MO: Undercover taxidermist busts illegal Mo hunters
July 19, 2010
Undercover taxidermist busts illegal Mo. hunters
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The sign on the storefront said "Craig's
Taxidermy," and the hunters who brought in their prized deer, turkey and
fish got them back stuffed and mounted.
But they also got secretly recorded. And ultimately, many of them were
busted for allegedly breaking Missouri wildlife laws.
The Department of Conservation announced Monday that it had discovered
425 wildlife violations committed by 68 people who brought animals into
Craig's Taxidermy in the rural southern Missouri town of Birch Tree.
It turns out "Craig" actually was an undercover agent.
The state Conservation Department set up the undercover taxidermy shop in
2008 after receiving numerous complaints about illegal hunting in the area,
said Gary Cravens, the department's regional supervisor for law enforcement
operations. The state agency closed Craig's Taxidermy early this year - but
only after its hidden video and audio recorders captured plenty of evidence.
As customers came into the shop, "we were listening to them," Cravens
said. "They were bragging about how they shot out of so-and-so's yard or off
the road, or claiming it as archery even though it had a bullet hole."
As it turned out, 62 percent of the wildlife brought in for mounting at
the undercover taxidermy shop had been killed illegally in some manner,
The cases are being turned over to prosecutors in seven counties -
Crawford, Dent, Miller, Howell, Iron, Oregon and Shannon - where the hunting
occurred, the department said. Although the taxidermy shop was in southern
Missouri, some hunters brought animals from other parts of the state.
The alleged violations involved deer, turkey, various animals hunted for
their fur, fish and migratory birds. Conservation agents seized 240 items,
including 90 mounted deer heads or antler racks, about 20 various smaller
animals, 70 frog legs, one rattlesnake and 16 firearms.
"These violators are in effect stealing wildlife that belongs to all of
us here in Missouri who obey the laws," Cravens said, "and it's our job to
make sure that wildlife resources are protected.".
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