Maryland Agriculture Secretary Bartenfelder charged with bird hunting offense

Maryland’s top agriculture official was charged with illegally hunting waterfowl on Thanksgiving, according to the Maryland Natural Resources Police.

Secretary of Agriculture Joseph Bartenfelder was among five people charged with hunting wetland or upland game birds with the help of bait or over a baited area, police said. The charge calls for a $500 fine and up to $1,500 for the first offense.


Bartenfelder, 65, of Caroline County, was appointed by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in 2014. He previously represented Baltimore County as a Democrat in the House of Delegates starting in 1983 and then for 16 years as a member of the Baltimore County Council.

Maryland Natural Resources Police said in a statement that officers were pursuing a suspected baiting pond and discovered the individuals hunting in a cornfield on Nov. 24. The Baltimore Banner first reported on the incident.


Bait such as salt, grain or other feed cannot be used to attract migratory game birds, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Bartenfelder’s son, Andrew J. Bartenfelder Jr., 29, was one of the individuals and was additionally charged with hunting waterfowl with a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells and with failing to have a required federal waterfowl stamp, police said.

Also charged in the incident were Tristian Michael, 25, of Caroline County; Sianna L. Graffious, 24, of Talbot County; and Cody R. Mack, 26, of Caroline County.

A Maryland Department of Agriculture spokesperson said Tuesday the department would not comment.

A spokesperson for Hogan did not immediately comment on the charges when asked Tuesday morning. State House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones of Baltimore County also declined to comment through a spokesperson.

Baltimore Sun reporters Ngan Ho and Jeff Barker contributed to this article.