Las Vegas, NV: Three men were convicted of several wildlife crimes after harassing a mule deer buck with a drone in an effort to drive it off of private lands where one of the men then illegally killed the animal.
Based on a tip from the public, an investigation by game wardens with the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) determined that Bailey Thompson, a 23-year-old Las Vegas resident, along with two other men, 51-year-old James Ebert and his 22-year-old son Justin Ebert, both from Caliente, spotted a trophy sized buck on private property in Hunt Unit 242. Knowing they couldn’t legally shoot the animal on private property; the three men used a drone to harass the mule deer off private property. Once on public land, Thompson illegally shot and killed the animal. While Thompson did possess a mule deer buck tag, it was for Unit 221-222 and not the unit where the buck was killed.
Ultimately, the evidence obtained through multiple search warrants led to the conviction of all three individuals. Thompson was convicted of three gross misdemeanors: unlawful killing of a big game animal, unlawful possession of a big game animal, and conspiracy. The Eberts were both convicted on two gross misdemeanors each: unlawful possession of a big game animal and conspiracy.
“I’m not quite sure what these men were thinking,” said Game Warden Captain Jake Kreamer. “They went to the trouble of illegally using a drone to chase this animal off private land only to shoot it in the wrong unit. All their efforts only compounded their trouble.”
All three individuals will split a $15,000 civil penalty for their convictions. Additionally, all three will have their hunting, fishing and trapping privileges suspended for five years. They will also forfeit any bonus points they have accrued for big game in Nevada.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” said Kreamer. “These men saw a buck they wanted and decided the rules didn’t pertain to them. They knew they were in the wrong unit. They knew using the drone to push the animal was illegal. They just thought they wouldn’t get caught and now they’re stuck with some pretty steep fines and penalties.”
With the suspension, all three men will be entered into the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact. The Compact has reciprocal participation in over 45 states that will honor Nevada’s five-year suspension in their own respective states.
To report wildlife crime, sportsmen and members of the public can call the OGT hotline at (800) 992-3030 or use the new NDOW Tip app. The NDOW Tip app provides citizens the ability to submit anonymous tips, photos or video to the Nevada Department of Wildlife via text messaging. NDOW Tip is available for download for free via the Google Play Store, iTunes App Store, or by visiting the agency’s website at www.ndow.org.