Illinois Investigators: 7 Out-Of-State Hunters face 63 Misdemeanors in Wild Turkey Bust

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SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Conservation Police investigators have charged seven out-of-state hunters for illegal turkey hunting, using AR-style weapons equipped with suppressors. 

It follows a yearlong investigation revealed that the suspects were allegedly poaching more than 20 wild turkeys at night within or near city limits in Madison County. 

Among those arrested are Dustin Goldsmith from McCall Creek, Mississippi; Hunter Baxter from Lucedale, Mississippi; Nick Henley from Monticello, Arkansas; Benjamin Emerson from Lucedale, Mississippi; Dakota Jarratt from Wilmar, Arkansas; Matthew McClendon from Augusta, Georgia; and Jacob Russell from Ruth, Mississippi. The group now faces a collective 63 misdemeanor counts, along with three additional felony charges for two men.

“Poaching is a serious crime that can cause tremendous harm to wildlife and biodiversity. Conservation laws are in place to ensure wildlife resources are around for future generations to enjoy,” said Jed Whitchurch, director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Office of Law Enforcement. “I encourage anyone who is aware of poaching crimes in Illinois to come forward with tips. People have a responsibility to understand these laws and to follow them.”

To report potential poachers, you can fill out a form here.

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