View Full Version : Gilroy Poacher with over 300 birds convicted

11-18-2008, 4:35 PM

(11-17) 22:17 PST Gilroy -- California game wardens say they've bagged the biggest bird poacher they've seen in modern times - and they warn that with hard economic times pressing down everywhere, there will be more to come.

Peter Ignatius Ciraulo of Gilroy was convicted Nov. 14 in Santa Clara County Superior Court of waterfowl poaching, but this wasn't a matter of a few birds shot on the sly in nearby fields, said state Game Warden Patrick Foy.

"This was more than 300 birds, of just about every kind you can think of," said Foy, spokesman for the state Department of Fish and Game. "It was crazy. Disgusting. Back in the early 1900s we had people who killed birds illegally and brought them back to town, but even the old timers in our force haven't seen anything of this magnitude."

Ciraulo, 42, pleaded no contest to possessing more than the allowable number of waterfowl, failure to show game upon demand to a warden and failure to declare possession of a swan, which is a protected bird in California.

Wardens had gotten suspicious of the Gilroy man during the waterfowl hunting season last winter, and when they finally went to his house they found it jammed with dead birds, Foy said. They found 335 waterfowl of almost every species that migrates into California, and most were stowed intact, feathers and all, in freezers.

Among the birds were 253 ducks and 58 geese - exceeding the legal possession limits of 14 ducks and eight geese - a protected species, sandhill crane, and seven live but wounded snow geese on hand, Foy said. He also had several goose breasts hidden in his jacket.

"Mr. Ciraulo had hunted throughout the Central Valley," Foy said. "He said he was going to eat some of them, but when we asked him why he had so many, he never really never offered up a very valid explanation."

Ciraulo, who was sentenced to two years probation, 100 hours of community service and fined $7,105, declined to discuss the case when reached at his home Monday.

"There's really nothing to say," he said, and then joked that he was headed out on a whale hunt.

Foy said that wardens throughout the state report they are seeing an alarming rise in poachings of many kinds of animals, and they blame it on harder economic times.

"We don't have statistics yet to show all this, but we will absolutely see more poachers in our numbers," Foy said.

Compounding the problem is a shortage of game wardens, he added.

The state already has a skimpy number of wardens compared to other states, according to the state Fish and Game Wardens Association - about 200 for the entire state, contrasted with 700 in Florida and 500 in Texas. And about a quarter of the workforce is expected to retire in the next couple of years.

"We have fewer wardens per capita in California than we had in 1950, and that will equate to more poachers, for sure," said Foy.

E-mail Kevin ***an at k***an@sfchronicle.com.

11-18-2008, 6:05 PM
He got way to easy.

11-18-2008, 6:36 PM
He got way to easy.

No kinding, in WY they would take your truck / car and guns (you would not get these back), then set you in a nice room for a long time + the fine (I don't know what that was but it would take some time to pay it off) :eek:

11-18-2008, 7:10 PM
Unfortunately it was only a misdemeanor, wish that there was some way it could have been a Felony. From his attitude he will start doing it again right away.

4 Brigada
11-18-2008, 7:59 PM
wish that there was some way it could have been a Felony

I dont know, what does it take? In Idaho its like WY, as matter of fact a I know someone that had poached two deers and got caught, that WY punishment is what he got plus I dont think he can hunt in ID ever again.

11-18-2008, 9:04 PM
All they did was give him more knowledge on how not to get caught. Should have a hunting accident with that guy.

11-19-2008, 1:23 AM
I've talked to Pete a couple times by phone. He called me asking what I knew about the CA "Declaration for Entry" document. It was AFTER the search of his home by DFG. I'm all for wardens burying those who poach but I'm not completely sure this is the case here.

Pete's story was he hunts the east coast, Canada and the west here where he lives. He was one of those that wanted to take every kind of duck out there. He claimed he was hung out by the local D.A. on not filling out the "Declaration for Entry" document for CA. He claimed he was planning on mounting many of the ducks he had in the freezers. http://www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/entry-declaration.aspx. He claimed to have proof for where all the ducks and geese came from.

He seemed like an avid waterfowler who just didn't know about the importation requirements to CA. His documents from Canada were good to go he said but they threw the book at him for his ducks taken in the US outside CA. The swan he claimed was legally documented.

It appeared at the time I talked to Pete he was going to maybe plead just to get them off his back. The 7 live snow geese he claimed to have paperwork for. No mention of the crippled part. Not sure what paperwork it takes to keep live game like that.

