Macomb hunters fined total of more than $22,000 for exceeding waterfowl limit

The Detroit News

Three Harrison Township men were sentenced and fined a total of $22,500 Thursday for illegally hunting and baiting waterfowl in December, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said.

Richard Schaller, 52, Robert Kucinski, 49, and Timothy Morris, 58, pleaded guilty to a total of 13 misdemeanor charges, including taking and hunting waterfowl over a baited area, and taking and possessing an over-limit of mallards, hen mallards and Canada geese.

In total, the men killed 39 waterfowl, including 23 Canada geese (14 over the limit) and 16 mallards (four mallards over the limit), of which half were hen mallards, the DNR said.

The men permanently forfeited the firearms used to take the waterfowl, and lost the right to hunt waterfowl through February 2022.

In 42nd District Court in New Baltimore, they were each ordered to pay $6,500 in reimbursement to the state — $500 per waterfowl, totaling $19,500 — plus court fines of more than $3,000 collectively.

“Waterfowl are a precious resource to Michiganders,” said Lt. Todd Szyska, law enforcement supervisor of the Department of Natural Resources.

On Dec. 6, the DNR poaching hotline received a tip about hunters possibly exceeding the hunting limit near a pond off Chesterfield Road in Chesterfield Township, said Szyska.

Conservation officers who responded to the call heard gunshots in the area, and saw the men shoot several geese, he said. The officers approached the men as they finished their hunt and began collecting waterfowl.

The pond was littered with corn, said the DNR.

The officers also found three other piles of waterfowl hidden in nearby brush, said the DNR. One of the men told them he had spread out a 50-pound bag of corn because he wanted the hunters to “have a good hunt.”

Baiting waterfowl is federally prohibited and unlawful in Michigan, said the DNR.

The officers confiscated the game, bait and firearms as evidence.

In total, the men killed 39 waterfowl, including 23 Canada geese (14 over the limit) and 16 mallards (four mallards over the limit), of which half were hen mallards.

In the past, people who exceeded hunting limits contributed to low populations of waterfowl and the need for species protection, said Szyska.

Anyone witnessing a natural resources crime or having information about such a crime is encouraged to call or text the DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline at (800) 292-7800.