The Missouri Department of Conservation announced this week that an undercover sting operation using an agency law enforcement officer posing as taxidermist at a shop in the southern part of the state has resulted in citing 68 individuals with 425 wildlife violations.
The violations include those related to deer, turkey, furbearers, both game and non-game fish, and migratory birds. This documentation occurred over the past two years in Crawford, Dent, Miller, Howell, Iron, Oregon and Shannon counties.
"Investigators were able to document that 62 percent of the wildlife brought in for mounting at a local taxidermy shop was taken illegally in some manner," said MDC Protection Regional Supervisor Gary Cravens.
Beginning July 17, Conservation agents contacted individuals believed to have been involved in violations.
"Teams of agents met with 68 individuals and were able to document another 126 violations, bringing the total number of violations to 425," said Cravens. "Of these, 289 were related to deer and 23 were related to turkey."
Conservation agents seized a total of 240 items including 90 deer mounts or sets of antlers, approximately 20 various small game, fish, or furbearer mounts, 70 frog legs, one rattlesnake, and 16 firearms. Some of the wildlife was sold illegally. Additionally, three individuals were arrested on a total of 11 outstanding warrants including two for out-of-state felonies.
"This investigation was important to the state," Cravens remarked. "These violators are in effect stealing wildlife that belongs to all of us here in Missouri who obey the laws. And it's our job to make sure that wildlife resources are protected."