Two North Georgians were sentenced in Gainesville's federal court Tuesday for unlawfully placing bait for the purpose of taking, killing and possessing migratory birds.
Nelson Presley Biggers, 49, of Cleveland, and Jere Lee Kimbrel, 51, of Sautee-Nacoochee, were placed on probation for two years and ordered to serve 50 hours of community service.
Also, Biggers was fined $2,000 and Kimbrell was fined $1,500.
U.S. District Judge William C. O'Kelley also stripped them of migratory bird hunting privileges for one year.
"We take very seriously our mission to support our state counterpart wildlife enforcement agencies," said James Gale, special agent in charge, Southeast Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement.
"We will continue to investigate those who choose to violate state and federal laws. They undermine the proud tradition of fair chase for all hunters."
Biggers and Kimbrel pleaded guilty to the charges on April 12.
According to federal prosecutors, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service special agents saw Biggers and Kimbrel baiting a field in Cleveland on Sept. 11, 2009, for the purpose of having a dove shoot.
They were putting wheat on top of bare ground.
"The seed lying on top of the bare ground attracted an unusually large number of mourning doves, which flew into the bare field to feed on the seed," according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia.
Then, in the early morning of Sept. 18, the agents saw several hunters on the baited field.
In addition to the hunters hunting over bait, several were shooting over the daily bag limit of 15 birds.
"Once the hunters shot their legal daily bag limit, Biggers rode around the field in his utility vehicle and picked the birds up from the hunters, so they could continue to hunt," the news release states.
Agents then saw Biggers "placing the birds in a sack and hiding the sack that contained the birds under a hedgerow located next to a house."
Agents took photos of the scene and seized 191 mourning doves that had been shot.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act prohibits hunting migratory game birds on or over a baited area, and the area remains off limits to hunting for 10 days after all salt, grain, or other feed has been completely removed.
The criminal charge of placement of the bait can result in imprisonment of up to one year and/or up to $100,000 in fines. The criminal charge of over-hunting can result in imprisonment up to six months and/or up to $15,000 in fines.