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Pilot: chopper-chasing muleys a federal crime

9/25/2006

LINCOLN, Neb. — Chasing a herd of mule deer with a helicopter might seem less than sporting, but it's also a violation of federal law.

A South Dakota man was sentenced Wednesday to two years of probation for chopper-chasing a herd in a Nebraska national forest.

Troy Link, 34, pleaded guilty to airborne harassment of wildlife.

Witnesses say that in November 2004, they saw the helicopter flying less than 100 feet above the ground, chasing the small herd in the McKelvie National Forest southwest of Valentine.

Using any kind of aircraft to harass or disturb wildlife is a crime punishable in federal court by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $100,000, according to the state attorney general's office.

During his probation, Link, of Huron, S.D., is prohibited from hunting or fishing, and must pay a $5,000 fine.