West Virginia Woman Guilty of Poaching in Washington County; Two Charged in Two-Day Poaching Spree in Westmoreland County

HARRISBURG, Pa., April 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Trishelle Barish, 22, of Weirton, West Virginia, recently pled guilty to 10 charges related to a poaching incident in mid-January in Hanover Township, Washington County, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer Daniel T. Sitler.

Barish pled guilty to six counts of unlawful use of lights while hunting; one count of resisting or interfering with an officer; one count of damage to property; and two counts of loaded firearms in a vehicle. She pled guilty to all charges on March 23, and was ordered to pay more than $6,000 in fines and restitution, plus court costs. In addition to $3,100 in fines, Barish was ordered to pay $2,400 in restitution for the three deer she killed, and $506 in costs to repair a light that she shot out. WCO Sitler also issued 10 written warnings for various other charges.  

On Jan. 16, WCO Sitler received a call regarding shooting and spotlighting deer the previous night in Hanover Township by someone in a dark-colored Chevy car. The witness observed the spotlight and shots coming from this vehicle near a field by his house.

"During the initial investigation, I discovered a deer that had been shot further up the road at a different location," WCO Sitler said. "The deer had a small caliber hole near the back of the head. This was confirmed while talking with residents at this next house. I then set up on night patrol that night.  

"At around 10:45 p.m., I heard the distinct sounds of a rim fire rifle. I began driving towards that location and then ducked into a driveway when the headlights of a vehicle were seen. The vehicle passed my location, at which time I observed a spotlight come out of the passenger side and two shots were fired at deer. I maneuvered my vehicle behind the car and engaged my emergency lights, and the driver sped away."

After following the vehicle, WCO Sitler radioed the license plate of the car to the Game Commission's Southwest Region Office dispatcher.  

"I was unable to follow the vehicle when it reached Route 18," WCO Sitler said. "The vehicle was last seen heading north in Beaver County. I then went back to the scene and recovered two empty .17 caliber casings, and requested assistance from the Weirton Police.  

"We went to the address listed from the license plate search, and found the car parked in the driveway. The owner of the car would not admit to anything at that time, but she did give me permission to search her car, in which I found an empty box of .17-caliber Federal ammunition that was the same brand found at the scene.  I also found out that her boyfriend's parents live in Beaver County near where I lost sight of the car on Route 18."

Over the next week, Beaver County WCO Matthew Kramer assisted WCO Sitler with the investigation, and they were able to find several spent .17-caliber Federal casings and .22-caliber shorts on the same road.  These matched up to witness accounts from Jan. 15.  

"I contacted Hanover Police and found a report of shots being fired on another road on Jan. 16 at around 11:30 p.m.," Sitler said. "I spoke with the witness at this location and found additional spent .17-caliber Federal casings along with .22-caliber short casings at two different locations on this road.  I also dispatched a deer at this location because of an injury.  Upon examination, I located a small caliber hole located in the head of this deer.  I then checked on the complaint of a light being shot out on the same night.  A spent .17-caliber Federal casing was found at this location."  

After securing a search warrant for the boyfriend's parent's house in Beaver County, WCOs Sitler and Kramer located and seized one .17-caliber rifle and one .22-caliber rifle belonging to the homeowner's son.  

"I received another call regarding a dead deer found in another field further down the road from the initial shootings," Sitler said. "We located another .17-caliber casing along the road in line with the dead deer.  In total, we found six locations with .17-caliber and .22-caliber ammunition.  Of these six locations, three deer were found to have been shot."

WCOs Sitler and Kramer met with Barish at the Hanover Township building, where she confessed to shooting at and killing deer at various locations, along with shooting out the light and fleeing Sitler's attempt to stop her.  

"However, she would not tell us if anyone else was involved in the poaching incidents," Sitler said. "She also admitted that the shootings were for fun and that there was no interest in recovering the deer.

"This is a prime example of why the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact is needed. As Barish is a nonresident and will have her hunting privileges revoked in Pennsylvania, she will be able to hunt in her home state."

