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Heartland Outdoors

Iowa nabs coon, swan poachers

Thu, January 06, 2011

AUDUBON, Iowa - Three Audubon men pleaded guilty on Dec. 30, for their roles in poaching at least 72 raccoons after a caller to the Turn in Poachers hotline alerted conservation officers to the illegal activity.  A fourth individual connected to the case has requested a jury trial.

Jeremy King, state conservation officer with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said the men were using spotlights to find the raccoons then shot and sold them for their hides.  Raccoon pelts sell for $5 up to $17, depending on the quality.

A number of people came forward with information on the case that King and fellow officers Dave Tierney and Dan Pauley used to observe the men in action in early November.  The poaching took place primarily in Audubon County, but also in Harrison, Shelby and Guthrie counties.

“This is a good example of how a call to the TIP line helps to catch poachers. We actually witnessed the individuals in the act, which makes for a better case,” King said.  During the investigation, King said they found receipts from fur buyers totaling more than $500.

Ben Petersen, 18, of Audubon, pleaded guilty to not having a furharvester license, using artificial light to hunt, illegal method of take and failure to pay the habitat fee. Petersen’s civil damages totaled $1,400 and his hunting privileges will be suspended for three years.

Scott Downer, 19, of Audubon, pleaded guilty to illegal method of take. Downer’s civil damages totaled $2,250 and his hunting privileges will be suspended for two years.

Chris Groninga, 20, of Audubon, pleaded guilty of two counts of illegal method of take. Groninga’s civil damages totaled $1,400 and his hunting privileges were suspended for two years.

The fourth suspect, Michael Sonntag, 19, of Audubon, will go on trial in late January to face charges of illegal method of take in addition to charges for allegedly shooting a buck deer without the proper licenses in 2009, and allegedly shooting a doe with a rifle and leaving it to waste in 2010. Sonntag faces fines and damages totaling nearly $83,000 and the loss of hunting privileges.

The DNR seized a number of items including guns, spotlights, traps and deer antlers.

In other news…

Burlington man faces charges for allegedly shooting swans

BURLINGTON – A Burlington man faces numerous charges after allegedly shooting a pair of swans.

Ryan Standard, 39, was charged for allegedly killing the Trumpeter swans at the Green Bay Bottoms area in northern Lee County in late December. The charges resulted from a call through the Turn In Poachers (TIP) hotline.

Standard faces two counts of unlawful taking of wildlife, one count of not having a hunting license, one count of not having a habitat stamp, one charge of not having a federal migratory bird stamp and one count of not having a state migratory bird stamp. The case is still under investigation and additional charges may be filed.


Monday night bass tournaments