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Fines for snow geese poachers to exceed $55k

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The five people charged with combining to kill 265 snow geese over the permitted limit all have pleaded guilty to charges and together will pay more than $55,000 in fines and replacement costs, the Pennsylvania Game Commission announced today.

The last of the five defendants pleaded guilty Monday to all charges he faced, bringing resolution to the case, which stems from an April 1 incident in Marion Township, Berks County.
On that date, Wildlife Conservation Officer Brian Sheetz, along with WCO Dave Brockmeier and Deputy WCO Ed Shutter, received information about a lot of shooting in the area of Church Road in Myerstown.
The officers arrived and found evidence a large number of snow geese had been shot. Through their investigation, it was learned that the five defendants had killed 365 snow geese.
The daily bag limit is 25 snow geese per hunter. And since one of the hunters also didn’t possess the required migratory bird license, he wasn’t permitted to harvest any snow geese.
Between May 19 and June 1, each defendant pleaded guilty to all charges he faced. Magisterial District Judge Gail Greth, of Fleetwood, accepted the guilty pleas.
Norman Brubaker, 30, of Bernville, pleaded guilty to one count of hunting without a migratory bird license, one count of a violation involving federal laws and 73 counts of unlawful taking and possession of snow geese. He also agreed to pay $14,990 in fines and replacement costs.
Laverne Frey, 34, of Womelsdorf, pleaded guilty to one count of a violation involving federal laws and 48 counts of unlawful taking and possession of snow geese. He also agreed to pay $10,040 in fines and replacement costs.
Nevin Frey, 28, of Myerstown, pleaded guilty to one count of a violation involving federal laws and 48 counts of unlawful taking and possession of snow geese. He also agreed to pay $10,040 in fines and replacement costs.
Kenneth Oberholtzer, 26, of Womelsdorf, pleaded guilty to one count of a violation involving federal laws and 48 counts of unlawful taking and possession of snow geese. He also agreed to pay $10,040 in fines and replacement costs.
Nelson Sensenig, 25, of Lebanon, pleaded guilty to one count of a violation involving federal laws and 48 counts of unlawful taking and possession of snow geese. He also agreed to pay $10,040 in fines and replacement costs.
While most of the snow geese shot by the hunters were taken illegally, they did not go to waste. After the birds were gathered and evidence was collected, Game Commission officials transported the carcasses to a processor and then donated 288 pounds of goose meat to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank in Harrisburg. The cost of processing was added to the defendants’ penalty.
Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough said the Game Commission’s wildlife conservation officers, through their hard work to enforce Pennsylvania’s Game & Wildlife Code, fulfill a vital role in curbing poaching activity, which steals from law-abiding hunters and trappers.
“Our ranks are filled with dedicated officers who work tirelessly to benefit wildlife and citizens,” Hough said. “This case ranks as one of the larger poaching cases in recent memory, and I’d like to applaud the citizen who reported it, the officers whose investigation led to the charges, and the combined work of all of our wildlife conservation officers.
“On behalf of the entire Pennsylvania Game Commission, let me say, we couldn’t be more proud of you,” Hough said.