Dr. Walter Palmer, the Bloomington, Minnesota dentist who received a flood of international criticism after shooting and killing a famed lion in Zimbabwe this summer, has now become embroiled in yet another controversy.
Palmer, who owns a 900-acre hunting estate in western Minnesota, is under investigation by the state's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for allegedly using illegal tactics to hunt deer, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
The dentist is accused of trying to prevent deer from migrating off his property during the latest deer hunting season by "herding" them using pickup trucks, a practice that is illegal in Minnesota.
Palmer's neighbor, Leah Thompson, said she was hunting with a nephew on her family's land around 4 p.m. on Nov. 7 when she noticed two pickup trucks attempting to herd deer back onto Palmer's property.
“Out of the blue, comes this one white pickup, and he stops right between me and the deer. … He stopped for a moment. … All of a sudden, he drives up the hill and the deer run back onto his property," Thompson told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
She could not identify the drivers of the vehicles.
Palmer has denied his involvement in the alleged herding incident, saying that neither he nor any of his guests were on the property after 11 a.m. on the day in question. A public statement released by his representative said the neighbor who reported the incident harbored a personal grudge against him.
"The source cited by the media has a history of personal animosity towards Dr. Palmer," the statement said. "This is just another example of people trying to attack an innocent man."
Thompson claimed in response to the statement that she had no longstanding animosity towards Palmer, but told the Minneapolis Star Tribune she had noticed the illegal herding tactic being practiced on his estate for the last 10 years.
"This is not because of the lion, no," she said.
If the DNR finds that the allegations against Palmer are true, he could face a $287 fine in addition to court costs. The department has not yet made any contact with Palmer over the issue.
Palmer provoked international outrage earlier this year when he shot and killed Cecil, an African lion prized for his distinctive black mane, while bow hunting in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park in early July. The lion was reportedly lured out of the park with an animal carcass before being killed.
Although authorities in Zimbabwe declined to charge Palmer in the incident, his hunting guide at the time has been cited for allowing an illegal hunt.
Palmer has also been involved in other hunting-related controversies prior to killing Cecil.
In 2008, he was fined and put on probation after lying to federal authorities about a bear he killed illegally in Wisconsin. He was also fined for fishing without a license in Otter Trail County, Minnesota, in 2003.