July 3, 2003
Gene Adams, a farmer and commercial duck guide in Manila, Arkansas, was sentenced on June 27, 2003, in United States District Court in Little Rock, AR for "placing or directing the placement of bait" for the purpose of dove hunting. U.S. District Judge William R. Wilson, Jr. sentenced Adams to pay a fine of $5,000 and placed him on probation for one year. A special condition of the probation is that Adams cannot dove hunt during his probationary period, and he cannot carry a shotgun while guiding duck hunters.
A cooperative investigation between the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revealed that in early September 2002, Adams distributed wheat grains on concrete cart paths and bare ground on the Big Lake Country Club golf course in Mississippi County, Arkansas. On September 14, 2002, Adams and 16 other hunters were apprehended hunting mourning doves on the golf course.
"Dove hunting is a cherished heritage for southern sportsmen," said Mike Elkins, Deputy Assistant Regional Director for Law Enforcement in the Southeast. "Baiting doves unnaturally concentrates the birds and deprives legal hunters in other areas of game. The presence of such feed decreases the dove's natural wariness, thereby removing the fair chase of the sport."
"Hunting over bait is no more sporting than shooting fish in a barrel," said Elkins.
Dove hunters should be aware that nothing prohibits hunting on areas where grains are found scattered as the result of a normal agricultural planting or harvest.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it unlawful to take mourning doves over lands that have been baited. Baiting is defined in the regulations as the placing or scattering of grains so as to constitute a lure or attraction for birds to a hunting area. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act was amended in 1998 to make it unlawful to hunt over a baited area if the hunter "knows or reasonably should know" that the area was baited. Based on the language in the amended Act and the obvious presence of the wheat on the concrete pathways, each of the other 16 hunters were issued a citation in the amount of $300.
The amended Act also provides for a more substantial penalty for persons who "directed the placement of bait" for the purpose of hunting. Upon conviction, such persons are subject to a statutory maximum fine of $15,000 and one year of imprisonment.
Bud Cummins, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, filed a one count criminal information charging Adams with the violation and Adams entered a guilty plea to the charge.
For more information on the law, hunters should contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 501-324-5643 or the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission at 501-223-6300.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses 542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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