January 25, 2024

Louisiana men plead guilty to illegal transport of deer to Mississippi

Therese Apel

Two deer in a field (Photo by Steve Gulledge)

Two Louisiana men pled guilty to conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, announced U.S. Attorney Todd W. Gee, Acting Special Agent in Charge Stephanie Johnson of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Colonel Jerry Carter of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.

Brandon Scott Favre, 49, of Baton Rouge, pled guilty on November 8, 2023; and Jason Martin, 50, of Hackberry, pled guilty on January 19, 2024.  Both defendants pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of conspiring to transport a live white-tailed deer from the state of Louisiana to the state of Mississippi in violation of state and federal laws.

According to court documents and statements made in open court, from October 2020, through June 2021, Favre and Martin entered into an agreement to transport and receive from Louisiana into Mississippi a live white-tailed deer.  In April 2021, Martin transported the deer as agreed upon and delivered to Mistletoe Properties, a permitted 850-acre high-fence enclosure for white-tailed deer operated by Favre, located in Adams County.  Once delivered, the deer was put into an unpermitted breeding pen located on the property.  The deer was transported from Louisiana without documentation, in violation of Louisiana law, and transported into Mississippi, in violation of Mississippi law, and all in violation of federal law.

Favre was sentenced to a 4-year term of supervised probation and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine. He was also ordered to implement a four-year Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) sampling and testing plan on an 850-acre enclosure and ordered to pay $59,808.19 in restitution for the costs of the CWD sampling and testing plan that will be conducted by MDWFP.  As part of this plan, 40 white-tailed deer will be harvested each of the four years by the MDWFP for CWD testing.

Martin is scheduled to be sentenced on April 3 and faces a maximum penalty of 1 year imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. A federal magistrate judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Federal law makes it unlawful to transport live white-tailed deer from one state to another without proper documentation and without required animal health records. These records include certifying that captive-bred animals are free from diseases such as chronic wasting disease.  The Mississippi Board of Animal Health has declared that white-tailed deer are considered chronic wasting disease susceptible animals and are not allowed entry into Mississippi.

The State of Louisiana requires any person who keeps, breeds, raises, contains, harvests, buys, sells, trades, or transfers ownership of any type of farm-raised alternative livestock for commercial purposes shall obtain a farm-raising license prior to engaging in such activity.  Additionally, the State of Louisiana requires any person with a farm-raising license to maintain records, for not less than 60 months, of all sales, trades, or transfers of any farm-raised alternative livestock.

White-tailed deer are considered farm-raised alternative livestock.  Chronic wasting disease is the chief threat to wild deer and elk populations in North America. The disease, which ultimately ends in the death of infected animals, is a transmissible neurological disease that produces small lesions in the brain of deer and elk and is characterized by loss of body condition and behavioral abnormalities.

“This prosecution is an excellent example of what we can accomplish through the collaboration that occurs every day between the USFWS and our enforcement partners,” said USFWS Acting SAC Stephanie Johnson. “The MDWFP and USFWS share a vested interest in combating the spread of diseases which threaten our native wildlife populations and are potentially spread through the interstate transport of deer in violation of state and federal laws.”

“The MDWFP takes the interstate transport and unlawful importation of White-tailed deer into the State of Mississippi seriously,” MDWFP Colonel Jerry Carter said. “We will continue to work collaborative criminal investigations with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service & the U.S. Attorney’s Office to detect and prosecute those who choose to violate the laws of this state.”

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks – Investigations Unit, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Office of Law Enforcement investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bert Carraway is prosecuting the case.

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