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A routine inspection of local taxidermy operations in Buchanan and Linn counties began a yearlong investigation into poaching activity and ended with four individuals being charged and convicted of dozens of wildlife violations as well as facing thousands of dollars in fines and civil damages.
Evidence from the taxidermy inspection, in addition to interviews of those involved culminated in multiple conservation officers executing four search warrants during January 2020, for the cell phones and residences of Jason Webster, 41, of Quasqueton, and Jeremiah Pillard, 42, of Troy Mills.
As a result, Webster faced multiple criminal charges of illegally taking wild turkey, abandoning dead or injured white tailed deer, and 19 other criminal violations involving deer, furbearing animals and fraudulent use of licenses and tags in Buchanan and Linn counties. The civil damages requested as reimbursement from Webster for the value of the wildlife totaled $15,550. Among the civil damages, Webster is also responsible for the associated criminal fines relevant to the individual charges.
Webster’s hunting privileges are suspended indefinitely until all civil damages are paid. He also received a three-year multiple offender license suspension and a five-year court ordered license suspension. In addition, the court condemned all the equipment used in committing the violations, including the guns, hunting blinds, traps and trapping equipment, a crossbow, knives, multiple deer racks, deer meat and more.
Pillard pleaded guilty in Linn County to illegal taking wild turkey, white tailed deer, rabbit, and for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. The civil damages requested as reimbursement from Pillard for the value of the wildlife totaled $6,750. Among the civil damages, Pillard is also responsible for the associated criminal fines relevant to the individual charges. Pillard was also sentenced to five years in prison, with all five years being suspended and was placed on two years of probation.
Pillard’s hunting privileges are suspended indefinitely until all civil damages are paid. He received a three-year multiple offender license suspension as well. In addition, the court condemned Pillard’s Benjamin Bulldog air rifle and scope, turkey parts, deer meat and a 12-point deer skull.
Webster and Pillard’s Iowa poaching activity took place between October 2019 and January 2020. Iowa officials are working with fish and game officials from the western U.S. to determine the origin and method of take of an elk found in Pillard’s freezer.
Also pleading guilty in the case were Kelly Sherrets McCardle, 52, of rural Quasqueton, to illegally providing her deer tags to other hunters to use, and Shelia Kisner, 36, of Quasqueton, to hunting without a valid hunting license, habitat fee and deer tag. Kisner was warned for harassment a public officer.