BARAGA COUNTY, Mich. – Two brothers were caught poaching a pair of swans that are illegal to hunt in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, officials with the Department of Natural Resources said.
DNR officials received a complaint about the brothers through a tip line.
"I received a complaint that someone had shot multiple swans in the Sturgeon River sloughs," Conservation Officer Cody Smith said.
Smith called his partner, Conservation Officer Doug Hermanson, who patrols Houghton County. They met at the Sturgeon River sloughs wildlife area, south of Chassell along U.S. 41, officials said.
There were several groups of waterfowl hunters in the area, DNR officials said. The officers located the brothers, who are in their late 20s and from Houghton, according to authorities.
Smith and Hermanson conducted a routine waterfowl check and found one of the hunters in possession of lead shot, which is toxic when ingested and illegal to use for hunting waterfowl, officials said.
"We asked the hunters if they had seen any geese, which they said they had not," Smith said. "We spoke to them for a little bit and told them about the RAP complaint."
The brothers admitted to killing two trumpeter swans and stashing the birds where they'd dropped, the officers said.
Trumpeter swans are state and federally protected waterfowl, meaning they're illegal to hunt.
Smith and Hermanson found the swans and issued the brothers tickets for killing the protected birds and possessing lead shot while waterfowl hunting, according to authorities.
Taking illegal waterfowl is a misdemeanor offense with a punishment of up to 90 days in jail and a $500 reimbursement fine.
"I want to thank the tipster who reported these poachers to the RAP hotline," said Chief Gary Hagler, of the DNR Law Enforcement Division. "Conservation officers rely on support from the public to preserve natural resources for future generations."
The swans are being retained by the DNR as evidence in the case. They will later be used for research or public education, officials said.