Maryland’s agriculture secretary was charged on Thanksgiving with illegally hunting waterfowl in Dorchester County, according to Maryland Natural Resources Police.

Police charged Joseph Bartenfelder with hunting wetland or upland game birds “with the aid of bait or on or over any baited area,” which carries a minimum $500 fine and a maximum of $1500 for a first offense. Lauren Moses, public information officer for Natural Resources Police, could not say whether this was Bartenfelder’s first charge.

Efforts to reach Bartenfelder were unsuccessful. Through a spokesman, Gov. Larry Hogan declined to comment.

Bartenfelder, who has been in office since 2015, owns and operates two farms in the county. Officers were following up on a suspected baiting pond when they found Bartenfelder, 65, his son Andrew Bartenfelder Jr., 29, and three other people hunting from a nearby cornfield. In addition to hunting with aid of bait, Bartenfelder Jr. was also charged with hunting with a shotgun that holds more than three shells and for a federal waterfowl stamp violation.

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It is illegal to use any type of bait, like salt, wheat or corn, while hunting that would lure migratory birds. Hunters also need a Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp and must have the document with them while hunting.

Most Maryland duck, goose and other waterfowl hunting seasons open in October and run until February, depending on the bird and where someone is hunting.

Baltimore Banner reporter Pamela Wood contributed to this article.

Clara Longo de Freitas is a neighborhood reporter covering East Baltimore communities. Before joining the Banner, she interned at The Baltimore Sun as an emerging news and community reporter. She also has design and illustration experience with several news organizations, including The Hill and NPR.

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