By Corey Jones
An investigation into a Hughes County exotic wildlife ranch for stolen all-terrain vehicles allegedly turned up a zoo of state and federal violations, including illegal taxidermy and controlled narcotics.
The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry in a news release Thursday stated that Triple S Wildlife Ranch and Resort in Calvin may face a number of state and federal charges after investigators combed the 3,000-acre property Wednesday, uncovering several stolen ATVs, two stolen tractors, controlled narcotics and mounted animals illegal to have or sell in the state.
Mounted animals were prevalent inside the ranch's lodge, including exotic species such as a Caracara Mexican eagle, Scimitar oryx and an addax, officials said. Special agents also seized several duck mounts for sale, which violates federal law.
The news release said the Scimitar oryx — a type of antelope — is a species once found in North Africa but now extinct in the wild. The addax is another African antelope that is near extinction in its native habitats. Officials said the Scimitar oryx mount sported a tag that stated it could only be owned in Texas.
As for the controlled narcotics, investigators said they were used to conduct "green hunts" in which animals are shot with narcotics to sedate them for trophy photographs. The news release said hunts typically are for when an animal needs veterinary care. However, according to investigators, Triple S did them strictly for profit.
The Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Examiners said the drugs aren't illegal but are unlawful for a facility like Triple S to obtain.
The ranch owner's name was being withheld Thursday afternoon, pending charges.
According to the Triple S website, the facility is the largest exotic ranch in the state and specializes in photo safaris and green hunting. Customers "come as a client, leave as a friend," the website states.
Execution of the search warrant was handled by the ODAFF with assistance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Examiners and Oklahoma Highway Patrol.