Poaching Ring Kills Dozens of Deer at Night in California

A group of poachers in northern California is facing a slew of charges after allegedly killing dozens of deer. According to the Sacramento Bee, it’s one of the biggest poaching cases in Golden State state history. 

Six individuals, led by ringleader Bradley Chilton, systematically poached deer in Nevada County over several months in 2023. The group illegally killed the deer at night in residential areas using car headlights and spotlights. The culprits used a 7mm rifle and 12- and 20-gauge shotguns to commit their crimes. 

The individuals then reportedly took the valuable parts off the deer, including their antlers and hides, while leaving the rest to rot. But the extent of the crimes didn’t end there. The accused party also conspired to forge and alter tag information to cover their tracks. 

As a result of an investigation involving the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), District Attorney Jesse Wilson charged six individuals with felony conspiracy to commit poaching charges in the Nevada County Court. Chilton was also charged for attempting to escape police pursuit and with the illegal possession of a firearm. A seventh person faces charges for attempting to help Chilton evade the police. 

Read Next: Wardens Seize 49 Protected Trout and 86 Spiny Lobsters from Poachers in Southern California

“These charges relate to anything but hunting,” CDFW legal division captain Patrick Foy told the Sacramento Bee. “Left unchecked, egregious deer poaching from a geographicaly limited area [could] begin to affect the local deer population.”

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