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Archive for Saturday, October 1, 2005

7 hunters plead guilty to shooting cranes

October 1, 2005

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— Seven hunters who pleaded guilty Friday to shooting two whooping cranes were sentenced to two years probation under a plea agreement on the misdemeanor charge.

The seven Kansas men also lost their hunting privileges for the duration of their probation and were each ordered to pay a $3,000 fine, according to the U.S. District Attorney's Office. They must also pay a total of $2,586 among them in restitution.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Donald W. Bostwick also ordered the men to attend a hunter's safety course and perform 50 hours of community service.

The shooting took place Nov. 6 in Stafford County. Farmers found the two whooping cranes the first day of sandhill crane hunting season in a field southeast of Great Bend. Both birds later died.

The defendants were Michael L. Burke, 33, Great Bend; Chad M. Churchill, 34, Ellinwood; Kim Churchill, 53, Ellinwood; Scott L. Hjetland, 33, Chase; Ronald Laudick, 50, Hudson; Mark S. Ricker, 33, Raymond; and Lonnie J. Winkleman, 33, Lyons.

Whooping cranes pass through Kansas during their migration from Canada to Texas.

The men were charged under a federal law that prohibits hunting or killing a protected migratory bird.

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