It took a long time, but the saga of an illegal deer breeder has finally been closed.
The latest chapter in a decade long series of criminal and wildlife disease investigations involving a former South Texas deer breeder ended recently when a Corpus Christi area couple pleaded guilty to 50 charges of Unlawful Possession and/or Sale of Live Game Animals.
Frank Thomas Shumate Jr., 51, and Kalub Rogers Shumate, 31, were each assessed $14,127.50 in fines and agreed to surrender the ability to apply for a deer breeder permit or a hunting lease license for all time. Mr. Shumate also agreed to surrender his hunting license through the end of the 2015 license year and Ms. Shumate through the end of the 2017 license year.
The criminal cases were adjudicated in the office of Hon. Caroline Korzekwa, Karnes County Justice Court Precinct. 2.
Retired San Antonio attorney Rene Barrientos served as special prosecutor in the case with approval and support from the Karnes County Attorney. He also coordinated a global agreement in Travis County District Court to resolve a pending civil case against Ms. Rogers and recover $34,080 in restitution related to expenses incurred by TPWD staff while conducting a deer herd inventory inspection and disease sampling at a deer breeding facility permitted to Ms. Rogers.
Investigation into Mr. Shumate’s deer breeding activities began in March 2004 and led to multiple charges in three counties. Two years later, his deer breeder violations resulted in 10 convictions on criminal charges in Jim Wells County, 5 convictions in Nueces County and 5 convictions in Webb County. As a result of these findings, Mr. Shumate agreed to relinquish his Scientific Breeder’s Permit and liquidate all deer held in captivity in his deer breeding facility in Nueces County.
In advance of losing his deer breeding privileges, Mr. Shumate allegedly initiated a plan to have a new deer breeding facility permitted in the name of Kalub Rogers on his property in Karnes County, where he then transferred more than 100 deer from his Nueces County facility.
Over time the TPWD Special Operations Unit received numerous reports that Mr. Shumate was reportedly still in the deer business and was buying and selling deer for which he was not legally authorized by TPWD. An investigation revealed that Mr. Shumate conducted sales of at least 78 white-tailed deer from Ms. Rogers’ deer breeding facility to ranches for release into the wild for stocking purposes since September 2010. Mr. Shumate received a minimum of $171,466 in payments for white-tailed deer he unlawfully sold, which according to records submitted to TPWD, were transported from Ms. Rogers’ deer breeding facility. The investigation further indicated that Kalub Rogers was holding a deer breeder permit in her name on behalf of her husband Frank Thomas Shumate Jr.
Ms. Rogers’ facility came under additional scrutiny in 2012, initially as a result of a delinquent annual report required of all permitted deer breeding facilities. Criminal charges were filed when a subsequent herd inspection and inventory revealed significant irregularities and discrepancies, including 162 inventoried deer that were missing from the facility. During the herd inspection, TPWD wildlife biologists noted the remaining deer in the facility to be in poor condition and numerous decayed deer carcasses were observed throughout the pens.
The observation of 142 deer of unknown origin was cause for additional concern and tissue samples from several deer were tested for both Chronic Wasting Disease and Bovine Tuberculosis. Neither disease was detected.
“Unscrupulous actions by these two individuals are not only a threat to all the law-abiding deer breeders who are carefully monitoring and managing their facilities, but also to the state’s free-ranging deer, which can be exposed to unnecessary disease risk from these illegitimate activities,” said Mitch Lockwood, TPWD Big Game Program Director. “Captive and free-ranging deer are too important to our state to have them compromised by the actions of a few.”