Penned-deer killing results in court date; NCWRC says no CWD found in euthanized animals
September raid by Wildlife Resources Commission officers continues to produce controversy.
White-tailed deer held in captivity are at the center of a controversy involving the N.C. Wildlife Commission.
Pen owner Wayne Lindley has vowed to pursue legal action against the Commission for the raid, claiming violation of his Constitutional rights.
CWD is a contagious and devastating disease of cervids — white-tailed deer, caribou, moose and elk. North Carolina contains native white-tailed deer and elk that were released several years ago in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Other cervids, such as fallow deer, also are held in licensed holding pens across the state.
CWD wasn’t detected in samples taken from seven fallow and two whitetails killed during September inside deer pens owned by Asheboro’s Wayne Lindley. The WRC also later killed two white-tailed fawns held in captivity in a Surry County deer pen.
None of the cervids had proper permits from the WRC, and wildlife officials couldn’t be certain where the animals had originated, including the possibility they’d been brought to North Carolina from a CWD state.
Brain tissue from the Randolph County deer later was analyzed by National Veterinary Services Laboratories of Ames, Iowa – a section of the U.S. Department of Agriculture – and declared CWD-free.
WRC officials obtained a warrant to come on the Kindleys’ property and search for deer because they suspected he hadn’t obtained the proper paperwork to keep the animals inside his 2-acre holding pen. Since the discovery of CWD in Colorado about 10 years ago, the WRC has tried to keep the disease at bay by requiring anyone with penned deer to submit to routine examination of their cervids and pens.
Deer owners also must obtain WRC paperwork that gives them legal permission to hold such animals. Owners of cervid pens also are required to notify the WRC and N.C. Department of Agriculture whenever one of their animals dies so CWD tests can be performed on body tissues.
Since 2003 the WRC has required owners of cervids kept in holding pens to follow these rules, and Kindley – who said he’d been a wildlife “rehabilitator” for years – admitted he’d once obtained proper permits but didn’t have paperwork to keep fallow deer, saying he didn’t think he needed authorization to have them.
“Mr. Kindley’s facility was not licensed as a captive cervid facility nor a rehabilitation facility, thus there were no deer there that were being lawfully rehabilitated,” said Geoff Cantrell, the WRC Enforcement Division’s public information officer. “Firearms are an accepted use for the euthanasia of wildlife, and personnel on the site had been trained in the function of firearms by a licensed veterinarian.”
Cantrell admitted CWD hasn’t been discovered in fallow deer in North America, as far as he knew.
“But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be in fallow deer,” he said. “There was a time when (biologists) thought moose weren’t susceptible to CWD, but they’ve just discovered a moose with CWD.
“And the regulation says anyone with a cervid must get the proper permits, and fallow deer certainly are cervids.”
Lindley, nonetheless, is proceeding with plans to sue the WRC for his loss of property and invasion of his land, claiming a Fourth Amendment violation.
An Oct. 25 hearing has been set for Randolph County district court to address the WRC charges against Kindley.
Matthew Altamura, attorney for the Kindley, told the Associated Press that the WRC search warrant didn’t authorize the killing of the deer and didn’t mention chronic wasting disease. He said the warrant limited the officers to seizing and taking possession of the animals until further order of the court.
“It’s a violation of due process that they were able to destroy the animals without having an order of the court,” Altamura said. “The (N.C. Wildlife Resources) Commission has created a situation of shoot first, make excuses later.”
A former WRC biologist who has participated in several instances of taking deer from unlicensed facilities said “taking possession” of cervids spelled out in the warrant includes using deadly force, so that charge likely will not stick.
In addition, the biologist said, CWD does not have to be mentioned in a warrant that accuses someone of illegally possessing wild animals.
Dr. David Cobb, head of the WRC’s Division of Wildlife Management, didn’t return phone calls regarding this incident; neither did WRC Executive Director Gordon Myers.
Myers reportedly told the Associated Press he only will respond to e-mails and not phone calls.
Todd Kennedy, District 5 enforcement captain, wouldn’t answer questions about the incident and said he was directed to refer inquiries to Cantrell.
Kindley also may have given incorrect information in his first interview with WGHP-TV, Channel 8 of High Point.
He said four Randolph County Sheriff’s Department cars entered his property along with WRC officers, who later shot his deer. However, when contacted by phone, an official with the Investigation Unit of the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department said that his agency wasn’t involved.
“Randolph County had nothing to do” with the event at the Kindley farm, he said. The official referred all questions to “Wildlife in Raleigh.”
The former WRC biologist said county deputies “routinely” accompany wildlife officers on such raids, if they expect trouble might erupt.
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