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Five Florida Poachers Fined $24,000, 3 1/2 years Probation

August 9, 2007

Fort Myers, Florida - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced today that five hunters each plead guilty for killing over the legal limit of waterfowl and wanton waste for leaving behind many of the waterfowl they killed while hunting in Hendry County, Florida.

These violations are federal misdemeanor crimes under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and carry a maximum fine of $15,000, six months in jail and five years probation for each count.

United States Magistrate Judge Douglas N. Frazier found Florida residents Javier Garcia, 35, and Manuel Rodriguez, 37, (both from the Tampa area), Daniel Cruz, 42, Reinaldo Roman, 36, and Juan Perez, 37, (all from the Miami area) guilty for the violations of federal wildlife law. Each were sentenced as follows; Garcia received a $6,000 fine, Rodriguez and Cruz each received a $5,000 fine, Perez and Ramon each received a $4,000 fine and each defendant was ordered to pay court costs of $70.00.

In addition, each defendant was placed on federal probation for three-and-a-half years, with a special condition of probation that they may not hunt any wildlife in the United States during their probation period.

"These folks were greedy," said Jim Gale, the lead special agent in the Service's Southeast Region. "They are not hunters and they've done a great disservice to America's hunting tradition.?

Gale went on to say that hunters for decades have paid most of the freight that has made many of wildlife conservation successes of the past century possible through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration program, purchasing duck stamps that benefit land conservation, and supporting of many hunting conservation organizations.

"These men showed a shameful lack of respect for wildlife, violating the ethical standards that true outdoorsmen hold dear,? said Major Brett Norton Commander of Law Enforcement, South Region, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. ?It was great to work with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the case. Such partnerships are crucial to protecting Florida's natural resources."

According to court documents and information provided in court, Garcia, Rodriguez, Cruz, Perez and Ramon were hunting waterfowl in Hendry County, Florida when Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officers in the area witnessed the defendants killing many ducks. As the officers approached, the defendants continued shooting more ducks, then picked through the ducks, taking the ones they wanted and leaving the rest behind. In total, the defendants killed 88 ducks, more than 50 ducks above the legal limit. This equates to each hunter killing more than twice the legal limit.

The investigation was referred to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for further investigation and federal prosecution due to the severity of the violation and the gross over limit of waterfowl killed.

This case was investigated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.


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