The Minnesota dentist that made international headlines earlier this year for killing Cecil, a black-maned lion in Zimbabwe, is back in the spotlight after being accused of deer herding on his property.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says it is currently investigating allegations of illegal deer herding on land near Barnesville owned by Walter Palmer, who was only recently cleared of poaching charges by the Zimbabwe government. Witnesses said they saw pickup trucks being used to keep deer inside of the property. It is illegal in Minnesota and many other states to use a motor vehicle to chase wild animals.
Leah Thompson, who has been hunting on the land next to Palmer’s for the last 10 years, says she saw the trucks as recently as last week.
“He wasn’t driving, when you’re driving in a gravel road you’re moving, you’re going to where you need to go, he just slowed way up and the next thing I know the deer turned around and back into his field,” she told KFYR-TV.
Thompson claimed that when she made the call to the DNR, officials told her that several others have already made a complaint against Palmer. Conservation officers previously said that there were some hunting disputes regarding Palmer’s property, and the dentist has a history of getting in trouble with wildlife agencies. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to illegally harvesting a bear in Wisconsin and several years earlier he was also charged for fishing without a license. Illegally herding deer with a motor vehicle carries a $300 fine and is considered a misdemeanor in Minnesota.
“We will talk to everybody involved and decide whether or not a violation has occurred,” Greg Salo, operations manager for the DNR, told the Star Tribune. “It’s too early to speculate on the circumstances.”
A representative for Palmer responded that the allegations were baseless.
“The source cited by the media has a history of personal animosity toward Dr. Palmer,” read a statement. “This is just another example of people trying to attack an innocent man.”
The statement refers to the numerous death threats, calls, and hate mail directed to Palmer in the aftermath of the Cecil incident. The Zimbabwe government originally accused Palmer of poaching Cecil the lion in an illegal hunt over the summer, arresting his guide and the property owner of the land where the lion was killed. News of the Cecil’s death erupted in public outrage and forced Palmer to close down his dental office and withdraw from the public eye. Although Zimbabwe officials later concluded that Palmer had broken no laws, the damage to his reputation was already done.
Salo said the DNR will be contacting Palmer as part of the investigation. You can watch an interview with witnesses who allegedly saw the illegal herding below.
Images from Twitter and Larry Smith on the Flickr Creative Commons