TWRA ruled against - AGAIN!

TheLBLman

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When most every single hunter and fisherman (and they are law abiding people) I know has a complaint about the TWRA, something is wrong.
Yes, many things are wrong.

The biggest problem TWRA currently faces in trying to make things better for you & me is under-staffing and under-funding. More staffing & more funding is the main way TWRA could do significantly better at enforcing hunting & fishing laws.

But then, we have to ask, just how much difference would that make when most TN judges don't take wildlife violations seriously, negating most of the citations TWRA writes? Then there is the issue of corrupt judges who refuse to prosecute their wealthy friends who are serial poachers?

And perhaps worst of all, our TN legislature which has made fines for game & fish violations minuscule compared to many other states which (legislatively) take game & fish issues more seriously.

What many of us simply do not understand is that TWRA has absolutely nothing to do with the amount of game & fish violations' fines, nothing to do with whether the judge will enforce them.
Then, TWRA has only 1 or 2 officers in each county, each of whom shouldn't be working any more than 16 hours daily.

Just saying, it's a daunting task to make things better,
but we sure should not be saying & doing things to make things worse.

Again, how about we work together to make things better instead of worse?

Some of the proposed ideas, like outlawing the open doctrine law, can only make much of what you yourself most complain, far worse?

The answer is not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
 

Darkthirty II

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I absolutely agree in a landowners property rights...I dont want people on my land without me knowing it...but the original case is far from a "petty citation" with baiting deer, baiting ducks, baiting dove, $3,000 in fines and suspension of his hunting privileges for three years....all over a three year period. Sounds like a habitual poacher that has no regard for the law or the resource...so before everyone starts flaming away...Again, I agree that surveillance cameras crossed the line....but in the same breath Ill say if my neighbor was a habitual poacher TWRA would have no issue getting access from me.
So how many times have they done the exact same thing based on a "tip" but no one found the camera and they never found any evidence to pursue?? I'll bet everything I own, up until this case, it happened regularly.
 

DoubleRidge

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So how many times have they done the exact same thing based on a "tip" but no one found the camera and they never found any evidence to pursue?? I'll bet everything I own, up until this case, it happened regularly.
I have no way to answer that and wouldnt want to assume. The only facts I have are those that are published, which pertain to this case....and again, I agree that surveillance cameras crossed the line....but in the same breath Ill say if my neighbor was a habitual poacher...like those involved in the original case....TWRA would have no issue getting access from me.
 

Headhunter

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Yes, many things are wrong.

The biggest problem TWRA currently faces in trying to make things better for you & me is under-staffing and under-funding. More staffing & more funding is the main way TWRA could do significantly better at enforcing hunting & fishing laws.

But then, we have to ask, just how much difference would that make when most TN judges don't take wildlife violations seriously, negating most of the citations TWRA writes? Then there is the issue of corrupt judges who refuse to prosecute their wealthy friends who are serial poachers?

And perhaps worst of all, our TN legislature which has made fines for game & fish violations minuscule compared to many other states which (legislatively) take game & fish issues more seriously.

What many of us simply do not understand is that TWRA has absolutely nothing to do with the amount of game & fish violations' fines, nothing to do with whether the judge will enforce them.
Then, TWRA has only 1 or 2 officers in each county, each of whom shouldn't be working any more than 16 hours daily.

Just saying, it's a daunting task to make things better,
but we sure should not be saying & doing things to make things worse.

Again, how about we work together to make things better instead of worse?

Some of the proposed ideas, like outlawing the open doctrine law, can only make much of what you yourself most complain, far worse?

The answer is not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
Game wardens are under staffed and under paid. With that said, unless an extreme illegal situation comes up, why should they even worry one second about private land, they should spend all their time on public land. Other than that, I don't agree with the funding part.

I don't think they are managing the funds they get responsibly, not even close. The amount of money they spent on the duck blinds is one example. A pile of money for a "duck blind" that was poorly made. TWRA is having financial problems, but they spend a pile of money on duck blinds.

The WMA's, for the most part, sad excuses for WMA's, TWRA basically does nothing with them. Other than determining seasons and bag limits, they just let them go.

