Somebody got in trouble

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SilverKype
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2009/04/09 10:40:42 (permalink)

Somebody got in trouble

Game Trails LLC, McTavish fined $50,000 for illegal deer kills
Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources News Release
April 3, 2009 Contact: Mark Marraccini FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 1-800-858-1549, ext. 4425
Frankfort, Ky. – A Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources deer biologist who noticed discrepancies while analyzing 2006 hunter deer harvest data triggered an 18-month long state and federal law enforcement investigation that produced one of the largest wildlife penalties in state history last month in United States District Court, Owensboro.
Game Trails, a more than 12,000-acre Limited Liability Corporation commercial hunting preserve in Union and Crittenden counties, controlled by sole proprietor owner and then Thompson/Center Arms President and CEO Gregg Ritz, and its site manager, William Dirk McTavish, Jr., 43, of Paducah, paid $50,000 in fines after pleading guilty to numerous misdemeanor violations of the Lacey Act of taking wildlife unlawfully, and for making false statements to Kentucky officers about the takings and interstate transporting of wildlife. United States Magistrate Judge E. Robert Goebel ordered that Game Trails LLC, pay a $35,000 fine and McTavish pay a $15,000 fine.
Robert Christopher Helms, 40, of Boonville , Indiana , and a former Game Trails guide, faces up to five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to a felony count of threatening a federal witness. His sentencing is scheduled for June 11.
Department wildlife and deer biologist David Yancy, in August 2007, noticed numerous inconsistencies while comparing and analyzing 2006 Telecheck deer harvest data with data that Game Trails LLC supplied to Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) in Georgia .
Yancy and department Private Lands Wildlife Biologist Phillip Sharp raised these irregularities with Union County conservation officer Lt. Greg Noel. Noel, already familiar with Game Trails and the property, enlisted the help of Crittenden County officer Randy Conway. They began the lengthy process of reconciling the Telechecked deer harvest reports of Game Trails clients with information from QDMA.
Their investigation turned up numerous instances of Game Trails employees, their friends and family chronically taking over-limits of deer, outside hunting season parameters, supplying false information to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife and using social security numbers of Game Trails clients without their permission to Telecheck their deer harvests.
Noel and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Special Agent John Barham then discovered hundreds of deer jawbones and documentation tying them to Game Trails when they traveled to Atlanta, and served a federal search warrant at QDMA’s headquarters. By sending the jawbones to another state, Game Trails was guilty of transporting illegally taken deer out of state and triggered the Lacey Act violations.
Noel said that the property, bordered by about 4½ miles of Ohio River, was owned by Kimball International and leased to Ritz and sharecroppers. He said that the previous owner had used local draw hunting to manage the deer herd, but that Game Trails eliminated that practice because it interfered with its filming and big buck hunting routines. As a result, the herd grew quickly and Game Trails contacted QDMA to evaluate and make recommendations about improving the deer herd.
Game Trails then supplied QDMA with completed data sheets and jawbones of harvested deer. It was this data, discovered during Noel’s and Barham’s investigation, which conflicted with Telecheck data.
*** Noel says Game Trails has recently vacated the property and is moving its operations to Ohio.***

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#1

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    SilverKype
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    RE: Somebody got in trouble 2009/04/09 10:42:27 (permalink)
    oh, Greg Ritz is Michael Wadells and Lee and Tiffany's Agent.
     
    Looks like antler porn and videoing is gettin' some people in trouble. 
     
    dumases

    My reports and advice are for everyone to enjoy, not just the paying customers.
    #2
    dpms
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    RE: Somebody got in trouble 2009/04/09 14:31:05 (permalink)
    I saw that.  Hard to believe, being in the spotlight like that.  But I guess greed can get to anyone. 

    My rifle is a black rifle
    #3
    Mr.Slickfish
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    RE: Somebody got in trouble 2009/04/11 05:12:45 (permalink)

    I don't always snag fish, but when I do...
    I choose Little Cleos

    I'm the best looking smartest snagging poacher alive...
    #4
    jon_e_si
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    RE: Somebody got in trouble 2009/04/13 06:59:45 (permalink)
    The other side (don't have a dog in this hunt!):
     
