Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources News Release Game Trails LLC, McTavish fined $50,000 for illegal deer kills April 3, 2009 Frankfort, Ky. A Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources deer biologist who noticed discrepancies while analyzing 2006 hunter deer harvest data triggered an 18-month long state and federal law enforcement investigation that produced one of the largest wildlife penalties in state history last month in United States District Court, Owensboro. Game Trails, a more than 12,000-acre Limited Liability Corporation commercial hunting preserve in Union and Crittenden counties, controlled by sole proprietor owner and then Thompson/Center Arms President and CEO Gregg Ritz, and its site manager, William Dirk McTavish, Jr., 43, of Paducah, paid $50,000 in fines after pleading guilty to numerous misdemeanor violations of the Lacey Act of taking wildlife unlawfully, and for making false statements to Kentucky officers about the takings and interstate transporting of wildlife. United States Magistrate Judge E. Robert Goebel ordered that Game Trails LLC, pay a $35,000 fine and McTavish pay a $15,000 fine. Robert Christopher Helms, 40, of Booneville, Indiana, and a former Game Trails guide, faces up to five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to a felony count of threatening a federal witness. His sentencing is scheduled for June 11. Department wildlife and deer biologist David Yancy, in August 2007, noticed numerous inconsistencies while comparing and analyzing 2006 Telecheck deer harvest data with data that Game Trails LLC supplied to Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) in Georgia. Yancy and department Private Lands Wildlife Biologist Phillip Sharp raised these irregularities with Union County conservation officer Lt. Greg Noel. Noel, already familiar with Game Trails and the property, enlisted the help of Crittenden County officer Randy Conway. They began the lengthy process of reconciling the Telechecked deer harvest reports of Game Trails clients with information from QDMA. Their investigation turned up numerous instances of Game Trails employees, their friends and family chronically taking over-limits of deer, outside hunting season parameters, supplying false information to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife and using social security numbers of Game Trails clients without their permission to Telecheck their deer harvests. Noel and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Special Agent John Barham then discovered hundreds of deer jawbones and documentation tying them to Game Trails when they traveled to Atlanta, and served a federal search warrant at QDMAs headquarters. By sending the jawbones to another state, Game Trails was guilty of transporting illegally taken deer out of state and triggered the Lacey Act violations. Noel said that the property, bordered by about 4½ miles of Ohio River, was owned by Kimball International and leased to Ritz and sharecroppers. He said that the previous owner had used local draw hunting to manage the deer herd, but that Game Trails eliminated that practice because it interfered with its filming and big buck hunting routines. As a result, the herd grew quickly and Game Trails contacted QDMA to evaluate and make recommendations about improving the deer herd. Game Trails then supplied QDMA with completed data sheets and jawbones of harvested deer. It was this data, discovered during Noels and Barhams investigation, which conflicted with Telecheck data. Noel says Game Trails has recently vacated the property and is moving its operations to Ohio.