TX: game wardens arrest men for illegal deer trapping
Texas game wardens arrest men for illegal deer trapping December 12,
2008 - 3:13 PM
posted by: Scott Lawrence (News release from Texas Parks and Wildlife)
AUSTIN, Texas - Game wardens in the Special Operations Unit of Texas
Parks and Wildlife Department's Law Enforcement Division have arrested
six men and executed two search warrants as part of Operation Texas
Shuffle, a year-long investigation into the black market deer trade in
"Our focus here is stopping two main areas of criminal activity: deer
being brought illegally across state lines, and wild deer being
illegally laundered into deer breeding facilities," said Col. Pete
Flores, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement director.
Five of the men were arrested yesterday, including William Kornegay,
42, of Eden in Concho County; James Johnson, 60, of Florence in
Williamson County; and Jeff Arbogust, 48, of Austin in Travis County,
Chris Sharp, 33, of Marble Falls in Burnet County; and Ronald Rogers,
39, of San Saba in San Saba County. The sixth suspect, Lance Clawson,
40, of Regency in Mills County, turned himself in this morning.
All six are alleged to have trapped, purchased or sold wild native
whitetail deer. In addition, Rogers, Clawson and Kornegay are involved
with permitted deer breeding facilities and are believed to have
laundered wild deer into the permitted facilities. Kornegay serves as an
agent for multiple licensed deer breeders. In one case, Clawson, a
permitted deer breeding facility operator, allegedly darted wild deer
and put them illegally into his facility.
Deer breeding is a legal and growing business in Texas, estimated by
one breeder organization to be worth about $650 million per year for the
state economy. It is illegal to capture or obtain wild deer and place
them into breeding facilities. Breeders must obtain captive, pen-raised
deer from other permitted breeders. There are currently 1,099 permitted
deer breeders in Texas, holding 86,989 deer in 1,161 facilities. The
vast majority of these are whitetail deer, and the rest are mule deer,
the two native species in Texas.
"Money is driving the illegal trade in wild native deer," said Capt.
Greg Williford with TPWD Law Enforcement Division's Special Operations
Unit. "A captive-raised breeder buck can sell for tens of thousands of
dollars. So, catching deer in the wild seems a lot less expensive, until
you get caught."
TPWD regulates deer breeding, issuing permits and conducting periodic
facility inspections as warranted. A particular concern is monitoring
breeding facilities for diseases such as Chronic Wasting Disease. CWD
has not been detected in Texas, but it has cost tens of millions of
dollars in other states. Texas borders essentially remain closed to the
importation of whitetail and mule deer because of disease concerns.
Clawson and Rogers were previously apprehended Oct. 16 by Texas game
wardens and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agents for smuggling
eight deer into Texas from Oklahoma. Such interstate smuggling is not
only illegal but also poses a disease threat to native whitetail deer.
Numerous Class B misdemeanors (fines up to $2,000 and up to 180 days
confinement) have been filed on all six men for violating state Trap,
Transport, and Transplant regulations relating to whitetail deer. As the
investigation continues, additional charges and arrests are anticipated,
including possible felony charges of tampering with a government
document, and possible illegal possession of tranquilizer drugs, also a
Based on where the alleged offenses occurred, county attorneys in
Mills, Bell, Lampasas and Concho Counties will be prosecuting the
Anyone who observes illegal deer trapping, sale or purchase in Texas
should call Operation Game Thief toll-free at (800) 792-GAME. OGT is
Texas' privately funded wildlife crime stoppers hotline, operating
24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. Rewards of up to $1,000 may be paid
to callers (who may remain anonymous). Game wardens recommend making the
call immediately when illegal activity is observed, and say it is
helpful to have a description of the activity, location of the
violation, physical descriptions of alleged violators, description of
any vehicles and the direction of travel.