More than 200 hunters faced charges related to deer-hunting violations over a nine-county region that includes much of the Capital Region, Department of Environmental Conservation officials said Monday.
Those hunters were issued a total of 550 total violations during the recent big game season.
“DEC vigorously pursues individuals who violate the principle of fair chase and undertake illegal hunting practices,” DEC regional director Gene Kelly said in a statement. “Night-time poaching and hunting in close proximity to dwellings or highways endangers the public and offenders will be prosecuted.”
Helping DEC investigators with their work are tips from the public, officials said. The DEC operates a 24-hour dispatch hot line at 1-877-457-5680.
With the tips, the DEC can dispatch investigators and even K-9s trained to sniff out dead or wounded deer and shotgun shell casings.
The DEC also uses “robo deer” to catch hunters shooting from roadways. The robo deer are placed near roads and watched for hunters shooting at them from the road. If they do, they’re charged with firing over a roadway.
The charges issued included 242 misdemeanors and the illegal killing of an estimated 100 deer. Hunters were also accused of discharging firearms within 500 feet of dwellings, shooting across roadways, possessing loaded firearms in vehicles, taking deer during the bow season without a license and using spotlights at night to hunt deer, according to the DEC.
The charges carry potential fines of up to $2,000 and up to one year in jail.
Facing one of the most serious charges is Esperance hunter Timothy E. Kelly, 47. Kelly was charged after accidentally shooting himself in the backside in Schoharie County when he dropped a .22 caliber revolver.
Kelly was later charged with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a felony, and hunting deer with rimfire ammunition. Kelly did not have a valid state pistol permit and the handgun was unregistered. Also, rimfire ammunition is not allowed for hunting big game in New York state.
For more on the story, see Tuesday's print and online editions of The Gazette.