Hotline Calls Lead to Conviction of Four on Multiple Wildlife Charges

Anonymous tips through a telephone hotline helped wildlife officials during an investigation into illegal hunting activities that resulted in multiple charges, convictions and penalties for four men.

On Aug. 22, 2013, Joseph A. Benjamin, age 44, of Walpole, N.H., pled guilty in the New Hampshire 8th Circuit Keene District Court to a Class A Misdemeanor of taking more than one deer in a calendar year. Benjamin’s hunting license was suspended for two years, and he was fined $750 and given a 12-month suspended sentence in the Cheshire House of Corrections for three years of good behavior.

With this conviction, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Conservation Officers have concluded a lengthy investigation into night hunting and several other hunting violations stemming from the 2012 deer hunting season in the town of Walpole. This investigation was started as a result of several anonymous tips to the Operation Game Thief hotline.

During the investigation, Conservation Officers discovered that Benjamin and three other men, including Nathan E. Patnode, age 43, of Alstead; Andrew J. Patnode, age 46, of Charlestown; and Travis L. Madore, age 24, of Bellows Falls, Vt., had been involved in poaching a female deer after legal hunting hours, during the closed season and while all four men had already attained their allowable take of deer for the season.

All four men were arrested. Charges included illegal night hunting, aiding another in illegal night hunting, transporting an illegally taken deer, taking an antlerless deer during the closed season, taking more than one deer during a calendar year, discharging a firearm within 300 feet of an occupied dwelling, possessing an illegally taken deer, and falsifying physical evidence.

All four men were convicted of various misdemeanors and violations in the 8th Circuit Keene District Court. Fines totaled $3,785, hunting license suspensions ranged from 2-5 years, and a 30.06 caliber Ruger M77 rifle was forfeited to the State.

The Fish and Game Department worked with the Cheshire County Attorney’s Office and the Sullivan County Attorney’s Office on the case.