A judge has ruled that a poacher must watch the Disney movie Bambi once a month while he serves his jail sentence for his involvement in the illegal killing of several hundred deer over a period of three years, according to reports.
Southwest Missouri man David Berry Jr., 29, is one among several in his family convicted of being involved in killing hundreds of deer. The group was taking the heads of the deer and abandoning the bodies to rot.
The actions amounted to what the Missouri Department of Conservation called the state’s “largest conservation cases involving the illegal taking of deer.”
Berry Jr., his father, two brothers, and another man have since had their hunting, fishing, and trapping privileges revoked temporarily or permanently. The group has paid a combined $51,000 in fines and court costs. The judge ordered the special request for Berry Jr. to view Bambi due to the egregious nature of his actions.
Lawrence County Judge Robert George said Berry Jr. is 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” throughout his one-year sentence, court records sighted by the Springfield News-Leader showed.
The Disney Bambi classic, first released in 1942, shows Bambi’s mother being killed. It has widely been viewed as a distressing experience for generations of children.
“It is unknown how many deer the main group of suspects has taken illegally over the past several years,” Lawrence County Conservation Agent Andy Barnes said, according to a press release from the Missouri Department of Conservation. “It would be safe to say that several hundred deer were taken illegally.”
Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney Don Trotter said the deer were trophy animals and agreed the number of deer killed were in the hundreds.
“Conservation investigators estimated that the group was responsible for killing hundreds of deer over a three-year period,” he said. “The deer were trophy bucks taken illegally, mostly at night, for their heads, leaving the bodies of the deer to waste.”
Randy Doman, division chief of Missouri Department of Conservation, told the Springfield News-Leader: “Taking just the heads is their version of obtaining a ‘trophy’ and leaving the carcass behind is merely an afterthought. While there are some cases where poachers go after the antlers for profit, with this bunch it was more about the thrill of the kill itself.”
Berry Jr. was sentenced in Lawrence County on Dec. 6 for the offence. He also received a 120-day sentence on Dec. 13 in Barton County for a felony firearms probation violation.
His father, David Berry Sr., and his brother, Kyle Berry, had been arrested in August after a nearly nine-month investigation that also involved cases in Kansas, Nebraska, and Canada. The Missouri Department of Conservation said information from the investigation had led to 14 more Missouri residents facing more than 230 charges across 11 counties.
Investigators say David Berry Sr.’s other son, Eric Berry, was later caught with another person spotlighting deer. Spotlighting is a hunting method where poachers use light at night to make deer pause and easier to hunt.
The investigation into the Berrys began in late 2015 when the conservation agency received an anonymous tip about illegal deer poaching in Lawrence County.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.