Ky. judge signs order to dismiss duck-feeding charge against wildlife official

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – A misdemeanor charge will be dismissed against the chairman of the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission for feeding ducks in a creek that runs along the edge of his backyard in Frankfort.

Franklin County District Judge Kathy Mangeot signed an agreed order to dismiss the charge against Jimmy Bevins of Frankfort earlier this month in a bizarre case in which hunters were shooting ducks as they flew through an upscale neighborhood.

Meanwhile, Bevins, who, as a wildlife commissioner, helps establish hunting regulations, stood accused of interfering with hunters.

Frankfort lawyer Charles Jones, who represents Bevins, said it was a situation that could have been avoided if hunters had used commonsense and found another place to shoot ducks.

“All of the houses are within a hundred to a couple hundred feet of the creek,” Jones said. “So, just about any direction you turn, you’re going to be shooting toward houses.”

Under the agreed order, Bevins paid $184 in court costs. The charges will be dismissed in 90 days as long as Bevins doesn't interfere with hunters in that time, an easy-to-meet provision considering duck season has ended for the year.

A conservation officer accused Bevins of spreading corn in an effort to stop hunters from shooting ducks from the creek just outside his home. Under federal law, it’s illegal to “bait” an area with food to attract birds for hunting purposes.

Jones said the investigation was botched from the get-go. “Jimmy has never been interviewed,” Jones said. “The conservation officer didn’t come up and knock on Jimmy’s door. Never thought it was important enough to ask Jimmy what was going on.”

Jones said Bevins and his family feed ducks in their backyard year-round, which, he said, is perfectly legal under Kentucky law.

“This wasn’t a one-time incident,” Jones said. “It was just a simple matter that Jimmy and his kids had been feeding out there for months and months and months.”

Conservation Officer Joshua Robinson said he was sent to Bevins’ property in January 2017 on a complaint that people were hunting along the creek, where he said he found some 50 pounds of cracked corn scattered about.

“I advised the hunters there was bait out in the area, and they could no longer lawfully hunt that area,” Robinson said in court documents.

Robinson said he did not cite the hunters because they didn’t know the area had been “baited.” Instead, he cited Bevins.

“The statutes allow homeowners to feed wildlife,” Jones said. “Even if it does have unintended consequences, it’s still lawful to feed on your property.”

Jones said homeowners had been finding shotshell wads on their lawns.

“The shot-wads just gives credence to the fact that it wasn’t an appropriate place to hunt,” Jones said. “You’ve got to be concerned about your safety and the safety of your family if you’re finding shot-wads in your front yard.”

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