In what Missouri regulators termed one of the largest poaching cases in the history of the state, on Monday a 29-year-old man who joined his brothers and father to kill hundreds of deer for years was sentenced to jail for one year along with an unusual punishment: to watch the Disney movie “Bambi” once a month behind bars.
David Berry Jr., 29, was sentenced by County Judge Robert E. Greene, who ordered that Berry watch “Bambi” monthly. Greene stated, “At least one time per month, that Defendant is to view the Walt Disney movie Bambi, with the first viewing being on or before December 23, 2018, and at least such viewing each month thereafter during the Defendants incarceration in the Lawrence County Jail.”
Among the laws the group of men broke were hunting out of season and using illegal weapons; they used lights so that deer would be blinded by them at night and make easier targets. They also traveled in their cars and shot the deer from the road, which violated state laws. Authorities stated that the group would intermittently behead the deer, leaving the carcasses to rot in fields across Lawrence County.
Missouri Department of Conservation Protection Division Chief Randy Doman told NBC News, “This was not hunting; this was poaching. We’re talking in the hundreds of illegally killed deer over at least three years.” He added, “They were so addicted to the kill, that they had showed such total disregard for the rules of chase. They were stealing from the wildlife resources of the citizens of the state of Missouri, and this is the judge’s way of putting some perspective.”
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, laws for hunting include these warnings: “You may take only two antlered deer during the archery and firearms deer hunting seasons combined. Archery hunters may take only one antlered deer before the November portion of firearms deer hunting season. Only one antlered deer may be taken during firearms deer hunting season (all portions combined).” The department adds, “If you kill or injure a deer, you must make a reasonable effort to retrieve and include the animal in your season limit. However, this does not authorize trespass. It is illegal to leave or abandon commonly edible portions of game.”
The Department also states, “Motor driven transportation may not be used to take, drive or molest wildlife … Artificial lights may be used to hunt: bullfrogs, green frogs, raccoons and other furbearing animals when treed with the aid of dogs … Artificial lights may not be used to search for, spot, illuminate, harass, or disturb other wildlife than the above … You may not take any wildlife from or across a public roadway with a firearm, bow or crossbow … It is illegal to intentionally leave or abandon any portion of any wildlife that is commonly used as human food.”
Berry and his father, David Berry Sr., had their hunting, fishing and trapping privileges permanently removed; Berry Jr.’s two brothers and another man in the group lost their privileges from between five to 18 years. $51,000 in combined fines was assessed.