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Flagler County Man Arrested For Poaching Alligators, possession of Wildlife & Drugs

June, 2005

A Flagler County man spent at least part of his 46th birthday in the Marion County Jail Wednesday after he turned himself in to state fish and wildlife officials for charges ranging from killing alligators to failing to register a vessel. His bond was set at $37,500.

Gary Ronald Rahme Jr., 46, of Canal Avenue in Bunnell, is charged with six felonies and four misdemeanors, including six felony counts of taking American alligator; one count of possession of fawn deer; one count of possession of marijuana, less than 20 grams; one count of possession of drug paraphernalia; and one count of failure to transfer title of vessel within 30 days.

Officers seized evidence including Rahme’s airboat and a Ford F250 truck. They also seized the fawn deer and took it to a wildlife rehabilitator for care.

Rahme’s recent problems with the law started about a month ago after someone tipped Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) law enforcement officers that some illegal alligator killings were going on in the Orange Springs area of the Ocklawaha River and Rodman Reservoir.

FWC officers launched a two-week investigation that included monitoring nighttime airboat activity in the area. Then, using cutting-edge night-vision technology, pinpointed Rahme on an airboat working a spotlight in an area known to contain alligators.

At about 3 a.m., April 16, officers visited Rahme’s camp and discovered a severed alligator tail in one of his coolers. Rahme admitted to killing that alligator a couple of weeks earlier. He also told them that the alligator bit him when he caught it, but he did not seek medical attention.

Rahme then admitted illegally killing numerous other alligators and taking only their tails, throwing the carcasses back into the water. He also told investigators he had picked up a whitetail deer fawn and was keeping it as a pet.

In the course of the investigation, officers discovered the marijuana and paraphernalia, and that Rahme had not transferred the title to his airboat from the previous owner.

“Ironically, the area of the Ocklawaha River where Mr. Rahme admitted to killing alligators is a legal alligator hunting area during the public waters harvest in September,” said FWC Lt. Gregg Eason, who organized the undercover investigation. “Taking game illegally is stealing from legal hunters and the people of Florida, and unfortunately, it only takes a few illegal hunters to give legal, ethical hunters a black eye.”

FWC law enforcement officers are ever vigilant for those who violate wildlife laws. However, they can’t be everywhere, all the time and so rely on the public’s help to report those involved in illegal activities. Anyone with any information about illegal fish, wildlife or boating activity, is encouraged to call the Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922. The call is free, and the lines are open 24 hours a day. Callers may remain anonymous and are eligible for a reward if their information leads to an arrest.


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