Conservation Law Enforcement Corner – September 2021

GON Staff | August 31, 2021

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. 

With hunting deer over feeders and scattered corn being legalized statewide several years ago, some hunters who harvest other species, particularly bear and turkey, have run afoul of the baiting laws still on the books for all game species other than deer and wild hogs.

The following account involved a big bear killed by a bowhunter during the 2020 archery season in the north Georgia mountains.

Union County: At approximately 11 a.m. on Sept. 13, 2020, Sgt. Steve Seitz and Game Warden (GW) Jeffery Turner were patrolling Union County when they received a phone call from a deer processor stating a hunter had brought a bear in earlier and needed it to be tagged.

Later that morning the game wardens arrived at the deer processor’s business to tag the bear. While tagging the archery-killed bear that weighed more than 400 pounds live weight, the game wardens noticed fresh whole kernel corn in the bear. The game wardens spoke to the hunter who took the bear into the processor and learned the general location of where the bear was harvested. The game wardens had knowledge of the local area and knowing there was not any agricultural fields planted in corn in that area, they had a reason to believe that the property could be baited.

Sgt. Seitz and GW Turner located the area where the hunter had killed the bear and found a climbing tree stand, a trail camera and whole kernel corn scattered on the ground around the stand. They seized the trail camera with reason to believe that it could contain additional evidence.

When all the evidence was gathered, GW Turner called the hunter asking if he would meet at a local gas station to talk about how the bear was harvested. The hunter agreed to meet the game wardens and admitted to killing the bear from the climbing stand with the whole kernel corn scattered around it.

LED officers typically take evidence photos when violations are suspected, like this image of the bear-baiting incident.

The hunter gave GW Turner consent to look at the pictures on his trail camera while he was present. The pictures on his trail camera showed the hunter placing corn near his stand, and the bear later standing in the scattered corn earlier the morning the bear was killed.

The game wardens charged the hunter with hunting bears over bait, seized his bear, and returned the trail camera. The hunter later pleaded guilty to killing the bear over bait, paid a fine of $380, and the trophy-sized bear was donated to a local state park where it is being mounted to be used for educational programs.


SCI Honors Tompkins For Investigative Efforts

Cpl. Eddie Tompkins (center) was recognized by Georgia Safari Club International (SCI) as the 2020 Investigative Game Warden of the Year. Also pictured is Col. Thomas Barnard (left), the DNR Law Enforcement Division (LED) Director.

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