A North Carolina man is facing serious charges after wildlife officers caught him poaching in West Virginia. The state has charged the suspect, whose identity has yet to be released, with executing two trophy bucks in November 2020. Members of the community notified the officers of the incident, which they are nothing but grateful for.
“Like a lot of things the investigation started with help from people in the community. That’s our greatest resource for information. We received information of possibly two bucks being taken illegally,” said Natural Resources Police Officer Jonathan Gills.
They reached out to wildlife officers within North Carolina, once the agencies realized that the suspect was from the state. “They were a HUGE help to us,” said Gills. After some investigation and teamwork, the two agencies collected photographs and other physical evidence, which led them to their suspect.
According to Gills, the evidence made it clear that the suspect used a crossbow to kill both bucks. McDowell County is one of West Virginia’s four archery-only hunting counties. Hunters who wish to use bows must obtain a Class Y hunting permit, which the suspect did not have. In addition, there is one buck per season limit, which the suspect also violated.
Gill also added that the deer’s antlers might have helped them solve the case. “Both deer have highly identifiable key features,” he explained.” Somebody who hunts is going to be able to look at that deer and know if they’ve seen it before.”
Poacher Looking At Numerous Charges After Illegal Hunt In West Virginia
As of now, the suspect faces two counts of hunting without permission on someone else’s property. In addition, he’s also looking at two counts of illegal possession of wildlife and two counts of hunting with a crossbow without the proper permit.
It doesn’t stop there: the state has also charged him with one count of hunting after obtaining a legal limit and violating one deer allowed in a bow county. The state has also charged him with a single count of hunting without the necessary permits.
As a result, the hunter is looking at paying high fines, determined by the Magistrate. The replacement cost for any illegally killed deer in West Virginia is $500. He’s also expected to pay much more, since the two deer were under trophy classification. Gills believes he will pay around $15,000.
Last year, the state’s government upped the replacement costs for trophy bucks. For Gills, he believes the new law has become a major deterrent for poachers. “Our department was given a great asset with that. Basically, they’re stealing the deer. They’re stealing quality bucks from legitimate hunters; men, women, and kids who are trying to go out and enjoy the sport,” Gills said.