Massive Deer Poaching Operation Leads to 6 Arrests in Northern California

In one of the most significant wildlife crime busts in California’s history, six individuals have been charged with a series of serious offenses stemming from illegal deer poaching activities in Nevada County.

The group, under the direction of Bradley Chilton, engaged in nighttime hunts in 2023, killing dozens of deer unlawfully in residential areas using spotlights and car headlights. They employed a 7mm rifle along with 12- and 20-gauge shotguns for these illegal activities. The poachers did not utilize the entire deer; rather, they harvested valuable parts such as antlers and hides, leaving the remainder of the animals to decay.

“These charges relate to anything but hunting. Left unchecked, egregious deer poaching from a geographically limited area could begin to affect the local deer population,” said CDFW legal division captain Patrick Foy.

Further complicating the case, the group also engaged in fraudulent activities to conceal their actions, including forging and altering deer tag information. The extensive investigation, conducted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), led to the arrest of these individuals and the subsequent felony charges laid out by District Attorney Jesse Wilson in Nevada County Court.

Bradley Chilton faces additional charges related to attempting to evade police and illegal possession of a firearm. A seventh accomplice has been charged with aiding Chilton in his attempt to escape law enforcement.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California


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