As far as working with them, the TWRA does not pay any attention to the everyday hunter and fisherman. TWRA has done great things and they are responsible for many great things, but as an agency, when most every single hunter and fisherman has an issue with them and not just being unhappy but believing the TWRA is completely wrong, then as I have said, TWRA is a dumpster fire and the dumpster is melting. So sad.
 

Headhunter

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Some of the proposed ideas, like outlawing the open doctrine law, can only make much of what you yourself most complain, far worse?

The answer is not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
in this case, if that is what you call it, I say "throw the baby out with the bath water"! Throw a long ways!

The TWRA put cameras on their land, no warrant, maybe probable cause I can't find an answer, but even they had undisputable probable cause, they show up and arrest the guy for stealing those cameras! Yep, throw the baby out with the bath water! The TWRA is not judge and jury! If I found unidentified cameras on my land they would not even have to worry about looking for them.
 

SSlater

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I have no way to answer that and wouldnt want to assume. The only facts I have are those that are published, which pertain to this case....and again, I agree that surveillance cameras crossed the line....but in the same breath Ill say if my neighbor was a habitual poacher...like those involved in the original case....TWRA would have no issue getting access from me.
Then they should have no issue getting a warrant either.
 

DoubleRidge

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Then they should have no issue getting a warrant either.
True, but not on hearsay...So again, if my neighbors were like those in the original case, baiting deer, baiting ducks, baiting dove, having no respect for game laws and no respect for the resource and I know that and see that...TWRA will have no issue gaining access on me in order to collect evidence to get a warrant...bust the slob poachers.
 

TheLBLman

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I agree that TWRA crossed a line they shouldn't have in placing those trail cams on private property.
Just to be clear.
But I also think too much attention has been given to what they did wrong,
and too little attention to what initially created the ongoing saga.


Perhaps just hearsay, but I do believe some of the TWRA officers may have believed federal warrants extended to them, when they did not. At the very least, this was not a "typical situation", and not for one second do I believe TWRA has ever routinely placed trail cams on private property.

If you study everything, over the preceding years, leading up to a TWRA officer placing the cell trail cam (which most everyone believes crossed a line), rather than a "typical situation", would you say this situation was more akin to an "extreme illegal situation"?

It seems much of the earlier "issues" may have been suppressed, some are just hearsay, but much of the saga (for which the attention has become more focused on TWRA's trail cam mistake), actually came to a head with a federal investigation (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) called "Operation Bird Dog" in 2017.

Operation Bird Dog involved PUBLIC LANDS (poaching & baiting), more than private.
The illegal baiting resulted in a portion of a public WMA being closed to all hunters.

But prior to this, in 2016 . . . . . .

This "Meateater" article linked below gives a more balanced view of everything?



"TWRA Officer Kevin Hoofman first entered Rainwaters' property in September 2016 to investigate a potential dove baiting offense. He took several photos and returned the next November to look into potential deer baiting. At this time, he installed a U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFW) trail camera on the property and took images of Rainwaters and his family and friends on the property while they were hunting."

Hoofman began investigating the Hollingsworth property in December 2016 and took images of deer bait. He returned in the fall of 2017 and documented Hollingsworth baiting waterfowl—a state and federal offense. At this point, Hoofman teamed up with USFW Special Agent Kyle Lock to investigate the potential federal crimes. After installing USFW trail cameras on the property and interviewing Hollingsworth, the law enforcement officers charged the landowner. Hollingsworth was tried and found guilty of baiting doves in 2018, a federal offense that came with a fine of $3,000 and suspension of his hunting privileges for three years.


 
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TheLBLman

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The below quoted passage comes from the above linked "Meateater" article.

This is from Richard Simms, who many of you know & respect.

Many hunters in Tennessee and elsewhere wonder what will be the functional consequences of this changing legal understanding. Richard Simms, a former employee of TWRA and current outdoors writer, detailed a few hypothetical situations of what could now happen in Tennessee to Chattanooga's Channel 9 News:

"An officer receives an anonymous phone call that someone is illegally poaching deer," Simms said. "It is 1 a.m. and judges are fast asleep, plus an anonymous phone call would never reach the threshold to obtain a search warrant, even if it could be requested in a timely manner.

