A Gilroy man was recently convicted of waterfowl poaching of staggering proportions, the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) announced. Peter Ignatius Ciraulo, age 42, plead no contest to three violations: possession of an excess of the waterfowl possession limit, failure to declare a migratory game bird (a swan) and failure to show game upon demand of a Fish and Game warden. Ciraulo was found to unlawfully possess 253 ducks and 58 geese, in excess of the possession limits of 14 ducks and eight geese. He also possessed seven live but wounded snow geese.
"Not since the market poaching days of the early 1900s have we seen waterfowl poaching of this scope," said Nancy Foley, Chief of DFG's Law Enforcement Division.
Through routine waterfowl hunting patrol techniques, DFG game wardens Kyle Kroll and Greg Grinton began an investigation on Ciraulo a few weeks before the close of the normal waterfowl hunting season which ended in January 2008. As they amassed evidence, they realized the extent of Ciraulo's poaching. On the last day of the hunting season, Kroll and Grinton made contact with Ciraulo and discovered evidence of poaching beyond anything they had ever seen. Initial contact with Ciraulo revealed he had killed a swan, which is protected in California, and eight geese. He also possessed several additional concealed goose breasts hidden in his jacket. The wardens also found hundreds of birds, mostly waterfowl species in freezers. The dead birds included specimens of almost every waterfowl species that migrates into California, but also included many non game, protected species including a Sandhill Crane. A total of 335 birds were discovered during the investigation. Most of them were frozen whole, without having been processed for consumption. Seven live and crippled snow geese were also found at the residence.
As a result of the conviction, Ciraulo was placed on two years probation, ordered to pay a fine totaling $7,105 and must serve 100 hours community service work at Ducks Unlimited and/or California Waterfowl Association projects. As a further condition of probation, Ciraulo is banned from all hunting in California for one season, until February 1, 2009.