Joseph Chait, 38, of Beverly Hills, California, the senior auction administrator of I.M. Chait Gallery, located in Beverly Hills, was sentenced today to one year and one day in prison and a $10,000 fine for conspiring to smuggle wildlife products made from rhinoceros horn, elephant ivory and coral with a market value of at least $1 million, announced Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for the Southern District of New York and Director Dan Ashe for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). On March 9, Chait pleaded guilty to a two-count Information before U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken for the Southern District of New York, who imposed today’s sentence.
“Conspiring in the trafficking endangered wildlife is a serious crime, and those involved in the auction industry should take note that facilitating this trade can result in prison,” said Assistant Attorney General Cruden. “The African Elephant, the rhinoceros, and coral are all deeply threatened species that have undergone dramatic losses in recent decades as the trade in them has become highly lucrative. We must stop this trade, and we will vigorously investigate and prosecute those engaged in it.”
“By illegally trafficking in wildlife, including rhinoceros horns, Joseph Chait and his co-conspirators have fueled the illegal trade in endangered wildlife,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara. “Chait’s conduct, a federal crime for which he will now spend time in prison, threatened the already precarious existence of certain endangered species of animals.” Read more
Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers are seeking information on a bear poaching incident in southwest Kalkaska County. On April 30, a recreational river user found a large black bear carcass in the Manistee River near Rainbow Jim’s Bridge Boat Launch, a DNR-managed boating access site near Coster Road in Springfield Township, located approximately 6 miles southeast of Fife Lake. The river user contacted the DNR Report All Poaching (RAP) Line to report the deceased bear.
According to Sgt. Jeremy Payne, conservation officers responded to the location. After a metal detector confirmed metal within the bear, its carcass was taken off-site and a necropsy – an autopsy of an animal – was performed by DNR conservation officers. The necropsy revealed the 500-pound male black bear died from a shotgun wound during the last week of April.
“Anyone who has information that may assist us in finding the person or persons responsible for the poaching of this bear is asked to contact the DNR,” said Sgt. Jeremy Payne. Read more
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – The last member of group of poachers from western Colorado to face trial agreed to plead guilty to eight misdemeanor violations of the federal Lacey Act in U.S. District Court in Grand Junction on April 6. Nathan Simms, 31, of Grand Junction will face sentencing in June for his role in what veteran wildlife officers called one of the most disturbing cases they had ever seen.
In the plea agreement, Simms accepted a recommendation that he serve a six-month prison sentence for his involvement in the crimes. In addition, he faces a possible lifetime suspension of his hunting and fishing privileges, pending an appearance before a Colorado Parks and Wildlife Hearings Officer.
“We want to make it clear to anyone that chooses to ignore our laws that we take wildlife violations very seriously and our officers will do what it takes to bring them to justice,” said CPW Northwest Regional Manager Ron Velarde. “Criminals involved in this activity can face significant penalties from the courts, which is appropriate when you consider how unethical and destructive poaching is to wildlife.”
Christopher Loncarich of Mack was the owner of the now defunct outfitting business that employed Simms and his wife Caitlin Simms – daughter of Loncarich – her sister Andie Loncarich of Crawford, Nicholaus Rodgers of Medford, Oregon and Marvin Ellis of Grand Junction. The co-conspirators developed a scheme to capture and maim lions and bobcats in western Colorado and eastern Utah, making it easy for their customers to kill. The investigation revealed that most of the clients, many that came from out-of-state and paid up to $7,500 for the opportunity, were unaware of their illegal methods.
Officials apprehended the group after a lengthy investigation beginning in 2007 and continuing through 2010, involving law enforcement officials from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Read more
GW: And, to imagine anyone would whine about this. Good going Maryland!
MISSOULA, Mont. – Boone and Crockett Club applauds the Maryland Hunting Coalition for the passage of The Poaching Restitution Act of 2016 in Maryland. The act has been sent to Governor Larry Hogan for signature into law. The Maryland Hunting Coalition was instrumental in the creation and passage of the act, which will make Maryland one of the most punitive states in America for poaching deer.
In September of 2015, the Maryland Hunting Coalition hosted the First Annual Hunter’s Summit. The most important subject discussed was widespread deer poaching and the lack of sufficient enforcement of established hunting laws. The genesis of The Poaching Restitution Act of 2016 was born from this summit and, with the help of dedicated supporters Maryland State Senator Johnny Ray Salling and Maryland Delegate Anthony O’Donnell, passed by both the state Senate and House of Delegates.
“The Boone and Crockett Club commends the State of Maryland on their commitment to deter poaching of deer with the implementation of some of the stiffest penalties in the nation,” said Club President Morrie Stevens. “Poachers are not hunters. They are thieves that pose a significant threat to our natural resources and circumvent the hard work of wildlife managers, landowners, and hunters who abide by the law to take their game. This new, stricter policy echoes the purpose of B&C’s ‘Poach and Pay’ research program.”
The act not only increases penalties for illegal killing of deer but also creates greater penalties for the poaching of trophy deer, which will be determined by the widely accepted Boone and Crockett Club’s standard for measuring and evaluating trophy quality. With support from optics-maker, Leupold & Stevens, the Club’s Poach and Pay research initiative is aimed at gathering information from all states relative to their poaching restitution policies on what is and is not working as deterrents, and what can be improved upon.
Last week, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the National Wild Turkey Federation gathered with other partners, volunteers and individuals to celebrate the opening of the first Turkey Tracts hunting area, located at Allegan State Game Area in Allegan County.
Sadly, the new Turkey Tracts kiosk, which is a large information station built by volunteers, thoughtlessly was vandalized and destroyed Friday night. It stood for only a few days. Read more
Investigation continues into thefts in Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties
Contact: Lt. James Gorno at 989-732-3541 or John Pepin, 906-226-1352
Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers are continuing to investigate the theft of sugar maple logs from public state-managed lands in three northern Lower Peninsula counties.
Three males in their mid-20s, one each from – Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties – have been arrested and charged with 1-year misdemeanors or 5-year felonies for removal of forest products. Names are being withheld pending arraignments.
The arrest warrants were issued by prosecutors in Cheboygan and Charlevoix counties. Officers expect more charges to be authorized as the investigation moves forward.
Late last year, conservation officers began receiving public complaints about large sugar maple trees being cut on state forestland. Only the thickest part of the trees – the lowest 8-12 feet – was taken most often.
In many cases, there were several valuable saw logs left on the site to rot in the woods. More than 100 logs were allegedly stolen.
“This is a clear case of thieves stealing what belongs to all of Michigan’s citizens,” said Sgt. Greg Drogowski of the Gaylord District office. “An analogy to the wasted timber left in the woods is that of a poacher illegally killing a deer and taking only the back straps (tenderloins).” Read more
“The recently reported instances of wanton and wasteful poaching in Minnesota should offend the sensibilities of all ethical and law-abiding hunters and anglers,” Gov. Mark Dayton said. “They are shameful criminal acts, and they should be treated as serious offenses by Minnesota laws.”
Dayton said he wants certain types of poaching to be upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony offense for individuals who take animals above a restitution value of $2,000. More here…
Two rewards totaling $10,000 have been offered for information on the killing of a federally protected grizzly bear in Idaho.
In October 2015, a radio collared grizzly bear was found dead in the Grouse Creek drainage of Bonner County, Idaho. It is a violation of the Endangered Species Act to kill a grizzly bear, which is listed as threatened. The incident was investigated by the Idaho Fish and Game Department and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Read more