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2 deny running illegal hunting preserve in Fairlee - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

2 deny running illegal hunting preserve in Fairlee

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FAIRLEE, Vt. -

A couple accused of running an illegal hunting preserve in Fairlee denied the charge in court Wednesday.

State game wardens raided Hunt the Ridge late last year during an uncover sting after receiving a tip. Investigators are still trying to determine how long Steven Hill, 51, and Chiaki Ito, 21, operated the preserve and how much they profited.

The couple is charged with importing and possessing animals for hunting. Hunters were charged up to $6,000 to go after animals like buffalo, Spanish goats and Russian boars on the 129-acre preserve.

Two-hundred animals remain on the property.

"We are not sure at this time where they came from, whether they came from other deer farms, whether they were produced on the facility, we are not sure," said Jeffrey Whipple, a warden with Vt. Fish and Wildlife.

The investigation is continuing and more charges could be filed. If convicted, the pair faces $7,000 in fines and could lose their hunting licenses for three years.

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