More than 200 hunters were charged this past big-game hunting season with 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 violations.
“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 hotline at 1-877-457-5680.
With the tips, the DEC can dispatch investigators and even dogs 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 realistic fakes, complete with lifelike body movements, are placed near roads and officers watch for hunters shooting at them from the road. Those that do are charged with firing over a roadway.
The charges issued included 242 misdemeanors surrounding 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.
These charges each 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. He 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.
Along with the Kelly case, DEC Region 4 Bureau of Environmental Crimes officials investigated two other hunter-related shooting incidents that resulted in injuries. One hunter was charged with felony assault. Another was charged with having a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, a misdemeanor.
The DEC also issued other tickets for trespassing, hunting over bait, feeding deer, possessing another hunter’s tags, illegally transporting the deer of another hunter without a consignment tag, hunting without a license and possessing an untagged deer. Those violations carry a fine of up to $250 and 15 days in jail.
The more than 200 hunters charged came from an estimated population of 550,000 hunters licensed statewide.
“This is a very small portion,” DEC spokesman Rick Georgeson said of the lawbreakers among the hunting population. “The vast majority of sportsmen are law-abiding.”
DEC Region 4 includes Schenectady, Montgomery, Albany, Schoharie and Rensselaer counties.