The officer goes to the remote area on a public road. In the distance he or she sees a spotlight sweeping across a green field, locking in on a large buck. A high-powered rifle shot splits the night and the buck goes down. However, the only way the officer can reach the area quickly is via a private farm road where the officer is now forbidden to go. He sits and watches through binoculars as tiny figures load the buck into the truck and disappear out of sight on the opposite end of the field."

Simms demonstrates that this new ruling will affect fishing regulation enforcement as well.
"An officer is patrolling by boat on Nickajack Lake," Simms suggested next. "The officer watches through binoculars as a man fishing on shore catches multiple largemouth bass, most of them smaller than the legal 15-inch size limit. Every fish goes into an ice chest. Yet, the officer is forbidden to set foot on the private land to enforce the law. Odds are, by the time he could obtain a search warrant, the illegal catch would be cleaned and eaten."

"I don't think this will affect wildlife management per se, but I could see how this will affect the ability of conservation officers to gather time-sensitive evidence," Callaghan added. "The legal system will have to adapt and issue warrants in a more timely manner."

Because 86% of Tennessee's land is private, the state's methods for granting warrants will undoubtedly need adjustment. How they will address this new means of managing is yet to be determined.

"This case is a great example of why wildlife management isn't easy," Callaghan concluded.

"The North American Model is extraordinary in the fact that the game is owned by the people and managed in trust by the state, but the game does not know about property boundaries. How do we equitably protect public 'property' that moves across public and private boundaries daily?"
 

Ski

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True, but not on hearsay...So again, if my neighbors were like those in the original case, baiting deer, baiting ducks, baiting dove, having no respect for game laws and no respect for the resource and I know that and see that...TWRA will have no issue gaining access on me in order to collect evidence to get a warrant...bust the slob poachers.

That's exactly how I feel about it. I'll cart out some lemonade and snacks to keep them comfortable.
 

TheLBLman

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Game wardens are under staffed and under paid. With that said, unless an extreme illegal situation comes up, why should they even worry one second about private land, they should spend all their time on public land.

I think you may have just answered your own question.

First, the wildlife is owned by the general "public", as it belongs to all of us, NOT the owners of any private property, NOT even the public land WMAs. Wildlife belongs to the People, not the owners of the land such wildlife walks or flies across.

Yes, it would be very different if we were talking about farm animals, but we're talking about free-ranging wildlife.

Secondly, 86% of TN's land mass is privately owned.
Only 14% of TN's land is "public", i.e. owned by the State or by the federal government.

Bottom line is that most of the public resource of "wildlife", at any given movement, may be found on private property.

Never mind that this whole saga has involved multiple "extreme illegal situations"?
 
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Someone is trying to make excuses for blatant government overreach. Getting a warrant is too difficult in many cases. Their job is too hard. They thought what they were doing was OK. The wildlife is owned by the people. etc. etc. Blah. Blah. Blah.

None of this excuses TWRA's behavior and actions. Raiding someone's private property and going into their home with guns cocked and ready to shoot people over some excess wildlife possibly being taken? Really? Really?

I received a citation by a TWRA officer years ago over an ALLEGATION that corn was being used to hunt. Which was not happening and had not been happening. But I had to go to court to address the allegation. I will never forget what came out of his mouth as he "confronted me" deep in my own property. He said as he stood there while taking off his camouflaged netting material after sneaking into my private property - AND I QUOTE - "I've been trying to catch you in here FOR YEARS." "CATCH YOU." I thought "What the F**K is he taking about?" I realized he had one goal - issue a citation. He had no interest in any explanations.

I had owned and hunted there with stands for 20 years. Only two people had EVER been seen or even captured on trail cameras on the property in all 20 years. Just the kid who stole my game cameras. And now him. Not the neighbors, my relatives who lived next door, surveyors, no-one. EVER. So where did he get his information? From a known thief trying to cop a deal? Did he just randomly sneak around at night in the green-belt back yards of people who live in subdivisions? If he even did see something possibly questionable why not talk to the possible game violator first since it would be easy to talk with me or people driving by or parking at the entrance to the property. Nope. To simple. Too easy. His complete motivation was to "catch" someone. And issue a citation. Forcing him and me and judge etc. to spend time in court. No game taken. No shots fired. Nothing happening. Absolutely F-ing ridiculous.

As I think I said once before on a TNDeer post, years ago I talked with a TWRA biologist at the time that said he was resigning to work elsewhere. Because he thought TWRA was not supporting biological research and was mostly just going Law Enforcement. To "catch" people.

