A joint investigation conducted by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) and United States Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement into violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), known as Operation “Bird Dog,” has resulted in multiple defendants pleading guilty to federal hunting violations. U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant announced the guilty pleas on Friday.
According to information presented in court, Hunter Rainwaters, 20, Cody Brown, 20, Peyton Mayberry, 20, and Jay Maiden, 20, committed violations involving the illegal placement of bait to attract waterfowl and taking or attempting to take waterfowl over a baited area. The area the subjects illegally baited is a TWRA owned and managed Wildlife Management Area in Benton County, Tenn. The effects of this baiting on a public waterfowl hunting area resulted in the closure of a portion of the Wildlife Management Area and the subsequent loss of hunting opportunity for other hunters in the affected area for the first 10 days of the 2017-2018 waterfowl hunting season.
On Monday, U.S. Magistrate Court Judge Jon A. York sentenced Rainwaters to loss of hunting privileges for two years along with $1,000 fine; Mayberry, Brown and Maiden were each sentenced to loss of hunting privileges for one year along with a $1,000 fine. Additionally, other defendants cited in the case paid a total of $17,680.00 in fines.
U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said, "The U.S. Attorney’s Office is a full-service federal prosecution office, and we have the ability and intention to charge any violations of federal law, no matter where they occur in the Western District of Tennessee. These prosecutions demonstrate our commitment to upholding the rule of law, and to pursuing any cases that harm and impact our rural communities. We commend the TWRA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on this successful operation, and appreciate our partnerships with them."
This case was investigated by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Wilson prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.