Eight men have been arrested in southern Illinois for hunting deer and turkeys over illegal bait stations, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) said in a press release. The men, some of them non-residents, were also cited for the illegal take and possession of deer and turkey, hunting with falsified permits, unlawful transport of weapons, failure to use blaze orange, and a slew of other hunting-related infractions.
The investigation and subsequent arrests occurred on November 18, the opening day of the 2022 Illinois firearm season. During a search of 58-year-old Seth Speiser’s St. Clair County property, conservation officers discovered nine deer stands or blinds baited with corn, molasses, and mineral salts. Interviews with Speiser and the other violators turned up evidence of six illegally-taken whitetail deer and one turkey.
According to the IDNR, the non-residents hunting on Speiser’s property—27-year-old Kamdan Cox of Clarksville, Tennessee, 62-year-old Steve Pate of Marietta, Georgia, and 63-year-old Barry Northenor of Roswell, Georgia—were given resident hunting tags by another man who was arrested on the scene named Danny Cox. The 63-year-old Cox was charged with supplying resident tags to non-resident hunters, shooting an 8 and a 10-point buck over bait, as well failure to wear blaze orange, and the illegal possession of a road sign.
Other accused individuals include 25-year-old Mitchell Speiser of Freeburg, Illinois, 24-year-old Brian Forrester of New Athens, and 32-year-old Kyle Cox of Belleville. All of the men have been issued citations and are now awaiting court dates.
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Hunting deer over bait was outlawed in Illinois in 2002. IDNR says the baiting prohibition was implemented in part to stop the spread of chronic wasting disease, but also as a way to reinforce the importance of fair chase ethics.
“Fair chase has been the standard for responsible hunters for more than 100 years, and these are the ethics we’ve chosen to live by here in Illinois,” said IDNR spokesperson Jayette Bolinski. “We want to give the animal a sporting chance and not cheat or trick it. We also discourage the use of bait because it causes deer to congregate at a food source, which can contribute to the spread of disease and make it more difficult to manage our herd and keep it healthy.”
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