I'll invite Pete in hear to tell his side of the story since all we have now is DFG's side.

Keep your paperwork and tags straight is the word. If you're bringing waterfowl back form Canada or other states make dayum sure you got it right.

11-19-2008, 10:03 AM
From the start of this thread I can't help thinking mental illness. Even after spectr17's post, I'm more than a little confused. If he wanted to mount them, why keep so many frozen? Why wasn't there a steady stream of business going out to local taxidermists?

Doing the taxidermy himself wouldn't make a lot of sense. That's an enormous amount of work, and the skins would likely become severely damaged in the freezer before he could finish them.

Something is definitely off-kilter here.

11-19-2008, 11:09 AM
From the start of this thread I can't help thinking mental illness...
...Something is definitely off-kilter here.

Was thinking the same thing. Sorta like people who horde cats.

Regardless of his intentions, or how he got the birds, in my book you eat what you kill. Animals are a gift to us, when taking one we should give them the full respect they deserve and only take what we need. If you can't eat 300 birds before they go bad, then don't shoot 300 birds.

Anyway, that's my take on it.

11-19-2008, 5:47 PM
Pete said he was a taxidermists and was in the process of having many of the waterfowl mounted. Like I said, it would be a lot better to get both sides to this story.

I could have written this same "poaching" story with him being the sloppy record keeper who got burned over some form filing. A form that many of us hunters don't even know about.

11-19-2008, 6:53 PM
Pete said he was a taxidermists and was in the process of having many of the waterfowl mounted. Like I said, it would be a lot better to get both sides to this story.

I could have written this same "poaching" story with him being the sloppy record keeper who got burned over some form filing. A form that many of us hunters don't even know about.

No, I totaly hear ya. It's easy to leave out a few small details and totaly spin a story, and I'm glad you came on here and gave us some inside info.

I still think it's odd though.

11-19-2008, 6:59 PM
Hmmm kinda makes you wonder why DFG would already know about him and his whereabouts....But, He is not telling his side yet....

11-19-2008, 7:13 PM
Does Petey still have a valid CA hunting license?

It would be nice to know if all these birds were taken in one hunting season or over multiple seasons.

But I give this to Petey, he is one hell of a shot. It is hard enough just to get more than one duck or goose on an outing.

On a side note I just cooked up some ducks that my bro shot today and they were yummy.

Mallard Whacker
11-21-2008, 8:07 AM
I know Pete, I have known Pete and of Pete for a long time. When I have been at a plumbing distributer my boss and he use he has shown and bragged about his hunting exploits.

I have seen pictures shown by him of hunts that harvested 20 plus Bull Sprig on a morning hunt. He bragged that he was the only hunter and he shot them all. Hunts at his ranch in, I think Idaho or Utah, of him and his buddies shooting 70 and 80 Mallards, hens and drakes bragging they were over by 30 ducks. Pictures of piles of Teal. The stories and events go on and on. I know he hunts at some club in Los Banos and he bragged about his kills there too.

He is a POACHER. He is a person that does not deserve to hunt. He has no respect for anything or anyone. I believe the penalties he recieved were too light, just as many of you do. People can write into the State Fish and Game Commission asking that "they" revoke his hunting license.

I am not about witch-hunting anyone for being "dumb in public" this individual has taken it too far.

I am an avid hunter who enjoys the outdoors and good times with friends. This is not a guy I wish to be compared by.

11-21-2008, 12:46 PM
I know the type myself. There are plenty around my family home in San Antonio, TX who think that excessive drinking is just the right way to spend the night before a hunt, who ignore the license rules just so they can brag it up, who... yadda, yadda.

I don't have any explanation better than "unspecified mental illness" for those folks either. Severe self-esteem shortage, perhaps.

My family and I will eat what we hunt. If I can't or won't eat it, I won't take the shot. I think that people who hunt exclusively for trophies are losers. As for Pete taking unsustainable quantities of birds to just to brag about his mad hunting skillz?

I hope they throw the book at him. Again.

11-24-2008, 9:49 AM
It doesn't bode well for the hunting community to see a newspaper article with a picture like that. Makes for bad PR.
I don't believe this is a "paperwork" issue either. It's a case of someone who has total disregard for game laws and could care less.
His license should be revoked for the rest of his life.
I see he has not chimed in. So I guess he has nothing to say.