Wisconsin Anglers Face Fines, Restitution Totaling
Nearly $7,000 in Minnesota
April 05, 2005 Five anglers from Wisconsin face fines and restitution of nearly $7,000 after being caught with 206 perch over their legal limit while fishing on Lake Winnibigoshish in northeastern Minnesota.
Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Conservation Officer Larry Francis, Remer, was among the officers who contacted the group on March 25 as they were packing up from a day on the lake.
"They admitted to having fished for several days and that the fishing was good," Francis said. "They also admitted they possessed the rest of 'their limit' at their cabin."
There officers found 303 perch in the round (not filleted) and seven one-gallon plastic bags that contained filleted perch. Six of the seven bags were discovered between the mattress and box spring of one of the beds.
The anglers had concealed another 69 perch in a bag containing a power auger. When the counting was completed the group possessed more than 406 perch, 206 perch over the legal limit.
The perch limit in Minnesota is 20 daily and 40 in possession per individual.
Charged in Cass County District Court with gross overlimit of perch were Bradley Arthur Bricco, 31, Shawano, Wis.; Cotty George Barrett, 47, West Bend, Wis.; Allen Emil Barrett, 45, Marion, Wis.; Richard Charles Bricco, 52, and David Roy Anderson, 45, both of Clintonville, Wis.
Each man was charged under Minnesota's Gross Overlimits Law and had his license seized. The citation carried a fine of $920 and a restitution value of $410, for a total of $1,330 for each angler.
Bradley Bricco showed little remorse and made some bold statements. He was a bit more subdued when he saw the fine/restitution amount, according to Francis.
Poachers can have their fish and game licenses seized and face stiffer penalties, including having their boats, motors and trailers confiscated, under Minnesota's gross overlimits regulation in effect since March 1, 2003.
The law is based on established restitution values that determine payments made by poachers to the state for illegally taken game and fish. For example, a walleye is valued at $30.
Under the gross overlimits law, the time period for license suspension is based on those restitution values. The higher the restitution values, the longer the suspension of hunting or fishing privileges. For instance, a poacher would lose his fishing licenses for three years if he had 24 walleye, which is 18 fish over the legal limit.
The law also allows for a gross misdemeanor penalty when the value of illegally taken game and fish exceeds $1,000. The enhanced penalties apply to small game and waterfowl violators as well as commercial fishing operations. It is aimed at intentional poachers, according to DNR Chief Conservation Officer Col. Mike Hamm.
"The law is not to target the average angler or hunter who makes an honest mistake," Hamm said. "It targets those who are intentionally out to break the law."
The law also allows for joint liability when two or more people are involved. In addition, those who lose their fishing or hunting privileges in Minnesota would also be barred from similar activities in 16 other states that share reciprocity agreements. "This law gives conservation officers better ability to protect and preserve Minnesota's natural resources," Hamm said.
"Overlimit violations are among the most difficult and time-consuming violations for conservation officers to detect and enforce," said Maj. Al Heidebrink, DNR Enforcement Division operations manager. "Gross violations of overlimits can have a drastic effect on wildlife populations that are already at risk and complicate or render ineffective management efforts by professional wildlife and fisheries managers."
One of the most widely recognized deterrents against violation of natural resource laws is the loss of license privileges.
"This, when coupled with developing wildlife violator compacts providing for reciprocal license revocation agreements between states, has the potential to greatly deter even the most habitual and flagrant natural resources law violator," Heidebrink said.
An example of a flagrant violation occurred in August 2002 when conservation officers Scott Fritz and Joe Frear received a report of an illegal fish fry. Upon investigation, the officers discovered 61 bags of fish with 10 to 12 fish per bag, totaling 1,700 fish (perch, sunfish and crappies). Continuing the search, officers found several freezers containing fish. Each package was labeled with the date, lake, amount and species of fish in the bag.
"We don't expect to encounter a lot of these gross
overlimit violations," Heidebrink said, "but when we do,
we have the ability to swiftly and effectively deal with violators
of our natural resources laws."
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