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March 15, 2003

Hunter may shoot ravens nevermore

Frozen turkey carcass attracts wrong bird
Record-Eagle staff writer

      TRAVERSE CITY - Crows and ravens look very much alike, but while it's currently open season in Michigan to hunt crows, killing a raven is a crime.
      Blaine E. VanPelt, 27, of Kingsley, found that out when the Department of Natural Resources charged him with a misdemeanor for killing a raven on March 3.
      According to court reports, DNR officers received a complaint about excessive gunfire in an area of Mayfield Township.
      Officers arrived to find a dead wild turkey that was frozen and a dead raven with fresh blood coming from its mouth, according to the charges filed in 86th District Court in Grand Traverse County on Friday.
      VanPelt admitted he shot at the bird with a .22 long rifle through a window from inside a kitchen. He denied knowing whether he hit the bird. A witness reported that he killed the bird, according to the charges.
      VanPelt told the officers that his dogs had brought the dead turkey into the yard a week or so earlier and the carcass had been attracting crows.
      DNR officers confiscated VanPelt's rifle and took the turkey for examination. They found no evidence of gunshot wounds.
      If convicted of the wildlife conservation violation charge, VanPelt could be sentenced up to 90 days in jail and could be barred from having a hunting license for three years.
      In Michigan, crow hunting season for the Lower Peninsula runs from February through March and August through September, said Raymond Rustem, supervisor of the Natural Heritage Unit of the DNR.
      Ravens are considered protected species and there is no hunting season for them, Rustem said.
      Ravens are more prevalent in the Upper Peninsula but some live in the northern Lower Peninsula, he said. Ravens are larger birds, have a wedge-shaped tail, unlike the crow's fan-shaped tail, and are prone to live in forests. Crows prefer open spaces.

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