Father and son sentenced for illegally trafficking deer

A father and son have been sentenced for their parts in illegally trafficking white-tailed deer from Ohio to Florida. (Picture courtesy ODNR)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)-A father and son have been sentenced for their parts in illegally trafficking deer from Ohio to Florida.

Donald W. Wainwright Sr., 49, of Live Oak, Fla., was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 21 months in prison and a $125,000 fine for 12 charges related to violating the Lacey Act, one count of conspiracy and one count of wire fraud. His son, Donald W. Wainwright, Jr., 29, of Live Oak, Fla., was sentenced to four months of house arrest and three years of probation for eight charges related to violating the Lacey Act.

According to court documents, the co-conspirators trafficked in live white-tailed deer.  Wainwright Sr. owned hunting preserves in Logan County, Ohio, and Live Oak, Florida; both preserves were named Valley View Whitetails.  Wainwright Jr. was part-time resident and part-time operator of the site in Ohio.

Wainwright Sr. illegally shipped deer to Florida from Ohio and attempted to ship deer to Georgia from Ohio. The deer herds involved with these shipments were not certified to be free from chronic wasting disease, tuberculosis and brucellosis. Federal Law requires interstate shipment of deer to be certified to be disease free.  As a result, deer herds in Florida were potentially exposed to these diseases.  His attempted shipment to Georgia was intercepted on I-71 South, about 50 miles from the Ohio River, when Ohio Wildlife officers noticed deer noses and antlers inside a cargo trailer and pulled over a truck driven by Wainwright Sr.’s employees.

Wainwright Sr. placed federal identification tags from a certified deer that had previously died into the ear of uncertified deer they were selling. He then sold breeding services and semen from the deer to breeders around the United States.

“Chronic wasting disease can decimate wild deer and elk populations and we take egregious violations like this very seriously,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent in Charge Gregory Jackson.

Wainwright Sr. pleaded guilty on February 27, 2015, to 12 charges related to violating the Lacey Act, one count of conspiracy and one count of wire fraud.  He was also sentenced to 200 hours of community service to be served in a parks system and ordered to publish an article in The Deer Breeders Gazette.

Wainwright Jr. pleaded guilty on February 17, 2015, to eight charges related to violating the Lacey Act.

Under the Lacey Act, it is unlawful to import, export, transport, sell or purchase wildlife, fish or plants that were taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of a state, federal or foreign law. When it was passed in 1900, the Lacey Act became the first federal law protecting wildlife.

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