This Michigan poacher is done for life. Poaching can sometimes be accidental, this case was overt and excessive.
When you poach, you hurt wildlife, take from ethical hunters, and many times cause environmental issues. Because poaching requires folks to do things under the table, those that take it seriously can do a lot of damage quickly. Michigan officials had to come down hard on this poacher.
Justin Ernst was caught due to a tip from state police. That led the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to launch an investigation. Then, they found Ernst. The hunter was reckless and dangerous with his poaching. Thinking that he could just kill at will. He pled guilty to multiple charges and is set to pay a huge fine and serve up to 5 years in jail. And can never hunt again.
Those charges were one count of felony possession of a firearm, one count obtaining a hunting license while ineligible, and three counts of illegally taking/possessing whitetail deer. The DNR put out a statement detailing the incident. That fine will total around $25,000. Not cheap.
Nine illegally taken trophy bucks were collected. Those items are being forfeited. The investigation started in October and what they found was astonishing.
“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,” David Shaw, assistant DNR Chief said. We hope this serious sentence serves its intended purpose and are grateful for the strong message rendered by the 36th Circuit Court.”
While investigations like this are hard to put together, it was actually a bit of luck that led to the bust. So, this poacher will be kicking himself for not being more careful with his crimes.
Michigan Poacher Busted Due to Domestic Violence Complaint
Ernst’s downfall began after state police responded to a domestic violence complaint. While they were on-site, they noticed a large number of deer in his barn. After leaving, they tipped off DNR officials. He spent a lot of time in the barn, apparently. So, an investigation began into the poacher
By the time they got to the barn and what was in it, there were 8 trophy bucks. A ninth was found later. Poaching is a fool’s game. No matter how clever you think you are, karma comes around and usually, it’s wearing a badge and uniform.
This poacher was thankfully dealt with. Hopefully, folks in Michigan and elsewhere think twice before taking down far more than their fair share of game. There’s a reason for rules, y’all. Poaching is an issue that officials deal with all of the time. So get those licenses and do things by the book. There’s plenty for everyone.