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Four southwest Mississippi men sentenced for violating federal wildlife laws

Jackson, Miss. – Kenneth R. Britt, Jr., 51, of Wesson, Tony Grant Smith, 26, of Wesson, Barney Leon Bairfield, III, 28, of Brookhaven, and Dustin Corey Treadway, 28, of Brookhaven, were sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge David Bramlette for violating federal wildlife laws.

Britt, Smith, and Bairfield were sentenced for conspiring in 2018 to kill in excess of the legal limit of Kansas wild turkeys while unlicensed and transporting the wild turkeys across state lines to Mississippi. In addition, Treadway was sentenced for aiding and abetting similar federal violations in 2017, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Darren LaMarca,  Assistant Director Edward Grace of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and Colonel Steve Adcock of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP).

The defendants’ unlawful activities took place in Kansas and Nebraska. In 2018, Britt, Smith and Bairfield killed over 25 wild turkeys without the required hunting licenses and over the limit of two per person per season, in violation of Kansas law.  They returned to Mississippi with trophy spurs and beards of the illegally-killed turkeys. Treadway killed wild turkeys in Kansas in 2017 without a proper license and over the limit. He also returned to Mississippi with the trophy spurs and beards. Under the federal Lacey Act, it is unlawful for any person to transport across state lines any wildlife taken in violation of state law.

Judge Bramlette sentenced Britt to 5 years of probation under the supervision of the United States Probation Service, a fine of $25,000, and a worldwide prohibition from hunting of any type for 5 years; Smith to 4 years of probation under the supervision of the United States Probation Service, a fine of $15,000, and a worldwide prohibition from hunting of any type for 4 years; Bairfield to 2 years of probation under the supervision of the United States Probation Service, a fine of $3,000, and a worldwide prohibition from hunting of any type for 2 years; and, Treadway to 2 years of probation under the supervision of the United States Probation Service, a fine of $5,000, and a worldwide prohibition from hunting of any type for 2 years. The prohibition of hunting also prohibits accompanying anyone in hunting or being present at a hunting camp during any hunting season. A violation of the hunting prohibition or any other term of probation will subject each to a term of imprisonment by Judge Bramlette.

“The Department of Justice is committed to enforcing the Lacey Act and other federal laws to protect our wildlife resources,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Darren LaMarca.   “This office will continue to work closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks to enforce the Lacey Act.  It is my hope that this prosecution sends a strong message that the wanton, indiscriminate killing of the American Wild Turkey, or any animal for that matter, will be met with debilitating and just consequences.”

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement Assistant Director Ed Grace stated, “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement is committed to conduct criminal investigations with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks in an effort to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats.  The Office of Law Enforcement takes violations of the Lacey Act seriously.  The yearlong investigation involving the four defendants responsible for the unlawful harvest and subsequent transportation in interstate commerce of 26 wild turkeys from Kansas and Nebraska is no exception.  We will continue to work closely with our state partners to conduct these important joint investigations.”

MDWFP Colonel Steve Adcock stated, “The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, will continue to work diligently, to find and prosecute those persons who steal from our valuable natural resources.  The primary mission of the MDWFP Law Enforcement Bureau is to detect and hold accountable those persons who jeopardize our rich hunting heritage by committing lawless acts such as these.”

This case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. It is being prosecuted by Acting United States Attorney Darren J. LaMarca.

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