After several years of poaching deer on federal property, three men have pleaded guilty to trespassing and illegally hunting whitetail deer on a section of the Fort Riley Army base in Kansas. Gregory J. Frikken, James C. Nunley and Michael J. Smith killed eight whitetail deer – three that are considered trophy class – after entering the property under cover of night multiple times, according to a Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Kansas press release.
All three are charged with violating the Lacey Act and were ordered to pay $11,000 in restitution to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) and $10,000 in fines to the Lacey Act fund. They lost hunting privileges for three years and were required to forfeit all property seized during the investigation, which included deer mounts, antlers and equipment used to kill the deer.
“These hunters entered an area of Fort Riley which is off limits and not open for hunting,” said U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister. “They entered a prohibited area of the Army base, knowing the area was off limits, for the sole purpose of illegally taking large deer as trophies. 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, and unlawfully killing trophy deer undermines hunting and hunters who abide by the rules.”
The Directorate of Emergency Services at Fort Riley, the Fort Riley Game Warden, KDWPT, the New York State Environmental Conservation Office-Office of Law Enforcement and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were all part of the investigation.
Did the punishment fit the crime?