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Two Men Accused of Decapitating 15 Deer, Leaving Bodies to Rot in Missouri

Officials have not released the identities of the suspects, but the pictures are repulsive.

Two men accused of poaching in Missouri are facing charges on a slew of hunting violations, most notably (and repulsively) illegally removing the heads of 15 deer and leaving their bodies to rot.

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, an investigation that spanned both Wayne and Reynolds counties was led by Wayne County's new conservation agent, Luke Armentrout. He uncovered evidence that led to two suspects being charged with multiple poaching offenses, including taking deer in closed season, taking deer with the aid of artificial light, taking deer with aid of a motor vehicle, taking deer from public roadway, wanton waste, trespassing, and the illegal possession and transport of deer.

The Missouri Department of Conservation posted photos related to the alleged poaching, and residents responded in storm.

Missouri Department of Conservation Facebook

"I hope you throw the book at them," Teresa Dyke McCullough commented. 

"I'm a landowner in Wayne county for 40 plus years and this has been a problem the whole time," Adam Vaught commented. "Great work getting these guys!"

Many, including Brenda Vansel, praised the work of the MDC.

"Good job!" Vansel said. "Thank you for taking your commitment seriously. The public needs to support MDC officers.....it is a dangerous job and far too often the public thinks the MDC officers are the bad guys....THEY ARE NOT!! I commend you"

Some mentioned a need for stronger punishment.

"The laws against poaching need to have much stiffer penalties," Mike Eads said. "I appreciate the work of the MDC."

Missouri introduced steeper fine amounts in 2019 after several complaints that its consequences for poaching were too lax. Fees currently stand at $1,000-$5,000 for each black bear, elk, or whitetail buck killed illegally; $500-$1,000 for each wild turkey; and $500-$1,000 for each paddlefish. There is also a point system in place, with points being assigned for wildlife violations. When a violator reaches 16 points, Missouri Department of Conservation staff then reviews the circumstances surrounding the violations, with a potential consequence of revocation or suspension of hunting privileges for up to one year.

The state has been handling a growing number of poaching cases, according to KFVS, with poaching including hunting without a permit, with an inappropriate permit, and all other wildlife violations.

"Some people want to put food on the table, some people like to display that animal as that prize for the trophy for the season," said Missouri Department of Conservation agent Andrew Mothershead. "It has the largest economic impact for our communities locally, culturally it's very important, we've pursued deer for many, many years. When we set seasons, season dates ... harvest limits, that's to ensure that we have sustainable deer populations. These egregious poaching cases can have a huge impact on our deer and our natural resources for a long time to come."

In Missouri, poaching is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $5,000 fine or up to a year in jail. The MDC encourages tips at 800-392-1111.

READ MORE: The Worst Poaching Cases So Far in 2023