Poacher Forced to Watch Bambi on Repeat as Part of His Prison Sentence
A Missouri man caught up in one of the largest deer poaching cases in the state’s history has been ordered to repeatedly watch the classic Disney movie Bambi as part of his punishment. Some Twitter users have advised him to stock up on tissues as he will have to rewatch the scene of Bambi’s mother killing at least 12 times.
While poaching isn’t necessarily an uncommon practice unfortunately, this specific case was significant because the illegal activity took place over the course of many years, resulting in hundreds of deer being killed as trophies. David Berry Jr. pleaded guilty on October 11 and received a one-year jail sentence on December 6, along with an extra 120 days in a neighboring county for a felony firearms probation violation.
Berry’s case is considered one of Missouri’s largest poaching cases, resulting in a years-long investigation into the crimes. Lawrence County Judge Robert George levied an extra punishment against Berry Jr. for illegally taking wildlife, saying he must “view the Walt Disney movie Bambi, with the first viewing being on or before Dec. 23, and at least one such viewing thereafter” in the county jail, according to court records.
David Berry Jr. was arrested with his father, two brothers and another man who helped them, authorities said. They had their hunting, fishing and trapping licenses suspended for life. They have paid a combined fine of $51,000.
The investigation into the Berrys began in late 2015, when the conservation agency received an anonymous tip about deer poaching in Lawrence County, according to the New York Times.
Conservation Agent Andy Barnes estimates the group stole hundreds of animals since they began their illegal hunting operation several years ago.
“It is unknown how many deer the main group of suspects has taken illegally over the past several years,” Barnes said, according to the Associated Press. “It would be safe to say that several hundred deer were taken illegally.”
“The deer were trophy bucks taken illegally, mostly at night, for their heads, leaving the bodies of the deer to waste,” said Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney Don Trotter, the Springfield News-Leader reported.
Berry was not the only defendant in the multi-year poaching investigation. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, the investigation has tied 14 Missouri residents to over 230 criminal charges that occurred in 11 Missouri counties.
Berry’s father, David Berry Sr., and brother Kyle Berry were arrested in August after a nearly nine-month investigation that also involved cases in Kansas, Nebraska and Canada. The Missouri Department of Conservation said information from the investigation led to more than 230 charges in 11 counties for 14 Missouri residents.
Investigators said David Berry Sr.’s other son, Eric Berry, later was caught with another person spotlighting deer, in which poachers use light at night to make deer pause and easier to hunt.
Bambi was Walt Disney Pictures fifth feature-length film that was released 76 years ago in 1942. While the film is remembered for its lovable characters and pop culture significance through the years, the film is also remembered for the tragic scene in which Bambi’s mother is killed by a hunter. The scene has gone down as one of the saddest and darkest moments of any Disney film.
People observing wildlife violations can report them through the Operation Game Thief Hotline, 1-800-392-1111 or call the local conservation agent.