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Joseph Bartenfelder, Maryland secretary of agriculture

The outgoing Maryland ag secretary has pleaded guilty to a hunting violation and paid a fine.

Joseph Bartenfelder pleaded Dec. 13 to hunting a wetland game bird over a baited area.

Dorchester County court records do not list the amount he paid, but the charge carries a $500 fine with a $1,500 maximum for the first offense.

Natural Resources Police officers charged Bartenfelder and four other people after discovering them hunting about 80 yards from a corn field on Thanksgiving.

Maryland’s definition of bait includes seed that has been broadcast on top of the soil where birds can access it. The seed must have all sprouted or been covered by soil at least 10 days before hunting can take place.

Bartenfelder left office Jan. 11 after serving eight years as ag secretary under Gov. Larry Hogan.

When Lancaster Farming requested comment on the charges in November, it got no response from the governor’s office, and an Ag Department spokesperson directed questions to the Department of Natural Resources, which houses the Natural Resources Police.

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