Cops Fined for Baiting, Poaching Trophy Deer in Sierra Foothills

Two Amador County officers posted numerous rare trophy kills online prompting the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to investigate. Marissa Perlman reports. (4-8-21)

Video Transcript

- Two northern California law enforcement officers have been busted for trophy hunting. It came after they posted pictures of their rare kills online. Reporter Marissa Perlman is in Sacramento with the months long investigation.

MARISSA PERLMAN: Two law enforcement officers showing off their trophies from just a few years of bow hunting in the Amador County Foothills. Chris Stone is an investigator for the Boulder County District attorney. And Joe Frater is a corrections officer at a local prison.

- A single one of those bucks that were portrayed on their social media sites is the kind of buck that a person might get once in a lifetime.

MARISSA PERLMAN: Captain Patrick Foy with the Department of Fish and Wildlife says the pair posted almost two dozen of these rare kills over several years. Investigators suspected they were cheating, luring deer in using bait seen here were this evidence photo from the affidavit. It's a practice that's illegal in California turning this from hunting for sport to poaching.

- These big piles were being replenished. They were being replenished regularly and they were replenished with the kinds of materials that you would expect to help the handlers grow really big.

MARISSA PERLMAN: The state launched an investigation something the defense attorneys for this case say looked like a scene from a movie. Using a surveillance plane to trail the men from overhead. Setting in motion detectors and putting tracking devices on cars. At one point, executing a search warrant where a dozen officers with firearms drawn were seen outside one of the defendants property.

- If we think we can catch a poacher, we'll use those resources that we have available to us.

MARISSA PERLMAN: But Joe Frater's defense attorney, Candice Fields says those tactics went too far.

CANDICE FIELDS: It's very important that hunters follow the law in California. And in this case, we have a pair of hunters that were and are highly respected. In this case, the state decided to investigate them, like they would investigate a major drug conspiracy.

- Both men are now facing misdemeanor violations, fines, and had their hunting licenses taken away for a year.