Local man cited in deer-poaching case
MIDDLEBURY — Game wardens with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department have been investigating a series of wild animal poaching incidents in Addison County for the past five weeks, and they are asking tor the public’s help so they can wrap up the investigation.
Lt. Justin Stedman, leader of Fish and Wildlife’s central district, said the investigation was triggered by a series of reports of dead animals in incidents in Middlebury and New Haven that had similar characteristics.
This week, the department said it had arrested two young men in Middlebury as a result of the investigation.
Stedman said someone called authorities around 1 a.m. on Sunday to report suspicious activity near the Abbey Pond trailhead off Route 116 in Middlebury.
A department press release said a game warden, with officers from the Vermont State Police and Middlebury Police Department, found two young men in the process of unloading and field-dressing a buck deer they had allegedly shot illegally an hour earlier in Cornwall.
Police cited Winston Forbes, 18, of Middlebury for possession of an illegally taken deer. He is due to answer the charge in Addison Superior Court, criminal division, on Dec. 31. The other young man was described as a juvenile and was not immediately charged with a crime.
Police at the scene seized the youths’ weapons and a 2020 Chevy Silverado, which was impounded at the New Haven state police barracks.
At the same time, Middlebury police took Forbes into custody and processed him for driving under the influence, though declined an evidentiary breath test. Chief Tom Hanley said Forbes was issued a civil ticker for what he called a “0.02 violation.” For a criminal count of DUI the driver must have a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent.
The investigation continues into Sunday’s incident and the others, which include at least five illegally killed deer and a wild turkey. All of these animals were allegedly shot from the road — some at night — with a 30-06 rifle and a .22 caliber rifle. According to Fish and Wildlife, the deer were processed and hung from a tree in the woods near the Abbey Pond trailhead and at a local concrete plant.
Stedman said more charges could be filed, depending on the investigation.
Anyone who may have information about these incidents is asked to contact their local game warden through the New Haven state police barracks at (802) 388-4919 or anonymously by calling Operation Game Thief at 1-800-75ALERT (1-800-752-5378).
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