Ida Grove, Iowa - An investigation that began as a turkey poaching case last fall has concluded with five individuals pleading guilty to 48 wildlife charges and assessed nearly $83,000 in fines and liquidated damages.
State conservation officers were executing a search warrant at the home of Devon Lewis, 26, of rural Washta, Iowa, on Nov. 21, when they discovered evidence of other poaching activity. Once an additional search warrant was secured, investigators uncovered evidence of a year-round poaching network involving at least 70 deer, four turkeys, ducks, raccoons and red fox dating back to at least 2018.
State Conservation Officer Kirby Bragg said evidence from the lengthy investigation showed that these individuals would shoot wildlife out of season, over bait and from vehicles, often without the proper tags. The deer were primarily bucks with antlers.
The following individuals pleaded guilty in January in Ida County court.
- Devon Lewis, 26, of rural Washta, pleaded guilty to 23 citations with fines and damages totaling $37,600 and a minimum seven-year hunting license suspension;
- Taylor S. Luvaas, 27 of Schaller, pleaded guilty to 14 citations, with fines and damages totaling $31,118 and a minimum seven-year hunting license suspension;
- Jacob R. Fouts, 23, of Cherokee, pleaded guilty to six citations, with fines and damages totaling $5,861 and his hunting license will be suspended;
- Dylan D. Lewis, 22, of Cushing, pleaded guilty to three citations, with fines and damages totaling $5,251 and his hunting license will be suspended;
- Austin T.L. Lewis, 19, of Cushing, pleaded guilty to two citations, with fines and damages totaling $4,300.
The judge condemned five rifles, three shotguns and three bows used to commit the crimes.
“Our best chance to catch poachers is when the public provides us with timely information after witnessing illegal activity take place,” said Officer Bragg. “It was apparent that this activity had been going on for quite some time.”
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources was assisted by the Woodbury County Sheriff's Office, Woodbury County Conservation Board, Ida County Sheriff's Office and the Ida County Conservation Board.