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Print

Violating Okla. wildlife laws can be expensive

December 01, 2013 at 08:26 AM

The Associated Press


TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Those caught violating Oklahoma wildlife laws and regulations can find themselves owing large amounts of money.

The Tulsa World (http://bit.ly/1inPVbW ) reported Saturday that a yearlong study found nearly 250 wildlife cases filed in Tulsa, Rogers, Wagoner, Washington, Pawnee, Osage, Okmulgee and Creek county district courts between Nov. 1, 2012, and Oct. 31.

The study does not include charges of fishing or hunting without licenses. People caught fishing or hunting without a license can also purchase a temporary 30-day license while in the field for $50.

Carlos Gomez, a Tulsa County game warden, said he only writes citations for the most egregious cases and handles other incidents with warnings, selling temporary licenses and administrative fines.

"We just want to stop the poaching; we're not trying to put financial strife on families," said Gomez.

Fishing without a license, a $221 fine if convicted, is the most common citation issued across Oklahoma and is the easiest violation to discover, Gomez said. With or without a license, fishermen are confined to the water as opposed to people who may be hunting without a license somewhere back in the woods.

The greatest number of cases, 67, were filed in Osage County District Court, more than one-fourth of the total cases in the eight-counties. Osage is the state's largest county, with many rural areas, so there is more opportunity for people to commit violations, said Paul Welch, one of four game wardens who patrol the area.

"Headlighting," also called "spotlighting," is the most dangerous violation he sees, Welch said in reference to the practice of hunters using vehicle headlights to spot deer and shooting out of the vehicles' windows.

"They're shooting in the dark," Welch said. "They don't know where they're shooting or what they're shooting at."

Three men convicted of headlighting in Osage County during the past year paid fines of up to $446.

Other violations included possession of deer not legally taken and the unlawful sale of whitetail deer racks and skull plates. Each conviction resulted in fines and fees totaling more than $1,000.

In Oklahoma, it is illegal to buy or sell antlers attached to a skull. The prohibition is to stop what is known as market hunting, the practice of hunting for a living, that nearly wiped out many species during the 1800s.

Statewide, there were 7,128 game warden contacts during the past year, said Micah Holmes, information supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The total includes warnings, citations issued, administrative fines and temporary licenses sold.

___

Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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