BRIDGTON, Maine - A two year investigation culminated in Maine Game Wardens serving search warrants simultaneously at 10 locations in western Maine and in New Hampshire this evening, arresting four people, and charging 15 people with numerous wildlife crimes.
The operation was aimed at breaking a ring of poachers who were killing multiple deer, bear, and other wildlife at night, out of season, on posted land, on roadways, out of cars, and by driving deer in large, organized groups.
"'If it's brown, it's down' was one of their favorite sayings when it came to poaching deer," said Major Thomas Santaguida, who helped direct the operation from Bridgton Police Headquarters on Monday night.
Arrested were Lawrence Perry, 55 of Fryeburg on a charge of night hunting, a Class D crime; Ernest Perreault, Jr. 44 of Brownfield, for exceeding the bag limit on deer; Randy Burnell, 42 of Brownfield, for exceeding the bag limit on deer; and Stephen Bennett, 34, of Lovell for possession of a firearm by a felon.
Lawrence Perry, Ernest Perreault and Randy Burnell will all face additional charges for various wildlife crimes including additional charges of night hunting, hunting deer after having killed one, false registration of a deer, illegally hunting bear, criminal trespass, false registration of deer and bear.
"It was clear that this group felt that the state's fish and wildlife laws did not apply to them, and they killed whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted," said Santaguida. "Yet, they felt they were smart enough not to get caught because they didn't poach deer in certain areas at certain times."
One of the men charged had stated that he had shot and killed six deer even before the season had started. At times, this group would conduct deer drives with over a dozen people, using two-way radios to alert other hunters that deer were running towards them. Another stated how he would shoot deer in his backyard at night through his window. The group would transport dead deer in car trunks, in boxes, or under brush and leaves to avoid detection.
50 Game Wardens were part of a group of 86 officers that participated in the operation that included officers from New Hampshire Fish and Game, US Fish and Wildlife Agents, State Police troopers, the State Police Tactical Team and the Oxford County Sheriff's Office. This was one of the largest operations in the history of the Maine Warden Service.
Firearms, deer meat, bear meat, deer antlers, and bear parts were seized during the searches.
The following people have been or will be charged in the operation, and more charges could follow pending further investigation:
Ernest A. Perreault Jr., 44 of Brownfield
Arrested on 1 Count Of Exceeding The Bag Limit On DeerRandy S. Burnell 42, of Brownfield, ME
Arrested on One Count Of Exceeding the Bag Limit On Deer.Lawrence Perry, 55 of Fryeburg
Arrested on one charge of night hunting, a Class D crime;Stephen Bennett, of Lovell, ME
Arrested For Possession Of A Firearm By A Felon, A Class C Crime.Diane Huntress, 35 of Brownfield
Two Counts Of Driving DeerJohn Guptill, 19 of Fryeburg, Maine
1 Count Of False Registration Of A DeerJohn Hart, 44 of Conway, NH
1 Count Of A Closed Season ViolationKeith A. Burnell Jr., 37 of Brownfield, ME
1 Count Of False Registration Of A DeerRalph Burnell, 48, of Brownfield, ME
3 Counts Of Hunting Deer After Having Killed Or Registered A DeerRichard Eastman, 50, of Center Lovell, ME
2 Counts Of Hunting Deer After Having Killed Or Registered A DeerRobert Johnson, of Lovell, ME
1 Count Of Hunting From Or Having A Loaded Firearm In Or On A Motor VehicleTerri Fowler, 48 of Fryeburg, ME
2 Counts Of Hunting From Or Having A Loaded Firearm In Or On A Motor VehicleTimothy Perreault, 23 of Brownfield, Maine 04010
4 Counts Of Driving DeerThomas R. Guptill, 44 of Denmark, Me. 04022
2 Counts Of Driving DeerWesley P. Burnell, 38, Brownfield, Maine 04010
5 Counts Of Driving Deer
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