MIDDLEBURY — A local resident is getting credit for helping state game wardens break open a case involving a series of illegal taking of wildlife, including multiple deer and a turkey, Vt. Fish & Wildlife Department said Tuesday in a statement released by the department.
Winston G. Forbes, 18, of Salisbury, has been ordered to appear in Vt. Superior Court Dec. 30 to face Fish & Wildlife charges, including transportation of big game illegally, wardens said.
A 17-year-old Middlebury resident also has been issued a juvenile citation ordering him into Vermont Family Court for identical charges, officials said.
Forbes is facing an adult charge of driving while under the influence as well for the incident early Sunday morning, Middlebury Police Chief Tom Hanley said.
Game Warden Wes Butler said a local resident alerted authorities when he suspected possible deer jacking or other activity underway near the Abbey Pond trailhead in Middlebury.
Butler said because there are only about three dozen state game wardens spread across Vermont, the department’s success in enforcement efforts is often based on citizens filing timely alerts.
“If you see something, say something,” Butler said. He said that is what happened in this case. He noted this time of year game wardens throughout the state are busy with complaints about deer jacking and other violations.
The two teens were in the process of unloading and field-dressing a four-point buck they had shot illegally an hour earlier in Cornwall, the Fish & Wildlife Department said.
The local resident confronted the teens, who then tried to flee the scene. Middlebury Police, which also had been alerted, intercepted the truck as it tried to leave as state troopers and game wardens responded to the area also.
Middlebury Police Officer Casey Covey determined he had sufficient evidence to process Forbes for suspected DUI during the 1:30 a.m. stop, Hanley said.
The weapons and a 2020 Chevrolet Silverado operated by Forbes were seized as evidence, Fish & Wildlife officials said.
The two teens have been under investigation for a string of Fish & Wildlife crimes that reached from New Haven, through Middlebury and to Cornwall during the past five weeks, the Fish & Wildlife statement said.
Wardens plan to meet with Addison County State’s Attorney Dennis Wygmans as the investigation continues.
The teens have been linked to at least five illegally killed deer and one wild turkey, Butler said.
All of the animals were reportedly shot from the road and some were killed at night. Investigation showed a 30-06 rifle and a .22 caliber rifle were used in the shootings, wardens said.
The deer were processed and hung from a tree in the woods near the Abbey Pond trailhead and at a local concrete plant.
The teens were preparing to process the last deer early Sunday when the concerned citizen called to report suspicious activity, wardens said.
Butler urged anybody with information about this case — or any other violations of Fish & Wildlife laws to contact the local game warden through the closest State Police barracks or anonymously by calling Operation Game Thief at 1-800-75ALERT (1-800-752-5378).