TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas - A woman in Lakeway, who posted a video of deer being trapped with a net, is now facing criminal charges for interfering.
Ashlea Beck shared the video back in March. In May, she was arrested on two warrants issued by Texas Parks and Wildlife for criminal mischief and criminal harassment, Class B misdemeanors.
Ashlea said her lawyer asked her not to speak about what happened, but animal advocates who have been working with Ashlea said they believe the charges are retaliation for Ashlea bringing attention to the city's trapping policies.
“I've never seen a group of eight or so deer under a net like that and I've never heard them scream as much as I heard on that video,” said Rita Cross, president of Citizen Advocates for Animals.
During the video, Ashlea can be heard pleading for the trappers to stop and asking her children to go get the scissors. One of the trappers then warns Ashlea she could face a fine if she cuts the net, but that warning didn't keep Ashlea from doing what she could to stop the city contracted deer trappers.
“She dropped [her phone] and went over and cut a couple of places at the corner of the net and she allowed two deer to escape,” Cross said.
Two months after sharing the video, Ashlea wasn't just fined, she was arrested on two Texas Parks and Wildlife warrants.
“It was done to make an example of Ashlea to anyone else who might think about doing something,” said Cross.
Cross believes criminal charges go too far.
“If she just went out there to vandalize, I would say no, I don't agree with that, but the woman was in shock,” Cross said.
Texas Parks and Wildlife released a statement that reads: “Ms. Beck interfered with lawful efforts to trap and remove white-tailed deer, causing damage to private property in the process. It is a violation of the Sportsman’s Rights Act to intentionally interfere with another person lawfully engaged in the process of hunting or catching wildlife, or intentionally harassing, driving, or disturbing any wildlife for the purpose of disrupting lawful hunting.”
“What would we do in that instance? What if it had been a dog? What if there had been a child in that net? Probably all of us would've done the same thing,” said Cross.
That's why Cross and other animal advocates are raising money to help Ashlea with her legal fees, but Cross said she thinks Ashlea should be the one filing a lawsuit.
“I think she was a victim. She and her children both had to go through lots of mental anguish and being very disturbed and upset by this,” Cross said.
Cross said she hopes Ashlea's video encourages Lakeway officials to look into other methods of deer population control, such as sterilization.