Brothers caught poaching swans in Michigan's U.P.

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Two brothers were ticketed Friday for illegally killing a pair of trumpeter swans in the Upper Peninsula, Michigan Department of Natural Resources officers said.

The brothers were out on Sept. 28, opening day of waterfowl hunting season, in the Upper Peninsula's Baraga County when they spotted the swans.

Conservation Officer Cody Smith is pictured with two trumpeter swans poached on Sept. 28, the opening day of waterfowl hunting season in the Upper Peninsula.

A complaint into the DNR's poaching hotline reported that multiple swans had been shot in the Sturgeon River sloughs, said Conservation Officer Cody Smith.

Smith contacted his partner, Doug Hermanson, and the two officers searched the area, located south of Chassell along U.S. 41. 

Several groups of waterfowl hunters were in the area. Smith and Hermanson surveyed the area and identified suspects – two brothers in their late 20s from Houghton, Smith said.

Officers conducted a waterfowl check and found one of the hunters was in possession of lead shot, according to reports. Lead shot is toxic and is illegal to use for hunting waterfowl.

"We asked the hunters if they had seen any geese, which they said they had not," Smith said. "We spoke to them for a little bit and told them about the ... complaint."

The brothers confessed they killed two trumpeter swans and stashed the birds where they dropped, according to DNR officials. Smith and Hermanson retrieved the swans and issued the pair tickets for killing two trumpeter swans and being in possession of lead shot while waterfowl hunting.

Taking illegal waterfowl is a misdemeanor offense punishable with up to 90 days in jail and up to $500 fine.

The poached trumpeter swans are being retained by the DNR as evidence. Afterward, they will be put to use in research or public education, officials said.

"I want to thank the tipster who reported these poachers to the (Reporting All Poaching) hotline," said Chief Gary Hagler, DNR Law Enforcement Division. "Conservation officers rely on support from the public to preserve natural resources for future generations."

If you witness or suspect a natural resource violation, call or text the RAP hotline at 800-292-7800.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_