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Poacher loses lifetime hunting privileges; must serve jail time and pay over $36,000 in fines

CHIPPEWA COUNTY — A Chippewa County man accused of poaching numerous animals, including 18 gray wolves, was sentenced Tuesday under a plea agreement.

Kurt Johnston Duncan, 56, of Pickford pleaded guilty in September to seven poaching crimes following an investigation by Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers.

Chippewa County District Court Judge Eric Blubaugh sentenced Duncan to:

— Pay $36,240 total

— $27,000 as reimbursement for the animals illegally taken

— $9,240 in court fees and costs

— Lifetime revocation of all hunting and trapping privileges in Michigan; including that he may not assist anyone else in any hunting or trapping activities. With this privilege revoked, he will not be allowed to hunt in 48 states that are members of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.

— 90 days of jail time; 30 of which will be held in aside should he violate probation.

— 18-24 months probation.

— Forfeiture of all items and evidence seized by the DNR during the execution of search warrants, including, firearms and snares.

“This is a historical case for the division and department,” said Chief Gary Hagler, DNR Law Enforcement Division. “We hope this poaching case acts as a deterrent to criminals for committing future wildlife crimes such as this. Our officers did an excellent job working as a team and building this investigation so it could move quickly through the criminal justice system.”

The Michigan DNR’s months-long investigation of Duncan identified 125 wildlife misdemeanor crimes. During an 18-month period Duncan committed numerous wildlife crimes of various species, including: wolves, bald eagles, deer, turkey and bobcat.

On Sept. 24, Duncan accepted a plea agreement offered Chippewa County Prosecutor Robert Stratton. Duncan pleaded guilty to:

— Three counts of the illegal take; possession of wolves.

— Three counts of the illegal take; possession of bald eagles.

— One count of illegal commercialization of a protected species (wolf).

Anyone witnessing a natural resources crime or having information about such a crime is encouraged to call or text the DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800.

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. Learn more at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.

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