Maybe its time to ask the Governor to ask the head of TWRA "Why are you not just doing business the way the legislature and the courts have said you need to be doing things?" .
 

SSlater

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Someone is trying to make excuses for blatant government overreach. Getting a warrant is too difficult in many cases. Their job is too hard. They thought what they were doing was OK. The wildlife is owned by the people. etc. etc. Blah. Blah. Blah.

None of this excuses TWRA's behavior and actions. Raiding someone's private property and going into their home with guns cocked and ready to shoot people over some excess wildlife possibly being taken? Really? Really?

I received a citation by a TWRA officer years ago over an ALLEGATION that corn was being used to hunt. Which was not happening and had not been happening. But I had to go to court to address the allegation. I will never forget what came out of his mouth as he "confronted me" deep in my own property. He said as he stood there while taking off his camouflaged netting material after sneaking into my private property - AND I QUOTE - "I've been trying to catch you in here FOR YEARS." "CATCH YOU." I thought "What the F**K is he taking about?" I realized he had one goal - issue a citation. He had no interest in any explanations.

I had owned and hunted there with stands for 20 years. Only two people had EVER been seen or even captured on trail cameras on the property in all 20 years. Just the kid who stole my game cameras. And now him. Not the neighbors, my relatives who lived next door, surveyors, no-one. EVER. So where did he get his information? From a known thief trying to cop a deal? Did he just randomly sneak around at night in the green-belt back yards of people who live in subdivisions? If he even did see something possibly questionable why not talk to the possible game violator first since it would be easy to talk with me or people driving by or parking at the entrance to the property. Nope. To simple. Too easy. His complete motivation was to "catch" someone. And issue a citation. Forcing him and me and judge etc. to spend time in court. No game taken. No shots fired. Nothing happening. Absolutely F-ing ridiculous.

As I think I said once before on a TNDeer post, years ago I talked with a TWRA biologist at the time that said he was resigning to work elsewhere. Because he thought TWRA was not supporting biological research and was mostly just going Law Enforcement. To "catch" people.

Maybe its time to ask the Governor to ask the head of TWRA "Why are you not just doing business the way the legislature and the courts have said you need to be doing things?" .
Yep, this nonsense happens all the time. Not just with TWRA either. I'm not out to get them individually. I've dealt with multiple state and local LE officials and many of them are obsessed with their power and until they are reeled back under control, retrained, and have accountability, they're not getting much support from me . EVERY time I've called for help or to report something, all I've gotten was a piss poor attitude and usually a "there's nothing we can do".

Until the Us vs. Them and Rules for thee but not for us attitude changes and they start acting like part of the community, I got little use or respect for any of them. Goes for all of government! If they don't want help me, why the hell should I help them.

I'm ALL for this ruling and am an adamant supporter of ending Qualified Immunity.

Want on my land? Establish a relationship with me, drop the ego BS, and keep your word and honor your oath. You can EARN my respect but I'll be damned if you're going to DEMAND it.
 

mike243

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So what would our wildlife numbers look like if TWRA only patrolled state lands and WMA's, let the county sheriff officers stop vehicles when they hit the roads, they work all night anyway so no need to wake them up, our tax $ pays for the police to protect our property, also get off any of the lakes unless they are owned or regulated by the state, let TVA or the sheriffs office catch the drunk boaters. Sounds like a defunding action is what some would like, can't say as I would ever vote on it but when you tie folks hands they can't perform the job properly. I foresee a lot of phone calls that the neighbors are killing all my deer you need to go ck it out, they must be baiting ect. Nothing in life is clear cut there are always exceptions to rules that have to be given. Just because other states allow certain activities doesn't meant it's a good practice imo. Coarse I haven't hunted other states all my life but feel that our rules have been made to sustain a huntable population of animals. other states want to grow records and all that goes with that, concerning the camera's yep too far but if they had been on the property before and found evidence of baiting instead of overlooking it and coming back the next season sounds hinky, lot of details making up what happened and I'm not sure many here know enough to convict either side, we can bat words around till all the corn and deer are gone and not change or fix 1 thing. Common sense has to be used at some point but finding that middle ground is going to be rough. Keeping a open mind and looking farther than your own fence might help some type of resolution come about that won't let the game numbers be depleted.
 

