A Louisiana man was ordered to pay more than $14,000 in restitution after pleading guilty to negligent transportation of wildlife in connection with importing live white-tailed deer into the Trans-Pecos region.
Stephen Anderson Sipes Jr., 57, pleaded guilty June 10. Sipes had an ownership interest in a high-fence ranch in Sanderson, according to court documents. On Jan. 14, 2010, Sipes transported and possessed 14 live illegally imported whitetails valued at more than $350 each from Carthage, Mo., to the ranch in Sanderson, which is prohibited by Texas law.
The market value of the illegally imported deer was approximately $5,650, according to court documents.
Sipes must pay the restitution to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation to compensate the agency for costs incurred in protecting native deer from the risk of disease potentially carried by the Missouri whitetails.
The biggest threat that imported deer pose to native populations is the spread of chronic wasting disease, a fatal transmissible neurological disease in the family of infectious diseases that include bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as “mad cow disease.”
CWD was discovered in Texas for the first time last year when mule deer shot near the New Mexico border returned positive results.
TPWD, in conjunction with the Texas Animal Health Commission and other state and national entities, has developed a surveillance plan and protocols aimed at discovering and containing any transmission among the state’s deer herds, which remain a multi-billion dollar cash cow. TPWD estimates more than 600,000 hunters pursued deer during last year’s seasons, and deer hunting’s direct economic impact is more than $2 billion annually in Texas.
The TAHC has authority for reporting and tracking diseases in alternative livestock including elk, red deer and sika deer, and TPWD has authority over free-ranging white-tailed and mule deer. The agencies also share regulatory authority over captive deer held under the authority of breeder permits.