Poachers Hall of Shame
These law-breaking #%*$*##@ deserve everything they get....They're stealing from us! And the more the punishment, the better!
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To report any wildlife violation call the STOP POACHING hotline at (877) WGFD-TIP or (877) 943-3847(877) 943-3847 ) or your local game warden. Individuals providing information leading to a conviction may be eligible
for a cash reward of up to $5,000.
WGFD SEEKS INFORMATION ON MULE
LANDER – Rawlins Game Warden Brady Frude is seeking
information about an adult buck mule deer illegally shot within Rawlins city
limits in the Sunnyside area between the cemetery and fair grounds. This crime
most likely occurred on October 7 or 8.
“This was a horrendous crime that was
unnecessarily cruel. Unfortunately, the deer suffered for several hours before
it finally succumbed to its injuries. These types of crimes rob both the
citizens and visitors of Rawlins the experience of viewing what was a truly
magnificent buck mule deer in velvet,” says Frude.
Frude is urging anyone with any information about
this crime – even if it is second hand – to report it to the Stop Poaching
Hotline at (877) WGFD-TIP or on the Game and Fish website at http://wgfd.wyo.gov
at any hour or call him directly at 307-328-0313307-328-0313307-328-0313307-328-0313. He adds callers can
remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward if the information leads
to a conviction.
MULE DEER POACHING INVESTIGATION RESULTS IN CONVICTION OF TWO CODY
MEN CODY – Two Cody men have received heavy fines and suspension
of hunting privileges following their conviction for taking buck mule deer
without a proper license. Andrew Dean Rogers of Cody and Ira Emanuel
Fellows of Cody were recently convicted on wildlife charges in separate but
related cases. Rogers, 51, pleaded guilty to taking a buck mule deer without a
proper license and Fellows, 61, was found guilty by a jury for taking a buck
mule deer during a closed season and without a proper license. Rogers was
ordered to pay $4,540 in fines and restitution and will lose his hunting
privileges for three years. Fellows was sentenced by Park County Circuit Court
Judge Bruce Waters to pay $8,040 in fines and will lose his hunting privileges
for five years. In November 2012, North Cody Game Warden Travis Crane and
Wildlife Investigator Irah Leonetti launched an investigation after receiving an
anonymous report that Rogers had killed two buck mule deer in the Jim Creek area
west of Cody in 2012. During a search conducted at Rogers’ taxidermy studio and
residence on May 2, 2013, two buck mule deer skull caps and other items were
seized as evidence. The Game and Fish Wildlife Forensics Lab matched DNA from
one of the deer heads to a carcass that had been left in the field and found by
investigators. Rogers then admitted he killed two mule deer bucks in November
2012 near Ira Fellows’ property and that both bucks seized were the deer he
. Rogers said he took only the head and cape from the
mule deer harvested Nov. 7, 2012 because the deer was not big enough, even
though it was a mature four-point buck. Rogers admitted to investigators that he
did not tag the first deer he killed because he wanted to continue hunting for a
larger deer. Rogers killed a second, larger buck on Nov. 9, 2012.During the
course of the investigation involving Rogers, investigators received information
there may have been a third buck mule deer illegally harvested in the same area.
A resident living in the area reported observing a large buck with unique
antlers in the vicinity for three days after the season closed Nov. 10, 2012.
The buck, described as having drop tines coming off the terminal ends of both
antler main beams, was not observed after Nov. 13, 2012. While processing
evidence from the Rogers case, investigators discovered a photo of an individual
(later identified as Fellows) posing with what appeared to be a freshly killed
buck mule deer head and cape. The deer had drop tines coming off the terminal
ends of both antler main beams and the time and date stamp indicated the photo
was taken at 5:36 p.m. Nov. 13, 2012. During an interview in regards to
Rogers’ deer hunting activities in 2012, Fellows told investigators that he shot
a heavy horned 5-by-6 buck mule deer and claimed it had been killed near
Meeteetse. When Fellows was asked to produce that deer for investigators, he
produced a smaller 3-by-4 mule deer with thin antlers that did not match the
description of the deer he had previously described. Investigators also
received information regarding a large buck mule deer that Rogers was planning
to taxidermy mount for Fellows. Additional evidence was collected regarding the
illegal take of the unique antlered deer and was presented to the Park County
Attorney’s office. An arrest warrant was issued and executed on Oct. 2, 2013 at
which time Fellows and Rogers were arrested, processed and released under terms
of probation including not to hunt, fish or trap in Wyoming until released by
. Fellows initially pleaded not guilty to the deer poaching and
the case went to trial on April 16, 2014. After a three-day jury trial, Fellows
was found guilty for taking a buck mule deer without a proper license and during
a closed season. “It is unfortunate that the greed of several people
deprived hunters the opportunity to harvest these animals legally,” said Crane.
