Three Nevada men were convicted of poaching a mule deer they had harassed with a drone before illegally killing the animal, state wildlife officials announced Tuesday.
The men — 23-year-old Bailey Thompson of Las Vegas, along with 51-year-old James Ebert and his 22-year-old son Justin Ebert, both of Caliente — saw a trophy buck on private property in hunting unit 242, located on the Utah border and south of Panaca, the Nevada Department of Wildlife said in a news release.
Knowing they couldn’t kill the animal on private property, the men “used a drone to harass the mule deer off private property,” before Thompson shot and killed the animal.
While Thompson had a mule deer buck hunting tag, it was for a different unit closer to Ely, officials said.
“I’m not quite sure what these men were thinking,” Game Warden Capt. Jake Kreamer said in a statement. “They went to the trouble of illegally using a drone to chase this animal off private land only to shoot it in the wrong unit. All their efforts only compounded their trouble.”
Thompson was convicted of three gross misdemeanors, including unlawful killing of a big game animal and unlawful possession of a big game animal. The Eberts each were convicted of conspiracy and unlawful possession of a big game animal, both gross misdemeanors.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” Kreamer said. “These men saw a buck they wanted and decided the rules didn’t pertain to them. They knew they were in the wrong unit. They knew using the drone to push the animal was illegal. They just thought they wouldn’t get caught and now they’re stuck with some pretty steep fines and penalties.”
The three men will split a $15,000 fine as part of their convictions. All three also had their hunting, fishing and trapping privileges suspended for five years and will forfeit any bonus points they have accrued in Nevada.
They also will be entered into the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact, meaning their five-year suspension will be reciprocal in more than 45 states.
Contact Colton Lochhead at email@example.com.