Fines top $2,200 in redhead duck case

Trio charged with killing 35, 29 over the two-bird limit

Scipio, N.Y. — A trio of waterfowlers were fined over $2,200 for shooting 35 redhead ducks on Owasco Lake earlier this year – 29 over the limit of two per hunter.

DEC officials said the case arose when two off-duty environmental conservation officers were duck hunting and observed the trio shooting into the suspects’ decoy spread.

In addition to the 35 redheads killed, several others may have been wounded, officials said.

Officials said ECOs Scott Angotti and Josh Crain were off duty and waterfowl hunting when they witnessed the incident.

“Angotti and Crain immediately contacted local ECO Scott Sincebaugh, approached the three hunters and identified themselves as ECOs,” officials said in a news release. “ECO Sincebaugh arrived a short time later and issued the hunters tickets.”

Charged in the case were:

• Craig Gooding of Brockport, fined $985 for taking over the aggregate limit of ducks; taking over the daily limit of redheads; hunting without a license, failure to participate in the Harvest Information Program and possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle.

The loaded firearm in a motor vehicle charge is a misdemeanor.

•Paul Phillips of Holley, fined $650 for taking over the aggregate limit of ducks and taking over the daily limit of redheads.

• Dan Symula of Lyndhurst, fined $650 for taking over the aggregate limit of ducks and taking over the daily limit of redheads.

The case was handled by Town Justice Brian Dugan in Scipio Town Court and attracted widespread attention within the waterfowl hunting community, since redheads are generally considered a prized harvest.

Many considered the fines to be too lenient, including Ron Falkowski, president of the Central New York Waterfowlers.

Falkowski told most waterfowlers feel the judge was “way too lenient” in the case, especially since it involved redhead ducks.

“And for the number of birds they took – and one guy not having a license or a duck stamp. C’mon,” he said. “If this would have happened in (the state of Maine) or some other state, they would have seized their gun, truck – everything.”

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