On Thursday, three Kansas men pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges after years of illegal deer hunting excursions on federal property.
Officials caught the trio trespassing in a restricted area of Fort Riley as they illegally hunted deer on the Army’s weapons range. The three poachers avoided jail time in separate plea deals but will pay thousands in fines. In addition, the court placed the three men on probation and banned them from hunting for the next three years.
The court case came to a close when the men pleaded guilty to multiple charges. They included charges of conspiracy to commit criminal trespass and violations of the Lacey Act. The legislation is a federal conservation law that prohibits the illegal trade of animals and plants.
In a May 2020 news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the agency’s report identified the three defendants. Gregory J. Frikken, 55, James C. “Cam” Nunley, 32, and Michael J. Smith, 55, faced a combined 18 criminal charges. However, none of the offenses are felony charges. That same month, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister touched on evidence found during the investigation of the three hunters.
“Investigators recovered evidence including deer mounts, antlers, phone data and equipment allegedly used to harvest eight whitetail deer, three of which are considered trophy class,” McAllister said, according to The Wichita Eagle‘s Jason Tidd.
On Tuesday, McAllister also shared a statement where he called the three poachers “unlawful” and “selfish.”
“Their behavior was not only unlawful and selfish, it was potentially dangerous to themselves and thus also foolish. Trespassing on a federal military base is a serious error of judgment,” Mcallister said in his statement. “Unlawfully killing trophy deer undermines hunting and hunters who abide by the rules.”
Deer Poachers Trespassed on Fort Riley’s Live-Fire Training Area
The three deer poachers reportedly hunted the animals illegally in November and December 2018, and in November 2019.
During their hearing, the men revealed they crawled under a high-wire fence to trespass in a restricted area of Fort Riley. The fence is clearly marked “off-limits” since the land is a training area for the military base.
In fact, the area is used by Fort Riley for live-fire training, which made it risky for the hunters to traverse. Supposedly, the three men entered the restricted area before daylight and exited after dark through a creek that dipped under the perimeter fence.
Fort Riley does allow legal hunting in certain areas, but has regulations in place for this very reason. In addition, the impact area is always considered off-limits to civilians. Yet Frikken, Nunley, and Smith chose to hunt on the property illegally, instead of abiding by the legal process to hunt at the location.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth G. Gale sentenced the three poachers to pay approximately $11,000 in restitution to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. Furthermore, the three men must pay $10,000 in fines to the Lacey Act fund.