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Feds Raid Flint Hills Hunting Lodge, Investigate Claims of Illegal Hunting

A lonely tree nestled inside the Kansas Flint Hills (Photo by J. Schafer)

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Federal agents raided a hunting lodge in Kansas’ Flint Hills as part of an investigation into allegations of illegal hunting and baiting that included the use of undercover hunters, GPS tracking of vehicles and camera surveillance, court documents show. No federal charges have been filed against Eagle Head Outfitters Lodge in Grenola, its owner or employees, Jim Cross, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Kansas, said in an email. The lodge’s owner, Josh Hedges, did not respond to telephone and email messages left Monday and Tuesday seeking comment on the federal raid.  

Prosecutors typically don’t make charging decisions until months - and sometimes even years - after a search while they examine and process any evidence collected. Agents are investigating allegations involving violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Lacey Act. Court documents cite incidents that include hunting out of season, killing more waterfowl than allowed, and illegally baiting fields with feed for migratory game birds, according to an affidavit filed in support of the search warrant. Federal agents executed the search warrant on January 26.

Court documents filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Kansas show authorities seized cameras, phones, photos, firearms, ledgers, waterfowl and a laptop, among other items. Eagle Head employs several guides to provide outfitter services for people to hunt deer, turkey, waterfowl and other species. The company touts on its website that it operates on more than 21,000 acres of prime hunting.  

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism received complaints during the past few years regarding illegal activities occurring in the outfitting business, including information from a client that while traveling to hunts the guides would shoot hawks, owls and crows. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, working with state wildlife officials, decided to investigate further and booked a four-day waterfowl hunt costing $1,500 for two covert officers from each agency in January 2015. Undercover officers later booked a covert archery deer hunt at a cost of $6,000 for November 2015.

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