A crow, woodcock, and turkey vulture may put a Colchester man in prison for up to ten years. On April 18, Jeremiah Ruhl, 43, was indicted on six counts, including illegal transport of a firearm, and illegal hunting and possession of migratory birds.
If convicted, Ruhl faces a maximum fine of $250,000 and a maximum sentence of ten years in prison. Migratory Bird Treaty Act violations alone could put Ruhl in prison for up to six months, with a $5,000 fine on each of the three counts. The other three counts implicate Ruhl in unlawful transport of firearms, as he is disallowed from owning a firearm or ammunition as a convicted felon.
“Mr. Ruhl has repeatedly shown himself to be a significant threat to both the natural resources of Vermont and the migratory species we share with neighboring states and provinces,” said Colonel Jason Batchelder, Chief Vermont State Game Warden, in a statement.
The indictment comes after Ruhl was also charged in March with 12 misdemeanors, in violation of Fish and Wildlife regulations.
According to the Investigating Officer on the case, Game Warden, Robert Currier, at least one of the deer Ruhl killed while out of season was a pregnant doe. While gutting the deer, he removed two unborn fetuses, laying them out on his lawn and taking pictures of them. “It is disturbing that he finds such a grotesque scene amusing and elects to send these photos to other individuals via text message,” said Currier, in court documents.
Rebecca Terhune, who lives with Ruhl, said that sometimes he would come home with deer legs protruding from the mouth of his backpack, and that he gave a deer antler to her dog for a chew toy.
“The photos and incidents listed above display Ruhl’s blatant disrespect for fish and wildlife law,” said Currier. “His privileges to hunt, fish and or trap were revoked at the time each of these photos and events occurred. He continuously proves that he will illegally pursue fish and wildlife with no regard for the law.”
Penalties for state charges could result in Ruhl paying up to $21,000 in fines and restitution, as well as up to 540 days in jail. Ruhl would also lose hunting privileges in Vermont for three years, according to a Vermont Fish and Wildlife press release on May 2. Ruhl has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is currently in detention.