ANNAPOLIS, MD. — 07/01/2014 —A Talbot County Circuit judge has upheld a lifetime fishing ban on a former waterman with a record of multiple poaching convictions.
“The court’s decision affirms the wisdom of the General Assembly, which recognized the significance of crimes against the public trust and the severity of their impact on our natural world,” said DNR Secretary Joe Gill. “Stealing from our public fishery is an offense against all of us, and especially the State’s honest, hardworking watermen.”
Joseph Bruce Janda Jr., 28, of Wittman, had his commercial license permanently revoked a year ago by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Over a decade, Janda has been charged more than 60 times and been found guilty on numerous occasions for poaching oysters, illegal striped bass fishing and harvesting undersized crabs. In addition, he has been convicted of fishing without a license and fishing on a suspended license.
In 2011, Janda was cited for two crabbing violations within a two-year period worth 35 points on his licenses, which triggered a revocation hearing by an administrative law judge.
In writing last Friday, Judge J. Owen Wise rejected Janda’s appeal, calling him a “chronic offender” who had accumulated 415 days of suspensions.
“A license is a privilege and therefore something which can be taken away, or not granted at all (as with hunting and driver’s licenses) so petitioner does not have a lifelong right to take resources from bays, rivers and creeks,” Wise ruled. “The law does not say that a person has to violate all laws pertaining to each marine resource before his/her license can be suspended or revoked.”
In addition to revoking Janda’s license, Wise also ruled he is permanently banned from being on any boat harvesting oysters and cannot be involved in any activity associated with oyster harvesting. Further, Janda is barred from engaging in commercial fishing activities, even ones supervised by a license holder.
Tougher penalties, authorized by the General Assembly, have created a “one and done” revocation process for the most egregious offenders and increased the penalty for engaging in commercial fishing with a suspended license, a revoked license or without a license, by establishing a fine of up to $25,000 and imprisonment for up to one year.
Enhanced enforcement is a major component of Governor O’Malley’s Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development Plan. The oyster recovery blueprint has paved the way for aerial surveillance of oyster beds by NRP officers aboard Maryland State Police helicopters, the Maritime Law Enforcement Information Network of radar units and cameras, and specific natural resources dockets in 18 of 24 district courts.
Were Turkey Farmers Charged with Illegal Trapping Really Laying for Coyotes?
Two Howard County men have been charged by the Maryland Natural Resources Police with killing state and federally protected wildlife, and animal cruelty for causing suffering by using unchecked traps.
William Gunnar Radhe Jr., 31, and Eugene William Iager, 67, both of Fulton, are accused of setting traps that killed a Great Horned Owl, two turkey vultures and a striped skunk in early April. If found guilty of all charges, the maximum penalty for each man is $9,000 in fines and nine months in jail.
The two men are associated with Maple Lawn Farm, which has been raising free-range turkeys since 1938. Police said Iager, the owner of the farm, and Radhe, his nephew, were responsible for baiting traps with raw meat near their turkey pens. Neither man had a trapping permit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture when the incidents occurred.
In early April, NRP officers were tipped to possible illegal trapping by local birders who found a dead Great Horned Owl on the Fulton Elementary School grounds. The bird had suffered open compound fractures and other trauma consistent with the damage done by a trap.
Great Horned Owls and turkey vultures are protected by federal and state law, and accidental deaths are required to be reported to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
An officer checking the area around the Farm’s outdoor turkey pens found a live skunk ensnared in a trap, its legs worn down to the bone from trying to escape from the unmonitored trap. After euthanizing the skunk, the officer discovered a total of four baited traps concealed under straw.
The skunk was trapped out of season.
Also in the vicinity the officer found the carcasses and bones of five foxes, several vultures, a raccoon, a skunk and an opossum that indicated trapping had been going on for a while.
In charging documents, NRP noted that the Maple Lawn Farm traps should have been checked every 24 hours to prevent the kind of prolonged pain suffered by the animals. Further, the charging documents noted, that the traps were “of a larger size than is necessary in order to trap fox, raccoon and skunk,” and more in line with what would be necessary to trap a coyote.
The two men are scheduled to appear in Howard District Court on August 28.