Fort Walton Beach Man Cited For Importing Deer

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has charged a 62-year-old Ft. Walton Beach man with importing seven white-tailed deer into Florida without a permit. Charges stem from a two-week investigation by the FWC, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

FWC investigators today issued Douglas R. Osieczanek, of 424 Walter Circle, a notice to appear in court to answer the charge, which is a misdemeanor, and if convicted, Osieczanek could face a maximum $500 fine and 60-day jail term. One additional felony charge by DACS investigators is pending.

FWC and DACS officials also seized eight deer, confined under DACS quarantine since Dec. 4, at Osieczanek's D&D Game Farm on Highway 87 in Santa Rosa County. FWC humanely euthanized the deer as a precaution against potential spread of chronic wasting disease or other diseases and parasites from outside Florida. The deer carcasses will undergo necropsies at a DACS diagnostic lab in Live Oak where experts will examine them for a variety of diseases and parasites. This type of examination is not possible on live animals.

Col. Julie Jones, director of the FWC's Division of Law Enforcement said extraordinary cooperation between Florida and Minnesota officials demonstrates the diligence states will devote to enforcement of wildlife importation laws. Without careful regulation and strict enforcement, wildlife diseases could spread rampantly from one part of the country to another.

"All individuals who own game farms in Florida were notified earlier this year that a prohibition is in place for the importation of deer unless the shipment complies with strict permit requirements," said Capt. Leroy Alderson, the FWC's law enforcement supervisor for the Northwest Region. "Obviously, we have information that these deer were brought into Florida in violation of the law."

Earlier this year, DACS adopted a rule that bans the importation of deer unless the animals are certified disease free for five years.

Florida authorities learned from Minnesota DNR officials that Osieczanek reportedly transported seven deer into Florida from his property in Minnesota sometime around Dec. 1 or 2. One of the deer apparently died in transit. Shortly after his arrival back in Florida, according to investigators, Osieczanek placed the remaining six deer in a pen at his game farm, along with two other deer he had imported earlier, evidently with valid permits.