Nelson man pleads guilty to animal fighting, bear poaching, marijuana offenses

A Nelson County man pled guilty Monday to multiple federal charges for the sale of illegally poached bear organs, the sale of fighting gamecocks, the possession of protected migratory birds, and the distribution of marijuana.

David Tracy Davis, 71, of Roseland, pled guilty to one count of illegally selling wildlife, one count of selling fighting roosters for the purpose of having the roosters participate in an animal fighting venture, one count of unlawful possession of migratory bird talons, and one count of distributing marijuana without compensation Monday in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Charlottesville

Davis admitted to selling black bear gallbladders for profit to undercover agents, as well as to selling six gamecocks for the purpose of fighting those birds.  Davis told the undercover agent that he would help train the gamecocks to fight, and offered advice on certain types of drugs to give the bird in order to enhance their fighting performance. Additionally, Davis admitted to possessing the talons of a red tailed hawk and to distributing marijuana seeds to undercover agents.

“Mr. Davis broke a host of federal laws through his sales of poached game and illegal animals and his distribution of illegal drugs,” United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said today. “The United States attorney’s office will continue to investigate and prosecute those who profit from killing and selling animals on federal land and who by so doing waste the natural resources we protect for the benefit of all Americans and those individuals who raise and sell fighting animals and profit from those animals’ suffering.”

At sentencing, Davis faces:

– a maximum possible penalty of up to one year in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000 for the marijuana charge,

– a maximum possible penalty of up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $20,000 for the charge related to selling black bear parts,

– a maximum possible penalty of up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000 for selling fighting roosters,

– a maximum possible penalty of up to six months in prison and/or a fine of up to $15,000 for possessing the talons of a red tailed hawk.

Davis is presently serving a ninety-day sentence after pleading guilty in the Circuit Court of Nelson County to multiple counts of possessing a firearm while manufacturing, transporting, or selling illegal alcohol and of animal cruelty.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Virginia attorney general’s office, the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of the Inspector General, the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the Virginia Animal Fighting Task Force, the United States Forest Service, the National Park Service’s Law Enforcement Division, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Virginia Department of Agriculture, and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.  The Humane Society of the United States assisted in recovering and caring for the animals involved in this case.

Assistant Virginia Attorney General and Special Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Welch and Special Assistant United States Attorney Ramin Fatehi prosecuted the case for the United States.


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