The group pled guilty to 71 charges related to poaching and will pay over $23,000 in fines and expenses.
Six York County residents pled guilty to the poaching of 18 whitetail deer last month. Prison sentences were not handed down to the four adults and two minors in connection to their guilty pleas on 71 charges related to the illegal taking of wildlife. A plea agreement with the Magisterial District Judge of Spring Grove ordered the six to pay more than $23,000 in fines and court costs.
The violations began in September of 2014 and spanned a season-long poaching spree that ended in December. Amy Daugherty, 44, Jennifer Rosenberry, 41, Cain Rosenberry, 30, Joshua Runkle, 21, and two minors admitted to shooting all 18 whitetail deer during that time.
The first reports of illegal activity near Spring Grove were received Dec. 10. 17 deer had already been killed by that time.
Warrants to search the Daugherty home were obtained and served on Dec. 18. Multiple hides and skulls were found in the house, along with a dry erase board tallying the group's harvest totals for the season:
A total of 20 unlawful deer were harvested by all parties involved, including several tagged using Maryland tags. Over half of the animals were killed at night time or during closed season, using lights, from the highway. Some were taken on private property on which the individuals had no permission to hunt. One was shot from the vehicle. Ten of the animals poached were killed with the firearm forfeited to the Game Commission. The deer were all processed and packaged at the Daugherty residence.
Harsher penalties for the illegal taking of wildlife in Pennsylvania were passed in 2010 in an effort to curb the "lenient" reputation of wildlife enforcement. Under the stricter laws, the taking of a single deer could result in three months in prison, a $1,000 fine (formerly around $250), and a five-year ban on hunting. More serious violations, such as killing five or more big game animals, could result in three years in prison, larger fines, a felony conviction, and a fifteen-year ban on hunting.
Pennsylvania has around 1,000 poaching cases annually, and critics say the tougher laws have done little to curb the most egregious of poaching offenses. Game officials contend that the laws give them more muscle in the field to prosecute offenders and follow up on leads.
Pennsylvania's Turn In A Poacher program offers a $250 reward for any tip that results in a conviction.