Thursday, February 2nd, 2023
Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

PGC throws book at deer farm operator

By Dan Nephin Associated Press Writer

Brookville, Pa. — A deer breeder awaiting sentencing in the
theft of a massive buck from another breeder has been charged with
operating an illegal deer farm and hunting operation.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission filed 2,318 wildlife-related
and criminal counts against Jeffrey Dean Spence, of Reynoldsville,
Jefferson County, about 75 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

The charges filed Feb. 14 in District Judge Richard Beck’s
office in Brookville include selling or bartering white-tailed deer
or portions of the animals, theft by deception, use of a computer
for such sales, and related counts.

The commission also accused Spence of breeding at an unpermitted
facility, the White Oak Deer Farm and Hunting Preserve.

Beck said the charges were mailed to Spence but he had not
acknowledged their receipt by Feb. 17. A phone number listed in
Spence’s name rang unanswered Feb. 17. A preliminary hearing was
scheduled for March 31.

Commission wildlife officer Roger Hartless, who led the
investigation, said restrictions on who can raise, breed, sell, and
import deer are meant to ensure the prevention of wildlife-related
diseases, such as chronic wasting disease, in the state’s wild and
captive deer and elk.

“By operating outside the system, Mr. Spence was placing at risk
our state’s wild deer and elk herds and legally permitted
facilities,” he said in a statement.

In October, Spence was convicted of stealing a buck named
Goliath – which analysts say could have been worth $500,000 or more
– from Diane and Rodney Miller at their Wild Bunch Whitetails Ranch
in Knox, Clarion County, about 60 miles north of Pittsburgh.

Goliath was taken in October 1999, when it was about 2 years
old. The Pennsylvania Deer Farmers Association found the deer
nearly four years later on Spence’s farm. The animal was returned
to the Millers and, a year before its death in December 2004, had
some 50 to 60 points and weighed about 375 pounds.

Spence is awaiting sentencing on the convictions of theft and
receiving stolen property.

Attorney Troy Harper, who represents Spence in a civil suit
filed by the Millers, said he was unaware of the latest charges.
Attorney Ralph Montana, who represented Spence at his criminal
trial, did not return a message left Feb. 17.

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