Habitual Florida Poacher Banned from Hunting for Life

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A Putnam County man known for poaching deer has lost his privilege to hunt in Florida, and dozens of other states, for life.

John "Jay" Frederick Badger Jr. (DOB 07/20/70) of 412 Silver Lake Road, Palatka, pled guilty Oct. 7 to poaching and other charges filed against him last February by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) law enforcement officers.

Putnam County Judge Terry J. Larue found Badger guilty of both felony and misdemeanor violations - including armed trespass, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, taking deer during closed season, taking deer at night with gun and light, petty theft and driving while license is cancelled, suspended or revoked.

As part of his sentence, Badger will begin a six-month stay in the Putnam County Jail Nov. 5. After that, he will serve one year of house arrest, followed by three years on probation. He is also required to successfully complete six months of parenting classes, and he has forfeited to the FWC his guns and contraband, including his mounted heads of illegally killed deer. He also must pay about $500 in court-related costs.

During his court appearance, Badger was advised that the maximum penalty for his convictions is 10 years in state prison and a $10,000 fine, which his sentence will revert to if he violates the terms of his probation.

But the worst of it for Badger may be that the judge permanently suspended his privilege to hunt. Not only did he lose that privilege in Florida, but also in the dozens of other states that hold cooperative agreements for convicted poachers.

"This arrest and subsequent conviction of a well-known Putnam County poacher should send a strong message to other poachers of Putnam County: 'We are not playing,'" said FWC Officer Troy Starling.

Badger landed in the Putnam County Jail Feb. 26, charged with 17 felonies and misdemeanors for violations that occurred on Plum Creek Timber Co. property in Hollister, in his yard under a streetlight when he lived in Interlachen, and on public roads.

For several months prior to arresting Badger, Starling had been investigating the man, based on information about a deer he had killed illegally and had in his possession. At the same time, fellow FWC officers in Putnam County were using video surveillance equipment to watch Badger illegally accessing private property without permission, with a firearm, and using his 13-year-old-son as a lookout and driver.

With the help of the surveillance equipment, Capt. Gregg Eason finally apprehended Badger at night on Dec. 17, 2009, while Badger was leaving the Plum Creek Timber Co. property. Badger had his son with him and was driving without lights to avoid detection. Eason happened to be nearby and was able to respond quickly when he got a call that Badger was there.

As Badger left the property, Eason slipped in behind him with no lights. When Badger stopped at a stop sign, Eason turned on his lights, including the blue ones.

"It was one of those moments poachers dread," said Eason.

"Before the night was over, Badger confessed his crimes and, two months later, turned himself in to Starling, who booked him into the Putnam County Jail."

Previously, Badger was arrested by FWC officers and convicted in Putnam County in 1995 for attempting to take deer in a closed season, and again in 2003 for possession of doe deer.

Anyone with information about illegal fishing, hunting or other law violations involving fish and wildlife should call the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922 right away. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward if their information leads to an arrest. The hotline is open 24 hours a day.