FREEBURG, Ill. – A mayor of one small Metro East village and a former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher are among eight people accused in an Illinois poaching investigation.

Illinois Conservation Police have issued citations against Freeburg, Illinois, mayor Seth Speiser, 1980s Cardinals pitcher Danny Cox and six others.

Others cited by Illinois Conservation Police include family and friends of Speiser and Cox:

  • Kamdan B. Cox, 27, of Clarksville, Tennessee
  • Kyle B. Cox, 32, of Belleville, Illinois
  • Steve M. Pate, 62, of Marietta, Georgia
  • Mitchell L. Speiser, 25, of Freeburg
  • Brian C. Forrester, 24, of New Athens, Illinois
  • Barry T. Northenor, 63, of Roswell, Georgia 

All eight are accused of various violations, such as illegally hunting for deer with bait, unlawfully taking animals or unlawfully using a permit.

“Fair chase has been the standard for responsible hunters for more than 100 years, and these are the ethics we’ve chosen to live by here in Illinois. We want to give the animal a sporting chance and not cheat or trick it,” said Jayette Bolinski, spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “We also discourage the use of bait because it causes deer to congregate at a food source, which can contribute to the spread of disease and make it more difficult to manage our herd and keep it healthy.”

On Nov. 18, the first day of the 2022 firearm deer hunting season, Illinois Conservation Police went to Seth Speiser’s property in St. Clair County to investigate the possible use of bait to attract deer. Police discovered illegal bait, illegal use of landowner tags by non-resident hunters and other evidence of hunting violations.

Later that day, conservation police went to land owned by Danny Cox in St. Clair County to investigate the use of bait. Police discovered nine baited deer stands or blinds with corn, molasses, and mineral salt with trail cameras at each location. Investigators say Cox allegedly provided permits to out-of-state hunters that were actually issued to Illinois hunters.

After checking records with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, conservation police noticed several hunters did not use proper permit or tags and some out-of-state hunters were participating illegally with landowner permits.

The Illinois Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations specifically notes that, “It is illegal to feed deer at any time and/or take deer by the use or aid of bait or baiting of any kind. Despite their widespread availability, deer baits and attractants commonly sold in stores are also illegal to use at any time except for use by properly licensed owners of captive cervids while feeding captive animals.”

Court dates are awaiting Speiser, Cox and all others accused in the investigation.