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Man charged with 125 counts of poaching deer and turkeys

Posted on December 6, 2012

Owosso, Mich — A Shiawassee County man faces a slew of theft, drug, and poaching charges after police officers recently searched his Owosso Township home.

Brian Birchmeier, 51, pleaded not guilty to 125 misdemeanor charges for allegedly poaching dozens of deer and turkeys. He’s also facing charges for manufacturing marijuana, possessing marijuana with the intent to sell, felony weapons charges, and a count of larceny under $200, according to the Shiawassee County prosecutor’s office.

The charges stem from a state police investigation into a stolen hunting blind that led officers to Birchmeier’s home in western Owosso Township on Oct. 3, Shiawassee County Prosecutor-elect Deana Finnegan told Michigan Outdoor News.

“They were contacted because another hunter had his deer blind stolen and they were checking out Mr. Birchmeier,” Finnegan said. “Officers were met with a strong odor of marijuana when they went to question him about the deer blind” at his home.

Officers allegedly asked Birchmeier whether he possessed a medical marijuana license, and the subsequent conversation served as probable cause to secure a search warrant for his home.

State police contacted a DNR conservation officer who allegedly found numerous sets of antlers and illegal bait piles at Birchmeier’s home.

Inside, officers say they found marijuana, the stolen deer blind, and more evidence of poaching. Officials ultimately confiscated “more than 170 antlers, as well as shoulder mounts, crossbows, and turkey beards,” according to a DNR press release.

“Based on a review of licenses purchased by Birchmeier, and an absence of hunting records prior to 1982, the number of deer parts alone that Birchmeier illegally possesses is estimated at well over 100,” according to the release.

“The investigation and a subsequent interview with the suspect indicated the illegal taking of turkeys, as well.”

DNR officials refused to comment on the details of the case.

Finnegan charged Birchmeier with 125 poaching-related offenses, including 115 counts of taking or possessing deer over the legal limit, one count of taking a deer without a license, seven counts of taking a turkey without a license, and two counts of illegal baiting. The drug and larceny charges were filed separately, Finnegan said.

Birchmeier could face more than $120,000 in restitution, the loss of his hunting privileges for three years, and up to 90 days in jail for the alleged poaching charges.

He pleaded not guilty to the poaching and larceny charges at an arraignment last month. He also was arraigned on four felony charges and pleaded not guilty Oct. 27.

He is scheduled to undergo a mental evaluation to determine if he’s fit to stand trial, according to court records.

Birchmeier’s felony charges include a four-year felony for manufacturing marijuana, a four-year felony for possessing marijuana with the intent to deliver, both of which carry a potential $20,000 fine and driver’s license sanctions. Birchmeier also faces a five-year and a two-year felony for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, court records show.

Birchmeier has prior convictions for attempted felonious assault and attempted possession of a concealed weapon, and is charged in the felony case as a third-offense habitual offender, which means the potential penalties for the felony charges double.

He does not have a prior record of poaching, officials said.

Finnegan said the Birchmeier case is one of the biggest poaching busts she’s ever prosecuted.

“We have poaching cases, but nothing like this,” she said.

Authorities believe Birchmeier has been poaching deer and turkeys for years, Finnegan said.