In one of the larger poaching cases in recent Michigan history, a Shiawassee County man has been sentenced under a plea agreement and will pay the state of Michigan $75,000 in restitution, and have his hunting privileges revoked for the remainder of this year and the next three years.
Brian Birchmeier, 51, of Owosso Township, was sentenced on Aug. 12 in a Shiawassee County courtroom. He had been facing 125 misdemeanor charges related to poaching deer and turkey.
In October 2012, Department of Natural Resource conservation officers found Birchmeier to be in illegal possession of parts of more than 100 animals, including deer and turkey.
Birchmeier originally was charged with 115 counts of taking or possessing a deer over the legal limit, one count of taking a deer without a license, seven counts of taking a turkey without a permit and two counts of illegal baiting.
Under the plea agreement, Birchmeier pled no contest on three counts of take and/or possess deer/bear/turkey and one count for licensing violations, allowing the court to revoke license privileges at its discretion.
DNR Conservation Officer Daniel Bigger was called to Birchmeier's home in early October 2012 on a tip from the Shiawassee County Sheriff's Department. Bigger said he found numerous sets of antlers at Birchmeier's home, as well as illegal bait piles. Bigger subsequently executed a search warrant at Birchmeier's home, seizing more than 170 antlers, as well as shoulder mounts, crossbows and turkey beards.
Authorities said based on a review of licenses purchased by Birchmeier, and an absence of hunting records prior to 1982, the number of deer parts alone that Birchmeier illegally possessed was estimated at well over 100.
The investigation and a subsequent interview with the suspect indicated the illegal taking of turkeys as well.
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