OZARKS, Mo. (AP) — Members of a southwest Missouri family have been caught after a lengthy investigation into the illegal killing of hundreds of deer, in what state conservation agents called one of the largest poaching cases in state history.
David Berry Sr. of Springfield and two of his adult sons, David Berry Jr. of Brookline and Kyle Berry of Everton, were arrested in August after an 8½- month investigation by state, federal and international agencies that also involved cases in Kansas, Nebraska and Canada.
The Missouri Department of Conservation said in a news release Thursday that information gained from the investigation led to 14 Missouri residents facing more than 230 charges in 11 counties.
“The deer were trophy bucks taken illegally, mostly at night, for their heads, leaving the bodies of the deer to waste,” said Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney Don Trotter. He said investigators believe some of the heads were stuffed and mounted for sale.
David Berry Jr. was sentenced Thursday to 120 days in jail in Barton County for a felony firearms probation violation. On Dec. 6, he was given a one-year jail sentence in Lawrence County after pleading guilty to taking wildlife illegally in that county.
In 2016, David Berry Sr. and another son, Eric Berry of Everton, were convicted of taking gamefish by hand in Dade County. While awaiting his court appearance in that case, Eric Berry and another person were caught in 2017 spotlighting deer in Lawrence County. David Berry Sr. is awaiting a probation revocation hearing for the poaching violations in Lawrence County.
David Berry Sr. and David Berry Jr. have had their hunting, fishing and trapping privileges revoked for life. Eric Berry and Kyle Berry had hunting and fishing privileges revoked for 18 years and eight years, respectively. Jerimiah Cline of Republic, who took wildlife illegally and assisted the Berrys, had hunting privileges revoked for five years, the conservation department said.
The investigation into the Berrys began in late 2015 when the conservation agency received an anonymous tip about deer poaching in Lawrence County through Operation Game Thief, a toll-free enforcement hotline.