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Two men face charges after a Department of Natural Resources investigation into nearly 20 deer carcasses found headless or missing racks in southeast Iowa since the beginning of the year.

The Iowa DNR started getting reports in early January about the deer bodies from citizens around rural Morning Sun, said Lucas Dever, a DNR conservation officer who worked on the case. Months of investigation eventually led to search warrants for two properties.

Matthew Greiner, 30, of Morning Sun was charged with 18 counts of unlawful taking/possession/transportation of a whitetail deer, 18 counts of not having a valid deer tag, seven counts of abandonment of dead or injured wildlife, two counts of hunting deer with a motor vehicle, one count of unlawful possession of a non-game species (raptor foot), one count of failure to report harvest, one count of hunting by artificial light, and one count of no state migratory fee.

Officers found Greiner in possession of methamphetamine, marijuana, prescription drugs and drug paraphernalia. He faces up to $67,000 in fines for the 18 deer offenses and $7,503 in fines for the drug charges, according to a DNR news release.

Dever said the agency found photo evidence that Greiner shot multiple geese without a license. As the DNR built the case, Dever collected hair and flesh samples from each animal carcass and sent them to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for DNA analysis. That helped investigators match parts of each deer carcass with its missing antlers or heads, Dever said.

“This is as bad as it gets,” Dever said. “Anytime you have deer dying and they’re not being used, it’s bad, in a hunter’s opinion. I can think of a lot of people that could have used the deer meat.”

Treyton Hartman, 19, of Yarmouth was charged and found guilty of two counts of unlawful taking of a whitetail deer, and one count each of abandonment of dead or injured wildlife, hunting with artificial light and lack of a deer tag. He was fined $5,500.

“Myself and other officers in the area would like to thank the public for letting us know about all this going on because, without them, we wouldn’t have found them,” Dever said.

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