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Contact: Jennie Kish Albrinck, 605-433-5240
BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK, INTERIOR, S.D. - On November 24th, South Dakota Game & Fish received a report from two concerned citizens regarding suspicious hunting activity within the Conata Basin, which is located in the northwest part of Badlands National Park. Park rangers conducted an investigation and discovered a blood trail measuring over 700 yards.
Two Rapid City residents, Lance VanZee and Todd Elson, were interviewed as suspects in the case. These interviews resulted in both men admitting to having killed two mule deer inside the park. Rangers confiscated the heads and capes of both deer along with a rifle used by Elson. VanZee and Elson were charged with misdemeanor Lacey Act violations, resulting in $2,000 in fines and restitution totaling $3,000.
This is the second successful Lacey Act conviction of illegal hunting activities at Badlands National Park since January of this year, when rangers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officers closed a 2010 buffalo poaching case. The Lacey Act protects both plants and wildlife by creating civil and criminal penalties for a wide array of violations. It prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, transported or sold.
Chief Ranger Casey Osback stated "This case reflects a strong partnership between the local community and Badlands National Park in protecting our cultural and natural resources."
The National Park Service mission, as identified in the 1916 Organic Act is charged with the protection of "natural and historic objects and the wild life" in national parks. In most park units, hunting is specifically called out as a prohibited recreational use. Hunting is welcomed on some federal and state properties. Responsible hunters research regulations and follow appropriate guidelines.