Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

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Ohio officer guilty in illegal duck dumping

Cleveland — A former Bentleyville, Ohio, police officer told a state wildlife investigator “he had made the biggest mistake of his life,” disposing of dead Canada geese and mallard ducks in a popular Cleveland Metroparks reservation.

Officer Jason Fischer was convicted of littering after pleading no contest in September in Bedford Municipal Court and was fined $170 and costs, according to court documents.

The court's finding ended an investigation that began in January when the DNR Division of Wildlife received complaints concerning dumped waterfowl carcasses (Ohio Outdoor News, March 1).

The dumping of 25-30 Canada geese and 8-10 mallards occurred at the 1,521-acre park and along a dead-end portion of River Road, approximately one-quarter mile from the Bentleyville Village Police department.

Four of the dead birds, two geese and two mallard hens, were sent to the National Wildlife Center in Madison, Wis., for analysis, according to a report filed by Anne Ballmann, a federal wildlife disease specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

All four birds showed evidence of gunshot trauma from nontoxic, steel-shot pellets and broken necks. Some had broken wings, but all were in good nutritional health at the time of death, Ballman stated in laboratory findings.

Had the waterfowl been shot with toxic lead shot, it would be a violation of waterfowl hunting regulations, according to Jarod Roof, a law enforcement supervisor for the Division of Wildlife.

Fischer was interview by DNR investigators Richard Loutitt and Barry Henning during the summer.

“He said something to the effect that he had made the biggest mistake of his life,” Loutitt stated in his report regarding circumstances surrounding the dumped birds.

Fischer told the DNR officers he was involved with a waterfowl guide service and ended up with a large number of waterfowl carcasses from hunters who did want the geese or ducks.

After receiving an invitation to hunt, Fischer said he knew he could not do so with the waterfowl carcasses still in his truck so he dumped them in the reservation, Loutitt stated in his report.

Fischer, now employed by the Chagrin Falls Police Department, declined an interview request from Ohio Outdoor News.

Waterfowl hunters since 2003 have had the choice of eight nontoxic shots for waterfowl hunting, including tungsten, iron, nickel, and tin formulations.

Since a 1991 ban on lead shot in waterfowl hunting, a federal study conducted after the 1996 and 1997 waterfowl seasons found a reduction in lead poisoning deaths of approximately 1.4 million ducks in the 1997 fall flight of 90 million ducks.

Efforts to phase out lead shot began in the 1970s, according to a USFWS news release.

Before the 1991 ban of lead shot for waterfowl hunting, about 2,700 tons of shot were deposited in U.S. wetlands annually, according to the American Bird Conservancy.

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