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FLORENCE - Four Florence men were sentenced for baiting in an area for the purpose of hunting wood ducks, shooting wood ducks over a baited field, and shooting and aiding and abetting the shooting and taking of wood ducks in excess of the daily bag limit.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas E. Rogers III of Florence sentenced Jon Edward Ham, 52; Ronald C. Windham, 50; Andrew A. Evans, 47; and John Welborn Pusser IV, 25, on Dec. 22 to two years' probation during which they must perform 60 hours of community service for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and are prohibited from hunting, obtaining a hunting license or associating with hunting clubs.

Ham, Windham and Evans also were fined $3,000, and Pusser was fined $1,500.

All four men pleaded guilty to the crime Nov. 3. They faced a $100,000 fine and a year in prison, plus a special assessment of $25.

On Jan. 17, S.C. Department of Natural Resources officers were conducting surveillance in an area known for duck hunting in Marion County when they saw Ham, Windham, Pusser and Evans hunting ducks.

The officers saw two ATVs, each with two 50-pound bags of corn on the back. They also saw Ham, Windham, Pusser and Evans disperse 200 pounds of corn into the pond by driving the ATVs around the pond and stomping the corn into the pond.

On Jan. 24, officers conducted surveillance on the area previously documented Jan. 17 with bait.

They saw Ham, Windham, Pusser and Evans shoot and kill wood ducks over the baited pond.

The officers made contact with the hunters and discovered 29 dead wood ducks.

The bag limit for that season was two wood ducks per person.

The case, which also was investigated by agents of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney William E. Day II of the Florence office.
 
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