Two ranchers charged with smuggling sick Pa. deer into Miss.

It is not OK to rustle deer in Pennsylvania.

It is particularly disturbing when the white-tailed deer were taken from a quarantine reservation created for a herd suffering from deadly chronic wasting disease.

And it is even worse to take those vulnerable deer to a Mississippi farm that breeds animals for trophy hunting.

Insult to injury: The farm is called the Turkey Trot Ranch.

Camera icon Barbara Boyer
White-tailed deer in Pennsylvania have been smuggled to a farm in Mississippi that allows trophy hunting.

In 2010, federal authorities allege in a criminal information recently released, Edward L. Donaldson Jr., 75, and John Jared Oertling, 42, both of Pearl River, La., unlawfully imported white-tailed deer into Mississippi. It’s against the law to import live white-tailed deer, to prevent the spread of disease among animals.

From February 2010 through November 2012, authorities allege, Donaldson and Oertling brought white-tailed deer to the  1,031-acre fenced spread in Forrest County, which the two manage and is owned by their families.

Luis Santiago, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agent in charge in Mississippi, said  his agency places a high priority on “the potential spread of disease caused by the illegal commercialization of wildlife resources.”

Federal authorities said the men breed white-tailed bucks for trophy hunting. They knew, authorities allege, that some of the deer came from a Pennsylvania herd held captive after testing positive for chronic wasting disease, which is comparable to mad cow disease and is a serious threat to deer and elk populations in North America. The disease, which leads to death, is a transmissible neurological disorder that produces small lesions in the brain of deer and elk, and is characterized by loss of body condition and behavioral abnormalities.

“This case demonstrates our continuing commitment, together with our federal and state law enforcement partners, to investigate and prosecute those who choose to violate the federal Lacey Act by illegally importing white-tailed deer into our state,” acting U.S. Attorney Harold Brittain said in a statement Sept. 14 after the men were arrested.