Four facing charges over gator hunting

Published 6:00 pm Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Four Copiah County men were arrested inLawrence County Saturday afternoon and charged with illegalalligator hunting, according to Lawrence County Sheriff Joel Thamesand Mississippi Wildlife agents.

    The four arrests were made after wildlife agents found alligatorparts in the back of a pickup truck occupied by Christian Collins,23, of Wesson; Michael Easterling, 21, of Wesson; Spencer Pell, 22,of Crystal Springs; and Johnny Dow, 19, of Crystal Springs, saidThames.

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    The suspects were each charged with one count of unlawfully killingan alligator and one count of unlawful possession of an alligator,and each suspect was released from the Lawrence County jail on$2,000 bond, according to Thames.

    According to Jim Walker of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife,Fisheries and Parks, gaming officials stopped the group in theirtruck during a routine patrol and noticed bloody shirts, then foundthe alligator parts in the bed of the truck. A home was alsosearched where agents found additional alligator remains.

    After an investigation, officers discovered the alligator waskilled in Cameaux Lake off the Pearl River that borders Lawrenceand Copiah counties, Thames said.

    According to the Mississippi Code, a person convicted of unlawfullykilling an alligator has committed a Class I violation and faces afine of $2,000, five days in county jail and the suspension of allhunting, fishing and trapping privileges in the state for at leastone year.

    Mississippi’s alligator hunting season does not begin until Sept.9. It runs through Oct. 1 with regulations for both public andprivate lands.