The following has been provided by WSBT in South Bend, Ind.:
GOSHEN, Ind. (WANE) -- Two brothers and their cousin face state and federal charges for trapping and shooting federally protected raptors, including a Great Horned Owl, Red-tailed hawks and Coopers Hawks.
Cpl. Ashlee Jackson, Indiana Department of Natural Resources law enforcement division told WSBT apparently the men trapped the raptors “just to kill them.” Because the raptors are protected species, they could not be kept as pets or sold.
Numerous charges against Christopher Simmons, 41, and his brother, Ronald Simmons, 46, and their cousin, Mark Roberts, 41, have been sent to the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office for review, Jackson said. Formal charges would be filed by the prosecutor. The men are not in custody, Jackson said.
An anonymous tip implicated the three Goshen men.
The raptors were caught in a pole trap and then shot, according to an IDNR news release. A pole trap is placed on a perch and is designed to trap birds of prey. The traps would instantly break the hollow bones of raptors legs and the birds would be stuck there until they were shot.
During the lengthy investigation by DNR conservation officers, multiple deer parts were also found on the suspects’ property.
A total of 12 raptors, 13 whitetail deer head and 177 pounds of processed deer meat were seized from Christopher Simmons’ property, according to a IDNR news release. Conservation officers also seized two pole traps, three rifles, two shotguns and one handgun.
Christopher Simmons faces preliminary charges of illegal taking/possession of whitetail deer (one count); illegal taking/possession of federally protected species (11 counts); deer check station violation (one count); trapping with illegal device (one count); and illegal possession of a raccoon without a permit (one count).
Ronald Simmons faces preliminary charges of illegal taking/possession of whitetail deer (three counts); illegal taking/possession of federally protected species (seven counts); and deer check station violation (two counts).
Mark Roberts faces a preliminary charge of deer check station violation.
DNR conservation officers credit this case to the concerned citizen who called. Anyone with information about fish and/or wildlife violations are urged to call 1-800-TIP-IDNR or go online to www.1800tipidnr.org .