After a more than two-year long investigation, two Pennsylvania residents who were part owners of Whitetail Fantasies, a hunting guide business, have pleaded guilty to illegal deer hunting charges in Taylor County.
Pursuant to a plea agreement, David E. Ricker, 48, of Harrisburg, Pa., pleaded guilty to one count of illegal taking of an antlered whitetail deer and one count of fraudulently obtaining a resident deer license. Pursuant to an earlier plea agreement, Jeffrey A. Mealey, 47, of Dillsburg, Pa., pleaded guilty to an illegal possession of an antlered whitetail deer.
Through a jury trial, Ollie Odle Jr., of Bedford, was found guilty of two charges of aiding and abetting of illegal taking of antlered whitetail deer, based upon providing deer licenses/tags to out of state hunters.
The defendants were ordered to forfeit the antlers and pay more than $22,600 in fines and liquidated damages. They are suspended from hunting or obtaining any licenses for one year.
The state of Iowa is a member of the Wildlife Violator Compact, which is an agreement between participating states that prohibits a person whose hunting or fishing privileges are suspended in one state from participating in those activities in 38 other states, including their home state of Pennsylvania.
Conservation Officer Andrea Bevington has been actively investigating cases of non-residents fraudulently obtaining resident licenses and illegally hunting game in Adams and Taylor counties. Changes in the residency laws were implemented in 2009 to identify a growing problem in Iowa of non-residents falsifying records to illegally obtain resident licenses.
“The state of Iowa is known for their trophy whitetail deer. This natural resource attracts people from all over the United States and other countries. Unfortunately these trophies sometimes draw individuals here who exploit the resource and break Iowa laws,” Bevington said.