Senate Bill 1200, sponsored by Senate Game and Fisheries Committee Chairman Richard Alloway II (R-33), recently passed the Senate by a unanimous vote, and presently is awaiting further action in the House Game and Fisheries Committee.

TWO CHARGED IN TWO-DAY POACHING SPREE IN WESTMORELAND COUNTY

A two-day poaching spree in early December that resulted in at least eight dead deer has been resolved with guilty pleas by Ryan James Simonds, 20, of Derry, and Garrett A. McConnell, 19, of New Alexandria, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer (WCO) Seth T. Mesoras.

Charges were filed at District Judge Mark Bilik's office in Bradenville. Each defendant was charged and pled guilty to: two counts unlawful use of lights while hunting ($575 for each count for each defendant); six counts of unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife ($300 for each count for each defendant); one count of damage to property ($75 for each defendant); and one count of restrictions on recreational spotlighting ($75 for each defendant). Simonds and McConnell were ordered to pay fines and costs totaling nearly $3,400, as well as nearly $9,000 for damages to a house and car. The defendants also will be subject to multiple years of license revocation.

According to WCO Mesoras, on Dec. 6 and 7, between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., Simonds and McConnell went on a shooting spree that resulted in seven deer being killed, and injuring one that was required to be put down. During this time, a house and car were struck with errant shots. Four dead deer and the one injured deer were recovered on Latimer Lane; two found dead on Mannitto Road, and one on Stephenson Road. All of the deer were shot the same night with 12-gauge buckshot and slugs. The deer were all left where they were shot with no attempt to take them.

Of the nearly 60 shots reportedly fired that night, 40 empty casings were recovered from three roads along which the deer were found dead.

"At one point during their night-long shooting spree, Simonds and McConnell were shooting at a deer that had crossed the road in front of them and they missed," WCO Mesoras said. "The projectiles traveled about 150 yards and struck a house and car. Of the nine pellets that are in one '00' buckshot shotshell, seven struck the side of the house and one struck the side of the car in the driveway. Several of the pellets entered the house that was occupied at the time. Fortunately, no one was injured or killed."

Mesoras noted that the final break in the case came after four days of solid investigation for 18 hours or more a day.

"The only two pieces of information I had were that the incident involved a red Chevy Cavalier, and I had the first three numbers of the license plate," WCO Mesoras said. "I was speaking with someone at a local store and a woman overheard me talking and went home and told her husband. It just so happened that her husband saw the defendants on a road that we had not previously known about on the same night shooting at deer. He took down the license plate number and gave it to another individual expecting him to call in. The other person never did, but the anonymous witness called us after he had heard from his wife about the shooting spree.

"We then immediately went to the new location and found the same shell casings on the road. We ran the license plate number, and went to McConnell's house, where we found his red Chevy Cavalier."

A search warrant was obtained for the car and the house and the evidence was retrieved. The defendants later confessed through a course of interviews.

"The disappointing part about this case is that roughly 60 shots were fired that night in the New Alexandria area that we know of, and only two witnesses initially stepped forward," WCO Mesoras said. "The defendants showed a complete disrespect for the wildlife of Pennsylvania. When an incident like this occurs it should be remembered that they were shot on the Sunday night of rifle season and these were deer that could have been legally harvested by someone else."

Mesoras praised the hard work of the Westmoreland County Deputy WCOs.

"It was definitely a team effort, as when one of us would feel like we have exhausted all of the options we would talk with another officer and get new ideas or avenues to explore," Mesoras said. "The final break that led to the arrests in the case was a result of being out in the field asking questions."

Mesoras also thanked a local butcher, Samuel Monteparte, who helped collect five of the deer and cut them up for the Hunter Sharing the Harvest Program.

"At least all of the meat did not go to waste," Mesoras said. "It also should be noted that this is just one of the many poaching incidents that occur throughout the year. For every one that the deputies and I caught at least four more got away."

Note to Editors: If you would like to receive Game Commission news releases via e-mail, please send a note with your name, address, telephone number and the name of the organization you represent to: PGCNews@state.pa.us.

SOURCE Pennsylvania Game Commission



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