5 charged after 26 dead deer found in NC (VIDEO)

Acting on a tip, Sunday morning wildlife officers found evidence of more than two dozen deer that were illegally hunted in Pinetops, North Carolina.

Lt. Sam Craft, with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, said the animals were in various states of decomposition. Sixteen heads, primarily belonging to bucks, were found, along with 10 more bodies scattered across a field. One deer, which was shot and left for dead but still alive, had to be put down, due to the extent of its injuries. Craft said several more deer were shot and left to die.

Craft also added the initial investigation indicated the individuals involved were not simply trying to feed their families.

Five people were charged for the killings, including two minors.

Christopher Jason Jernigan, 18, was charged with night hunting. Timothy Austin Stamatis, 19, and Thomas Lee Ayers, 18, were charged with unlawful possession. James Chadwick Bowen Jr., 17, was charged with exceeding the season limit of bucks, night deer hunting and unlawful possession. Dylan Matthew Casper, 16, was charged with night deer hunting.

The men could face a penalty of up to $500 per deer, for a total of $15,000, and their hunting licenses will be suspended for two years.

[ WRAL ]