EUGENE, Ore. — An Oregon man and his son who pleaded guilty to poaching will spend the next four deer seasons in jail and have been stripped of their hunting privileges for life.
Investigators said the family hunted illegally for generations and all but wiped out the deer population in part of a wildlife area.
Under a plea deal, they’ll report to prison on Oct. 1 — the first day of deer season — for 90-day terms each of the next four years.
Shane Donoho, 37, admitted killing more than 300 deer in the past five years, prosecutor Jay Hall said. In most cases, Oregon hunters are limited to one deer per season.
He and his 60-year-old father, Rory, obtained other people’s tags so they could appear legitimate if a game official caught them with a poached animal, Hall said. They pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges of racketeering, identity theft and poaching, the Eugene Register-Guard reported. The charges could have gotten them more than three years in prison.
The Donohos also forfeited 19 rifles and 1,600 pounds of frozen game. The meat will be given to zoos and wildlife rehabilitation centers.
“Shane Donoho said the poaching goes back as far as he can remember, that he was taught by his father, Rory, who was taught by (Shane’s) grandfather,” Hall said in court.
Shane Donoho’s attorney, John Haapala, said the Donohos didn’t try to sell the meat but rather intended to eat it or share it with friends.
Wildlife officers had long been “perplexed and disgusted” by the lack of deer in two drainage basins of the McKenzie Wildlife Management District near Vida, said State Police wildlife trooper Marc Boyd. In nearby, similar areas, he said, wildlife surveys would turn up “several hundred deer a night.”
Hall said the poachers were tripped up when an associate, Miguel Kennedy, used the identity of a former girlfriend to get tags.
Her puzzled response to a routine research request touched off an investigation, he said. Kennedy was sentenced in June to eight months in prison after pleading guilty to multiple charges. Six others face misdemeanor charges in the case.
When police served a search warrant at Rory Donoho’s home, a grandchild in footed pajamas offered to show officers how to hunt a deer, Hall said.
“He said, ‘You’ve got to hold your spotlight in your left hand and kind of rest your rifle on top of it,’” Hall recounted. The prosecutor said he asked the boy why he needed a spotlight to hunt deer, and the child replied: “Because it’s dark outside, and they’ll stop and look at you.”
Hunting after dark is illegal.