Conservation Law Enforcement Corner – November 2021
Florida officer tips Georgia about illegal activities in Wilcox County; neighborhood alligator killed illegally in Lowndes County.
The Conservation LE Corner is designed to highlight the efforts of Georgia DNR Law Enforcement Division (LED) officers who, among their many duties, protect Georgia’s wildlife, sportsmen and natural resources from game-law violators.
Wilcox County: On Oct. 20, 2020, Game Warden Kennedy received an email through Sgt. Greg Wade from Florida Wildlife Commission officer David Travis regarding two hunters, a man and woman, who lived in Florida but have hunted in Wilcox County, Georgia. FWC Officer David Travis asked if we could determine if either hunter had licenses in Georgia. No licenses were found for the hunters.
FWC officer David Travis forwarded pictures to Game Warden Kennedy. The pictures included screenshots of Facebook messages. One picture was of a woman holding the head of a small 3-point buck with the caption “Tater found him for us he’s a 3-point looked bigger in the field lol,” and another screenshot was of Facebook messages between the man and friends stating that he was headed to Georgia and he would “bring back some deer meat and peanuts.”
Game Warden Kennedy investigated the poaching case and interviewed the owners of the land the man and woman were hunting on. The landowners stated they had been hunting deer on the property on the weekend of Oct. 17, 2020, and he also stated that they were not welcome back to hunt on the land anymore following that day. Game Warden Kennedy discussed a plan with immediate supervisor Sgt. Morty Wood and Cpt. Bob Lynn and determined that Game Warden Kennedy should mail the citations to FWC officer David Travis and have him deliver those citations to the Florida hunters.
On Dec. 21, 2020, Game Warden Kennedy issued three citations and two warnings to both Mr. Steven Dalton and Ms. Kaitlin Dyke. Citations were issued for nonresident hunting without big game licnese, nonresident hunting without a license, and failure to record game. Warnings were issued for hunting without orange and no reasonable effort to retrieve game. Game Warden Kennedy mailed the citations to the Carrabelle Field Office, and on Jan. 21, 2021, FWC officer David Travis delivered those citations to Mr. Dalton and Ms. Dykes and explained the citations and court information.
On April 7, 2021, Game Warden Kennedy attended court in Abbeville at the Wilcox County courthouse. Kaitlin Dykes and Steven Dalton both decided to change their plea to guilty. Judge Shawn Rhodes accepted the plea, and the case was closed on April 7, 2021.
One suspect paid $750 in fines for three citations and the second paid $600 in fines for three citations. Both are currently on probation for eventual license suspension by the Wilcox County judge if another hunting violation is documented.
Lowndes County: At approximately 7 p.m. on June 18, 2020, a Lowndes County Sheriff’s deputy contacted DNR officer Sgt. Patrick Dupree through GSP Dispatch with information that he had observed several subjects gathered around an alligator, with one possessing a rifle, in a Dasher neighborhood at Winston Lane. The deputy said he heard a rifle shot as he was driving by. He made initial contact with the group and gathered information from the suspect.
“I arrived on scene at approximately 7:30 p.m., spoke with the deputy and the suspect at the property off Turner Road where he had just dumped the gator carcass,” Sgt. Dupree said in the incident report.
The 53-year-old Valdosta man admitted to shooting the alligator and said he was familiar with Georgia’s alligator seasons and that he knew he should have called DNR instead of shooting the gator. The tail had been removed from the gator for consumption.
An adult female who was on scene retrieved the tail from a nearby residence and surrendered it at my request. The gator carcass (and tail) was seized, and the man was issued a citation for hunting alligators out of season.
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