By Amy Macavinta
Two men are going before a judge in 1st District Court on Monday, where they are facing criminal charges for allegedly poaching Bart, the beloved Hyde Park buck.
Shelby D. Rhodes of Garland, 36, and 28-year-old Steven Spillett of Logan were each charged with wanton destruction of protected wildlife, a class A misdemeanor, and interference with a public servant, a class B misdemeanor.
According to Division of Wildlife officials, the buck was part of an urban deer herd in Hyde Park and was killed in fall 2013. Months later, a photo of the buck surfaced on a hunting website, eventually leading investigators to Rhodes and Spillett.
The two individuals said the buck, with a majestic 9-by-8 point rack, was legally killed during the hunting season. However, wildlife conservation officer Matt Burgess said an
investigation by the Division of Wildlife eventually proved them wrong, and charges were filed in November.
Wes Hoth of Hyde Park is an avid hunter and sportsman who spent many hours watching the buck with his young daughters.
“This is kind of emotional — like someone shot another person’s black Lab,” he said.
Many people in the community considered him to be a pet and were heartbroken when he disappeared in 2013, he said.
Hoth said he is adamant in his wish to see the two alleged poachers lose their hunting privileges for a substantial period of time.
“It’s not what happens in the courtroom, it’s what happens with their licenses — that’s what matters to a sportsman,” he said.
Both men will be in court Monday for arraignment, but Burgess, with the Division of Wildlife, said they are planning to enter guilty pleas that day.