Kentucky DFW Charges Man for Importing Deer and Elk
A Tennessee man is lodged in the McCracken County jail facing six felony counts of illegally importing elk and deer into Kentucky after a Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources conservation officer stopped his vehicle just west of Paducah Thursday night.
Sgt. Garry Clark arrested Timothy Cory Looper, 25, of Livingston, Tennessee, after a tip from a citizen alerted him to a vehicle towing a trailer loaded with deer through Ballard County. Clark also charged Looper with two misdemeanor counts for importing antelope without transportation permits.
Clark stopped the white Chevrolet pickup and cattle trailer on U.S. 60 and discovered five illegal bull elk, one axis buck deer, and two black buck antelope along with 12 exotic sheep. State law prohibits the importation of elk and deer. The antelope, while not members of the cervid (deer) family, are wildlife native to India and require a transportation permit before entering the state. The sheep are considered livestock.
Identification tags on four of the elk indicate their origin as a captive facility in Minnesota, a state where Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been identified. CWD is a Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE), the deer equivalent of Mad Cow Disease. Overwhelming evidence suggests CWD’s rapid spread to 14 states is due to interstate transportation of infected animals.
Absent the availability of a live animal test for CWD, the 2006 Kentucky General Assembly enacted an importation ban for all cervids to protect Kentucky's elk and white-tailed deer herds.
Looper told officers that he picked up the animals at Hostetler Wildlife Farms in Miller, Missouri, and was transporting them to Wilderness Hunting Lodge in Monterey, Tennessee, a shooting preserve.
Clark was joined by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife officers Lt. Larry Ashford, Brad Lowe, and Tony Dunker, and wildlife biologists Tony Black and Pat Hahs, who assisted with impounding the vehicle, trailer and animals. The animals were immediately transported to Murray State University's Breathitt Veterinary Center in Hopkinsville where the elk and axis buck were euthanized. They will be disease tested.
"This is a prime example of why the legislature enacted an importation ban for all cervids," said Dr. Karen Alexy, wildlife division director for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. "These elk came from a CWD positive state and any breech of their containment by traffic accident or otherwise could place Kentucky deer and elk at risk."
Deer and elk hunting, and watching, contribute nearly $750 million annually to Kentucky's economy and support about 10,500 jobs.
Each felony count carries a maximum penalty of $10,000 in fines and up to five years in jail.
"We encourage all citizens to be alert for vehicles or trailers transporting deer or elk in Kentucky and call us at 1-800-25-ALERT," said Alexy. "It could be one of the most significant contributions anyone could make toward protecting our herds."