Michigan Hands Down Lifetime Hunting Ban to Poacher

by Shelby Scott

The conclusion of hunting season each year is definitely a downer for Outsiders across the U.S. However, one Michigan hunter can say goodbye to the sport forever after he copped to multiple charges relating to a poaching incident last year.

According to Fox News, Michigan state officials have completely banned Justin Ernst from hunting. They’ve additionally served him up a large fine and handed out a jail sentence for up to five years.

As per the outlet, Ernst pled guilty to multiple charges in connection to the 2021 poaching incident. These include a single count of felony possession of a firearm, one count of obtaining a hunting license when ineligible, and three counts of taking/possessing whitetail.

While Ernst faces a lifetime hunting ban, the fine totals a significant $25,000 in reimbursement. His jail sentence ranges between 18 months and five years.

And, perhaps the harshest blow, the poacher will have to forfeit nine illegally obtained trophy bucks.

Local Law Enforcement Tipped Off Conservation Officers

Investigations into Ernst’s case began in the fall of last year when local police received a domestic violence call. While there, officers took note of several deer in a barn where the poacher spent a great deal of time.

In regard to Ernst’s sentence, David Shaw, assistant chief of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division, stated, “We’re satisfied that this criminal will be imprisoned for robbing ethical hunters, damaging crops and endangering others by recklessly driving through fields and shooting deer at night.”

He continued, “We hope this serious sentence serves its intended purpose and are grateful for the strong message rendered by the 36th Circuit Court.”

I suppose that serves as a warning then; if you’re going to hunt in Michigan, you darn sure better do it ethically and legally. Although, the same applies to the rest of the nation’s 49 states.

Former Deputy Sheriffs Face Major Consequences for Poaching

Farther east, a couple of former deputy sheriffs also saw major consequences relating to another deer poaching case. And these charges surpass even Ernst’s above.

In total, eight WV individuals face poaching charges after law enforcement connected them to the illegal attainment of 27 whitetail bucks. The investigation, launched in September, involve former Mineral County sheriff deputies, Tyler Biggs and Dalton Dolly. The two individuals saw accompaniment in the charges from Biggs’ father, Christopher Biggs. Additionally, the EMS chief of Allegany County Department of Emergency Services in Maryland faces felony charges.

Altogether, the poachers face an eye-popping count of 223 poaching-related violations. These range from illegal wildlife possession and failure to register deer to hunting in a closed season, nighttime hunting, and hunting from a vehicle. And that atones for less than half of the various charges issued.