Spotlighters Receive Hefty Fines and Jail Time

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Two Muhlenberg County men are in jail facing stiff fines after pleading guilty to charges of attempting to take deer by spotlighting, and a Wayne County man was fined $1,140 for illegally killing a black bear in District Court actions this week.

Roy O’Bannon, 26, and James Ed Martin, 26, both of Central City, pled guilty Monday and were sentenced each to 12-months in jail and fined $1,130.50 by Muhlenberg District Judge Brian Wiggins.

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources conservation officers observed the men spotlighting and attempting to take deer three days prior to the start of the modern gun deer season. Wiggins later suspended all but 10 days of the jail sentence.

Acting on a spotlighting activity tip, Sgt. Kenny Kemp, of Butler County, and Officer Scott McIntosh, of Todd County, saw an older model Ford pickup shining deer on the Rockport- Paradise Road in Muhlenberg County near the TVA Paradise Plant. They followed the vehicle for nearly two miles and witnessed its occupants throw the spotlight out the window as they were attempting to stop it.

The men had a loaded 30-06 rifle inside. The officers confiscated the rifle and spotlight and cited both men with attempting to take deer out of season and criminal littering.

In addition to the jail time, the men were fined $130.50 court costs, $500 criminal littering, $500 for attempting to take deer out of season, lost their hunting privileges for three years, ordered to forfeit their Remington 30-06 rifle and spotlight, and placed on probation for two years.

"This sends a strong message that conservation and wildlife are a vital part of this community, and that wildlife criminal acts will be handled accordingly," said Sgt. Kemp. "Muhlenburg County has an excellent court system. The judge and county attorney are great!"

Jeff McGuire, 38, of Monticello, pled guilty, also on Monday, to illegally killing a black bear and was fined $1,140 in Wayne District Court.

Wayne District Judge Mike Lawson levied the penalty, but suspended $500 of the fine on the condition McGuire not have any further hunting or fishing violations for one year. The suspended fine will be reinstated if he commits further violations.

KDFWR officers Sharkley Stonewall and Joby Gossett opened an investigation November 24th after receiving notice from National Park Service biologist Leslie Smith that the bear had been killed at an Abbott-Broadhurst Road address in the Barrier Community of Wayne County.

The investigation and interviews determined that the bear was shot the previous night while rummaging through garbage at McGuire’s residence.

KDFWR large game biologist Jonathan Day reminded people that it is not legal to kill black bears in the Commonwealth. "Black bears were nearly eliminated from the state about 100 years ago," he said. "But they are returning to the state primarily due to natural movement from surrounding states and due of an increase in suitable habitat here in Kentucky.

"Bears are shy, secretive animals that do not need our help to find food," he said. "But they can come to associate people with food who intentionally feed them, leave scraps of food out for pets, or allow trash and garbage to collect near their homes.

"If you live in bear country, it is best to put your garbage out on the morning of collection instead of the night before," he said.