POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Sep 14, 2012
~~<p>Veteran helicopter pilot Thomas Leroy Hauptman will provide the Big Island Invasive Species Committee 500 hours of flight time as restitution for illegally transporting Maui axis deer to Hawaii island.<br />
Veteran helicopter pilot Thomas Leroy Hauptman will provide the Big Island Invasive Species Committee 500 hours of flight time as restitution for illegally transporting Maui axis deer to Hawaii island. U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin S.C. Chang ordered the restitution Thursday as part of Hauptman’s sentence. Chang also sentenced Hauptman to a year of probation. Hauptman, 63, said outside court the sentence is “expensive but fair.” He said the 500 hours of flight time is worth $500,000. Hauptman pleaded guilty last month to violating what he called Thursday an “obscure law” for illegally possessing game mammals and transporting them. He admitted taking three deer to Hawaii island in December 2009 and returning to Maui with 14 mouflon rams for his friend and neighbor Jeffrey Scott Grundhauser, owner of Arrow One Ranch in Kula. Grundhauser, 53, will be sentenced next month for illegally selling deer and sheep by letting an undercover U.S. Fish and Wildlife agent hunt the animals on his ranch without a hunting permit. Both men were charged with violating the Lacey Act, which Congress approved in 1900 to prevent hunters from poaching game in one state and selling the bounty in another. In recent years the government has used the law to prevent the introduction of alien animals into native ecosystems. The state wants to prevent the spread of axis deer on Hawaii island because the animal has caused extensive damage to native ecosystems on Maui, Lanai and Molokai. A new state law approved this year prohibits the possession or interisland transport of wild or feral deer. The state also wants to prevent the spread of mouflon sheep to Maui from established populations on Hawaii Island. “There is a saying that you shouldn’t mess with Mother Nature, and essentially that is what Mr. Hauptman and Mr. Grundhauser did,” said federal prosecutor Michael Song, “And because they did, their actions could ultimately cause years and years of ecological damage in the state of Hawaii.” Song said since the first confirmed sighting of axis deer on Hawaii island in February 2011, the Big Island Invasive Species Committee has spent more than $660,000 to rid the island of the animal. That amount does not include damage the deer may have caused to homes, personal property, farms, ranches and the environment. Hauptman told Chang other people have been taking deer to Hawaii island by boat for years. Hauptman said police have told him the deer were established on the island before he transported the three animals there in 2009.
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