News Releases

FWC officers arrest 3 Bradford County men for poaching

News Release

Friday, January 14, 2011

Media contact: Karen Parker, 386-758-0525

Three Bradford County men were arrested Jan. 6 for illegally hunting on Florida State Prison property in Raiford, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officials.

Aaron Griffis, 18; Houston Fender, 19; and Shea Wilson, 18, all of Lawtey, were taken into custody after FWC officers, acting on tips from concerned citizens, conducted surveillance on the prison property south of State Road 16.

Griffis was apprehended by FWC Officer Bret Gill just inside the Union County line as he was hunting in a rye field. According to officials, he was armed with a rifle. The two other suspects were tracked with Department of Corrections K-9 units and an FWC K-9 trained to locate hidden firearms.

Fender and Wilson were arrested by FWC Officer Ricky Justus as they were walking on N.W. 219th Street.  The two men had left a truck parked at a vacant residence on 219th St. Department of Corrections K-9 units tracked them from the truck to a rye field just south of the prison and back to 219th St., where their rifles were located by the FWC K-9 unit, said FWC officials.

Fender had been convicted on two counts of taking deer out of season on Dec. 14. Bradford County Judge Johnny Hobbs sentenced him to one year probation and a 3-year suspension of hunting rights for the December case.

For the January arrest, Fender was charged with introduction of firearms on prison property (a second-degree felony), hunting with a suspended license, taking deer in closed season, hunting in a closed management area and violation of probation. Fender was booked into the Bradford County Jail with no bond.

Wilson also was booked into the Bradford County Jail, charged with introduction of firearms on prison property, taking deer in closed season and hunting in a closed management area. Wilson was released after posting a $20,000 bond.

Griffis was booked into Union County Jail and charged with introduction of firearms on prison property, taking deer in closed season and hunting in a closed management area.  He was released Jan. 7.

An accomplice to the three men has been identified, and charges are pending, according to FWC officials.

Bradford and Union County Sheriff's Office deputies assisted in securing the search area.

"These arrests are the result of concerned, ethical hunters providing information to area FWC officers and good working relationships with local sheriff's offices and the Department of Corrections," said Maj. Lee Beach, FWC regional commander.



FWC Facts:
The alligator snapping turtle, found in river systems from Florida to Texas, is the largest freshwater turtle in North America.

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