(WWJ) An Upper Peninsula man is facing 125 misdemeanor charges and possible jail time, accused of poaching wolves, eagles and other animals in Michigan.
Kurt Duncan, 56, of Pickford pleaded not guilty Wednesday in 91st District Court in Chippewa County.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says Duncan is accused of killing 18 wolves over an 18-month period and killing three bald eagles. Wolves are protected in Michigan and are on the federal endangered species list. Bald eagles are protected under state law, as well as the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act
The charges also include poaching deer, turkey, bear and bobcat.
The DNR said a months-long investigation reveals that Duncan was using the animals for a variety of reasons, including crafts or selling; while others he simply disposed off.
It's alleged that Duncah told DNR officers he killed the animals because he could and “likes to do it.”
Duncan, who was served four search warrants back in March, today pleaded not guilty to all charges. He faces up to 90 days in jail and $1,000 fine for each wolf; up to 90 days in jail and $1,000 fine for each eagle; restitution of $1,500 per eagle and $500 per wolf; up to 90 days in jail and $500 fine each for the other wildlife crimes.
Conservation officers collected evidence to support the charges, and identified additional suspects who are expected to be charged in the near future.
“We had a team of conservation officers that worked well together throughout this investigation,” said DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler. “Investigations like this require a long-term commitment from everyone involved. I want to thank the prosecutors in this case who worked with our officers. We are happy with the outcome and hope this case sets an example to prevent future natural resource crimes.”
The Chippewa County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is seeking $30,000 in restitution to the state for the illegally taken animals. Duncan’s cash bond is set at $500. Other conditions of Duncan’s bond include having no contact with co-defendants, no possession of a firearm or dangerous weapon, and no engaging in hunting or fishing.
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.