View Full Version : Lake Erie walleye poaching

07-29-2008, 08:55 AM
Seven from Wisconsin busted for Lake Erie walleye poaching

Gannett Wisconsin Media • July 28, 2008

An anonymous tip put an end to an out-of-state fishing trip on Memorial Day weekend for seven Wisconsin men who were arrested in Ohio for poaching walleye.

The men — residents of Ripon, Oakfield, Fond du Lac, Eden, Hartford and Slinger — paid more than $4,600 in fines and restitution, while two of the anglers spent three days in jail for grossly exceeding the legal creel limit for walleye in Lake Erie.

Wildlife officlals conducted surveillance on South Bass Island where the illegal activity allegedly was occurring. During the four-day holiday weekend, investigators observed a group of anglers "double-tripping" — taking multiple daily limits of walleyes during the same 24-hour period, according to a press release from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Investigators detained the men when they returned to the mainland and determined that the group had 67 walleyes over the legal limit. Investigators also confiscated camera equipment, photos and videotape that allegedly depicted the over-bagging activity, according to the release.

"We have been consistent with our message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated in Ohio," said Kevin Ramsey, supervisor for the Division of Wildlife's Lake Erie Law Enforcement Unit in the press release.

On June 2, Ottawa County Municipal Court Judge Frederick Haney found the seven men guilty of multiple counts of poaching walleyes. They were ordered to pay $50 in restitution for each walleye taken over the legal limit in accordance with new legislation that increased the value of wild animals that are unlawfully held, taken, bought, sold, or possessed. The new law reflects the present-day value of Ohio's wildlife, which can range anywhere from $20 to nearly $2,500 per animal, according to the news release.

Thad B. Burkette, 32, of Hartford; Travis J. Sonnentag, 29, of Ripon; and Jeff Steinman, 32, of Slinger, were each convicted of double-tripping for two days on walleye and possessing 12 walleyes over the legal limit. Each was fined $350 plus court costs and ordered to pay $600 in restitution for the illegally taken fish ($50 per fish). In addition, their fishing licenses were revoked for 2½ years, according to the release.

Burkette and Sonnentag also received 40-day jail sentences with 37 days suspended. Steinman was ordered to serve 50 hours of community service, according to the release.

Patrick J. Mann, 50, and Carey T. Slater, 33, both of Fond du Lac; Thomas A. Slater, 60, of Eden; and Chad Meinberg, 33, of Oakfield, were each convicted of double-tripping on walleyes for one day and taking six fish over the limit. They were each fined $150 plus court costs and ordered to pay $300 in restitution for the illegally taken fish ($50 per fish).

Ten-day jail sentences for each man were suspended. Their fishing licenses were revoked for one year, according to the release.

Meinberg entered not guilty pleas to additional charges of double-tripping on a second day and taking seven fish over the legal limit. A later trial date was set.