Tip Leads to Thetford Moose Poaching Arrests

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Vermonters care about protecting their wildlife resources and are increasingly willing to provide information on alleged poaching violations, according to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. A recent moose incident in Thetford is a good example.

An anonymous phone call to a state police radio dispatcher in early May was all Vermont game wardens needed to begin an investigation. A moose had allegedly been shot in Thetford. As a result of investigations by the Thetford Police Department, two witnesses to the alleged poaching incident provided information on how the moose had been shot, butchered and eaten. They also knew where the remains of the moose were buried.

Acting on the information provided by the witnesses, Vermont State Game Warden Evan Eastman found the remains of the moose about 1,000 feet south of a residence where Matthew S. Manning and Michael J. Sheldon were living. It appeared the remains had been buried and later dug up by animals.

Warden Eastman obtained a search warrant for the Manning and Sheldon residence, which was jointly executed by Vermont game wardens, Thetford police officers and probation officers.

A search of the home revealed suspected moose hair and blood from a freezer and knives, and a 50-caliber muzzleloading rifle, which allegedly was used to shoot the moose. The suspected kill site of the moose was located north of the house. Suspected moose hair samples were found between the kill site and the moose remains, indicating the moose had been dragged across the front yard of the house. Suspected moose hair also was found in a motor vehicle, which had allegedly been used to transport parts of the moose.

Manning and Sheldon were cited into Orange County District Court on charges of taking and possessing a moose in closed season.

In a subsequent search of the residence, fourteen temporary New Hampshire motor vehicle registration plates and other items were seized that were allegedly stolen in a burglary at an Enfield, New Hampshire business.

Matthew Manning was arrested by Thetford police for violation of probation and jailed without bail.

“We appreciate that Vermonters are getting better about reporting poaching violations,” said Vermont Chief Game Warden, Lt. Colonel Robert Rooks. “We prefer to have as much detailed information as possible, so we urge them to call a game warden through the nearest state police radio dispatcher. If they prefer, however, they can get the information to us anonymously by calling 1-800-ALERT or 1-800-752-5378.”