Police dog nabs Ohio turkey poacher
The Ohio Division of Wildlife’s newly created K-9 program had its latest success last spring when Officer K-9 Scout, a yellow lab, helped catch a turkey poacher in the area of the Greater Cincinnati during the 2021 wild turkey season. State Wildlife Officers Gus Kiebel and Jason Keller, along with Keller’s K-9 partner Scout, responded to a landowner’s complaint about a trespasser killing a wild turkey on their property.
Scout was able to find a used shotgun shell, the wad, and a pile of turkey feathers, establishing that the bird had been shot on the landowner’s property. Officers searched the area and found an individual carving up a turkey. When questioned, the suspect admitted he was hunting nearby and drove through the owner’s property to shoot a turkey in a field after hearing birds gobble it up.
Officers seized the turkey pieces and issued a pair of summonses to the hunter, who pleaded guilty to both counts and paid a $450 fine plus court costs.
The successful investigation highlights the value of K-9 officers in wildlife law enforcement. In 2018, the Ohio Division of Wildlife became one of twenty wildlife agencies in the state to employ K-9 officers.
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The dogs are trained to detect gunpowder, waterfowl, deer, turkey and fish scents to help investigate possible hunting and fishing violations. They are also trained to smell wild ginseng root. Sought after for its medicinal value, ginseng sells for between $300 and $900 per dried pound and is frequently extracted out of season by poachers.
K-9 agents can also help investigate hunting accidents. Before launching its own K-9 program, the Ohio DOW used dogs from other agencies to investigate two shooting incidents that took place during the state’s deer season. In both cases, the dogs were able to find cartridge components at the scene, compiling valuable evidence for investigators.