- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2003

From the Pennsylvania Game Commission in Harrisburg comes word of a recently concluded investigation by wildlife conservation officers that resulted in the arrest of a Burnt Cabins (Fulton County) resident, who was charged and eventually convicted on 90 counts of violating the state Game and Wildlife Code.

The man, obviously an egotist of the first order, documented many of his misdeeds in a spiral notebook. His often detailed entries helped convict him.

Michael Allen Lake, 38, was found guilty of 86 counts of unlawfully taking or possessing wildlife, one count of unlawful acts concerning licenses and one count of failure to tag and report big game kills. District Justice Brenda Knepper in Fort Littleton ordered Lake to pay fines of $27,750 and $420 in laboratory fees. Now his hunting and fur taking privileges could be revoked for 88 years.

In addition, Lake was found guilty of one count of unlawful use of lights while hunting and one count of having a loaded firearm in a vehicle in Huntingdon County. District Justice Mary Jamison in Orbisonia ordered Lake to pay fines of $700 and $1,715 in laboratory fees. On those two counts, Lake’s hunting and trapping privileges could be revoked for an additional three years.

Lake came under suspicion when concerned citizens informed the game commission he had illegally killed a large, 10-point trophy-class antlered deer at night Nov. 24, 2002, more than a week before the start of the statewide firearms deer season. At both hearings, the courtrooms were packed, with local residents supporting the commonwealth’s case.

When a search warrant was served at Lake’s home, additional items were found indicating a long history of illegal wildlife killing. Seized as evidence during the search were 42 sets of deer antlers, several firearms and the spiral notebook that documented out-of-season kills of both deer and turkeys. The notebook prompted a subsequent search of Lake’s home, during which computer records and a box containing 53 turkey beards were seized. The beards corresponded in length to measurements found in the notebook.

The notebook of Lake’s illegal wildlife killing began Sept.13, 1979, when Lake was 16 years old. It listed in detail the illegal killing of 131 antlerless deer, 122 antlered deer and 82 turkeys. Dates for many of these killings indicated they were taken out of season. He even wrote what kind of firearm he used, the caliber of the gun and the manufacturer.

Said a game commission official: “In a span of 22 years, Lake documented his illegal killing of more animals than he could have legally take in several lifetimes.”

More about the crabs — In response to our July9 column about diminishing crab supplies and the dissolution of a bi-state crabbing committee because Virginia refused to pay its share of operating costs in consecutive years, reader Jim Combs sent an e-mail. “Good article,” he wrote, then went on to say something must be done fast.

“Here is my proposal [he wrote]:

1. Stop all crabbing in Virginia and Maryland for one year.

2. Pay the waterman and crab processors and restaurants based on what they earned the year before. They must produce financial records to support their claims.

3. Create a $1 crab tax for all taxpayers in certain Virginia and Maryland counties. Let’s say all counties east of [Interstate] 81, [which] runs through both states.

4. Set up the crab commission and give them any monies left over from the tax to do its research.

5. Monitor the situation for three years and hope it gets better. It should.”

However, even Combs says his suggestions are too simple for a bunch of politicians to agree on.

Trophy trout meeting — The public is invited to attend the monthly meeting of the Northern Virginia Chapter of Trout Unlimited on Aug.7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department, 400 Center Street SE. It’s free. You will have a chance to meet fly fishing guide Bob Cramer, who will talk about fishing one of Virginia’s premier spring creeks for trophy trout.

Need more information? See the NVTU web site, www.nvatu.org for details.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday

and Wednesday and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]washingtontimes.com.

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