Seven men charged in Illinois deer poaching cases have entered guilty pleas, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Office of Law Enforcement announced today. The charges stemmed from investigations conducted by IDNR Conservation Police officers, along with law enforcement officers from Michigan, Indiana and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011.
“Deer poaching is a serious offense, and I want to thank the investigators, along with the prosecutors in the state’s attorney’s offices in Cook and Kankakee counties, for seeing these important cases to their conclusions,” said IDNR Conservation Police Director Rafael Gutierrez. “Those who hunt illegally and break the law need to be held accountable, and cases like these show we are serious about protecting outdoor recreation opportunities for the men, women and youth who obey the law.”
The cases resolved during the last month, involving hunters from Illinois and Michigan, stemmed from violations of the Illinois Wildlife Code that occurred in 2011.
The case dispositions in Cook County included:
- Louis C. Bergsma (age 35 from Galena, IL) – Convictions on unlawful falsification of IDNR harvest records, two counts of hunting without permission of landowner, two counts of unlawful possession of illegally taken deer; fines of $4,800, plus civil penalties of $7,750;
- Jonathan P. Bergsma (age 33 from Ada, MI) – Convictions on two counts of unlawful possession of illegally taken deer, one count each of unlawfully hunting without a hunting license, and unlawfully hunting without a habitat stamp; fines totaling $3,700;
- Daniel E. Bergsma (age 27 from Ada, MI) – Convictions on unlawful falsification of IDNR harvest records, two counts of unlawful possession of illegally taken deer, and one count of hunting without permission of landowner; fines totaling $2,500, plus civil penalties of $250
- Douglas J. Bergsma (age 60 from Rockford, MI) – Convictions on unlawful falsification of IDNR harvest records, hunting without permission of landowner, and unlawful possession of the illegally taken deer; fines totaling $2,300;
- Tom E. Hedke (age 33 from Caledonia, MI) – Convictions on two counts of unlawfully hunting without a valid non-resident hunting license; fines totaling $1,000.
Each of the five men were also convicted in Michigan on counts of unlawful possession of illegally taken deer and unlawful importation of deer and each man was fined $245. Their cases included the illegal taking of 31 deer, including a buck taken in Cook County valued at $25,000.
The case dispositions in Kankakee County included:
- Weldon “Jesse” Bean (age 30 from Kankakee, IL) – Convictions on illegally hunting without permission, illegally taking deer with a rifle-accessory, illegally hunting within 300 yards of a dwelling, illegal possession of deer, failure to immediately tag a deer upon kill, illegal transportation of an uncased bow on an ATV, and use of an invalid archery deer permit; fines and penalties totaling $10,000;
- Raymond Drazen (age 42 from St. Anne, IL) – Convictions on illegally taking deer with a rifle and illegal possession of deer; fines totaling $250.
The Kankakee County case involved the illegal taking of a large buck in 2011.
Hunters or other citizens with information on illegal hunting are encouraged to contact the Illinois Conservation Police or call the IDNR Target Illinois Poacher Hotline at 1-877-2DNRLAW (1-877-236-7529).
Image courtesy Illinois Department of Natural Resources