After years of investigations involving multiple agencies, Gregory Frikken, James Nunley, and Michael Smith have pleaded guilty to federal charges of trespassing and illegally harvesting whitetails in Fort Riley, Kansas.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the trio had been hunting the army base for years. An investigator’s affidavit detailed how they entered the base, going in before daylight and leaving after dark through a washout where a creek goes under the perimeter fence.
Collectively, the three poachers were sentenced to pay approximately $11,000 in restitution fees to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism as well as $10,000 in fines to a Lacey Act fund. Additionally, the men will be on federal probation for three years during which they are not allowed to hunt, trap, or fish.
The poachers also had to forfeit property seized in the investigation including 24 elk sheds, 34 deer sheds, nine whitetail skulls, one bull elk skull, and hunting equipment.
U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister commented on their actions: “They entered a prohibited area of the Army base, knowing the area was off limits, for the sole purpose of illegally taking large deer as trophies.”
There are places within Fort Riley where hunters can acquire special permits to hunt, but the trio had no valid hunting licenses. Besides, the area they were hunting is an “impact area” where explosives are discharged during training exercises, so it is off limits to civilians.
“Their behavior was not only unlawful and selfish, it was potentially dangerous to themselves and thus also foolish. Trespassing on a federal military base is a serious error of judgment, and unlawfully killing trophy deer undermines hunting and hunters who abide by the rules,” McAllister said.
Contributing agencies in this investigation included: Emergency Services at Fort Riley; the Fort Riley Game Warden; Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism; New York State Environmental Conservation Office of Law Enforcement; and U.S. Fish and Wildlife. MeatEater applauds their efforts in bringing these reckless poachers to justice.
Feature image via Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism.