mon-Fri 8-5 and not during legal holidays. Outside of those hours you should contact your local state patrol office (numbers are in the hunting and fishing regs) because state patrol dispatches WDFW Officers 24/7/365. Most officers actually prefer you to call state patrol rather then poaching hotline because the state patrol has historically been quicker then the poaching hotline on getting the poaching info to the field officers, and in these situations minutes can matter.
 

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I had a WDFW officer coming over to my house on a social visit a few years ago...he was a few minutes late arriving, he explained that he had stopped by a local pier on the way over and wrote up a few tickets! These guys are almost always on duty.

Another thing to keep in mind, these law enforcement officers, almost every interaction they have is with an armed citizen. Sometimes only armed with a fishing knife, but often with a high powered rifle that will go right through their vest. These guys are good dudes and dudettes!
 
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