Ohio Division of Wildlife Chief Kendra Wecker was cleared of all charges in the case of taking one turkey according to anonymous reports. Earlier this year allegations that Wecker illegally took a bird were raised by anonymous sources leading to a full investigation of the department’s first female head.
Although the alleged violations only amounted to a misdemeanor offense, due to Wecker’s high position in her department the investigation went on for weeks.
On the morning of April 25, Wecker took a male turkey, named Jake in the investigation, and she thought all was fine. When the first allegations were reported, Wecker thought it was a prank.
Wecker was accused of killing a hen, hunting baited land, and using a shotgun on public property restricted for bow hunting.
“That morning was a real enjoyable time,” Wecker told the Columbus Dispatch. “I got a turkey, took some pictures, walked the distance of the shot and was feeling pretty good about the whole thing.”
Wecker and her husband Andrew were hunting on private property located near a state park. They got permission in writing from the landowner and even made sure to stay the required distance from bird feeders that could be construed to be bait sites.
The anonymous caller reported her license plate to the department which began the investigation. Soon after the Ohio Department of Natural Resources joined in the investigation.
“It was very shocking,” she said. “I was truly flabbergasted.”
During the investigation, the anonymous complainant told the Dispatch the departments were working on a cover-up. By May news of the investigation was made public.
Fortunately for Wecker the investigation found no evidence beyond the claims that the chief engaged in any illegal hunting.
She said that the whole process was “an experience I have never had. I had never had my rights read to me before. The waiting, knowing your future might be on the line, is excruciating.”