4 men officially charged with poaching ducks

justin beckman, tyler meerman, colson modderman, michael sorenson
Left to right: Justin Beckman, Tyler Meerman, Colson Modderman and Michael Sorenson. (Undated courtesy photo)

COOPERSVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — We now know the names of the four men charged with the illegal slaughter of 55 ducks last month near Coopersville.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says the ducks were killed before 9:30 a.m. Oct. 9 on a marshy agricultural pond near the Grand River watershed in Ottawa County’s Chester Township. Conservation officers say they found four men who had been using bait to draw the ducks in before the massacre began.

Now facing poaching charges are:

  • Justin Allen Beckman, 20, of Coopersville
  • Tyler John Meerman, 24, of Conklin
  • Colson Thomas Modderman, 22, of Wyoming
  • Michael Duane Sorenson III, 20, of Marne

24 Hour News 8 called and stopped by all of the suspects’ homes Tuesday, but they were not available to speak.

Their Facebook pages are filled with pictures of hunting and their trophies.

Hunters are allowed to shoot a maximum of six ducks — two hens and four mallards — but officials say all of the ducks were illegally killed because bait was used.

Nearly 60 ducks were poached in Ottawa County's Chester Township. (Courtesy Michigan DNR/Oct. 14, 2016)
55 ducks were poached in Ottawa County’s Chester Township. (Courtesy Michigan DNR/Oct. 14, 2016)

If convicted, the men face up to $29,000 in restitution — $500 for each duck — and could be ordered to forfeit more than $5,000 in firearms. They could also have their hunting licenses revoked for three years each.

At Hudsonville District Court, Modderman’s file includes a note to the judge saying he is a cancer survivor who did not understand what was planned when he went out with the others. The note said he is extremely remorseful and would not do it again.

The DNR says the dead ducks will be used at the DNR Law Enforcement Division’s Waterfowl Training School for training new officers on duck identification and necropsy studies.

The four suspects have been arraigned and have pleaded not guilty. They are likely to be back in court in January if they do not reach a plea agreement.