DUNE ACRES, IN: Hunters who violated law will face charges

Times Staff Writer

This story ran on nwitimes.com on Thursday, March 11, 2004

DUNE ACRES -- Two hunters picked by the town of Dune Acres to take part in a cull to thin the deer population are set to charged today with illegal hunting. 

The hunters, Dune Acres residents Ray S. Tittle Jr., 73; and John D. Sullivan, 38, will be charged with hunting by the aid of a spotlight and hunting after legal shooting hours. Sullivan is also being charged with using an illegal firearm, a .22-caliber rifle.

Their violations also have resulted in the town's deer cull permit being yanked. The permit allowed the town to kill 35 deer between Nov. 1 and March 31; the town had killed 30 deer when the permit was revoked Tuesday.

Lt. Jerry Shepherd of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources said it is likely the town would lose its right to have a deer cull during the 2004-2005 season as well. Any future requests for culls would be scrutinized heavily, he said.

"The DNR does issue permits for a just cause, but those permits are expected to be followed to a T and we won't tolerate any variance from that," Shepherd said.

Shepherd said deer culls have drawn protests from those opposed to killing deer, but he hopes the filing of misdemeanor charges against Tittle and Sullivan shows the department takes complaints seriously.

The charges against the suspects stem from an incident Crest Drive resident Patrice Babst said occurred about 8:15 p.m. Friday.

Conservation Officer Shawn Brown, who spearheaded the investigation, said Babst heard her dog barking, so she went outside. She heard a gunshot and saw lights coming from behind 18 Crest Drive. She said she saw Tittle and Sullivan, who said they were shooting raccoons. The men, who left the area, were known by Babst to be two of six hunters approved by the town to cull deer.

Brown questioned the men and said he learned Tittle shot a deer at 6 p.m. and thought he wounded it, so he returned about 8 p.m. with Sullivan. They returned to 18 Crest Drive, which was baited for deer, and saw a deer, possibly the same one shot earlier. Brown said Sullivan used a spotlight while Tittle shot at the deer, but it ran off.

The men were confronted, at which time they left, but they approached the property from the rear, Brown said. This time, Tittle shined the spotlight while Sullivan shot, Brown said. The deer was killed.

Shepherd said the hunters may have thought their intentions were good, in that they wanted to kill what they thought was an injured deer, but he said they violated both the deer cull permit and Indiana code. Both hunting 30 minutes after sunset and using a spotlight are illegal.

"Has this type of behavior been ongoing? We don't know for sure," Shepherd said. "There's indications it may have."

He said Sullivan and Tittle said it was an isolated incident. Shepherd said the charges against the Sullivan and Tittle are Class C misdemeanors. Such charges generally don't result in jail time.

Although Dune Acres' permit was revoked because it was responsible for making sure its cull went according to the rules, deer culls will continue at other locations where the deer population is believed to be too large, Shepherd said. Dune Acres' deer culls dated back to 2001 and Shepherd said it was his understanding they had produced positive results.

Anyone with information about illegal hunting can call the department's tip line at (800) 847-4367.

Ken Kosky can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (219) 462-5151, ext. 354.