A Missouri court handed down an unusual sentence this week: A hunter killing deer illegally must repeatedly watch a Disney classic cartoon at least once a month during his year-long jail sentence.
Conservation agents have called the case against David Berry Jr.—and three of his family members—one of the largest deer poachings (illegal hunting or killing) in state history.
“The deer were trophy bucks taken illegally, mostly at night, for their heads, leaving the bodies of the deer to waste,” says Don Trotter, the prosecuting attorney in the case. How sad! God calls "every beast of the forest mine." (Psalm 50:10) He intends humans to take His creatures for food. But He never condones abusing them.
Berry, his father, two brothers, and another man had their hunting, fishing, and trapping privileges revoked. The men also paid a combined $51,000 in fines and court costs. But Judge Robert George ordered a special addition to Berry’s sentence for illegally taking wildlife. He ordered Berry to “view the Walt Disney movie Bambi, with the first viewing being on or before December 23, 2018, and at least one such viewing each month thereafter” while at the county jail.
Berry’s father, David Berry Sr., and his brother, Kyle Berry, were arrested in August after an eight-and-a-half-month investigation involving cases in Kansas, Nebraska, and Canada. The Missouri Department of Conservation says information from the investigation led to more than 230 charges in 11 counties. Investigators say David Berry Sr.’s other son, Eric Berry, was later caught with another person “spotlighting” deer. The technique uses strong lights at night. The deer pause to look at the lights, making them easier to hunt.
The investigation into the Berrys began in late 2015. The conservation agency received an anonymous tip on their “Operation Game Thief” hotline about deer poaching in Lawrence County.
(A pair of deer peer through the woods on the first day of regular firearms deer hunting season. AP Photo)