25 individuals convicted in Philo deer poaching case

ATHENS, Ohio – Twenty-five individuals, including 20 juveniles, were recently convicted of 161 hunting-related charges in the Muskingum County Court and the Muskingum County Common Pleas Court Juvenile Division, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

Over a two-year period, ODNR Division of Wildlife officers received numerous complaints about white-tailed deer being illegally shot near Philo in Muskingum County.

During a night project in 2014, a vehicle was observed spotlighting deer in a hay field. When state wildlife officers approached the vehicle, it fled the scene at a high rate of speed. Officers pursued the vehicle until it was deemed unsafe to continue.

The State Highway Patrol provided a lead in December 2015 when State Troopers pulled over an adult and four juveniles and discovered three dead deer in the vehicle. State wildlife officers and investigators followed up with the individuals and were able to determine that one of the juveniles had been a passenger in the vehicle that had fled the year before. Officers were also able to identify additional suspects and other violations. More suspects were identified through subsequent contacts and additional violation reports. The investigation eventually resulted in 25 individuals being issued summonses for more than 200 counts of wildlife violations.

The defendants were found guilty on 161 of those counts and ordered to pay $1,675 in fines and $3,991 in court costs, and complete a combined 440 hours of community service. Several items seized during the investigation were forfeited to the ODNR Division of Wildlife, including firearms, deer parts, and ginseng.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife encourages anyone observing or suspecting that wildlife violations are occurring to report illegal activity by calling the Turn-In-A-Poacher (TIP) hotline toll free at 1-800-POACHER (762-2437) or submitting information online at wildohio.gov. All information received by the TIP program will remain confidential.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.