A ring of Springfield poachers faces racketeering and other charges for allegedly stealing the identity of Oregonians to buy hunting licenses and tags and then illegally killing as many as 300 black-tailed deer in eastern Lane County over the past five years.
Nine Springfield residents were arraigned Thursday in Lane County Circuit Court on numerous wildlife charges as well as identity theft, forgery and computer crimes for their alleged roles in what the Oregon State Police called a criminal conspiracy they unearthed during a 15-month investigation.
Most of the alleged poaching occurred in 2009 and 2010 on federal Bureau of Land Management and private timberlands within the state's McKenzie Wildlife Management Unit. It focused largely on black-tailed deer, though also included elk, antelope and bear, according to the OSP.
Many of the animals were killed to fill tags for people who either did not hunt or had their identification stolen strictly to gain licenses and tags in their names, the OSP said in a Thursday news release.
The case broke open when one of the victims received an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife envelope requesting a tooth from a black bear killed during a hunt be sent to the agency as part of the study, police said. When the victim told ODFW he had no hunting license or bear tag, agency officials discovered a license and tag were bought illegally in the victim's name, police said.
The case snowballed from there, culminating in search warrants in Springfield and Eugene during January, police said. Seized at the time were 18 hunting rifles, 108 sets of antlers, several hunting licenses and tags, keys to gates on private timberland, two whole poached cow elk and about 1,600 pounds of processed game meat.
The elk were poached just before the search warrants were served, police said.
The wildlife offenses were all misdemeanors, but each defendant faces a racketeering charge that is a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $375,000.
The defendants, all from Springfield, were identified as: Shane E. Donoho, 37; Rory E. Donoho, 60; Gerald S. Donoho, no age listed; Laura A. Donoho, 36; Sandra L. Shaffer, 59, Danny M. Hawkins, 60; Miguel A. Kennedy, 26; Mary S. Normand, 61; and Shawn Stone, 48.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.