July 26, 2023

Mississippi Men Sentenced for Hunting Violations

Therese Apel

Mississippi’s deer population is estimated at 1.75 million, with hunters harvesting approximately 280,000 annually, according to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks. Currently, two chronic wasting disease management zones impact 14 of Mississippi’s 82 counties. (Photo by Paul T. Brown)

Two North Mississippi men were sentenced Tuesday to one-year of probation and ordered to pay a total of $30,000 in fines and restitution for illegally killing a white-tailed deer in Tennessee and transporting the deer across state lines to Mississippi.

According to court documents, Christopher Lee Jones, 42, of Hernando, and Heath Thomas Harris, 42, of Senatobia, each plead guilty to one count of violating the Lacey Act for killing a white-tailed deer in violation of state law and transporting it across state lines.

In December 2019, Jones and Harris killed a white-tailed deer on property located west of Tchulahoma Road and north of Jackson Pit Road in Memphis, Tennessee, violating various Tennessee laws in the process, including hunting in Tennessee without a license. After killing the deer illegally in Tennessee, Jones and Harris transported the deer into Mississippi, in violation of the Lacey Act.

Each defendant was ordered to pay a fine in the amount of $1,000, restitution to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency in the amount of $9,185 and fines payable to the Lacey Act Rewards Account in the amount of $4,875, as well as forfeit the antlers to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Additionally, each defendant was placed on probation for a period of one year, during which time they will be prohibited from hunting anywhere in the world as a condition of their probation.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement Special Agent in Charge Stephen Clark stated, “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement is committed to conducting criminal investigations with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats. The Office of Law Enforcement takes violations of the Lacey Act seriously. This multi-year investigation involving the two defendants responsible for the unlawful harvest and subsequent transportation in interstate commerce of a white-tailed deer from Tennessee to Mississippi is no exception. We will continue to work closely with our state partners to conduct these important joint investigations.”

This case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. The case was prosecuted by AUSA Robert Mims.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service encourages members of the public to report allegations of wildlife crimes to the Service’s Office of Law Enforcement via the Wildlife Crime Tips page at https://www.fws.gov/wildlife-crime-tips or via phone at 1-844-FWS-TIPS (1-844-397-8477).

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