LITTLE ROCK — If you kill a deer out of state, you’d better check the Arkansas hunting regulations before you bring it here.
Troy Landry, a Louisiana native known for his role in the Swamp People television show, recently learned that lesson the hard way when the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission cited him for illegally importing deer parts and products from another state that’s at risk for chronic wasting disease. Chronic wasting disease is believed to be a highly contagious neurological disease that affects cervids such as deer and elk. It has no remedy or cure.
On Nov. 16, Joseph Williams, an AGFC wildlife officer, stopped trucks driven by Landry and his sons Chance and Jacob near Monticello on U.S. 425. The Landrys were returning to Louisiana from a successful hunt in Nebraska and were transporting six white tailed deer heads and three coolers containing deer meat.
Nebraska has reported that chronic wasting disease has been detected in some of its deer. Arkansas is one of 36 states that prohibits importing deer carcasses, parts or products from areas that are at risk for CWD. It’s a Class I offense that carries a fine of $100-$1,000 and a jail sentence of up to 30 days. Capt. Pat Fitts, Williams’ supervisor, said so far violators of this regulation have all gotten the minimum fine. Williams and Fitts confiscated the heads and two coolers containing meat that was still on the bones. The Landrys were allowed to keep another cooler that contained de-boned meat.
Keith Stephens, a public information officer for the AGFC, wrote in an e-mail that the heads could not be tested because too much time had elapsed between the time the deer were killed and confiscated for testing to be accurate.
Landry said he has taken deer hunting trips to Nebraska for 11-12 years with his sons and father, and that they have always brought back deer from those hunts through Arkansas. Landry said he was not aware this regulation existed until Nov. 16.
He said the hunt cost $2,000-$2,500 apiece. One of the heads that was seized sported a rack that scored 153 on the Boone and Crockett scale. Chance Landry killed it, and it was his biggest ever.
Mike Knoedl, the AGFC’s director, said the racks will be removed from the heads. After the skull plates are sanitized, they will be returned to the Landrys when Troy Landry pays his fine. Knoedl said the AGFC does that as a courtesy in all such seizures so that hunters may keep trophy racks.
Landry said the seizures were unfair and unwarranted because he said he was only about 20 minutes from the Louisiana state line when he was stopped. He said he asked Williams and Fitts if they would just issue him a warning since he would have the animals back out of the state within a half hour. Louisiana does not have a CWD importation ban.
Landry said he suspects he was not given leniency because he’s a public figure. Fitts said Landry was cited because he was in violation of a regulation.
“He wasn’t given a ticket based on who he was, and he wasn’t let go based on who he was,” Fitts said. “All of his deer had to be seized because they weren’t legal to be in Arkansas.”
Landry acknowledged that hunters are responsible for knowing regulations where they hunt, but he said it’s unreasonable to be subjected to such heavy penalties for unwittingly violating nonhunting regulations in states through which they are merely traveling. He said the AGFC should make an effort to educate nonresidents about this regulation to avoid the embarrassment, inconvenience and expense of a non-hunting violation.
“If I broke a law, then I’ll man up to what I’ve done,” Landry said. “I could understand it if we stopped in Arkansas in the night and processed a deer or something, but we were doing 75 miles per hour coming home and we thought we were 100 percent legal. I think when you enter the state, on the first 8 or 10 miles on the interstate, they ought to have billboard signs or something warning hunters to read their regulations books.”
It’s the law
Troy Landry, a Louisiana native featured on the television show Swamp People, was cited recently in Arkansas for illegally importing deer parts and products from another state that’s at risk for chronic wasting disease. Here is regulation prohibiting such actions: ARKANSAS WILDLIFE CODE 05.26
It is unlawful to import, transport or possess in Arkansas any portion other than boneless meat from a cervid carcass originating from any area proclaimed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to have an increased risk of CWD or taken from a captive wildlife facility or enclosure outside of Arkansas.
(1) Antlers, antlers attached to cleaned skull plates, or cleaned skulls where no tissue is attached to the skull.
(2) Cleaned teeth.
(3) Finished taxidermy and antler products.
(4) Hides and tanned products.
(5) Deer or elk harvested in commercial wildlife hunting resorts in Arkansas providing that a CWD sample is collected.