August 29, 2014

From WTOC.com

United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that William Martin, age 59, of Yemassee, Keith Gebhardt, age 54, of Yemassee, and Mark Argetsinger, age 63, of Beaufort, were sentenced in federal court in Charleston, SC, for the unlawful trapping and killing of migratory birds at Mackay Point Plantation in Jasper County.

This crime is a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act under Title 16, United States Code, Section 703. Martin, Gebhardt, and Argetsinger were sentenced to to six months probation, community service, a one-year ban on trapping, and a fine. In addition to the guilty pleas of Martin, Gebhardt, and Argetsinger, Mackay Point Plantation LLC. has agreed to pay $250,000.00 in community restitution.

In order to improve the quail hunting, Martin, Gebhardt, and Argetsinger placed dozens of baited, steel traps to kill hawks and owls. These hawks and owls are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and cannot be killed without a permit.

The DNR and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) agents installed cameras on the plantation over a two-year period, and the surveillance footage shows Argetsinger and Gebhardt trapping and shooting more than 30 hawks and owls.

Argetsinger and Gebhardt confessed to unlawfully trapping and killing hawks and owls in order to improve the quail hunting. Martin, the plantation manager, was also implicated in the trapping.

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