Nugent Poaching Settlement Soft, but in Line with Other Cases

I thought Ted Nugent’s statement yesterday taking responsibility about his poaching charges was pretty timid. But compared to other people who violate hunting laws, California game warden Patrick Foy says, Nugent was practically a model of civility. Foy has seen plenty of poachers just argue and claim the wardens are somehow out ot get them.

“They never say ‘I was wrong and I want to take responsibility for this,'” Foy says. “He appears to be handling it much better than that. It appears to be making a difference with the nonhunting audience.”

The fact that they caught the violation while watching his TV show shows me he clearly didn’t intend to break the rules. But if a highly successful NRA board member filming a TV show can’t get the rules straight, how can we expect the general public to do it?

Foy says even if Nugent had gone to trial and been found guilty, he wouldn’t have gotten much more penalty than the $1,750 fine (which goes mainly to the courts). He originally faced 11 charges and pled no contest to two. One was a serious “resource” charge deer-baiting. The other was just administrative, with the handling of tags. He had also faced three conspiracy charges since he was out on the northern California black-tailed deer bow hunt with two others.

black  tailed deer

Young male Columbian black-tailed deer, Walter Siegmund

Foy says that California law enforcement often charges people with conspiracy, but the charges usually don’t stick. “The reasoning is that if there’s more than one person they ought to be able to think it through,” he says.

Foy says game wardens are often frustrated that there aren’t more serious penalties. Jail time is only for the most serious offenders, usually those who hunt animals for profit, repeatedly. “Even then, they don’t get jail time till they get caught twice,” he says. Last year the stand issued 3,337 violations for hunting, compared to 12,996 for sport fishing. (That isn’t a sign of being lax on hunters; anglers outnumber hunters in California by about 5 to 1.) The most common citation Foy hands out is for having a loaded gun in the car, which is dangerous but not malicious. Other poachers may get sentenced to work with conservation groups, but Nugent already does plenty of that.

What amazed Foy was that since Nugent’s show wasn’t live he had plenty of time to edit it out. “I was actually pretty shocked. Ted nugent has been around he’s a pretty smart guy,” Foy says. “It’s not like it was live. He didn’t need to put it out there…There it was, a violation, right on TV.”

They figured out the bait because the animal was seen eating off the ground. According to Michigan Hunting Today, 22 states allow hunting over bait, but eight of those only allow it in parts of the state. Foy says states that allow baiting tend to be those that have overwhelming deer populations.

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