I was in Rankin County Justice Court this morning when a young man was sentenced for illegal alligator hunting. Judge John Shirley sentenced the man to five days in jail and a $5,000 fine. In addition, the young man will not be permitted to have a hunting license for the next year. Apparently the man was hunting alligators at a pond next to his apartment complex in Flowood, and was found with a live alligator, alligator parts and snake venom in his apartment.
Although it has been a part of local culture for hundreds of years, alligator hunting has become very popular in Mississippi and Louisiana of late, probably due to the growth in the alligator population, and possibly due to the popularity of the show “Swamp People” on The History Channel (it’s a great show). But it is regulated by the state of Mississippi, and I was shocked at the penalties involved for illegally hunting or catching gators.
Section 49-7-47 of the Mississippi Code Annotated requires a combination hunting and fishing license for sport hunting of alligators, and a special permit to hunt gators for commercial purposes. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks has established other regulations for the hunting of alligators, and the Alligator Program website is very good if you want more information.
Unlike most parts of the Mississippi Code, violations of hunting and fishing laws have been divided into “classes” as far as penalties are concerned, and a violation of the alligator hunting statute is a “Class I” violation. For a Class I violation, the maximum penalties are a fine of not less than $ 2,000.00 nor more than $ 5,000.00, and imprisonment in the county jail for five days. Class I violations also result in the forfeiture of all hunting, trapping and fishing privileges for a period of not less than twelve months from the date of conviction.
So he got hammmered . . .
So as you can see the gentleman got a tough sentence in Rankin County. Mississippi Conservation Officers (Game Wardens) take their job very seriously, and are some of the most dedicated law enforcement officers in the state. They always push for stiff penalties in their cases that wind up in court, and they come well-prepared to testify.
But that doesn’t mean the situation is hopeless. If you’ve been wrongfully accused of a hunting, fishing, or firearms violation give us a call. We are here to help.