A Massachusetts man has been ordered to pay $10,000 after illegally transporting hares across state lines.
Jon Rioux, 36, of Attleboro, Massachusetts, has also been sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay $1,843 in restitution to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife by U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen on Wednesday.
Rioux was charged with four counts of interstate wildlife trafficking and one count of attempted wildlife trafficking between March 2021 and April 2021.
It is illegal to transport rabbits from Maine to other states and sell them without a permit. Rioux did not have one, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Portland.
He reportedly paid between $70 and $100 per hare in Maine and sold them in Massachusetts for between $100 and $200.
The investigation into Rioux began in 2021 when he allegedly solicited Maine residents to sell him live trapped snowshoe rabbits. Agents with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, a division of the Department of the Interior, learned of Rioux’s activities and went undercover to investigate.
Between February 2021 and March 16, 2022, the agents trapped at least a dozen of the hares to sell to Rioux, according to the complaint. Rioux initially would meet them in parking lots of retail outlets in southern Maine. In March 2021, he asked them to meet him at the Kittery rest stop because his wife was pregnant and he wanted to be closer to home.
Rioux was arrested on March 16, 2022. He faced up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on the felony counts and up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 on the misdemeanor count.