Shooting of deer in state parks stirs arrests
News Niagara Bureau

Poachers have been shooting deer the past few weeks in area state parks in violation of the law, and State Park Police are hot on their trails.

Officer Thomas Franz said Park Police have received a number of complaints about shots being fired in various parks since late October.

He said the reports prompted Park Police Chief Vincent Iacovitti to set up an operation to hunt down and arrest the suspects.

Three hunters have been charged with shooting whitetails in Buckhorn State Park on Grand Island and in Wilson-Tuscarora State Park in Wilson, Franz said Thursday. He said complaints also have been filed about shots being fired in Beaver Island and Four-Mile Creek state parks on Grand Island and in Porter, respectively.

He said deer stands have been found in trees in Buckhorn, and the remains of several deer - at least one with its head, skin and tenderloin taken - also have been located there. As many as a dozen deer at one time can be seen on occasion during the fall in Buckhorn from East River Road.

Nov. 27, Randy C. Ward, 48, of Young Street, Wilson, was arrested after he was allegedly caught with a deer he shot in Wilson-Tuscarora. He was charged by Park Police Officer Scott Durham and state environmental conservation officers with trespass, disorderly conduct, failure to carry a hunting license and failure to tag a deer.

The latter two offenses are violations of state law and carry a maximum sentence of a year in jail, Franz said.

Two other men were arrested Tuesday when they were allegedly caught dragging a doe they killed in Buckhorn.

John L. Bartko, 70, of Creek Road, Lewiston, and his son, Johnny J. Bartko, 40, of Elderberry Place, Town of Niagara, were charged by Sgt. Patrick Moriarty and Officer Peter Tarasow with two counts of possessing a firearm in a state park. They allegedly had a handgun and a shotgun in their possession. They also were charged with disorderly conduct and illegally taking an anterless deer by parks and state conservation officers, Franz said.

Johnny Bartko also was charged with using another person's hunting license and failure to have a deer hunting license or a deer tag, police said. They are to face the charges Jan. 8 in Grand Island Town Court, Franz said.

The charges of trespass and disorderly conduct carry a maximum sentence of 15 days in jail or a $250 fine.

Franz said that state law prohibits hunting of big game in area state parks and that Park Police are involved in a special operation to crack down on it.

"Anyone caught will be arrested and prosecuted," he said.

He added that only small-game hunting is allowed in "specially designated areas" of some local state parks. He said hunters must obtain special permits to do that.