Area men plead guilty to federal migratory bird hunting violations

PEORIA — Three men, charged earlier this year with running afoul of migratory bird hunting laws, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a misdemeanor offense.

Trent Gustafson, 34, of Chillicothe, and James Schupp, 53, and J. Weston Schupp, 30, both of Bradford, all pleaded to using an electronic calling device on Dec. 17, 2015, to lure birds in for the kill. The other counts, conspiring with each other to violate the Lacey Act and allowing the unlawful sale of wildlife, were dropped. The men face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $15,000 when sentenced March 21, 2019. Until then, they remain free on bond.

Two others, Rick A. Hamm, 57, of Chillicothe and Zachary Entwistle, 25, of Morris, have cases pending. Entwistle is set to plead Wednesday. Hamm is set for a trial in March.

The two main legal statutes are the Lacey Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, both of which regulate the hunting of migratory waterfowl.

Prosecutors allege Hamm, as the owner and operator of Show Me Your Snows, scheduled guided hunting trips around central Illinois. On Dec. 17 and 18, 2015, two undercover agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posed as hunters on an excursion in Fulton County. The agents were led to a harvested cornfield near the Illinois River where Hamm allegedly spread a bale of corn stalks around a hunting blind. An electronic caller was used to lure birds into the area. Prosecutors alleged all the men knew that using bait and an electronic caller wasn’t legal. It also alleges the agents were allowed to transport untagged geese they had killed away from the area.

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