Parma Duck Baiter Sentenced to Jail
BOISE – Gregory Obendorf, 61, of Parma, Idaho, was sentenced yesterday to 15 days in jail and a $40,000 fine for conspiracy to bait migratory birds and placing bait for migratory birds, both in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. Obendorf was found guilty on both charges by a federal jury on May 16, 2016. Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill also placed Obendorf on probation for a term of three years. Judge Winmill ordered that during Obendorf’s term of probation, he must complete 200 hours of community service. Judge Winmill also revoked Obendorf’s hunting and fishing privileges and prohibited him from baiting or feeding migratory waterfowl on his property during his term of probation. In pronouncing the sentence, Judge Winmill noted that Obendorf’s prolonged illegal baiting of ducks contributed to changes in the migratory flight patterns of ducks and geese. Judge Winmill found this change detrimentally affected others who hunted on nearby public lands, including Lake Lowell and the Fort Boise Wildlife Management Area.
The jury found that Obendorf conspired with other persons from November 2007 to January 2014, to place bait for migratory birds, specifically ducks, for the purpose of hunting on his farm located on the Boise River in Parma, Idaho. The jury also convicted Obendorf of directing the placement of bait for duck hunting in November 2013.
The jury heard evidence over the seven-day trial that at the beginning of duck hunting season each year of the conspiracy, Obendorf instructed his combine operators to partially combine his corn field to intentionally spread corn kernels onto the field. Agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service flew over Obendorf’s property in November of 2013, and observed piles of corn near a duck blind from the air. Agents and officers from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game then investigated and discovered that the entire corn field was baited. After baiting the field with corn, Obendorf would flood the corn field and allow hunters to shoot ducks over the baited field. The jury also heard evidence that Obendorf instructed another individual to use a tractor to knock down standing corn in the field at night before his guests would hunt the field the following day. Obendorf boasted in a recorded conversation with Idaho Fish and Game officers that he had over 200,000 ducks in the baited field during the 2013 hunting season. Several hunters who Obendorf invited to hunt on his property testified at trial that they hunted the corn field during the course of the conspiracy and that they were able to take their limits of ducks in under an hour.
At sentencing, Obendorf argued that he deserved leniency from the Court based on his prior good works, including allowing Idaho Fish and Game officers to take youths hunting on his property. However, after his conviction on May 16, 2016, he called Idaho and Fish and Game to advise them that he would no longer allow any youth hunts on his property.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.