A large Missouri Department of Conservation investigation involving illegal commercialization of wildlife and wildlife parts was brought to a close in mid-July as a total of 299 serious violations were documented in seven counties across southern Missouri.
“Investigators were able to document that 62 percent of the wildlife brought in for mounting at a local taxidermy shop was taken illegally in some manner,” said Protection Regional Supervisor Gary Cravens. An agent manned the store.
The violations include those related to deer, turkey, furbearers, both game and non-game fish and migratory birds. The documentation occurred over the past two years in Crawford, Dent, Miller, Howell, Iron, Oregon and Shannon counties.
Beginning July 17, conservation agents contacted individuals believed to have been involved in violations.
“Teams of agents met with 68 individuals and were able to document another 126 violations, bringing the total number of violations to 425,” Cravens said, “and of these, 289 were related to deer and 23 were related to turkey.”
Conservation agents seized a total of 240 items, including 90 deer mounts or sets of antlers, approximately 20 various small game, fish or furbearer mounts, 70 frog legs, one rattlesnake and 16 firearms. Some of the wildlife was sold illegally. Additionally, three individuals were arrested on a total of 11 outstanding warrants, including 2 for out of state felonies.
“This investigation was important to the state,” Cravens said. “These violators are in effect stealing wildlife that belongs to all of us here in Missouri who obey the laws. And it’s our job to make sure that wildlife resources are protected.”