Texas Man Gets Jail Time For Illegal Sale of Guided Hunts

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A Texas man was sentenced June 21 in federal court in Wichita on felony charges of conspiracy, wildlife trafficking and obstruction of justice related to the illegal sale of guided deer hunts in southern Kansas, announced Barry Grissom, U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas, and Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

James Bobby Butler, Jr., 42, of Martinsville, Tex., was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison. Butler pleaded guilty in March 2010 to one count of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, one Lacey Act interstate trafficking count and one count of obstruction of justice. His brother, Marlin Jackson Butler, 36, also of Martinsville, pleaded guilty in March 2011 to one count of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act and one Lacey Act count. Marlin Butler is scheduled to be sentenced on June 24, 2011.

"Illegal wildlife trafficking is a threat to the natural resources of Kansas," Grissom said. "Our goal is to preserve and protect wildlife for everyone to enjoy – including hunters who abide by the law."

"Thanks to outstanding cooperation between federal and state law enforcement agents and prosecutors, we put an end to a criminal conspiracy that took valuable and limited wildlife resources through unlawful and unethical means," said Assistant Attorney General Moreno. "This prosecution sends a message to hunters and guides in Kansas and elsewhere that there will be serious consequences for those who seek to profit by violating state and federal wildlife laws, especially at the expense of those who hunt and guide lawfully."

The Lacey Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to knowingly transport or sell in interstate commerce any wildlife taken or possessed in violation of state law or regulation.

According to court documents filed in the case, James and Marlin Butler conspired together to knowingly transport and sell in interstate commerce deer that had been hunted in violation of Kansas state law. In particular, the brothers operated a guiding service and hunting camp near Coldwater, Kan., at which they sold guiding services to out-of-state hunters for the purpose of illegally hunting and killing white-tailed deer and mule deer. Hunters guided by the Butler brothers killed deer in excess of annual bag limits, hunted deer without permits or with permits for the wrong deer management unit, killed deer using illegal equipment, and hunted using prohibited methods such as spotlighting. The guided hunts were sold for between $2,500 and $5,500, and in several instances resulted in the killing of trophy-sized buck deer. In addition to selling guiding services, the brothers also arranged for transport of the deer, in particular the antlers and capes, from Kansas to Texas and Louisiana.

James Butler also pleaded guilty to instructing another person to conceal or destroy evidence during the investigation.

"This is the largest case in the history of wildlife law enforcement in Kansas," said Steve Oberholtzer, special agent in charge, Mountain-Prairie Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Trophy deer are an important resource for the state of Kansas from both wildlife and economic standpoints. Joint investigations such as this one demonstrate that the combined efforts of state and federal agencies and our federal prosecutors result in prosecutions that hold those who violate the law accountable. We are grateful to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Attorney's Office for their assistance in this case and hope that it will serve as a deterrent to others who might consider exploiting our nation's wildlife for personal gain.”

The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and jointly prosecuted by District of Kansas U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom's office and the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division, Environmental Crimes Section.


groovy mike's picture

There is way too much of this going on lately.

There is way too much of this going on lately.  I don't ever recall hearing about so many poaching cases as I have this year.  You might chalk it up to hard economic times and men just tryiong to put meat on the table.  I know groceries seem more expensive now than ever before, but besides common poaching I am now seeing multiple instances of illegal guiding.  I have never seen that before. I've heard of lousy guides over the last hundred years - sure, but not completely illegal guiding outfits.  

Congratulations to the state of Texas on this conviction.  You have to wonder about these guys that put themselves in compromising positions.  Is it really worth jail time and worse, losing your honor?  By taking on clients they are increasing the number of people involved in teh illegal activity.  Be warned poachers if ANYONE knows you are guilty and sooner or later those folks might just decide to let law enforcement know.  Especially in those states where there is a reward for turning poachers in!   You are far better off to stay way on the safe side of any legal question.  

Good job Texas!  Go get them! Outfitters like this deserve to get caught and penalized.

arrowflipper's picture

love it

I just love it when they catch and prosecute idiots who think they have the right to take animals illegally.  This is the first case I've seen where they actually guide others to do things illegally.  I wonder how they advertise to get hunters to come in and knowingly break the law.  Do they run an ad in a sportsman's magazine for spotlighting big deer?  Do they take out a booth in some sportsmen's show and show pictures of deer taken by spotlight?

I must assume that hunters going to Kansas to use their services know ahead of time that what they are going to do is illegal.  What would you do if you paid good money for a trophy hunt and when you got there, they asked if you'd like to spotlight a monster that night?  What would you do?  I don't want to be a butt, but I'll bet it would surprise you how many guys would take them up on it in order to get a monster.  I'd just like to know if the out-of-state hunters knew of the scam before they got there or were talked into it after arriving.

Now I hope that the brothers actually spend the time in jail that they are sentenced to.  Way too often, people are sentenced to time in jail and spend very little of it there.  In my opinion, we have become way too lenient in enforcing laws or penalties.  I am glad that the news is being spread of this issue and their penalty.  They need to put their pictures in every hunting magazine in America and let the world know.  Those two guys were stealing OUR resources.  They were stealing from YOU and ME.  I can't speak for you, but guys like that piss me off and they can't give them too stiff of a sentence.