Man fined for deer spotlighting

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BENNINGTON — A Readsboro man was fined $800 after pleading no contest on Monday to a charge that he "spotlighted" a decoy deer last month.



Richard D. Watkin, game warden with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department's Wilmington district, wrote in a court affidavit that he set up a decoy deer in a field off Howe Pond Road in Readsboro on the night of Oct. 14 to monitor illegal night hunting activity,



A pickup truck drove up alongside the deer, which was about 35 yards from the road, at about 7:30 p.m. The driver, Noah W. Swanson, 31, shined a handheld flashlight on the decoy deer for several seconds, according to the affidavit.



Vermont state law makes it illegal to "intentionally throw or cast the rays of a spotlight, jack, or other artificial light on any highway, or any field, woodland, or forest, in order to spot, locate, take, or attempt to spot, locate, or take any wild animal."



Game wardens seized the flashlight and a compound bow on the truck's passenger seat as evidence.



"Swanson admitted that he did illuminate and see the (facsimile) deer but he denied deliberately attempting to spotlight any wildlife (claiming he was merely trying to work out what had caught is attention in the field)," Swanson wrote.



Swanson pleaded no contest in Bennington criminal court on Monday to a misdemeanor count of taking game by an illegal method (spotlighting).



Swanson was ordered to pay a $800 fine and surcharges, totaling $1,067.



The flashlight and a compound bow were returned.



The charge carries a minimum penalty of a $400 fine and a maximum of $1,000, no more than 60 days in prison, or both.



A single count of misdemeanor eluding law enforcement was dismissed by the state.



—Ed Damon


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