SSlater

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With zero evidence what was the citation for? So the game warden came on your property and found zero evidence of baiting and the wrote you a citation for baiting?
Government agents have been known to lie and make up stuff before. I had a sheriff write me a ticket for snowmobiling on the highway which he didn't see me do and had no proof of me doing because I didn't do it. I was sitting on a state park inside the gate where he had no jurisdiction. It's was his word against mine. Guess who's word they took.
 
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There was some corn in front of some cameras. I take pictures sometimes when I am not hunting there. To see if anything is going through there. During those times I am typically hunting Catoosa. That's it. I was demonstrably not hunting and was on the property thinking I was about to catch a thief. So we went to court and I provided evidence of that and other supporting stuff and we agreed to disagree and that was it. I had even previously written a letter to the sheriff's office about the thief and stolen cameras and showed that in court and a picture of a very unique vehicle parked in a unique position to gain hidden entry to the property only an hour before I went in to check on the property. But I still remember what had happened originally with that notification to the sheriffs department. When I called the sheriff's office about receiving no reply to my letter they said I should go and talk directly to a deputy. So I did. It was "informational". I showed the deputy pictures of the trespasser/thief's car with license plate and a picture of the thief in a unique jacket and asked the deputy if he could talk with the trespasser. I remember clearly what he said. First he asked if the cameras cost over $500. They only cost $350/$400. Then he said "Well, we are not in the business of talking to people. We are in the business of putting people in jail." He explained that there was not much he would be doing.

I actually felt bad for him. He was on the phone when I originally came to his desk. While I was sitting there, he was obviously talking with the lawyer of someone accused of repeated thefts. He said "You know Charlie (?) (the thief's lawyer), you're just going to get him out of jail and he's just going to go back to stealing things again." Sad but true.

This thread to me is about government overreach based on marginal/debatable evidence which has become all too common. Very dangerously so. This is what happened when (after issuing new statements about what THEY think is being in the gun business) the ATF recently barged into a known gun collector's home in the early hours of the morning unannounced SWAT Team style and shot him mortally in the head in front of his wife. After cutting the power to the house and placing tape across their door bell camera. And making sure they were not using their own required body cams. Jim Jordan eventually asked the ATF director to apologize to the dead man's widow, who was in attendance which he sort of did.


 

SSlater

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There was some corn in front of some cameras. I take pictures sometimes when I am not hunting there. To see if anything is going through there. During those times I am typically hunting Catoosa. That's it. I was demonstrably not hunting and was on the property thinking I was about to catch a thief. So we went to court and I provided evidence of that and other supporting stuff and we agreed to disagree and that was it. I had even previously written a letter to the sheriff's office about the thief and stolen cameras and showed that in court and a picture of a very unique vehicle parked in a unique position to gain hidden entry to the property only an hour before I went in to check on the property. But I still remember what had happened originally with that notification to the sheriffs department. When I called the sheriff's office about receiving no reply to my letter they said I should go and talk directly to a deputy. So I did. It was "informational". I showed the deputy pictures of the trespasser/thief's car with license plate and a picture of the thief in a unique jacket and asked the deputy if he could talk with the trespasser. I remember clearly what he said. First he asked if the cameras cost over $500. They only cost $350/$400. Then he said "Well, we are not in the business of talking to people. We are in the business of putting people in jail." He explained that there was not much he would be doing.

I actually felt bad for him. He was on the phone when I originally came to his desk. While I was sitting there, he was obviously talking with the lawyer of someone accused of repeated thefts. He said "You know Charlie (?) (the thief's lawyer), you're just going to get him out of jail and he's just going to go back to stealing things again." Sad but true.

This thread to me is about government overreach based on marginal/debatable evidence which has become all too common. Very dangerously so. This is what happened when (after issuing new statements about what THEY think is being in the gun business) the ATF recently barged into a known gun collector's home in the early hours of the morning unannounced SWAT Team style and shot him mortally in the head in front of his wife. After cutting the power to the house and placing tape across their door bell camera. And making sure they were not using their own required body cams. Jim Jordan eventually asked the ATF director to apologize to the dead man's widow, who was in attendance which he sort of did.



An apology is not nearly enough.
 
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