Three men have pleaded guilty to federal charges of illegally hunting whitetail deer on a part of Fort Riley where explosives are discharged during training exercises.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Gregory J. Frikken, James C. Nunley and Michael J. Smith admitted they trespassed on federal property and illegally harvested trophy whitetail deer from that property, all in violation of the Lacey Act.
“These hunters entered an area of Fort Riley which is off limits and not open for hunting”, said U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister. “They entered a prohibited area of the Army base, knowing the area was off limits, for the sole purpose of illegally taking large deer as trophies. Their behavior was not only unlawful and selfish, it was potentially dangerous to themselves and thus also foolish. Trespassing on a federal military base is a serious error of judgment, and unlawfully killing trophy deer undermines hunting and hunters who abide by the rules.”
An investigator’s affidavit alleged the hunters violated the federal Lacey Act while hunting on the grounds of the Army base over the past several years. They disregarded the fact the area was off limits to hunters, entering before daylight and leaving after dark through a washout where a creek went under a perimeter fence.
Recovered during the course of the investigation was evidence including deer mounts, antlers, phone data and equipment allegedly used to harvest eight whitetail deer, three of which are considered trophy class.
Investigating agencies included the Directorate of Emergency Services at Fort Riley, the Fort Riley Game Warden, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, New York State Environmental Conservation Office-Office of Law Enforcement and U.S. Fish and Wildlife.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth G. Gale sentenced the three hunters to pay approximately $11,000 in restitution to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and $10,000 in fines to the Lacey Act fund. Additionally, the hunters will have no hunting privileges for three years and agree to forfeit all property seized as part of the investigation.