Leslie man charged with illegal alligator hunting

Published 9:45 am Wednesday, May 10, 2017

By Beth Alston

AMERICUS — A Leslie faces multiples charges after his arrests for alligator hunting violations. David W. Law, 66, of 2498 Brady Road, Leslie has been charged in Chatham County with four counts of hunting without a license and four counts of taking over the bag limit. He was charged on Dec. 20, 2016, by the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office on the warrants from Chatham, and was released on bond. On April 22, 2017, Law was arrested in Dougherty County and charged with two counts of possession over the daily bag limit, and two counts of possession of alligator parts. He was later released on bond. All these charges relate to the illegal hunting of alligators.
Georgia regulations allow that only one alligator can be taken per individual hunter each season and “anyone hunting or assisting an alligator permit holder must possess a valid Alligator Hunting License. Alligators that have been taken must be killed immediately after capture and tagged before transported and must remain on the alligator until validated by DNR.”
There are 10 alligator hunting zones in Georgia, and hunters will be selected for a specified zone after they have applied. A certain number of alligators can be taken in each zone each season; for example, in 2015, in Zone 3, which includes Dougherty County, 71 permits were issued, resulting in 12 alligators taken. In Zone 8, which includes Chatham County, 185 permits were issued, resulting 54 alligators being harvested.
The investigation by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Law Enforcement Division began in November 2015, during the 2015 Georgia Alligator Quota Season. Officers compiled all the check-in/kill sheets that hunters are required to submit to the DNR. These were examined for possible violations. The investigation uncovered multiple violations committed by individuals in various parts of Georgia, and other states. As the investigation continued, the DNR interviewed a Leesburg woman whose name was on an alligator checked in during the 2015 season. DNR had no record of the woman, Samantha Bartlett, purchasing an alligator hunting license prior to the hunt. According to DNR records provided to the Times-Recorder under the Georgia Open Meetings and Records Act, Bartlett told authorities she was unaware of having been drawn for a hunt and that she had not applied for a tag in 2015. She told them that a family friend, David Law from Leslie, had entered her name and called and told her she had been drawn and would take her on the hunt if she wished. She said she did hunt with Law and another, unidentified male, on Aug. 31, 2015, and harvested an alligator in Lake Worth in Dougherty County, where she had been drawn. She was issued a citation bymDNR for hunting alligators without an alligator hunting license.
The DNR also interviewed an Americus man about an alligator that had been checked in under his name but DNR had no record of the man purchasing an alligator hunting license prior to the hunt. That man told DNR that he did not kill an alligator and had not been alligator hunting since 2011, nor had be applied for a tag. The man was shown documentation, with his signature, of his application for and receipt of an alligator tag later used on a harvested alligator. He told authorites that wasn’t his signature and didn’t know whose it was. He later admitted it was David Law’s signature. He also told the DNR that Law had helped him to apply for an alligator tag years ago “and must have used his personal information to do so again without his knowledge,” according to the investigative reports. The man later admitted he had received a phone call from Law who told him he had been drawn for an alligator tag for the 2015 season, but that he had never possessed the tag because Law got it from his mailbox after the man told him it had arrived in the mail.
Further investigation revealed other irregularities, and finally Law was interviewed and admitted to DNR officials that he had used alligator permits with other people’s names on them, including a man from Blairsville. Investigators cautioned Law that using other people’s personal information without their knowledge and using quota permits without the permit holder present were violations of state law. Law told them, “It takes four damn years to get a tag; I didn’t want them to go to waste … I have fudged a couple of times.”
Other interviews were conducted with other people whose personal information was used by Law; a couple were relatives of David Law’s.