Deer poacher ordered to watch ‘Bambi’ repeatedly as part of sentence

OZARKS, Mo. – A judge ordered a Missouri poacher to watch the Disney classic 'Bambi' repeatedly as punishment for his role in one of the largest poaching busts in state history, according to the Springfield News-Leader.

David Berry Jr. "is to view the Walt Disney movie 'Bambi'" at least once each month during his confinement at the Lawrence County Jail, starting Dec. 23, according to court records.  Berry Jr. was sentenced to one year behind bars, as well as a concurrent 120 days for a felony firearms probation violation.

Prosecutors said Berry Jr., along with his brother and father, illegally slaughtered bucks for their heads. Berry Jr. was the only one the judge ordered to watch the classic Walt Disney movie.

"The deer were trophy bucks taken illegally, mostly at night, for their heads, leaving the bodies of the deer to waste," Prosecuting Attorney Don Trotter said in a Missouri Conservation Department news release.

The busts followed a multiyear investigation called Operation Game Thief, which involved roughly 100 state, federal and Canadian wildlife officers working in multiple states.

“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. “It would be safe to say that several hundred deer were taken illegally.”

Investigators say they caught another one of David Berry Sr.'s sons, Eric Berry, using a spotlight in 2017. Deer often freeze when the light is shined into their eyes, making them easier to kill.

David Berry Jr. and David Berry Sr. lost their Missouri hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for life, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. Eric Berry and Kyle Berry lost their licenses for 18 years and 8 years, respectively. A fifth man Jerimiah Cline, who helped the Berrys, won't be allowed to hunt for five years.

The Berrys collectively have paid $51,000 in fines and court costs.

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