Terry Foster has been sentenced to pay a $1,000 fine for one count of violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (“FIFRA”) by lacing deer carcasses with a restricted, highly poisonous pesticide in order to bait and kill coyotes.
“Foster’s conduct threatened Georgia’s wildlife and environment for his own personal benefit,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “But for the speedy response by federal and state law enforcement, Foster’s actions could have had much graver consequences.”
“The defendant knowingly misused an acutely toxic pesticide to poison wildlife,” said acting Special Agent in Charge Charles Carfagno of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Atlanta. “This case shows that EPA and its law enforcement partners are committed to enforcing pesticide laws to protect public health and the environment.”
“Georgia is fortunate to have a robust and unique set of natural resources that Georgians enjoy every day from the mountains to the coast. This case and outcome are a testament to the universal commitment by all federal, state, and local parties involved to protect our natural resources. DNR is proud to have strong, working relationships with these partners, which help to serve as a constant deterrent to those who wish to act outside the rule of law,” said Mark Williams, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court:
In December 2018, a private citizen contacted the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (“GA-DNR”) about a possible wildlife poisoning on a property in Cherokee County. Upon arriving, GA-DNR found two deer carcasses, which had been cut open and laced with a blue, granular substance, and several dead (and dying) animals lying nearby, including an opossum and two red tailed hawks. GA-DNR then immediately requested the assistance of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) to collect and analyze the dead animals. GA-DNR subsequently learned that Foster hunted on the property where the dead animals were found, and obtained a state search warrant for his truck, from which they recovered several hunting knives, a bucket containing the blue poison, blood swaths, and deer hair. Foster was also interviewed by law enforcement, and admitted that he had recently been on the property where the deer carcasses were found, wanted nothing more than to kill coyotes, and knew the blue substance lining the deer carcasses was a poison used to bait the coyotes.
USFWS thereafter completed a toxicology analysis and DNA-matching of the animals and items recovered from Foster’s truck. According to the DNA analysis, the deer hair found in Foster’s truck matched one of the deer found on the property, and the blood swabs as well as DNA from one of the knives recovered from Foster’s truck matched the other deer. The toxicology analysis confirmed that the blue substance found in the two deer carcasses, one of the red-tail hawks, and Foster’s truck was a poison, methomyl, a common fly bait that is sold under the trade name “Golden Malrin.”
The EPA-approved labels for Golden Malrin Fly Killer state that it is “for use around the outside of food processing areas.” In particular, the labeling warns that: “It is illegal to use this product with the intention to kill raccoons, skunks, opossums, coyotes, wolves, dogs, cats, or any other non-target species.”
Foster admitted during his guilty plea that he had laced the deer carcasses with Golden Malrin for the purpose of killing coyotes. As a result, an opossum and two red-tailed hawks died after ingesting methomyl-laced deer.
Terry Foster, 54, of Blairsville, Georgia, was sentenced by U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher C. Bly to pay a $1,000 fine. Foster pleaded guilty to the FIFRA violation on February 20, 2020, and was sentenced that same day.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency investigated this case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex R. Sistla prosecuted the case.