- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Last week special agents with the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries concluded a two-year undercover investigation into bear poaching and other violations that resulted in 115 state charges against 20 people. The violations took place in seven counties: Alleghany, Botetourt, Craig, Franklin, Hanover, Montgomery and Patrick, as well as in North Carolina.

The charges included illegal baiting of bears, hunting bears over bait, hunting bears out of season, possession of illegally taken bears, trespassing; and possession and sale of untaxed alcohol. In Virginia, hunters may take only one bear in a license year. Virginia law specifically prohibits baiting bears in part because of the problems that accompany the practice of feeding bears. The Board of Game and Inland Fisheries banned unauthorized feeding of bears in 2003.

As part of the take-down, game wardens executed two search warrants in Franklin County and seized four carcasses from bears that were killed illegally in North Carolina. In addition to the Virginia charges, 80 state charges were placed in North Carolina.

Game wardens with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries executed search warrants and made arrests with assistance from agents with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control and North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

The Virginia case was initiated by a citizen who reported illegal activities. Anyone who observes illegal or suspicious activities related to wildlife should report it to the VDGIF Wildlife Crime Line at 800/237-5712. Information about seasons and legal methods is available on the department’s Web site at www.dgif.virginia.gov and published in the annual Hunting & Trapping in Virginia regulation booklet distributed free of charge.

Woman wins duck stamp contest — Wildlife artist Sherrie Russell Meline, 55, of Mount Shasta, Calif., has won the 2005 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest in Memphis, Tenn., not in the District as has been the custom for 70 years.

Russell Meline is only the second woman to win the prestigious contest that can result in the artist being featured in national catalogs selling signed and numbered prints of the original.

“I am very honored and flattered, and I’m totally shocked that I won,” she said. Russell Meline’s painting of a Ross goose bested 233 other entries, including six former winning artists. Her work will grace the 2006-2007 Federal Duck Stamp. Russell Meline says she has entered the Federal Duck Stamp competition 15 times in the past 25 years.

Second place went to Bruce Miller of Mound, Minn., and third place to Jim Caturia of Cottage Grove, Minn., both with paintings of a duck known as a Northern Shoveler. The art competition was held for the first time by Ducks Unlimited, the Greater Memphis Arts Council and the Memphis College of Art.

Whopper wapiti — Lacy Hunter, 69, of Denison, Texas, recently shot an elk in New Mexico that might turn out to be the biggest nontypical ever taken with a bow and arrow in that state, perhaps all states.

The bull wapiti elk Hunter shot on the half million-acre Acoma Indian Reservation near Grants, N.M., on Sept. 7 had a massive 7x6 main frame, plus five abnormal points. The Safari Club International says the bull was 71/2 years old and scored just more than 425 inches. Its weight was an estimated 1,100 pounds.

Maryland archery season under way — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources reminds us that the archery deer hunting season is open. In Deer Management Region A (Garrett and Allegany counties), the bag limit is now two deer, one antlered and one antlerless.

This change was implemented as part of a plan to reduce antlerless harvest in that region after regulated deer hunting dropped Region A’s deer numbers below levels established by Maryland’s deer management plan.

In Deer Management Region B, archers may take two antlered whitetailed deer. However, as in the past, two antlerless deer must be taken before attempting to hunt a second antlered deer. The bag limit for antlerless deer in Region B is 10, except that archers in the Suburban Deer Archery Zone (Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s) may take an unlimited number of antlerless deer.

Successful Maryland deer hunters can register their deer by calling 888/800-0121 or on-line at www.gamecheck.dnr.state.md.us.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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