Undercover Investigation Bags 14 Poachers
An undercover investigation conducted by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks and prosecuted by the South Dakota Attorney General's Office has resulted in a string of hunting-related convictions.
The convictions came as part of covert wildlife law enforcement investigation work conducted during the 1999 and 2000 hunting seasons at the William (Bill) Moschell commercial hunting operation near Fedora, S.D.
"Over the course of the past few years, our conservation officers received numerous citizen complaints about the hunting tactics used as part of the commercial hunting operation," said Emmett Keyser, assistant director for the Division of Wildlife.
"I think it's safe to assume there are a number of people in Miner County who were pleased with the outcome of this investigation and the penalties handed down to these defendants. In my opinion, the behavior exhibited by members of this hunting party was not only illegal, it was reprehensible."
During the investigation, wildlife agents witnessed numerous hunting violations, including:
- Use of two-way radios from a motor vehicle while hunting both big and small game;
- Discharging a firearm at a wild animal from a motor vehicle;
- Hunts conducted with more than 20 people in a hunting group;
- Possession of hen pheasants;
- Use of motor vehicles to disturb or chase game;
- Unlawful possession of big game and failure to tag big game, and;
- Lack of or illegal possession of valid South Dakota hunting licenses.
Bill Moschell, Fedora, was convicted of 15 hunting violations and was sentenced to more than two years in jail. All but 60 of those days were suspended. He is ordered to pay the court over $5,000, and his hunting privileges have been revoked for three years.
Denis Moschell, Howard, was convicted of five hunting violations and was sentenced to more than three years in jail. All but 60 days of his sentence were suspended. Moschell is also ordered to pay the court over $4,000, and his hunting privileges have been revoked for three years.
Gene Smith, Mound, Minn., was convicted of three hunting violations and was sentenced to more than a year in jail. All but 60 days of the sentence were suspended. Smith is ordered to pay the court nearly $1,600 and his hunting privileges have been revoked for three years.
Over the next three years, Bill Moschell, Denis Moschell and Smith will each serve their 60-day jail sentences in three separate, 20-day increments each starting the day prior to the opening day of pheasant season.
Additionally, Rodney Moschell, Fedora, was convicted of two hunting violations as part of this investigation. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and ordered to pay nearly $600. His entire jail sentence was suspended on the condition he obeys all laws and pays his fine in a timely manner.
Larry Anderson, Sioux Falls, was also convicted of two hunting violations. He was fined nearly $600, and his hunting and trapping privileges were revoked for one year.
During the most recent proceedings, Jay Goldammer, Howard, had a 30-day suspended jail sentence revoked for failing to comply with the conditions of his previous plea agreement, stemming from this investigation. He was placed in the custody of the Miner County Sheriff.
Kurt Gartner, Plymouth, Minn.; Roger Pieper, Brandon; Dwayne Roby, Howard; Kerry Donahue, Dimock; John Grizzle, Pocola, Okla.; Jon Schmidt, Parkston; Randy Shumaker, Howard; and James Roby, Wentworth were all previously convicted on 16 counts of related hunting violations that occurred during the undercover operation.
"We owe a great deal of thanks to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for their assistance in this operation," Keyser said. "They were kind enough to assign two of their conservation officers to assist in this undercover operation. In addition, the South Dakota Attorney General's Office should be commended for their diligence in prosecuting these individuals on behalf of the people of South Dakota."
Keyser added that citizen participation is a vital part of wildlife law enforcement. He encourages anyone who witnesses or learns of a wildlife law violation to call the Turn In Poachers hotline (1-800-592-5522), the local conservation officer or county sheriff.