By Debbie Hall
A Stuart man, charged in connection with the deaths of two albino deer, is free on bond following his arrest last week.
In addition to charges related to the recent roadside killing of two albino deer, Michael Ray Clifton was released on a $2,500 bond after he was charged with multiple counts of allegedly distributing methamphetamine, according to a release from Patrick County Sheriff Dan Smith.
The sheriff’s Tactical Response Team was executing three distribution of methamphetamine indictments at 53 Cedar View Lane in Stuart on March 10 around 10 a.m., Smith said.
Clifton, 35, of that address, was named in the indictments and arrested upon arrival, the sheriff added.
The drug indictments stemmed from an ongoing investigation conducted by Lt. Nicholas Pendleton and Brian Hubbard, an investigator in the Special Investigations Unit.
The deputies were assisted by Game Warden Dale Owens, of the Department of Wildlife Resources Law Enforcement Division.
Owens subsequently charged Clifton with two counts each of spotlighting deer with the intent to shoot, hunting from a motor vehicle, discharging a firearm from a roadway, and illegal possession of deer not reported. Clifton also was charged with one count each hunting without a license, hunting without a big game license, and trespassing.
The wildlife charges are the culmination of a three month investigation, led by Owens and with Hubbard assisting. in which two albino deer were found dead with their tails cut off. The killing of the deer occurred on Little Russell Creek Road.
Retired Patrick County judge Junius Warren, who owns property nearby, said an albino deer and her fawn were illegally shot and killed in Patrick County before daybreak on Dec. 6.
At the time, Warren said he believed “someone drove by and apparently spotlighted the two deer. Once you shine a light in a deer’s eyes, they’re blinded, and they just freeze.”
Warren also said he believed the doe was the first killed, and then the fawn. He noted the animals were left in the field with “pretty big sized holes in them.”
Afterward, the hunter or hunters left, but later returned to take the tails – perhaps for trophies or as proof of the kill, said Warren, who like many area residents was saddened by the incident.
“We’ve been watching this white mama deer for I guess three years and were always so happy to see her and just keep up with her,” he said in December. “This year, she had the young one, the fawn with her.”
While albino deer are not protected in Virginia, they are protected in several states including Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Tennessee. Dannie Anderson said in December that he was considering pressing charges. Anderson, who owns the property the deer were killed on, said the albino pair were hunted and killed without his permission.