56-year-old man charged with 125 wildlife crimes following Michigan DNR investigation

Michigan News

A Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officer investigates snares that Pickford resident Kurt Johnston Duncan was charged with using to illegally capture animals. Credit: Michigan DNR

CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Mich. (WLNS) – A 56-year-old Pickford man is facing 125 wildlife charges including harvesting 18 wolves and killing three bald eagles.

Kurt Duncan was arraigned Wednesday morning in Chippewa County’s 91st District Court after an investigation by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division. Duncan pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The penalty for the charges includes up to 90 days in jail and $1,000 fine for each wolf, up to 90 days in jail and $1,000 fine for each eagle, restitution of $1,500 per eagle and $500 per wolf, and up to 90 days in jail and $500 fine each for the other wildlife crimes. Other species involved in the charges include deer, turkey, bear, and bobcat.

DNR law enforcement detectives said that Duncan was using the animals for a variety of reasons, including crafts, selling, or disposing of them, and stated that he was catching the animals because he could and “likes to do it.”

“Investigations like this require a long-term commitment from everyone involved,” said DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler.

Conservation officers collected evidence to support the charges and identified additional suspects who are expected to be charged in the near future.

Duncan was served four search warrants in March. The Chippewa County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is seeking $30,000 in restitution to the state for the illegally taken animals.

Duncan’s cash bond is set at $500. Other conditions of Duncan’s bond include having no contact with co-defendants, no possession of a firearm or dangerous weapon, and no engaging in hunting or fishing.

Wolves are protected in Michigan and are on the federal endangered species list. Bald eagles are protected under state law, as well as the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

Anyone witnessing a natural resources crime or having information about such a crime is encouraged to call or text the DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800.

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