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Local butcher charged after reportedly allowing nearly a dozen animals to rot and grow mold in cooler

Bonneville County’s most recent mugshot of Dusty Cole Wakefield from August 2009. | Bonneville County Jail
IDAHO FALLS — A 39-year-old local butcher was charged after reportedly wasting nearly a dozen game animals, allowing them to grow mold and rot in a broken cooler.
Dusty Cole Wakefield was charged with four counts of felony unlawful killing, possessing, or wasting wildlife and one count of misdemeanor wasteful destruction of wildlife.
On Jan. 10, an Idaho Falls Police Officer called Wakefield, the owner and operator of DNS Butcher Company, to pay him for butchering an elk he had processed for the police department after it was seized as evidence in an unrelated investigation, according to court documents.
Wakefield reportedly told the officer to come by the next day to pick up the elk.
On Jan. 11, the officer arrived at the butcher company, located at 625 Pancheri Drive, went inside the building, and reportedly saw a bag of packaged meat labeled “F&G,” according to court documents.
The officer opened the plastic flap that covered the entrance of a walk-in cooler and saw 12 animal carcasses.
According to police reports, “they all had excessive mold growing in them and they appeared to be wasted.”
The officer could not find anyone in the building, so he left. In the parking lot, an employee from a nearby business reportedly told the officer that Wakefield works “weird hours.”
The next day, the IFPD officer and a Regional Conservation Officer with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game went to the butcher company to meet with Wakefield and retrieve the elk.
When they went inside, they discovered the elk had only been half-processed. Wakefield reportedly retrieved two bags of packaged meat and set them down, telling the conservation officer several concerning things.
According to court documents, Wakefield revealed:

He had processed over 200 animals this year.
It had been taking at least a month to process animals.
The room that the animals hang in is not a freezer.

Wakefield agreed to show the officers the cooler and stated, “There were a lot of bones inside.”
From the doorway, the officer reportedly saw “several carcasses that had large amounts of mold covering much of their surface.” He also noticed the carcasses were dark in color and appeared noticeably dehydrated.
Officers noted Wakefield did not have a freezer on the premises, but rather used a cooler room.
According to court documents, the conservation officer confirmed with Wakefield that all animals were tagged to track how long they were in the cooler. One of the animals had reportedly been there for over two months.
The conservation officer then told Wakefield about Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s regulations regarding how to collect information from hunters when they come drop off their animals for processing.
Wakefield reportedly claimed the moldy and rotten animals came into the shop in that condition and that people bring in animals that have been hanging for multiple weeks.
When told that the elk for the officer was still hanging, Wakefield claimed he must have mixed it up with another customer’s elk.
The conservation officer began taking photos of the shop, and the police officer continued investigating. While looking around, he reportedly noticed “several bins and crates that contained meat that was in similar condition as the hanging carcasses.”
He also reportedly found more than ten 55-gallon barrels that were filled with “moldy bones and meat scraps.”
The conservation officer said based on his training and experience, “several, if not all the animals in the cooler were partially or entirely wasted.”
On Jan. 18, the conservation officer and IFPD officer returned to the butcher company to serve a warrant for the facility.
While the facility was being cleared, secured, and investigated, officers stayed with Wakefield outside and “informed (him) that he was free to leave at any time and that his presence during the execution of the warrant was voluntary.”
While standing with the officer, Wakefield reportedly claimed:

He could not get to “them” (animals to be processed) fast enough.
The animals were frozen.
He was taught meat is like cheese, you can just trim off the outside.
He was taught to take in all animals, and has trouble saying “no” to customers.
Just because “one part may be bad” doesn’t mean the whole thing is.
He did not know that “waste of game” was a thing.
The cooler usually stays at 34 degrees.
Only one of the two cooler units work.

He also reportedly stated that “freezing the animals adds a lot of extra work,” and he “wasn’t bummed because (police) were there. He was bummed because of the animals that had gone bad.”
During the search, the IDFG seized 11 “whole or partially wasted wild game animals” along with several other items, including the intake log.
The animals were taken to the Idaho Falls Fish and Game office and loaded into the evidence freezer. The officer contacted all customers that had dropped off an animal and asked them to come evaluate them at the office.
Wakefield was not arrested but was charged for the alleged crimes on March 6. He is expected to appear for a preliminary hearing on April 10.
If convicted, he could face up to 21 years in prison.
Though Wakefield has been charged with these crimes, it does not necessarily mean he committed them. Everyone is presumed innocent until they are proven guilty.
The post Local butcher charged after reportedly allowing nearly a dozen animals to rot and grow mold in cooler appeared first on East Idaho News.

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