November 12, 2005
- Wildlife poaching is a serious problem in Arkansas. The problem was apparent
on Jan. 13 when four men were arrested after a yearlong investigation headed by
wildlife officers with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
With the assistance of the Yell County Sheriff’s Office, the 15th Judicial Drug
Task Force and the Plainview City Marshal, wildlife officers from the AGFC’s
Search Warrant and Arrest Team, Special Operations Unit and local wildlife
officers arrested Kristopher Burnett, 21, Brandon Ziesemer, 26, Bretford Thomas,
47, and Frank Cardwell, 18, for charges stemming from the investigation.
The case began in February 2005, according to Lt. Greg Rae with the Arkansas
Game and Fish Commission. Cpl. Andy Tackett, the wildlife officer in Yell
County, arrested Burnett and Ziesemer for night hunting violations in the fall
of 2004. “Cpl. Tackett later learned that the two subjects continued their
poaching rampage even after their convictions by Judge Bill Strait in Yell
County Court,” Rae said.
Tackett later contacted the AGFC’s Special Operations Unit Supervisor and the
ball starting rolling, Rae explained. “Cpl. Tackett and officers from the
Special Operations Unit worked hand in hand over the next several months
gathering evidence targeting the Yell County men. Especially Ziesemer and
Burnett,” Rae said.
Charges stemming from the operation in Yell County were; 3 counts of night
hunting and 1 count of wild turkey season restrictions on Burnett. Ziesemer was
charged with 3 counts of night hunting, 3 counts of hunting or fishing after
revocation of privileges, 1 count quail season restrictions, 1 count wasting
edible portions of game and 1 count littering.
Thomas and Cardwell were charged with 1 count of night hunting each. Ziesemer
and Burnett were also charged in Perry County with 3 counts of night hunting
each and 1 count of hunting or fishing after revocation each. Burnett was
charged with 1 count of turkey season restrictions in Perry County.
During the investigation in December, Cpl. Tackett served warrants on Ziesemer
and Burnett for failure to pay fines on previous charges and arrested Ziesemer
for hunting after revocation on Dec. 4.
As a result of the search of the residences and vehicles of Ziesemer and Thomas,
28 items were seized as evidence for court including 5 firearms, 9 deer head
mounts or antlers, some of which were still in velvet. Deer parts were also
found scattered throughout the house and yard, along with 1 turkey fan, drug
paraphernalia and numerous photos of deer kills.
According to Rae, Yell County Prosecutor Tom Tatum II said that he would be
seeking restitution for all the wildlife killed during the investigation,
possible Game and Fish violations from evidence seized, pending charges by the
15th Judicial Drug Task Force as well as investigations by other agencies.
Game and Fish fines totaled $27,470 in Yell County and $16,800 in Perry County
for a poaching spree throughout the two counties.
Rae said that the operation would not have been successful without the
dedication and determination of Cpl. Andy Tackett and the special operations
unit investigators working diligently throughout the entire process.