Maui helicopter pilot sentenced in deer case

HONOLULU (AP) - A federal judge is sentencing a Maui helicopter pilot to a year of probation and 500 hours of community service for illegally flying deer to the Big Island.

U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Kevin Chang said Thursday Thomas Hauptman will perform community service by providing a Big Island group that fights invasive species with 500 hours of helicopter flight time.

Hauptman last month pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of illegally transporting wildlife.  Prosecutors say he flew four axis deer to the Big Island in 2009 as part of an alleged scheme by hunters to establish a deer population there.

Axis deer were introduced to Maui in the 1950s. Conservationists worry they could harm Big Island forests, farms and ranches if they become established there.

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