Parma Farmer Convicted of Conspiracy to Bait Ducks and Placing Bait for Ducks
BOISE – Gregory Obendorf, 60, of Parma, Idaho, was found guilty yesterday by a federal jury sitting in Boise of 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 indicted on November 10, 2015.
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 allowing others to hunt over the bait 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, the defendant instructed his combine operators to partially combine his corn field to intentionally discharge corn kernels onto the field. Agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service flew over the defendant’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 entered Obendorf’s corn field 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 had been invited by Obendorf 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.
“We take our mission to support the Fish and Wildlife Service very seriously, especially when violations involve the unlawful baiting of thousands of migratory birds over a prolonged period of time,” said Olson. “Duck hunting is a time honored tradition for hunters in Idaho, and the defendant has undermined the proud tradition of fair chase for all hunters.”
“Migratory birds are a trust responsibility of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Deputy Chief Edward Grace. “Because of this fiduciary responsibility, we will remain vigilant in investigating individuals who illegally bait migratory birds to give hunters an unfair advantage.” Grace stated that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is thankful to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the citizens of Idaho who served on the jury for upholding the laws designed to protect migratory birds.
The charges of conspiracy to bait migratory birds and placing bait for migratory game birds are each punishable by not more than one year in prison, a maximum fine of $100,000, and not more than one year of supervised release or up to five years of probation. Obendorf’s sentencing is scheduled for August 2, 2016.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.