Pair Indicted for Illegal Hunting Operation

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department filed charges against two state residents, Steven Hill and Chiaki Ito, who were each indicted on seven counts of operating an unlicensed captive hunting facility.

The pair faces charges of up to $1,000 for each count and stand to lose their hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses for up to three years.

According to Fish & Wildlife law enforcement officials, Hill, 51, and Ito, 21, both of Fairlee, Vt., are accused of operating the “Hunt the Ridge” captive hunting facility in Fairlee. They are alleged to have charged visitors up to $6,000 to hunt exotic wild animals. The list of animals advertised for hunters at the 129 acre facility included whitetail deer, buffalo, sika deer, elk, fallow deer, wild boar, Spanish goats, Texas dall sheep, and moose.

Seven counts were brought against Hill and Ito based on the testimony of individual hunters or witnesses to a hunt. Two of these hunters were undercover Vermont Game Wardens who paid $750 each to hunt a Spanish goat and a wild boar.

Hill and Ito were ordered by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department to immediately cease operating the facility without a permit. An estimated 200 animals remain on the property.

Arraignment is set for February 27 in Orange County Superior Court in Chelsea, Vt. The investigation continues and additional charges are possible.