2 men charged with poaching wild turkey

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INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Two men trying to get an early Thanksgiving dinner are accused of poaching a wild turkey, Indian River County deputies said.

Artemio Zarate Lopez, 25, and Julio Cesar Gonzalez Hernandez, 24, both of the 10000 block of 130th Avenue, Fellsmere, were each charged with a Florida statute of illegal taking and possession of deer or wild turkey.

Artemio Lopez

Julio Hernandez

Lopez and Hernandez were released Oct. 27 from the Indian River County Jail each on $500 bail.

Deputies went to a trespass/animal call about 4 p.m. Oct. 27 in the 12000 block of 101st Street. A deputy patrolling the area said he noticed two men hiding behind trees along the north shoulder of the street beside a private fenced property.

The deputy confronted the two men, who were crouched beside two pellet rifles that were leaning against a tree. While speaking with the men, the deputy noticed a dead wild Osceola turkey hen lying about 20 feet away that appeared freshly killed.

The turkey was still bleeding, warm and flexible, deputies said.

The deputy was unable to complete the interview with the men because of a language barrier, but still detained them. A second deputy arrived at the scene and looked at the turkey, which had been shot in the head at least once by a small projectile.

The second deputy saw many loose feathers around the bird and a trail of feathers and blood leading toward a barbed wire fence about 15 to 20 feet away.

With the help of a translator, both men admitted to shooting the turkey. Lopez said he shot the turkey a second time after Hernandez shot it first because the turkey was still flopping.

Both admitted they had no hunting licenses and that they planned to eat the bird. The current season for taking turkey is for “taking gobblers and bearded turkeys by muzzle loader, crossbow or bow only.”

The turkey shot by the men was not in season and the method used to capture it is not authorized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, deputies said.

The men were arrested and taken to the county jail for booking.

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