Prolific Poacher and Brother Face Prison
HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A Dec. 11 poaching incident has two Lebanon County brothers facing possible prison sentences, including one who has the unfortunate distinction of being the first individual to be charged with felony counts under a new Game and Wildlife Code penalty structure that took effect in September, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission officials.
Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer Derek Daly charged William M. Kirkwood, 50, of Camp Strauss Road, Bethel, with unlawfully killing seven deer in 2010 and four deer in 2009, fleeing an officer and trespassing, among other things, for which he faces total fines and penalties of up to $64,000 and 10 years in prison. WCO Daly also charged Kirkwood’s brother, Theodore P. Kirkwood, 54, of Heilmandale Road, Lebanon, for aiding and abetting his brother, fleeing an officer and trespassing, for which he faces total fines and penalties of up to $5,000 and nine months in prison.
All charges were filed on Tuesday, Jan. 18, before District Judge Michael Smith in Cleona.
According to WCO Daly, on Dec. 11, he received information about possible hunting violations on the Lebanon Landfill property. Responding to the area, along with Deputy WCO Brian Sheetz, the officers were met by witnesses at the scene, who informed the officers of an individual who they had seen hunting without orange on and that they suspected he had killed several deer.
“The witnesses identified the individual as William Kirkwood,” WCO Daly said. “They also said they believed Kirkwood hunts the Lebanon Landfill without orange and uses an ATV to recover the deer.
“As Deputy WCO Sheetz and I were talking with the witnesses, we saw two suspects on an ATV driving across a field on the Landfill property along Heilmandale Road. Upon seeing my patrol vehicle, the ATV sped off and drove through several private properties, Route 72 and other public roadways.”
After catching up to the two brothers at Theodore Kirkwood’s home, William Kirkwood admitted to WCO Daly that he illegally killed seven deer during the two-week firearms deer season in 2010, including two protected antlered deer. After returning to William Kirkwood’s home, William Kirkwood told WCO Daly that he also was in illegal possession of antlers from two antlered deer that he found during the 2010 archery season, as well as four antlered deer that he illegally killed during 2009.
During the investigation on Dec. 11, William Kirkwood was found to have killed two antlerless deer, for which he did not possess any valid antlerless deer licenses. The two deer were recovered and retained for evidence.
“We also found William Kirkwood to be in possession of a hunting knife with fresh blood, as he field-dressed the deer prior to returning for them,” WCO Daly said. “The ATV the brothers had fled on had dried blood on the front and back. There was dried blood in William Kirkwood’s truck bed as well, which all led into questions about previous deer killed and resulted in William Kirkwood’s admissions.
“Consent to search William Kirkwood’s residence was obtained to collect all the evidence, which also led to the discovery of the six additional counts of unlawful possession.”
In total, between Nov. 29 and Dec. 11, evidence and admissions by William Kirkwood showed that he illegally killed two bucks that were below the minimum antler restrictions (one spike and one with two-points on one side), three antlerless deer and two button bucks. None of the seven deer were tagged, and he did not possess any valid antlerless deer licenses for the five antlerless deer harvested.
Also confiscated as evidence were eight sets of antlers, including the two William Kirkwood is alleged to have killed illegally this year, two that he claimed to have found and possessed illegally and four he allegedly killed illegally during the 2009 firearms deer season.
“There was very positive response from the local residents once word got out we apprehended William and Theodore Kirkwood,” WCO Daly said. “Several local residents who hunt deer legally on properties surrounding the Lebanon Landfill were very upset this was going on, and glad we have put a stop to it.”
Specific charges against William Kirkwood are: two counts of a third-degree felony for illegally killing and possessing two deer in 2010, for which he faces up to $15,000 in fines per count and up to three years in prison; two counts of a first-degree misdemeanor for unlawfully killing and possessing two deer in 2010, for which he faces $10,000 in fines per count and up to 18 months in prison; two counts of an ungraded misdemeanor for unlawfully killing and possessing two deer in 2010, for which he faces up to $3,000 in fines per count and up to six months in prison; seven counts of a second-degree summary for unlawfully killing and possessing parts of seven antlered deer in 2009 and 2010, for which he faces up to $800 in fines per count and up to one month in prison; one count of a first-degree summary for fleeing an officer, for which he faces up to $1,500 in fines and three months in prison; one count of a fourth-degree summary for refusing to stop at an officers request, for which he faces up to $300 in fines; one count of a fifth-degree summary for trespassing on posted property while hunting, for which he faces fines of up to $200; two summary counts for criminal trespass, for which he faces up to $300 in fines; one count of a fifth-degree summary for failure to wear required fluorescent orange, for which he faces fines of up to $200; and two counts of a fifth-degree summary for having a loaded firearm in a vehicle, for which he faces fines of up to $200 per count.
Specific charges against Theodore Kirkwood are: two counts of a misdemeanor for aiding, abetting and assisting in the possession and transporting of two unlawfully killed antlerless deer, for which he faces up to $3,000 in fines per count and six months in prison; one count of a first-degree summary for fleeing an officer, for which he faces up to $1,500 in fines and three months in prison; one count of a fourth-degree summary for refusing to stop at an officers request, for which he faces up to $300 in fines; one count of a fifth-degree summary for trespassing on posted property while hunting, for which he faces fines of up to $200; and one summary count for criminal trespass, for which he faces up to $300 in fines.
The law to increase fines and penalties for poaching was made possible by House Bill 1859, which was sponsored by House Game and Fisheries Committee Chairman Edward G. Staback. The bill was approved by the House on July 21, 2009, by a vote of 196-3. The Senate, after making minor adjustments to the bill, approved the measure unanimously on July 3, 2010, followed by a 189-6 concurrence vote in the House also on July 3. The bill was signed on July 9, making it Act 54 of 2010.
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Game Commission