GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man admitted to illegally poaching deer in northeast Kent County while under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, as well as illegally spearing snapping turtles, the Department of Natural Resources said.
On Friday, 29-year-old Edward Trout pleaded not guilty to five misdemeanors: Two counts of hunting and fishing without a license, taking game from a vehicle, taking and possessing deer out of season and using illegal fishing devices. He faces up to $2,750 in fines, jail time and losing his hunting and fishing privileges, the DNR said.
In the past five months, the DNR received information from eight tipsters on its poaching hotline reporting gunfire at night and deer carcasses found on or near properties in Nelson and Spencer Townships. Conservation officers started to investigate in January.
By February 13, officers had investigated 13 deer that had been shot and abandoned in the area. After seeing news stories about the mysterious poaching, a community member contacted the hotline on February 14, reporting that there were rumors of Trout driving around at night, shooting deer from his vehicle.
Officers interviewed Trout, who admitted that he went out and shot at deer on three separate instances. He said he “relieved frustration by driving around at night, listening to music and occasionally shooting his pistol into vacant fields from his pickup truck,” many times while under the influence of alcohol and/or marijuana, according to the state.
He showed officers where this happened and admitted that he had shot at least five deer. While investigating, officers found that Trout had a history of driving around at night and shooting deer from his vehicle since 2020. He originally denied that history, until officers showed that they had text messages where he had openly told people about his illegal activities. He then admitted to it.
Trout was set to appear in court for three charges in connection to the deer killings on June 3 but failed to show up. Since then, he accumulated two more charges for illegally hunting turtles, the DNR said.
On June 7, officers got a new tip that Trout was spearing turtles at Pine Lake in Cedar Springs. In Michigan, snapping turtles can be legally taken from July 15 to Sept. 15 using a trap or a hook and line.
A tipster reported that Trout had been seen fishing late at night and leaving several lines unattended, as well as spearing and leaving snapping turtles on the shore, the DNR said.
In the June investigation, officers found several speared turtles — including one with a spear still in it — and other evidence. Trout said family members left the lines unattended, and said he only speared the snapping turtles because he “feared for his children’s safety while they were fishing,” according to the DNR.
Trout’s hunting and fishing privileges have been suspended until his next court date on July 19. Officers also seized his firearm, crossbow, homemade spear and other evidence.