Reward offered for clues in poison deaths of deer

October 06, 1994|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Western Maryland Bureau of The Sun

HAGERSTOWN -- Western Maryland hunters and Natural Resources Police officers are offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to arrests in the intentional poisoning deaths of 72 deer last winter.

In March, the 72 decomposing deer carcasses were found on a wooded 20-acre tract east of Big Pool and north of Interstate 70 in rural Washington County, said Natural Resources Cpl. Larry Browning.

Police believe the deer were poisoned intentionally, but officers have not yet determined what kind of poison was used. An investigation is continuing.

By offering a reward, police officers and hunters hope to bring forward people who may know details of the poisoning but have not disclosed the information, said Patty Manown, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Natural Resources in Western Maryland.

"This was the first time we had seen anything like this in such large numbers," Corporal Browning said. "Most of the deer died in late February or early March and died suddenly. They were targeted."

He said starvation and winter stress were ruled out because the deer were healthy and fed by members of a family-owned hunt club on whose property the carcasses were found.

"These animals dropped in their tracks shortly after consuming whatever it was they ate," Corporal Browning said. "These deer were healthy before they died. They had good, healthy body fat."

Tissue samples were taken from the animals' brains and intestinal tracts. Laboratory tests -- conducted at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, and the Southeast Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the University of Georgia in Athens -- were inconclusive, DNR officials said.

Those offering the reward are the Western Maryland Sportsmen Federation, which has chapters in Carroll, Frederick, Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties; the Isaac Walton League of Washington County, the Natural Resources Police -- Fraternal Order of Police; and the Michaels family, which owns the hunting club property.

Anyone with information is asked to call Corporal Browning of the Natural Resources Police at (301) 777-7771 or (800) 628-9944.

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