David Berry Jr. will spend a year in jail, lose hunting privileges for life, and must watch Bambi once a month.
The man at the helm of what the Missouri Conservation Department calls the worst poaching ring in state history is spending a year behind bars.
It’s a case that has generated buzz not just here at home, but across the country and even in England.
Lawrence County Prosecutor Matthew Kasper says the case of David Berry, Jr. dates back to 2015. Berry and his father, David Berry, Sr. and his two brothers Eric and Kyle were all involved in the poaching over three years — killing turkeys, foxes, 100’s of pounds of fish — but mostly targeting mature bucks.
“There were 11 counties in Missouri, three states, and Canada all involved in the charges filed for these individuals,” says Kasper. “Many of them, they just took the racks or the head. They had mounted them and left the bodies in a lot of cases. Sometimes they would take a little bit of the meat, or take none of it at all and just leave it in the field. ”
Berry Jr. originally had his year-long jail sentence suspended for a two-year probation, but was back in front of the same Judge, Robert George, a month later in November for poaching again.
His sentence: serving a year, and being forced to watch the Disney classic, “Bambi” at least once a month in that time.
“I’ve never seen a sentence quite like that. I would say it is an unusual sentence, but it was definitely an unusual case,” says Kasper.
Randy Doman is the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Protection Division Chief, who was satisfied with the additional part of Berry Jr.’s punishment.
“The judge chose to have that caveat of watching Bambi at his discretion. I applaud his creativity and his ingenuity. I think he was trying to make a point,” says Doman.
Doman says the animal parts weren’t proven to be sold, and the motive is unknown, but he says these acts were a disgrace to the respect of the animals and law-abiding hunters everywhere.
“This was more about greed, about the thrill of the hunt, and the kill, and ego,” Doman says.
Berry Jr. and Sr. have also had their hunting privileges taken away for life.
Last year, one lawmaker tried to pass a bill that would have increased poaching penalties in Missouri. It did not pass.
Doman says the bill will be refiled, and he hopes this case will be an example of why these penalties should be increased.
(Missourinet media partner KOLR-TV contributed this story)