MADISON COUNTY, Ala. -- When it comes to Alabama's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Madison County is one of the higher complaint counties in the state, because there's a lot of wildlife here, and a lot more people.
One of the biggest issues in the county is night hunting. Early Monday morning, 22-year-old Scotty Doran and 23-year-old Cody Locke were arrested in the Owens Crossroads area, one of the most highly hunted, and highest complaint areas in Madison County.
State Game Warden Joe Lindsey said they arrested Locke and Doran after being on their trail for about a week. Both men were held at the Madison County Jail until early Tuesday morning.
"We had found evidence of people panning the fields, and shining the fields with their headlights by pulling into the fields. And from time to time in that area, we'll get landowners who call and give us complaints," said Lindsey.
He said most hunting violations are misdemeanors, but they also enforce felonies. He said taking people to jail is a last alternative, but, "There were drugs in the vehicle. We made some drug cases, and there was a short chase so there would be an eluding charge there. On top of charges like that, each individual had seven conservation charges put on them per person."
Those charges range from hunting at night, hunting without a permit, to hunting on a public road. Altogether, the men could end up having to pay up to $10,000. Lindsey said in 2016, in the last two and half weeks of hunting season alone, they had 87 night hunting related cases.
"So this is not something that is a rare occurrence, it really is something that's a big problem for us," said Lindsey.
With that, he said it becomes not just a hunting concern, but a public safety issue as well. And there can be serious consequences.
"In cases like that we can take vehicles and firearms, and whatever is in that vehicle can be confiscated and condemned, including the vehicle and the firearms," Lindsey explained.
Your hunting license can also be revoked in Alabama on those charges, and therefore revoked in all other states for up to 3 years as well.
But Lindsey also wants to make it known that most hunters do know the rules and regulations, and follow them. Those who choose to partake in night hunting are in the minority.
Lindsey encourages anyone who has a complaint, hears gunshots, or suspects night hunting in their area to call their 24/7 number at 1-800-272-4263, and report it.