The Six Defendants Face Hundreds of Charges Ranging From Felonies to Misdemeanors
Six people from Pennsylvania have been charged in connection to poaching spree. Image by Tom Reichner
Poachers are not hunters. They are thieves of our natural resources, and while most sportsmen know and understand this, the public may not. That’s what makes this story so infuriating.
According to WPXI, six people from Pennsylvania have been charged in connection with a poaching spree that resulted in the death of more than 100 deer.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission says in a press release that Hunter Atherton, 20, Abigale Hoover, 20, and Caillou Patterson, 20, as well as three juveniles, all from Franklin County, were charged for their alleged involvement in the poaching spree that spanned from August 2022 to January 2023. They are accused of shooting more than 100 deer and leaving most of them to rot.
In September, South Franklin residents began finding dead deer, which had been apparently shot, in their yards and fields and began reporting it to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. One witness reported seeing a group of people in a stopped vehicle use a spotlight on a group of deer in a field after legal shooting hours. The witness then heard a gunshot and saw one of the deer fall to the ground. That witness provided a description of the vehicle.
On January 3, after spotting a vehicle at a gas station that fit the witness’ description, Warden Philp Bietsch set up in a spot along the roadway where numerous deer had previously been shot. According to the release, he heard multiple shots and saw the same vehicle using a spotlight on the roadway.
The game commission says Bietsch stopped the vehicle and discovered two adults and two juveniles inside and in possession of a loaded .22 magnum caliber rifle.
The warden conducted follow-up interviews and determined that two other adults and another juvenile had taken part in the poaching spree on previous nights and all together had shot between 100 to 200 deer “just for fun.”
The six people now face a combined total of 113 counts of unlawful taking or killing of game or wildlife, 207 counts of the unlawful use of lights while hunting, 42 counts of the possession of loaded firearms in a vehicle, 62 counts of restrictions on recreational spotlighting, and 62 counts of the unlawful use of a vehicle to locate game or wildlife.
Atherton, Hoover, and Patterson are also charged with the corruption of minors. In addition, Atherton was charged with recklessly endangering the welfare of others.
Those charges include felonies, misdemeanors, and summary violations, with the most serious potentially carrying fines and penalties of up to $15,000 and 36 months in prison. Additionally, the charges carry wildlife replacement costs of just shy of $21,000.
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