CHIPLEY - Bay County Commissioner Guy Tunnell is due to appear in court in Washington County May 2 after being charged with violating a state law “restricting methods of taking wildlife,” on the opening day of Spring Turkey season by hunting over corn.
According to records on file at the Washington County Courthouse and the FWC citation, Tunnell is charged with a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and up to a $500 fine if convicted. The information was obtained by The News Herald late Saturday and Tunnell could not be reached for comment.
A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission citation shows that the incident occurred March 17, the opening day of Spring Turkey, in Washington County on private land east of North Blue Springs Road.
Under state law, it is illegal to hunt turkey “under bait,” or specifically, “wild turkey may not be taken if the hunter is less than 100 yards from a game feeding station when feed is present.”
In the citation, the FWC officer wrote, “I observed Mr. Tunnell attempt to take wild turkey within 100 yards of feed (corn)” around 9:45 a.m. on opening day.
The offense is considered a “Level Two” violation, meaning the person has not been convicted of such Level Two or higher violation within the last three years.
Tunnel, 66, has been a Bay County commissioner since 2010 and announced earlier this year he would not be seeking re-election.
Prior to that he served about 35 years in various law enforcement capacities, working his way from being Lynn Haven’s police chief to Bay County’s sheriff to the Director of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement before resigning from that position in 2006 when controversy arose over remarks he made that were considered “inappropriate” at the time by then-Gov. Jeb Bush.
After that he was hired as a senior investigator at the State Attorney’s Office before landing the seat he has held since 2010 on the county commission.
Tunnell’s court appearance in Washington is set for May 2 before Judge Colby Peel.