Crime - Sacto 911

Sutter County hunter convicted of ‘baiting’ mourning doves

A mourning dove takes a bath.
A mourning dove takes a bath. Sacramento Bee file

A federal jury in Sacramento has found a Sutter County man guilty of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by baiting a field for hunting purposes.

William Louis Filter, 46, of Live Oak was found guilty Tuesday of unlawful baiting and unlawful taking of a migratory bird by aid of bait, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release.

Evidence was presented during the two-day trial showing that Filter baited a field on his family’s hunting ranch in the Sutter Buttes by covering it with birdseed to attract mourning doves. On Sept. 1, 2015, the opening day of mourning dove season, Filter returned to the baited field with three hunting buddies. Altogether, Filter and his friends shot and killed 34 mourning doves over the baited fields, authorities said.

Mourning doves are a migratory game bird. Although it is legal to hunt mourning doves during the appropriate hunting season, it is unlawful to hunt them using bait. Baiting means placing, distributing or scattering salt, grain or other feed that could lure or attract migratory game birds to any areas where hunters are attempting to take them.

Filter is to be sentenced June 6 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Allison Claire. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of one year in prison, a $100,000 fine and a year of supervised release, prosecutors said. The actual sentence will be determined at the discretion of the court.

The case resulted from an investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy