Couple who admitted leading illegal hunts get probation

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ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) — A Louisiana couple who admitted leading illegal woodcock hunts have been sentenced to probation, fines and $7,850 restitution.

U.S. Attorney David Joseph said Wednesday that William K. Sutton, 66, of Monterey was fined $5,000 and Karen S. Sutton, 61, was fined $1,000. Each is on three years of probation.

Over two years, the Suttons netted more than $100,000 from 82 illegal woodcock hunts, including some on the Richard K. Yancey Wildlife Management Area, according to Joseph’s news release.

William Sutton pleaded guilty in August 2019 to violating the federal Lacey Act, and his wife to aiding and abetting him. U.S. District Judge Dee D. Drell sentenced them on July 23.

The Lacey Act forbids trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of any state or foreign law. It’s illegal to take payments for guiding hunts in any Louisiana wildlife management area, the indictment notes.

They were paid a total of $5,400 for one hunt, according to the indictment handed up in March 2019. According to the news release, the Suttons continued illegal hunts even after state wildlife agents had cited William Sutton for leading such hunts during the previous hunting season.

Woodcock are robin-sized birds which poke long beaks with flexible tips into moist or swampy soil to forage for earthworms. They’re known for their hip-dipping walk. Louisiana winters the most woodcock of any southern state, according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

The Yancey wildlife management area covers nearly 70,900 acres (28,700 hectares) in Concordia Parish between the Red and Mississippi rivers about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Alexandria.

By: Associated Press

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