One side chirping in turkey baiting case

Published 12:30 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2024

LEXINGTON — A week ago, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Commissioner Leonard Bentz said he was informed he was cited for a turkey baiting violation. He is the only person involved in the case who has said anything publicly. 

The turkey baiting citation came after a conservation officer found Bentz hunting a private property in Holmes County on March 29  where crickets had been released a few days prior. Bentz said he did not know the crickets were there. He wrote in a statement via email that he had specifically asked the landowner to ensure there was no baiting on the property before hunting that morning.

The landowner later admitted to releasing crickets a few days before the hunt and had not known they had constituted as bait, Bentz claimed in a statement. 

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Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks only comment is the case is under investigation and they could not provide further comment. The department has not confirmed Bentz’s citation nor if any other people were cited in the investigation. 

Holmes County Sheriff’s Office and the Holmes County Justice Court have not returned emails or phone calls to provide additional information regarding the case. Turkey baiting citations are paid through the justice court of the county where an offense takes place. 

Mississippi law is clear that no baiting is allowed of any kind in hunting of wild turkeys. Baiting is defined as “shelled, shucked or unshucked corn, wheat or grain or any feed whatsoever has been deposited scattered as to constitute an attraction or enticement,” according to Mississippi Administrative Rule Title 40, Part 2, Chapter 3 Rule 3.3. The baiting of wild turkeys is a Class II violation and the person shall be punished with a $100 to $500 fine plus jail time under Mississippi Administrative Rule Title 40, Part 2, Chapter 2, Rule 2.4. 

We will provide updates as they are available in this developing story.