NASHVILLE, Tn (TWRA) - The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency recently conducted a five-month undercover investigation into illegal hunting activities in and around Sumner County that has resulted in the arrest of two individuals.
Dubbed "Operation Jawbreaker," the investigation began in December 2008 based upon a citizen complaint. During the course of the investigation, wildlife officers documented that approximately 155 wild turkeys had been illegally killed and/or possessed by two Sumner County residents. Three white-tailed deer were also killed and possessed illegally, according to the agency.
On May 2, 2009, TWRA's Area 21 wildlife officers, along with other agency enforcement personnel, executed a search warrant at a residence located in Westmoreland and while at the residence gathered evidence concerning multiple violations of wildlife laws.
The case was recently presented to a Sumner County Grand Jury and true bills were found on multiple counts charging Richard Duffer, of Westmoreland and Jeffery Caldwell of Gallatin, with poaching crimes that include hunting wildlife from a public road, killing wildlife out of seasons, killing wildlife in excess of the limit, and illegal possession of killed wildlife.
TWRA officers arrested Duffer and Caldwell on June 9after the Sumner County Grand Jury issued true bills indicting them for the poaching charges.
The bond for each man has been set at $7,500. Sumner County District Attorney Ray Whitley, who is prosecuting the case, said "Officers of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency did an excellent job in their undercover investigation of this case and this indictment highlights the type of wildlife abuses they investigate every day. I am glad that this case is now in criminal court so that justice can be done."
The case will be heard in Sumner County Criminal Court in the coming months, according to the attorney general.
"The TWRA appreciates the information from the concerned citizens that initiated "Operation Jawbreaker" and takes violations of this magnitude seriously as it continues its work to protect and properly manage Tennessee's wildlife resources for all citizens," said Ed Carter, TWRA Executive Director.
The TWRA has a hotline for concerned citizens to report possible poaching violations. The number is 1-800-255-8972.