Court fines three men nearly $20,000 for poaching waterfowl

Three men from Harrison Township were arraigned and sentenced last Thursday in Macomb County 42nd District Court in New Baltimore on charges related to illegally hunting and baiting waterfowl in December.

Richard Schaller, 52, Robert Kucinski, 49, and Timothy Morris, 58, pleaded guilty to a total of 13 misdemeanor charges, including:

  • Taking, possessing an over-limit of Canada geese.
  • Taking, possessing an over-limit of mallards.
  • Taking, possessing an over-limit of hen mallards.
  • Taking, hunting waterfowl over a baited area.

Additionally, Schaller was charged with one count of placing bait for the purpose of taking waterfowl.

On Dec. 6, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Report All Poaching hotline received a tip about a potential over-limit of taken waterfowl near a pond off Chesterfield Road in Chesterfield Township in Macomb County.

Shortly after, Conservation Officers Brad Silorey and Kris Kiel arrived at the area and, hearing gunshots in the distance, soon located the men and witnessed the group shoot and kill multiple geese. Silorey and Kiel approached as the men concluded their hunt and began collecting a number of waterfowl that clearly exceeded daily limits from a pond littered with corn.

The officers also located three additional piles of waterfowl hidden in nearby brush and received a confession that one of the men had placed a 50-pound bag of corn a few days earlier, because he wanted his hunting party to “have a good hunt.” Baiting waterfowl is federally prohibited and unlawful in Michigan.

All game, bait and firearms were confiscated as evidence.

In total, the men killed 39 waterfowl, including:

  • 23 Canada geese (14 over limit).
  • 16 mallards (four mallards over the total limit), of which eight were hen mallards (an over-limit of two hen mallards).

Each man was ordered to pay $6,500 in reimbursement to the state – $500 per waterfowl, totaling $19,500 – plus court fines totaling more than $3,000 collectively. Each man also permanently forfeited the firearms used to take the waterfowl and lost the right to hunt waterfowl through February 2022.

“Waterfowl are a precious resource to Michiganders and the other 13 states that share and protect this resource within the Mississippi Flyway Zone,” said Lt. Todd Szyska, DNR Law Enforcement supervisor in Detroit. “Cases like this emphasize the important role our officers play in protecting waterfowl so they can be shared equally. In the past, hunting over-limits of waterfowl led to low population numbers and species protection – such as the canvasback duck. It is through effective biological management, established seasons and bag limits, and enforcement that we are able to continue the waterfowl hunting heritage.”

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.


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