Michigan man has now lost right to hunt in 48 states.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced a Chippewa County man will be doing jail time and paying a staggering $36,000 in reimbursement and court cost fees stemming from a massive poaching investigation earlier this year.
In an emailed press release, the DNR said 56-year-old Kurt Johnston Duncan pleaded guilty in Chippewa County District Court to seven different poaching crimes. Duncan had been accused back in May of poaching deer, turkey, bear, bobcat, bald eagles and gray wolves, often employing illegal snares to do it.
Authorities ended up arraigning Duncan back in May on no less than 125 different misdemeanor wildlife crime charges. When questioned by authorities, he allegedly told investigators he poached the animals "because he could" and because he "likes to do it." The Detroit News further reports that during the investigation, Duncan sold an undercover DNR officer hides and wolf teeth necklaces.
Duncan ended up working out a plea agreement with prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to three counts of illegal take and possession of wolves, three counts of illegal take and possession of bald eagles and one count of illegal commercialization of a protected species, which was for the wolves.
Even though Duncan took a plea bargain, he was still slapped with a harsher than normal sentencing than is typical of wildlife crime. For one, he was sentenced to 90 days of jail time, although the release notes 30 will be held aside in case of parole violation. The judge also ordered Duncan to pay $36,240 in total with $27,000 acting as reimbursement for the animals and the rest for court fees and costs. He will forfeit all snares, firearms and other items seized by the DNR during their investigation. Duncan has also lost hunting and trapping privileges for life in Michigan and 47 other states as part of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.
The DNR had investigated Duncan for 18 months prior to serving search warrants. In that time, they say he killed at least three bald eagles and 18 wolves. This case may not entirely be over. Back in May, the DNR said they had evidence that may be used to charge additional suspects in the future.
"This is a historical case for the division and department," DNR Chief Gary Hagler said in the release. "We hope this poaching case acts as a deterrent to criminals for committing future wildlife crimes such as this. Our officers did an excellent job working as a team and building this investigation so it could move quickly through the criminal justice system."