This January, Devon Lewis, Taylor Luvaas, Jacob Fouts, Dylan Lewis, and Austin Lewis pleaded guilty to 48 wildlife violations in western Iowa’s Ida County court.
According to a press release from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, State Conservation Officer Kirby Bragg said that evidence showed these individuals shot wildlife out of season, over bait, from vehicles, and without proper tags. The investigation began with a tip-off that Lewis was poaching turkey.
“Our best chance to catch poachers is when the public provides us with timely information after witnessing illegal activity take place,” Bragg said. “It was apparent that this activity had been going on for quite some time.”
Conservation officers were executing a search warrant at Lewis’ home in rural Washta, Iowa, on Nov. 21, when they discovered evidence of more illicit activity.
“Initially, we were going in on an illegal wild turkey as the basis for the search warrant. And then doing that search warrant, we came across illegal activity in plain view—which led to another search warrant,” Bragg told Radio Iowa.
While the search started with turkey, the investigation yielded 70 whitetail deer and much more dating back to 2018. “They were going for the antlers. But it involved numerous wild turkeys, and we found illegal red fox and ducks,” Bragg said. “They were shooting ducks in the springtime when they are pretty. This time of year they are in their mating plumage.”
All in all, the Iowa men racked up $83,000 in fines.
Lewis, 26, pleaded guilty to 23 citations with fines and damages totaling $37,600 and a minimum seven-year hunting license suspension. Luvass, 27, pleaded guilty to 14 citations, with fines and damages totaling $31,118 and a minimum seven-year hunting license suspension. Fouts, 23, pleaded guilty to six citations, with fines and damages totaling $5,861, and his hunting license will be suspended. D. Lewis, 22, pleaded guilty to three citations, with fines and damages totaling $5,251 and his hunting license will be suspended. And A. Lewis, 19, pleaded guilty to two citations, with fines and damages totaling $4,300.
Additionally, the judge condemned five rifles, three shotguns, and three bows used in the poachings.
“I’m not sure what the end goal was,” Bragg said. “They had a Facebook group, like a hunting, outdoors Facebook group, and they were posting a lot of photos on the group. But no evidence of them selling or profiting from the illegal behavior.”
Although the group is no longer up, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen poachers bragging it up on social media, and it likely won’t be the last. This case reminds us of The Dumbest Poacher of 2019, who also got busted for posting on Facebook. We're happy to pass that title on to these five Iowans for their social media excellence.
Feature image via Iowa DNR.