Tip led to conviction of men illegally transporting deer into Adams County

Published 3:17 pm Friday, January 26, 2024

NATCHEZ — Reports from the general public and failed inspections led to two Louisiana men being convicted of conspiracy to illegally transport live deer in Adams County. Col. Jerry Carter, Chief of Law Enforcement for the  Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, said the case began with a tip from the general public like most cases do.

He said in Mississippi’s administrative rules governing deer enclosures the facilities have to be inspected by the MDWFP. Inspection by officers discovered an illegal breeding enclosure on the property after officers got a tip that deer were being transported for breeding from Louisiana into Mississippi in violation of state and federal laws which are a violation of the Lacey Act. 

Carter said they worked with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to bring charges forward.The two men Brandon Scott Favre, 49, of Baton Rouge pleaded guilty to the charges on Nov. 8, 2023, and Jason Martin, 50, of Hackberry pled guilty to the charges on Jan. 19.

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Favre was sentenced to a 4-year term of supervised probation and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine. The final fine was half of the maximum penalty of $10,000. Favre will have to implement a four-year Chronic Wasting Disease sampling and testing plan on an 850-acre enclosure and will have to pay $59,808.19 in restitution for the costs conducted by the MDWFP according to the United States Attorney’s Office. Under the plan, 40 white tailed deer will have to be harvested each of the four years by MDWFP. 

MDWFP Wildlife Chief of Staff Russ Walsh said some deer have already been tested for CWD from the facility. At this time, the CWD Dashboard does not show any new positive detections in Adams County. The potential spread of CWD remains a concern with any illegal transportation of deer.

“Anytime there is movement of live white-tailed deer there is a risk of moving Chronic Wasting Disease into new areas,” Walsh said. “There are other disease risks as well but with deer the increase risk of CWD spreading to new areas is always a concern.”

Martin is scheduled to be sentenced on April 3 and faces a maximum penalty of one year imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. 

Court documents show from October 2020 to June 2021 that Favre and Martin entered an agreement to transport and receive a white-tailed deer from Louisiana into Mississippi. In April 2021, Martin transported the deer as agreed upon and delivered the deer to Mistletoe Properties, which according to OnX mapping, borders the Natchez-Adams County Airport. 

Mistletoe Properties has a 850 acre high fence enclosure permitted for white-tailed deer that is operated by Favre. The deer were then put into a non-permitted breeding pen located on the property. Deer were transported from Louisiana without documentation and into Mississippi which violated state and federal law. 

Carter said he does not have a count of how many deer were illegally transported in but it would have had to be more than one.

“It shows the efforts of my officers from the investigators to uniform officers for how this case came into existence,” Carter said. “We are grateful for the general public who give information. We are very happy with the case and the investigation.” 

At this time, MDWFP does not have any active investigations of deer enclosure violations. Carter said they work to make sure the permitted enclosures are in compliance with state regulations. 

“The transportation of any deer into our state is illegal and not meeting those criteria can result in convictions and charges,” Carter said. “We will work to investigate violations against the resources of our state. We ask our sportsmen and residents to report any violations or illegal activity by calling 1-800-BE-SMART.” 

Carter told the MDWFP commission at a commission meeting Thursday that the agency had made 53 spotlighting cases in December. Since October, the law enforcement bureau has opened 90 spotlighting cases. He said the general public have been a huge help with reporting spotlighting cases this year.