California game wardens used DNA evidence to prove man illegally killed eight deer

California game wardens used DNA evidence to prove man illegally killed eight deer

In California, it’s almost always illegal to kill female deer. But that didn’t stop a Marysville man from shooting seven does and then allegedly lying to a game warden about the body count, wildlife officials said.

Last October, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife got a call to its poaching tip hotline from someone who saw a group of people cutting up a large number of deer carcasses at a Yuba County property.

During California’s short deer hunting seasons, a hunter in California is only allowed permits to kill up to two deer, and with rare exceptions, the hunter can only shoot bucks.

The next day, a game warden arrived at the property to check out the tip. Capt. Patrick Foy of the Department of Fish and Wildlife said the story from Christopher Glenn Parks, 41, didn’t add up.

Parks claimed that a local orchard owner had given him permission to shoot deer on a farm, under the authority of what’s known as a “depredation permit” from the state that allows a landowner to kill animals damaging property, said Andrew Naylor, a Yuba County deputy district attorney.

But none of the deer had been killed under a depredation permit, Naylor said.

Parks told the warden that he had shot a buck and three does, but there appeared to be more meat on the site than what would come from four deer, Foy said.

The warden took the meat to the Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Sacramento, where the lab technicians began a tedious DNA analysis of each package of meat. In the end, the lab determined that the meat came from eight separate deer, seven of them does, Foy said.

Naylor said that Parks had wasted meat from some of the carcasses. He carved off the “good cuts,” Naylor said. “The rest were just dumped.”

Foy said Parks ultimately admitted to killing all eight deer.

After being charged this spring with eight misdemeanor counts, Parks, 41, pleaded no contest earlier this month to a single misdemeanor count of poaching wildlife “for profit or personal gain,” according to Yuba County Superior Court online records.

Parks couldn’t be reached for comment, and the Yuba County Public Defender, which represented him in the case, didn’t return a message Tuesday.

Under his plea agreement, Parks agreed to pay a $10,000 fine, he forfeited his rifle to the court, and he was placed on one-year probation, the maximum the law allows. He’s banned from hunting for the duration of his probation, Foy said.

This article by Ryan Sabalow was first published by The Sacramento Bee on 14 July 2021. Lead Image: A doe and fawn browse for greenery at Lopez Lake in 2016. A Marysville man was accused of shooting seven does and then lying to a game warden about the body count, wildlife officials said – David Middlecamp.

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