Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens descended on the Lonesome Bull Ranch this week and euthanized 200 white-tailed deer to test for Chronic Wasting Disease after the owner was allegedly found to be without the proper permits.
The 2,600-acre ranch, located near Sandia in Jim Wells County, is an exotic hunting ranch, but also had deer breeding pens where deer were raised.
According to TPWD, the facility had not met permitting requirements to breed deer.
“We began an investigation before Christmas,” said Capt. Kevin McDonald of TPWD. “We did an inspection and darted some animals and put them down to be able to read their unique tattoos and test them for disease. We found lots of inconsistencies. The facility where the deer were kept belonged to someone else (Fred Rich) and we had taken his license away from him. He leased the facility to another person and they inherited all of the problems.
“If you are trying to draw out a worst-case scenario with bookkeeping and records, this would be it.”
According to sources, Rich, 56, from Portland, had been removed from the Texas Deer Association several years ago for unethical business practices.
Rich was arrested on Wednesday and charged with unlawfully allowing a hunter to shoot a 22-point breeder buck inside an enclosure — a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year on jail and a $4,000 fine, according to McDonald. More charges could be coming and McDonald said the hunter is cooperating with authorities.
Rich posted bond after being arraigned.
All of the deer in the facility were euthanized and their brain stems have been sent for testing.
The Texas Deer Association released a statement, “The Texas Deer Association, founded in 1999, proudly represents the vibrant and hardworking members of the Texas deer industry. Our Code of Ethics strongly condemns any illegal and/or unethical actions in the hunting and deer breeding communities. The TDA has and will continue to take and support action against those who jeopardize the professional and ethical standards of the deer industry. The TDA has offered cooperation and assistance to Texas Parks and Wildlife in their efforts to remove egregious offenders from our industry.”
Photo by Google Earth.