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News Digest: Poaching Charges for Walleye Cheating Participant

Also: Help for Florida waterways, hunting accident reports.

News Digest: Poaching Charges for Walleye Cheating Participant

Game & Fish News Digest.

It’s almost time to head over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house for Thanksgiving Day dinner. With any luck, your Turkey Day table will include some fresh venison from the ongoing whitetail rut. (Read the latest Game & Fish Region al Rut Update). Here’s a look at recent outdoors news.

Walleye Cheating Scandal Participant Now Faces Poaching Charges

One of the men implicated in last year’s infamous "We've got weights in fish!" walleye cheating scandal, is apparently back in trouble for alleged other wildlife violations, according to reports.

Chase Cominsky, who pleaded guilty and served time in jail for his involvement in the cheating scandal, in which he and a partner pleaded guilty. The scandal made viral headlines last September after an angry turmoil erupted during the weigh-in of the high-dollar season-ending Lake Erie Walleye Trail  championship derby near the Gordon Street Boat Ramp in Cleveland. The cheating was discovered when weigh-in officials found lead weights in the bellies of the fish turned in by Cominsky and his partner.

For his part, Cominsky was sentenced to short jail time, placed on probation and had his fishing license suspended for three years. Now, he reportedly is facing other wildlife charges in a Pennsylvania deer-poaching case.

In late October, WKYC NBC News reported that Cominsky had eight charges filed against him by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The charges accuse Cominsky of unlawfully killing and/or taking of big game, unlawfully taking or possession of game or wildlife, unlawful acts concerning licenses, and tagging and reporting big-game kills for alleged poaching incidents.

According to the WKYC news account, the PA Game Commission said it received information that in a span from 2013 to 2021, Cominsky allegedly harvested several whitetail bucks unlawfully. Violations also included after-hours shooting or during a closed season and without having a valid license. The WKYC report also notes that Cominsky's hunting privileges in Pennsylvania were suspended at that time.

How did authorities discover the alleged poaching? That came earlier this year with a search warrant at Cominsky's Hermitage, Pa., home where five whitetail taxidermy mounts were seized, including three allegedly tagged with another person's tag even though the person had never harvested a deer before.

Where is the case right now? Earlier this week on Tuesday, Nov. 14, New Castle News reported that Cominsky waived his right to a preliminary hearing in the case.

Suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.

Imperiled Florida Waterways Targeted by Bonefish & Tarpon Trust Plan

It's a year out from next fall's election cycle, and with plenty of key national, state and local races looming, it's safe to say that it's campaign season. And that includes the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, which is embarking on an ambitious campaign to help win back Florida's imperiled waterways and safeguard the resources.

With the Sunshine State's water resources increasingly under threat as political skirmishes go on, the population grows and the fight for Everglades water restoration continues, BTT is ratcheting up their efforts with the "Win Back Our Water" campaign. The endeavor hopes to make immediate and significant policy changes as well as spur on long-term investments to the good of Florida's aquatic resources.

"Florida is at a crossroads” said BTT President and CEO Jim McDuffie in a news release. “Failing and outdated wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, pharmaceutical contaminants, and glyphosate pollution threaten our coastal aquatic resources, economy, and way of life. The ‘Win Back Our Water’ campaign is a call to action to protect the state’s waterways by addressing issues that threaten water quality and, ultimately, our livelihoods."

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Deadly Hunting Accidents Mount

It's been a tragic fall for hunters, including the late September death of 16-year old Baylee Holbrook, a Florida teenage bowhunter who succumbed to injuries sustained after she was struck by lightning while hunting with her dad back in late September.

More deadly hunting accidents have happened in the Midwest since then, including one on Sunday, Oct. 8 when Mark Arends was hunting on private land near Aiden, Iowa, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. According to an IDNR news release, a group of coyote hunters were separated by several hundred yards when Arends was struck by a single rifle shot during a nighttime predator hunt. He was pronounced dead a while later at a local hospital.

A second Iowa fatality took place last Saturday on Nov. 11, 2023, when news reports indicate that Seth Egelhoff, a 26-year-old from Illinois, died while waterfowl hunting with friends at the Bays Branch Wildlife Area in Iowa's Guthrie County, according to Fox News.

And on Wednesday of this week, a 75-year-old Michigan man died when his hunting blind caught fire and burned. With speculation centering around the potential of a portable propane heater possibly sparking the deadly fire, a 911 call was first received about 10:35 a.m. on Nov. 15 from the man's grandson, who reported to Sanilac County Central Dispatch that he had discovered his grandfather severely burned and possibly deceased.

The grandson told first responders that he heard some "pops" according to Liz Shepard with the Port Huron Times Herald and originally thought his grandfather was shooting at a deer. But when he saw smoke coming from the area where the blind was located, he went to the scene and discovered the deadly tragedy.




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