Department of Natural Resources
May 23, 2019
The owner of two privately owned cervid (POC) facilities – also known as deer farms – in Osceola County, Michigan, has been arraigned on several misdemeanor charges tied to facility maintenance and inspections, reporting and other areas.
Ryan Hopkins, 42, of Sears, Michigan, is the owner and operator of Hopkins Trophy Whitetails, also located in Sears. On Tuesday, in the Osceola County District Court, in Reed City, Hopkins pleaded not guilty to those violations.
Hopkins Trophy Whitetails, which operates both a breeding facility and a ranch in Sears, offers paying clients the opportunity to hunt whitetail deer.
The Michigan DNR Law Enforcement Division last month served Hopkins with 11 arrest warrants arising out of a DNR investigation:
“Conservation officers conduct inspections at privately owned cervid facilities and take legal action when a POC violates regulations set by the state,” said DNR Law Enforcement Chief Gary Hagler.
Hopkins’ history of violations includes failure to:
“In this case, the owner failed to follow the state POC regulations, as he has in the past," Hagler said. "It’s our responsibility to prevent this type of behavior, which poses risk to the animals within the deer farm and the animals outside of it.”
Ryan Soulard, a DNR wildlife biologist who assisted in the investigation, said that although cases of this magnitude are rare, swift response and enforcement are critical.
“The vast majority of the owners of Michigan’s more than 300 deer farms are trying to do the right thing and are complying with state rules and regulations. However, we still encounter farms from time to time that require attention,” Soulard said.
“The DNR is committed to the overall compliance and regulation of deer farms in Michigan,” he said. “We want to ensure the industry’s long-term integrity, economic viability and compliance.”
Hopkins will return to court Friday, June 7, for a pretrial hearing.
If you witness or suspect a natural resource violation, call or text the DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline, available 24/7, at 800-292-7800. Learn more about Michigan’s conservation officers at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.