    Here is the Press release from Game Trails:
    “Sturgis, Kentucky. April 8, 2009. - Misstatements of fact and misleading information related to a misdemeanor case involving Game Trails, a company with operations in Kentucky, has prompted this release to clarify the record.
    On March 19, 2009, Game Trails, LLC, and its general manager Dirk MacTavish pled guilty to misdemeanor violations of the Lacy Act. More specifically, the violations were technical in nature and involved the mistagging and telechecking of deer. Both Game Trails and Dirk MacTavish paid fines. No other sanctions were imposed: no probation; no loss of hunting rights; and no loss of outfitter’s licenses. Gregg Ritz was neither charged nor plead guilty to any violation, misdemeanor or otherwise.
    At all times throughout the process, Game Trails and Dirk MacTavish were forthright and cooperated fully. The mistakes in tagging deer were admitted and the matter was resolved. As noted, only fines were paid on technical misdemeanor violations. The case has been officially closed.
    The relevant facts with regards to this case can be accessed through the United States District Court, Western District of Kentucky, Owensboro. However, the same cannot be said for subsequent reports, which have been littered with half-truths and false accusations. The facts have been misconstrued and inaccurately characterized. This statement will present the truth.
    In addition to the aforementioned, the relevant facts are as follows. In 2006, Games Trails was instructed by an agent of the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife and mandated by the land owner Kimball International to reduce the number of deer on the property to help reduce crop damage. Game Trails had been informed by Kimball’s on-site manager that the crop damage caused by deer population had resulted in Kimball International offsetting the tenant farmer’s annual lease in the amount of $35,000. Authorities at Kimball advised Game Trails that its lease would be terminated if the deer population was not reduced.
    In an effort to comply, Game Trails conducted the largest ever camera survey for whitetail deer in association with the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) to determine the proper number of deer to be harvested. A formal report was presented to Kimball International by the QDMA with a recommendation to harvest 200 deer. However the Commonwealth of Kentucky conducted an independent deer damage assessment and concluded that the harvest number was far greater than 200.
    Game Trails sought the advice and cooperation of local Kentucky authorities to request and receive special consideration with the harvest process. The request for special consideration concerning the deer management program was rejected. Instead, Game Trails was informed that if it needed assistance in reducing the population, then it should consider allowing local authorities, their friends and family access to hunt. This idea was not satisfactory to Kimball.
    QDMA, on behalf of Game Trails, then appealed directly to officials in Frankfort, Kentucky, the state’s capitol, to request special consideration for the doe harvest. Again, Game Trails was denied special consideration and was informed no consideration would be given as long as Game Trails was in possession of the hunting lease.
    Later, in 2006, Kentucky issued Game Trails several hundred Animal Control tags to accommodate the additional deer harvest requirements. The harvesting of the deer and use of the Animal Control tags were improperly managed by a former Game Trails’ site manager, who applied the tags to any hunter; essentially “community tagging” the animals. The former site manager performed all operational aspects of the business and personally tagged every animal. He was later terminated for performance issues unrelated to this incident. It must be noted that no deer went unchecked and all deer were harvested by licensed hunters.
    To further clarify and correct the misinformation circulating we would like the public to know the following:
    • Neither Dirk MacTavish, General Manager of Game Trails, nor Gregg Ritz, owner of Games Trails, tagged or tele-checked any of the deer harvested;
    • There were no charges or fines levied against Gregg Ritz;
    • Neither Dirk MacTavish or Gregg Ritz made false statements to Investigators, or any other authorities;
    • Neither Dirk MacTavish nor Game Trails lost their outfitting license, hunting rights or were placed on probation;
    • Every deer killed was processed and given to families in need;
    • With the exception of this 2006 incident, no other violations were found to have occurred during the period in which Game Trails occupied the property;
    • Felony prosecution of former Game Trails’ employee Chris Helms is only incidental, and is unrelated to this matter; neither Gregg Ritz nor Dirk MacTavish have any involvement with that case; and
    • Kimball International sold the Sturgis, Kentucky land last November (four months prior to this event) and the new landowner chose not to sublease the hunting rights, resulting in Game Trails closing its Kentucky operation at present.
    Due to the mistagging and telechecking at Game Trails, the personal and business reputations of Game Trails, Gregg Ritz and Dirk MacTavish have all been unfairly tarnished. Mistakes were made, and a fine was paid. But Game Trails and Gregg Ritz have built a name of excellence and integrity in the industry, and these technical violations should not diminish that reputation. It is unfortunate that multiple inaccuracies have worked to do just that. Basic fairness dictates that those involved should be judged on the facts of record in this case, and those facts alone.
    #5
    gobyking
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    RE: Somebody got in trouble 2009/04/13 12:15:48 (permalink)
    You should really read what you posted/pasted, Jon.
     
    The manager was a scapegoat who did the poaching where the rubber meets the road. Ritz and the other guy are in charge of the operation more than likely told him if he didn't do this, he would loose his job. Crap rolls downhill and doesn't stick to the shoes of the bosses. 
     
    And that release was from Game Trails, not an independent reporting group.
    #6
    eyesandgillz
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    RE: Somebody got in trouble 2009/04/14 15:11:49 (permalink)
    Don't care one way or the other but if you read the court case documents, I am sure you can get the down low on the specifics.
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