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5 charged in Windsor County deer poaching scheme

Five Windsor County residents appeared in court this week to answer to charges of poaching deer during last fall’s hunt.
Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 4:02 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 28, 2022 at 6:20 AM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) – Five Windsor County residents appeared in court this week to answer to charges of poaching deer during last fall’s hunt.

The Vermont Warden Service says a multi-month investigation resulted in the arrests of Zackery Baxter, 26, of Sharon, Jeffrey Degrasse, 26, of Hartford, Kobe Labonte, 22, of White River Junction, Casey Thayer, 27, of Hartford, and Patrick Whitcomb, 24, of Hartford.

Authorities say the suspects took 14 illegal deer in Vermont and faced a total of 78 criminal-related charges including taking deer in a closed season, obstruction of justice, and feeding deer. They say they are also suspected of poaching in New Hampshire, where they face additional charges.

In court Tuesday, authorities say Baxter and Degrasse pled not guilty to all charges. The other defendants pleaded guilty and face fines as high as $1,821, along with restitution and the forfeiting of crossbows.

“It will take 3 to 4 years for the deer population in Windsor County to recruit additional mature bucks and replace those that were illegally taken this fall,” Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s Mark Scott said in a statement. “Poaching at this scale is a blow both to the local deer herd, and to Vermont’s culture of fair and equal access to public trust wildlife.”

Officials say the investigation succeeded thanks to tips from other hunters who alerted authorities.

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