Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents arrested a Patterson man on Feb. 7 for alleged wildlife violations in St. Mary Parish.
Agents arrested Harris DeHart, 45, for aggravated cruelty to animals, contributing to a delinquency of a juvenile, illegally taking non-game quadrupeds and failing to have a personal flotation on someone under 17 years old while underway in a vessel.
Agents were notified on Feb. 6 about a social media video posted by DeHart showing him gaffing a nutria, cutting the tail off and then releasing the nutria injured and still alive. After further investigation, agents found multiple other videos showing DeHart conducting this activity and also teaching a juvenile how to remove the tail from the nutria and keeping it alive.
Louisiana law states that nongame furbearing quadrupeds may be taken with a .22 caliber rifle and/or a shotgun less than 10 gauge using steel or non-toxic shot. The use of spears, pitchforks, bows and arrows, gigs, or other weapons or any like devices in hunting and taking nongame quadrupeds are prohibited.
Agents obtained an arrest warrant on Feb. 7 and arrested and booked DeHart into the St. Mary Parish Jail. Agents seized DeHart’s Nutria Control Program card/permit and cell phone in association with this case.
Aggravated cruelty to animals brings a $5,000 to $25,000 fine and up to 10 years in jail. Contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile carries up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail. Taking non-game quadrupeds illegally brings a $400 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail. Failing to have a PFD on a person under 17 years old while underway in a vessel carries up to a $50 fine.
Agents involved in this case are Lt. Scott Dupre, Sgt. Gerald Sander, and Corporal Jeremy Foret.