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Okeechobee, Florida Man Charged with Unlawful Hunting of Protected Wildlife and Operating Illegal Hunting Guide Service


February 7, 2003

Tom MacKenzie, (404) 679-729


Marcos Jimenez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and Thomas Riley, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Department of Interior - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have announced the indictment and arrest of Lee Austin Lightsey for a variety of illegal hunting activities.

The indictment, which was returned by a federal grand jury in Miami on Tuesday, January 28, 2003, charges Lightsey with violating and conspiring to violate the federal Lacey Act by providing hunting guide services "for the illegal taking, acquiring, possessing and transporting" of protected migratory birds in exchange for a fee. As further alleged in the indictment, in January, 2001, while operating a guided hunting excursion in the vicinity of Lake Istakpoga in Highlands County, Lightsey personally engaged in various illegal activities involving the hunting of federally protected species of migratory birds, and assisted other members of the hunting party in doing the same. According to the indictment, Lightsey, who operated his guiding service under the name "Outwest Farms," was unaware that two members of his hunting party were Special Agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Office of Law Enforcement posing as customers.

In describing the various illegal hunting activities taking place during the course of the investigation, it is alleged that Lightsey committed additional violations of federal hunting regulations promulgated under the authority of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. These migratory game bird hunting violations form the basis of the remaining six counts in the eight-count indictment.

"Migratory game bird hunting is a cherished tradition in America," said Thomas Riley, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast Region. "When individuals violate the law's established to protect and manage the resource, it adversely impacts those who pursue the sport legally and future generations to come."

Specifically, Lightsey is alleged to have:

  1. shot numerous ducks and snipe from an airboat operating under power,
  2. operated his airboat in such a manner as to intentionally "rally" groups of ducks and snipe, essentially forcing the birds to fly in the direction of other members of his hunting party in order to make them easier to kill,
  3. exceeded the legal kill ("bag") limit for certain species of ducks and snipe,
  4. failed to make any effort to pick up ("retrieve") many of the ducks and snipe that were killed during the excursion; and,
  5. subsequently possessing and transporting certain of the ducks and snipe that had been illegally killed. In addition, the indictment alleges that Lightsey shot ducks while possessing illegal ammunition loaded with toxic "lead" shot and made no effort to place required tags identifying which hunter killed the birds on any of the ducks and snipe acquired during the course of the hunting excursion.

The case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Outerbridge.

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