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GA: DNR Cites Three on Illegal Hunting Charges

DNR Cites Three on Illegal Hunting Charges


Three local men have found themselves facing several charges involving illegal hunting practices, and in the case of at least two of the men, the charges have led to one of the biggest cases ever investigated in this area.

According to Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Capt. Scott Klingel, on April 3 Jeffrey Mark Coleman, 30, of Rentz was charged with two counts of hunting from a motor vehicle, two counts of hunting from a public road, hunting without permission, hunting deer at night, taking over the limit of deer, possession of illegally taken wildlife and hunting without a big game license after he had received two warnings about hunting without a big game license.

"It looks like they caught Coleman either in the act or they did some investigation" and discovered more offenses, said Klingel based on the case file Rangers Rodney Horne and Johnny Ashe had completed. Horne is the lead officer on the case.

Shortly after Coleman was charged two other men, one from Laurens and one from Dodge, were also cited.

On April 18, Michael Warren, 30, of Rentz was charged with hunting out of season (turkey) and possession of illegally taken wildlife. William Stacy Jones, 31, of Eastman was charged with possession of illegally taken wildlife (turkey) and hunting without a big game license.

Klingel said he does not know if the two cases are connected or not. He said Rangers Horne and Ash are still in the process of investigating the case.

"We expect more charges," said GDNR Sgt. Keith Byers. "Two individuals were charged. Search warrants were served on their residences and we got all kinds of evidence on them."

Byers said the case is not too far away from being completed but it has been a complex investigation. "Something of this magnitude we sit down and say, 'OK we've got this evidence and that and this and this... We are in the next two to three weeks going to have all our paper work and all our charges done. Then we'll be issuing more warrants and it looks like it'll encompass at least two counties, Dodge and Laurens."
Byers said he has been in law enforcement a long time and has never seen such an amount of evidence.

"I've been doing this 28 years and I've seen a lot of cases. I've seen evidence in this I've never seen before. It's going to be a rather unusual case. Basically what we've done is identified a couple of individuals that have really been a detriment to the wildlife in the area," he said.

Byers said he has heard rumors that "pressure" has been put on the officers to back off the case, but said that is definitely not the case.
Byers was not clear if the investigation has led to others being charged or if more charges were expected on Warren and Jones. He just indicated more charges are going to come.

"This was the initial start of the investigation. We just now got enough information to serve more search warrants. They've been rather, rather busy," he said of the suspects. "The more they do the more chances there are that we're going to nab them," he said of those who would break hunting and fishing laws.

"Those cases there (Warren and Jones) led into this large investigation that's got everybody all abuzz," said Klingel, adding he's had calls from at least three people who said they had heard rumors "pressure" had been put on DNR to drop the case. Speculation is that the rumors started because of the time it took for the investigation from the first charges to the pending citations to be issued.

"There seems to be the implication that we're getting political pressure and that's not true at all," said Klingel. "We've had no outside influence or inside influence.".

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