The act of shooting four does, leaving the bodies where they lay, is bizarre, disrespectful and doesn’t make sense, state hunting and game officials said.

“It is just not anything that a civil society would accept as OK,” David Trahan, the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, said Tuesday.

“We absolutely condemn the illegal killing of these deer,” he said. “It cuts right to my core.”

One deer, pregnant with twins, was found dead, shot in the spine, last Wednesday near the intersection of East and Bragdon roads in Chesterville. Since then a doe was shot on Route 106 in Leeds, another on Route 133 near Dodge Road in Livermore Falls, and a third on River Road in Livermore.

Killing game animals and leaving them where they lay instead of harvesting them for the meat is unusual, state hunting and game officials said.

Some cases of illegal hunting may be driven by desperation for the meat, but to kill deer and then leave them where they fall is “blatantly disrespectful,” Trahan said.

“Random killing like this is so bizarre, it’s wrong on every scale,” he said.

The four deer killed over the past week is “significant” compared to other similar cases because of the number of animals killed, said Cpl. John MacDonald of the Maine Warden Service. A press release from the warden service Tuesday said the deer “left to waste in open fields” could have produced another five fawns.

The most notorious illegal game killing in Maine in which the animals were left was when nine moose were killed in Soldiertown, a township near Moosehead Lake, in 1999. No one was ever convicted of those shootings.

The Maine Warden Service believes the past week’s killings are connected — they’re all in the same area, a line that runs just south of Farmington toward Lewiston — and also believes they happened at night.

The the reward has been raised for information that will lead to a conviction from the $1,000 offered when the first deer was found to $2,500. The reward money is through Operation Game Thief.

Under state law, anyone who hunts deer during closed season or at night faces a class D misdemeanor charge, which can carry a sentence of at least three days in jail and a fine of at least $1,000. Deer hunting season is in the fall, generally from late October to the end of November.

Both MacDonald and Trahan expect someone to come forward with information that will lead to who shot the deer.

Trahan said that revulsion over such killings often leads people to report the culprits to the authorities.

MacDonald said the warden service usually tracks down poachers through tips, and he’s confident the same will be true in this case.

Primarily, illegal hunting poses a safety threat to other humans. People who engage in night hunting are acting with a “high level of disregard” for the safety of others, MacDonald said. During hunting season, the stop time for hunters is half an hour after sundown.

Illegal killings can also compromise the deer population, MacDonald said. Even though poachers might think they are only killing one adult, each doe may be carrying up to three fawns, and that can have a negative impact on fragile local deer numbers.

Trahan, whose organization is the biggest representing hunters in the state, said, “The wanton killing is completely contrary to wildlife management.”

Trahan added that the person or people who shot the deer “are preying on a population that is already weakened from one of the coldest and snowiest winters in recent memory.”

Officials consider the fact the deer were shot at night especially strange.

Night hunting isn’t uncommon, but it usually takes place during hunting season, said MacDonald. Shooting deer in the spring, when they are thin from the winter and when does may be pregnant, is unusual, he said.

“Even people who like to hunt deer at night, most of them are aware April is not the time to do it,” he said. “There is just no good reason why someone would be hunting deer now.”

A complaint brought wardens to the first deer, and investigators found the three additional deer through a combination of calls, social media and searching likely hunting spots, MacDonald said. Investigators think the deaths are related, but don’t know if more than one person is involved.

Operation Game Thief, which the reward is being offered through, is a non-profit organization that provides rewards for information that leads to a conviction in illegal hunting and fishing cases.

According to its website, more than 8,000 calls about poaching have been made to the service, leading to 2,500 convictions since the service was established in 1989. The service is modeled on a program in New Mexico, and similar initiatives operate in other states.

Operation Game Thief relies on donations and has disbursed more than $70,000 in reward money since it started, according to its website, which also lists 59 case files of poaching and illegal fishing brought to wardens’ attention through the service.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire


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