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Upper Peninsula poacher loses hunting privileges for life, fined $36,000

A Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officer investigates snares that Pickford resident Kurt Johnston Duncan was charged with using to illegally capture animals.
A Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officer investigates snares that Pickford resident Kurt Johnston Duncan was charged with using to illegally capture animals.(WJRT)
Published: Oct. 14, 2020 at 12:16 PM EDT
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CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - A 56-year-old man from the Upper Peninsula will not be allowed to hunt again after he pleaded guilty to seven poaching charges.

Kurt Duncan of Pickford also must pay $36,000 in fines, spend 90 days in jail, additional time on probation and forfeit his guns and snares seized by Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers during the investigation.

Duncan initially was charged with 125 misdemeanor wildlife violations after he killed 18 gray wolves, along with several bald eagles, deer, turkeys and bobcats. The wolves and eagles are federally protected species that can’t be hunted in Michigan.

Duncan pleaded guilty to seven charges as part of a plea agreement with the Chippewa County Prosecutor’s Office:

  • Three counts of illegally taking wolves.
  • Three counts of illegally taking bald eagles.
  • One count of commercializing a protected species.

“This is a historic case for the division and department,” said Chief Gary Hagler of the DNR Law Enforcement Division. “We hope this poaching case acts as a deterrent to criminals for committing future wildlife crimes such as this.”

Duncan’s fines include $27,000 to the state for the animals he killed illegally and $9,200 in court costs and fines.

DNR conservation officers served four search warrants at Duncan’s property in March. Investigators say he was using illegal snares to capture the animals, which he used for crafts or to sell.

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 1-800-292-7800.

Copyright 2020 WJRT. All rights reserved.

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