TN: Tennessee elk poacher pays $10,000 fine, loses firearms and hunting privileges

Tennessee elk poacher pays $10,000 fine, loses firearms and hunting privileges (nbcmontana.com)

4/10/2024

A man from Jacksboro, Tennessee charged with illegally killing two elk on North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area (NCWMA) last November, pleaded guilty to charges in court last week.

Evidence collected by wildlife investigators that led to Preston William Douglas pleading guilty to poaching two elk on a Tennessee wildlife management area. (TWRA Photo)

In a plea agreement, 34-year-old Preston William Douglas was found guilty on two counts of illegally taking big game. Douglas had his hunting license revoked for five years, is banned from NCWMA for three years, and was put on supervised probation for three years. He forfeited a rifle and a handgun and was ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution, plus fines and court costs.

It was early November 19, 2023 when TWRA Wildlife Manager Darrell England was contacted by an informant who reported that he had heard multiple shots while deer hunting on NCWMA. The informant went to investigate and spoke with another hunter who said he had shot two “deer,” one being a doe and the other a six point buck. The limit for deer on NCWMA at the time was one per person.

Using vehicle tag information, England identified Douglas. He and Wildlife Sgt. Dustin Burke visited him at his home the following day where he admitted to firing shots, but claimed he didn’t kill anything. The officers returned to NCWMA and searched the area where Douglas had been parked but were unable to locate any evidence. England then spoke with the informant again and decided to revisit the scene with Burke where they discovered the decomposing carcasses of a bull and a cow elk, both with bullet wounds to the bodies and heads.

In addition to a $10,000 fine and loss of hunting privileges for three years, Douglas forfeited a .40 caliber handgun and a 6.5 Creedmoor rifle. (TWRA Photo)

Both carcasses were removed from the woods and were taken to UT College of Veterinary Medicine for a necropsy. Further investigation over the following days produced shell casings from a .40 caliber handgun and a 6.5 Creedmoor rifle, as well as a bullet inside a gut pile. The officers also located one unspent rifle cartridge from a 6.5 Creedmoor.

The officers met with Douglas again who gave a full confession of hunting, killing, and not retrieving both animals. He was charged with two violations each of hunting and killing big game in closed season, illegally taking big game, tagging violations, and failure to retrieve big game. The officers also seized a 6.5 Creedmoor rifle and a .40 caliber handgun.

Since the reintroduction of elk into Tennessee in the year 2000, TWRA is aware of 14 cases where elk have been poached. To date, eight of those cases have been solved. Elk hunting in Tennessee is only legal for a limited number of participants through the annual quota hunt system. Anyone with information about poaching in Tennessee is encouraged to call the poaching hotline at 1-800-831-1174.

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