FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Diana M. Hawkins May 1, 1996 LARGE GROUP OF HUNTERS CHARGED IN FLORIDA DOVE BAITING CASE
After unlawfully shooting 448 doves and discarding the carcasses of additional doves and other illegally taken, protected migratory birds, a group of 88 Florida hunters were apprehended and charged in a Gainesville, FL, U.S. District Court on various hunting violations. These included hunting doves on a baited field, exceeding the daily bag limit, hunting with unplugged shotguns, and hunting without a state license. The group forfeited collateral and paid fines totaling $38,750.
When U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement personnel apprehended the hunters on October 13, 1995, at a location known as Sanchez Field in Northwest Florida's Dixie County they found the entire area, which included adjacent roads and fields, heavily baited with whole kernel corn, chopped corn, milo, wheat, millet and bahia. The bait was clearly visible to anyone entering the area. As the agents entered the field to contact hunters, an unknown number of hunters fled to avoid apprehension. Beer containers were on and near the hunting area, and four individuals initiated a pushing and shoving incident with one of the Federal agents.
Since the mid-1930s, Federal hunting regulations have prohibited the baiting of migratory game birds because the practice concentrates and conditions birds to a specific location; thereby, making the birds more unwary and vulnerable to the gun. It also diminishes legitimate hunters' opportunities for an ethical hunt in nearby areas. Daily bag limits are established annually to prevent the over-harvesting of a species, which can lead to serious depletions in bird populations. A shotgun capable of holding more than three shells is unlawful because it can lead to over-harvesting and the unnecessary crippling of countless birds.
The Fish and Wildlife Service requests hunters to take the following precautions to avoid violating the dove baiting regulations.
1) It is a hunter's obligation to know and to adhere to published hunting regulations. Prior to hunting, hunters should obtain a copy of the current regulations and familiarize themselves with the regulations. Contact the Fish and Wildlife Service or state game and fish agency, if you have any questions about the regulations.
2) If invited to hunt an area you are not familiar with, ask the host if the area has been baited or if any grain has been placed on the area.
3) Prior to hunting, inspect the area to be hunted. If you see exposed grain, ask the person conducting the hunt about it and determine if that area is legal to hunt.
4) If you see grain in your hunt area that is not there as a result of normal and bona fide agricultural operation or lawfully manipulated wildlife food plot, do not hunt there.
5) For safety reasons, never consume alcohol while hunting. Alcohol and gunpowder do not mix.
Persons having questions about the Federal migratory bird hunting regulations may call one of the following Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement offices located in Florida.
X X X Release #96-25
1996 News Releases