Pennsylvania Apprehends Five Poachers

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On Nov. 30, an anonymous tip from a concerned citizen led Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer Mario Piccirilli to a farm along Turkey Track Road in Conneautville, Crawford County. The information WCO Piccirilli received indicated that five non-resident hunters were illegally shooting deer.

A search of the area resulted in nine illegal deer being confiscated and five individuals being charged with 15 counts of Game and Wildlife Code violations. Their fines totaled $7,500, plus court costs. The individuals were taken into custody and arraigned before District Justice Lincoln Zilhaver and, after failing to post bond, were committed to the Crawford County Jail.

On Dec. 1, the defendants posted bond and pled guilty to all charges at District Justice Rita Marwoods' office in Linesville.

"This was a case of individuals shooting whatever they pleased without regard to seasons or proper license and tagging requirements," WCO Piccirilli stated. "I hope citizens realize how important timely information is to officers investigating and prosecuting these violators. One phone call set this case in motion. Without a concerned citizen these violations would most likely have gone undetected."

WCO Piccirilli was assisted by Deputy WCOs Larry Hergenroeder and John Ittel, Erie County WCO Michael Wojtecki, Crawford County Land Management Group Supervisor Jerry Bish and Northwest Region Director Keith Harbaugh.

The defendants and their penalties are:

Bryan Scott Patterson, age 34, of Madisonville, Tennessee, pled guilty to two counts of unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife and one charge of Unlawful killing or taking of big game, and fined $1,500 plus court costs;

Steven Raymond Belk, age 42, of Athens, Tennessee, pled guilty to two counts of unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife and one charge of unlawful killing or taking of big game, and fined $1,500 plus court costs;

Jeffrey Pernel Millsaps, age 30, of Madisonville, Tennessee, pled guilty to two counts of unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife and one charge of unlawful killing or taking of big game, and fined fine $1,500 plus court costs;

Clifford Lee Williams Jr., age 34, of Madisonville, Tennessee, pled guilty to three counts of unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife and one count of unlawful killing or taking of big game, and fined $2,000 plus court costs; and

Kevin Michael Rushing, age 27, of Oskaloosa, Iowa, pled guilty to one count of unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife and one charge of unlawful killing or taking of big game, and fined $1,000 plus court costs.

Created in 1895 as an independent state agency, the Game Commission is responsible for conserving and managing all wild birds and mammals in the Commonwealth, establishing hunting seasons and bag limits, enforcing hunting and trapping laws, and managing habitat on the 1.4 million acres of State Game Lands it has purchased over the years with hunting and furtaking license dollars to safeguard wildlife habitat. The agency also conducts numerous wildlife conservation programs for schools, civic organizations and sportsmen's clubs.

The Game Commission does not receive any general state taxpayer dollars for its annual operating budget. The agency is funded by license sales revenues; the state's share of the federal Pittman-Robertson program, which is an excise tax collected through the sale of sporting arms and ammunition; and monies from the sale of oil, gas, coal, timber and minerals derived from State Game Lands.