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Anonymous tip leads to Friday arrests for poaching near pot patch

STRAFFORD – State and local police arrested two men who allegedly killed a fawn out-of-season near a field of 20 marijuana plants Friday.

After the caller reported seeing two men gutting a deer in the woods off Range Road Aug. 20, police and N.H. Fish & Game conservation officers responded to the area, where they allegedly found evidence of a killed deer and a field of marijuana plants – which were at least six feet tall. They immediately retreated from the area and obtained a search warrant for 43 Range Road, according to Fish & Game.

Police also allegedly found meat processing materials and a .22 caliber/410 rifle and shotgun.

As a result, Eric McNeil, 30, of Strafford, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and for the manufacture of a controlled drug – which are both felonies. McNeil and Robert Weeks, of 21 New Road, Strafford, were both charged with taking a deer during the closed season, which is a misdemeanor.

Weeks is not a suspect in the marijuana growing activity.

"These two individuals committed a wildlife crime when they made the decision to kill this deer - it was only a fawn and still had spots on it. Thanks to the efforts of an individual making a call to Operation Game Thief, we hope to see justice served in this matter," Conservation Officer Justin Ferland wrote in a press release.

Poaching is the illegal taking of game or fish, trespassing, littering, theft or destroying property.

McNeil is scheduled to appear at an arraignment Sept. 17 in the Rochester District Court.

Anonymous tips can be left though Operation Game Thief (OGT), an anti-poaching program which encourages people to report any suspicious activity or knowledge about a poaching violation, by calling the toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 1-800-344-4262. Weeks is not a suspect in the marijuana growing activity. Violations may also be reported online at www.wildnh.com/OGT.



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