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May 22, 2013

Court forbids deer poachers to hunt

ROWLEY — Two former water department employees have lost their hunting privileges for a year after being convicted on Monday on multiple deer poaching charges in Newburyport District Court.

Jason Masse,, 32, of 10 Boxford Road, Apt. 30, and Jason Kneeland, 35, of 266 Main St., both of Rowley, pleaded guilty before Newburyport District Court Judge Peter Doyle to three counts each of violation of deer tagging hunting regulations. Along with having their hunting licenses and privilege revoked for a year, the men were fined $50 for each count.

The court ruling falls short, however, of the ramifications of the men’s actions last December, when after killing an untagged deer, they gutted it and left the remains on one of Rowley’s water wells. Former employees of the Rowley Water Department, both men resigned following the scandal that broke in town when the three butchered deer carcasses were found, and the town has suffered financially as a result of their actions as well.

Masse and Kneeland, the department’s former primary and secondary operators respectively, were arrested and charged by the Massachusetts Environmental Police Division on Feb. 6 for the illegal possession of untagged deer. According to the DEP consent order, the activities were “both inside and immediately outside of the Well #3 [Boxford Road] pump house and occurring within several feet of the well head. The alleged illegal activities described [in the police report] included butchering and draining the carcasses of untagged deer.”

The actions of the men led to the state shutting shut down the well and imposing a $26,000 fine on Rowley. The result brought the resignations of both water department employees.

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