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Mississippi Man Sentenced for Illegally Transporting Deer


27, 2007


Tom MacKenzie, (404) 679-7291
Jim Walker, Mississippi Wildlife Fisheries & Parks (601) 432-2250

On July 19, 2007, James (Jimmy) Donahoo of Belzoni, Miss. was sentenced to a three-year probationary term and a $5,000 fine by Senior United States District Judge Glen Davidson after pleading guilty to a felony count of purchasing and transporting whitetail deer in interstate commerce in violation of the Lacey Act.

In addition, Judge Davidson ordered that Donahoo would pay the costs of administering the probation, which amounts to $287.50 per month for the three-year period. Finally, because the crime to which Donahoo pled guilty was a felony, Donahoo will no longer be able to possess a firearm.

“Your hunting days are over,” Judge Davidson told Donahoo during the sentencing. “And you are at fault for that.”

Jimmy Donahoo’s nephew, Shea Donahoo, pled guilty to a misdemeanor violation of the Lacey Act and was sentenced to a two-year probationary term. Shea Donahoo was also ordered to pay the costs of administering the probation, $287.50 per month for the two-year term.

The case was investigated by Special Agents with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Agents with the Mississippi
Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and was prosecuted by Dave Sanders with the United States Attorney’s Office.

The state of Mississippi considers the importation of deer from other states a serious violation,said Johnny Collins, Director of Special Operations for Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. “Unlawful importation of wild animals into Mississippi from other states is a violation of both state and federal laws.”

Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Park worked with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to investigate these violations and will continue to closely monitor these types of violations.

“The importation of white-tailed deer into the state of Mississippi is a serious concern,” said Robert T. Oliveri, Resident Agent-In-Charge of Law Enforcement for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. “The United States Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement will continue to assist states when investigating these types of cases.”


The case originated over two years ago when local citizens began reporting seemingly docile whitetail deer with tags in their ears on Donahoo’s property. Donahoo owned approximately 1,000 acres in Humphreys County, Mississippi. Surrounding that property was an eight-foot high “game fence” that effectively confined whitetail deer within the enclosure. The subsequent investigation eventually uncovered that Donahoo was purchasing live whitetail deer from various breeders located in southern Louisiana and was having them transported to Humphreys County, Mississippi. Donahoo paid breeders for these whitetail deer with checks written to various businesses including one breeder’s seafood business. That check drafted on the Donahoo Fish Farms account, signed by Jimmy Donahoo, and dated November 16, 2004 was for $6,400. Donahoo wrote on the check that it was payment for“fingerlings” when, in fact, it was for whitetail deer. After agreeing on which deer Donahoo would purchase, the deer were transported across the state line in a trailer. Donahoo told an informant working for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service that the breeder would bring the deer at night in a black trailer, and the trailer had an automatic hitch. Donahoo stated that had the breeder been stopped by the authorities on the highway, he would have been able to “release” the trailer and there would be “deer all over the ... highway.”

Jimmy Donahoo, along with his nephew Shea Donahoo would then unload the deer inside the fenced enclosure owned and operated by Jimmy Donahoo who planned eventually to raise a herd and sell hunts within the enclosure. Donahoo told the informant that he could dart a deer and measure its antlers, and if the antlers were big enough, he could sell hunts for as much as $20,000.

Jimmy Donahoo planned to tell authorities if investigated that the deer inside the enclosure were not brought from out of state, but were deer caught inside the fence when it was put in place. Because passers-by were reporting that deer inside the pen had tags in their ears, Donahoo’s plan was to tell the authorities, if asked, that they had simply darted the deer within the enclosure and tagged the deer at that time.


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