Spanning a 24-month period, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has announced the convictions of 25 individuals, including 20 juveniles, Muskingum County, Ohio, just east of Columbus.
The lengthy investigation kicked off during a night patrol in 2014. DNR officers were observing a vehicle spotlighting deer in a hay field, that when pursued, fled the scene, leading officers on a dangerous high-speed pursuit. After calling off the chase due to safety concerns, it was not until a year later that officers were once again, connected to the case.
In December of 2015, State Highway Patrol put a call into the Ohio DNR after they pulled over an adult and four juveniles with three dead deer in the vehicle. Investigators were able to follow up with the individuals and later confirmed that one of the juveniles had been involved in the spotlighting incident the year prior.
As the investigation unraveled, additional suspects were identified, resulting in 25 individuals being issued summonses on over 200 counts of wildlife violations.
The defendants were found guilty on 161 of those counts and ordered to pay $1,675 in fines and $3,991 in court costs, and complete a combined 440 hours of community service. Several items seized during the investigation were forfeited to the ODNR Division of Wildlife, including firearms, deer parts, and ginseng.