KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
SHAFTSBURY -- A Shaftsbury man and a New York state man were given citations for violating Fish and Wildlife laws when they allegedly were found removing quartz from an area protected by the state.
District Chief Warden Lt. Paul Gaudreau said Robert LaPorte, 59, of Shaftsbury, and Phillip Yerke, 46, of Waterford, N.Y., were cited for willful and careless destruction of state property. Penalties for convictions on that charge can range up to $2,500, but according to Gaudreau, LaPorte and Yerke were ticketed for $716.
He said they have the option of paying the fine at court or they can plead not guilty and contest it. The charge is under 10 V.S.A Section 4517.
Gaudreau said the quartz was removed from the Bird Mountain Wildlife Management Area, which is in the towns of Ira, Castleton, and Poultney. He said the digging site was first noticed by a state wildlife biologist in August and reported to game wardens who watched the area for about a week before finding LaPorte and Yerke at it.
According to Gaudreau it is not known how much quartz was removed. He described the scene as being on a hillside with rocks having been strewn down the hill for about 50 yards. He said tools were used to remove the rocks but no machines. It is not known who started the digging operation or if LaPorte and Yerke are the only people involved, said Gaudreau.
He said he did not know why anyone would want to remove quartz from the area. Attempts to reach LaPorte for comment by the Banner were not successful.
The Bird Mountain Wildlife Management Area was bought by the state in 1976 and is managed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. It’s maintained for hunting, fishing, and trapping uses and part of Birdseye Mountain is a nesting site for peregrine falcons.