KDWPT Game Wardens Bring Four Wildlife Violators to Justice

PRATT – Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s (KDWPT) Law Enforcement staff continue to make great strides in bringing wildlife poachers to justice, including four individuals who, combined, were responsible for illegally taking 68 Kansas deer.

On Nov. 4, in Barber County court, John Blick, Jr., of Sharon, was sentenced to spend 14 months in prison related to the poaching of a combined 60 whitetail and mule deer. In addition to prison time, district judge Frank Meisenheimer sentenced Blick to pay $310,234.68 in restitution to KDWPT for the value of the deer to the state.

Blick – who was found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm when the poaching crimes were committed ­– also pleaded guilty to 33 charges in Harper County. He was fined $15,000 for those charges and ordered to pay $17,407.04 in restitution for three trophy deer he killed in Harper County in 2019. Blick has been ordered to forfeit his hunting privileges for five years. Because of an agreement between states, this means Blick will not be able to hunt in more than 45 other states during the five-year forfeiture of his privileges.

In both counties, Blick pleaded guilty to numerous counts of criminal hunting, hunting with aid of a motor vehicle, criminal discharge of a firearm, felon in possession of a firearm, failure to purchase a permit and failure to tag a deer, exceeding bag limits, hunting with aid of an artificial light, hunting without a valid license and the illegal take of a trophy deer.

Per Kansas law, all confiscated deer heads were destroyed, and all equipment seized, including firearms, were forfeited to the state of Kansas.

KDWPT game wardens Jason Harrold, Scott Stoughton and K9 officer “Gypsy” conducted a multi-year investigation on the case. The trio credits their success, in part, to the valuable assistance and information they received from county and city law enforcement officers, numerous landowners and members of the public.

Three sentenced in Fort Riley poaching

Fort Riley officials are lauding Kansas game wardens Trevor Schulte and Jeff Cakin for the roles they played in getting three men successfully charged and convicted for illegally taking deer in an off-limits area of Fort Riley. All three wildlife violators pleaded guilty to poaching and to violating the federal Lacy Act by trespassing onto the off-limits area on Fort Riley.

Final sentencing for James C. Nunley, of St. George, Gregory Jr. Frikken, of Wamego and Michael J. Smith of Watertown, New York took place on Feb. 4, 2021 in federal court in Topeka. Nunley, Frikken and Smith faced a total of 18 charges, including poaching a total of eight deer, three of which were classified as trophy bucks under Kansas guidelines.

The three poachers admitted sneaking into the 20,000-acre off-limits area where weapons ranging from handguns to artillery are fired. Hunting and other non-military actions are never allowed on the area because of safety concerns. The crimes occurred in 2018 and 2019.

Smith was forced to pay $2,000 in fines and $3,500 in restitution. Frikken paid $5,000 in fines and $3,500 in restitution. Nunley paid a $5,000 fine and $3,500 in restitution. Fines went to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Lacy Act reward fund. Restitution was for the value of the deer and paid to KDWPT. All three violators had their hunting and fishing privileges suspended for three years and were given three years of probation. Nunley, Frikken and Smith also agreed to forfeit all trophy mounts and wildlife parts, such as antlers, gathered during the investigation.

Others responsible for bringing these violators to justice include Fort Riley conservation law enforcement officers, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agent and New York state environmental conservation officers.

For more on KDWPT Law Enforcement, including how to become a game warden, visit ksoutdoors.com/Services/Law-Enforcement.