A Michigan hunter named Kurt Johnston Duncan was sentenced Tuesday under a plea deal after being accused of poaching numerous species, including 18 gray wolves over the past 18 months.
Wolves are protected in Michigan and are on the federal endangered species list, they are off limits to hunters.
56-year-old Duncan pleaded guilty in September to seven poaching crimes following an investigation by Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers.
Chippewa County District Court Judge Eric Blubaugh sentenced Duncan to pay a total of $36,240; $27,000 as reimbursement for the animals illegally taken and $9,240 in court fees and costs. Duncan also received 90 days of jail time; 30 of which will be held in aside should he violate probation which will last between 18 and 24 months.
Perhaps most importantly, Duncan was penalized with a lifetime revocation of all hunting and trapping licenses in Michigan; including that he may not assist anyone else in any hunting or trapping activities. Duncan is not allowed to hunt in 48 states that are members of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.
“This is a historical case for the division and department,” Chief Gary Hagler, DNR Law Enforcement Division, said in a statement. “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.”
The Michigan DNR’s months-long investigation of Duncan identified 125 wildlife misdemeanor crimes.
Species involved in the charges also include: deer, turkey, bear, and bobcat. DNR law enforcement detectives said that Duncan was using the animals for a variety of reasons including crafts and selling or disposing of them. They also stated that he was catching the animals because he could and “likes to do it.” That is sick.
On September 24th, Duncan accepted a plea deal by Chippewa County Prosecutor Robert Stratton. Duncan pleaded guilty to three counts of the illegal take and possession of wolves, three counts of the illegal take and possession of bald eagles, and one count of illegal commercialization of a wolf which, as noted above, is a protected species in Michigan.
Conservation officers in Michigan are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety, and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement duties and life-saving operations in the communities they serve.
Anyone witnessing a natural resources crime or has information about such a crime is encouraged to call or text the DNR’s Report All Poaching Hotline at 800-292-7800.
You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg