About three years ago I sat in the Jefferson City offices of the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Enforcement Chief Larry Yamnitz. Missouri citizens need to know his direct words to …
About three years ago I sat in the Jefferson City offices of the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Enforcement Chief Larry Yamnitz. Missouri citizens need to know his direct words to me. “No conservation agent can enter your home, barn, shed or vehicle without a search warrant. They can only do so if you give them permission.”
I printed what he said. Some of my newspapers would not print that story. I do not know why so many people believe otherwise. I got two letters this week from Missourians who made the mistake of greeting a ‘game warden’ at their doors and allowing them to come in. One was told by an agent that he was following up on a tip he got over facebook. When the ‘tip’ didn’t pan out, the agent noticed a rattlesnake skin on the resident’s wall. He decided that since there was no proof he bought it in another state, it was illegal, and he confiscated it and wrote the guy a citation. Because he let the agent in, he wound up paying a $200 fine. If he had refused to let him enter, since there was no warrant, he would have saved his rattlesnake skin and $200.
Yes, he is mad enough to bite nails, and yes he could have hired a lawyer and had the case thrown out. But what every agent knows is that few people will hire a lawyer for $500 dollars and spend much of a day in court to save $200. And so they come to your door with a smile and say, “Would it be okay if I come in and talk to you about something?”
That happened to a young man with a family in northern Missouri two years ago by the name of Henshall. The friendly agents confiscated five deer heads he had killed on his land on technicalities. Basically he couldn’t prove he wasn’t guilty… and if you open your doors to agents whom judges won’t give a search warrant, you won’t be able to prove you aren’t either. You need to spread that word! Don’t let them in!
My new book, “The Truth About the Missouri Department of Conservation, will be published this year, about 10,000 copies given away to Missourians free of charge. No one can accuse me of making money from it. It contains the stories of hundreds of outdoorsmen treated in such a way, many of them opening their doors to agents who should have been turned away or having their barns or vehicles searched illegally. The latest story involves a lady by the name of Sally Denton, who found 3 baby raccoons and called a licensed wildlife rehabilitator named Leann Tapscott who lived four hours away. She headed for the woman’s home. An agent by the name of Alex Walker who had been on the job for only nine months, found out about the baby coons, and got there first. He took them out in Ms. Denton’s front lawn and shot them in the head. Ms. Tapscott heard the gunshots as she was driving to Ms. Denton’s home. Now because of all this, Ms. Tapscott is in danger of losing her wildlife rehabilitators license which the MDC controls exclusively.
Larry Yamnitz has retired. The man did a good job and tried to change things, but many agents beneath him ignored his directions. His replacement is nothing like him. What is coming in MDC enforcement involves a complete loss of rights of every citizen. I never dreamed it could get this bad, with agents violating rights, breaking laws and dealing in stolen ‘confiscated’ goods. Even losing a one million dollar lawsuit filed against a pair of agents has not changed the MDC. Yes, they paid out a million dollars and the two agents still work for them. One has been promoted.
As an ex-agent recently told me in a letter to be published in my upcoming book, “There are many men and women working as agents today who should never be given a badge and gun… I know, I have worked with them”. The book contains stories from many old time conservation agents and other employees. I cannot wait to publish what ex-agent Rick Vance has told me, what long-time employee Ed Webb did to fight them. But that book, like this column, cannot be mentioned in many newspapers, because publishers actually fear what the MDC can do to them financially. I don’t, despite the threats I am receiving. That book will tell the stories of many who have been targeted and victimized. If you open your door to a friendly smiling agent who does not have a search warrant, you are going to be one of them.
If you do get to read this somewhere, ask yourself why it cannot even be printed as a ‘letter to the editor’in many publications, much less as an independent column I give away.
Read more on my blogspot, larrydablemontoutdoors or my website, www.larrydablemont.com. Write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*The views expressed in this article are those of the contributing columnist and not necessarily the views of Warden Publishing Co., Inc.