The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says eight hunters will pay a combined $18,500 related to a 2018 waterfowl poaching investigation.

The men from Macomb, Oakland and St. Clair counties recently were arraigned and pleaded guilty to taking an over limit of geese and failure to retrieve game. Each was ordered to pay $2,312.50 in reimbursement for the illegally harvested birds, in addition to court costs and fines.

In October of 2018, the DNR received an anonymous complaint about significant waterfowl dumping into a private pond near Chesterfield. An officer began investigating the area near where the complaint originated and found large amounts of illegal bait spread on the south side of the pond. After initiating surveillance, eight hunters were observed setting up decoys and entering a box blind facing the pond. The hunters illegally harvested multiple geese and mallards. They also did not retrieve all of their shot game in the field, which is illegal.

After the hunters had taken approximately 20 geese, officers observed two hunters carrying geese and placing them in the bed of a nearby pickup truck, then returning to the box blind to continue to hunt. After a few hours, officers approached the hunters and conducted regulatory checks. When asked about any additional geese, the hunters denied shooting more than what was in their possession.

During individual interviews, the hunters confessed to taking a total of 33 Canada geese, including 21 lying on the ground near the blind and 12 hidden in the back of a pickup truck. The daily limit at the time was three Canada geese per person, meaning the hunters were nine over limit. Conservation officers confiscated the game and firearms from the hunters and ticketed them for illegally taking waterfowl.

This was an important case that required a lot of follow-up in court. Southeast Michigan is an important waterfowl resource to the state and region. I commend the anonymous tipster who reported this complaint. Because of good citizens like this, our officers can help preserve game for deserving, fair hunters.- Chief Gary Hagler, DNR Law Enforcement Division.