Chippewa County man arraigned on 125 misdemeanor charges for poaching.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources say a Pickford man poached 18 wolves and three bald eagles after an investigation that lasted for months.
Kurt Johnston Duncan, 56, was arraigned Wednesday in Chippewa County District court on a staggering 125 misdemeanor charges involving wildlife. He pleaded not guilty to the charges. The DNR did not give a lot of details on this case, but they shared a photo of officers investigating illegal snares allegedly set by Duncan. The image appears to show a bird of some kind snared next to some logs in the corner of the picture.
The DNR said the wolves and eagles were all killed in the last 18 months and that Duncan has also been accused of poaching bobcat, bear, turkey and deer. In their press release, the DNR said the alleged poacher was using the animals for "a variety of reasons." This allegedly includes selling them, using them for crafts or just disposing of the carcasses. In a statement that will likely infuriate law-abiding hunters, Duncan also allegedly told authorities he poached the animals "because he could" and because he "likes to do it."
"We had a team of conservation officers that worked well together throughout this investigation," DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler said in the release. "Investigations like this require a long-term commitment from everyone involved. I want to thank the prosecutors in this case who worked with our officers. We are happy with the outcome and hope this case sets an example to prevent future natural resource crimes."
Because the eagles and wolves are federally protected, those could bring the biggest punishments in the case. Duncan could potentially have to pay a $1,000 fine for each wolf and eagle. He could also receive up to 90 days in jail for each one of those animals. Restitution charges for the eagles and wolves could run as high as $1,500 each per eagle and $500 each per wolf.
Duncan could also serve up to 90 days in jail and pay a $500 fine for each of the other wildlife crimes. In total, the Chippewa County Prosecuting Attorney is seeking $30,000 in restitution for the crimes.
A $500 cash bond was set for Duncan and comes with plenty of conditions. He is not allowed to have possession of a firearm or other weapon. Duncan is also to have no contact with unnamed co-defendants. The DNR says they collected evidence that will be used to charge additional suspects in the future.
Lastly, and unsurprisingly, Duncan is also not allowed to go hunting or fishing. We will keep an eye on this case and bring you updates as it progresses here at Wide Open Spaces.