“Fortunately, there are people who value wildlife in Wyoming and cared enough to
pass on information so we could solve these wildlife crimes.” The Game and
Fish commended the efforts of Deputy County Attorney Jim Davis and the Park
County Attorney’s office for their successful prosecution of these two cases
“The sentencing by Judge Bruce Waters and prosecution by the Park County
Attorney’s office sends a clear message that poaching will not be tolerated in
Park County,” Crane said. Anyone witnessing a wildlife violation is urged
to call the Stop Poaching hotline at 877-WGFD-TIP877-WGFD-TIP. Tips are most helpful with
specific information such as the date, time, location and specific details about
the suspected violation. Also include a physical description of the suspected
violator as well as a license plate number and description of any vehicles
involved in the incident. Stop Poaching tips can also be reported on the
department’s web site at:
http://gf.state.wy.us/wildlife/enforcement/stoppoaching/submitTip.aspx. Tips may
result in a cash reward of up to $5,000 with the successful prosecution of the
defendants. Informants can choose to remain anonymous.
WYOMING GAME WARDEN’S ASSOCIATION HONORS LANDER
INVESTIGATOR AND PARK COUNTY ATTORNEY’S OFFICE
CHEYENNE – Coordinating the
investigation of a quadruple moose poaching case near Hudson in 2012, combined
with a history of sorting out complicated interstate poaching cases has earned
Lander Wildlife Investigator Scott Browning the “Officer of the Year Award” from
the Wyoming Game Warden’s Association. The association also honored the Park
County Attorney’s Office with the “Support Person of the Year Award.”
Browning, 51, began his Game and Fish
career in 1988 as a summer game warden patrolling North Platte River reservoirs.
He worked the 1989 summer patrolling Lake DeSmet and Keyhole Reservoir. He
served as a game warden trainee in Casper before being promoted to be the
Medicine Bow District game warden in August 1990. In June 1995, he was promoted
to be the wildlife investigator or detective in Casper. He transferred to Green
River that October and to Lander in September 2001.
multiple moose poaching case, Browning quickly identified a 72-year-old lead
“I’m here to tell you that this guy
was the toughest ‘nut to crack’ and had obviously been around the block before,”
said Riverton game warden Brad Gibb who assisted with the interview. “To make a
long story short, Scott conducted the most artful and strategic interview I have
ever witnessed in my 25-plus years as a game warden and the suspect ultimately
admitted to the crimes.”
Browning was also commended for
representing Montana, Arizona and Alaska, in addition to Wyoming, in the
successful 2010 -2011 investigation of a Jackson man’s multi-state license fraud
scheme. The 25-year Game and Fish veteran also tracked a bighorn sheep poacher
through three states in 2006-2007 before obtaining a conviction.
In addition to his interviewing
skills, Browning is also respected throughout the law enforcement community for
his prowess executing search warrants.
is an Arvada, Colo. native and attended the Colorado School of Mines before
earning a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology from Colorado State University.
Prior to joining the Game and Fish, he worked for the Colorado Division of
five search warrants for game wardens in 2013 and transcribing 197 pages of
suspect interviews from tapes were among the accolades cited in honoring the
Park County Attorney’s Office as the association’s “Support Person of the Year.”
Skoric [county attorney] and the Park County Attorney’s Office have a long
history of high profile wildlife crime convictions including Gary Vorhies’ sheep
poaching case, seizure of a helicopter used in a elk poaching case and the
Colton Lapp deer poaching case, just to name a few,” said Irah Leonetti, Cody
Region wildlife investigator.
awards were presented at the Wyoming Game Warden’s Association’s annual
convention in Cody. The association sports a membership of 170 active and
retired wildlife officers. Since it was founded in 1973, the association has
awarded nearly $300,000 in college scholarships and charitable gifts.
LANDER – On December 20, 2013, a Riverton man pleaded guilty in the Ninth
District Circuit Court in Riverton to poaching a buck mule deer in a closed
season. The incident occurred on June 28, 2013, near the Honor Farm, east of
Jarrod Maloff, 19, of Riverton originally pleaded not guilty and was
scheduled for a jury trial in mid-December. A few days before the trial, Maloff
and his attorney reached a plea deal with Deputy County Attorney Oakley. In a
change of plea hearing, Judge Roberts sentenced Maloff to $1,000 in fines, all
suspended, $3,000 in restitution, one year of hunting privileges suspended, six
months unsupervised probation, and Maloff cannot possess firearms
or ammunition or be around anyone that does for six months. In addition, Maloff
spent several days in the Fremont County jail after an arrest warrant was served
for the illegal take of the deer.
South Riverton Game Warden Brad Gibb, who was the lead officer in the case,
and Wildlife Investigator Scott Browning, who assisted Gibb during the
investigation, both attended the Change of Plea hearing for Maloff
and assisted the Prosecutor in the sentencing phase of the case. Browning
recounts that “Judge Roberts was adamant that this is not the way things are
done in Wyoming and he was not pleased that Maloff had killed the four point
buck out of season. Mr. Maloff assured the judge that he was not brought up
this way, it was a dumb mistake, and would not happen again.”
There were two other Riverton males involved in the case, Jacob Eaton, 19,
and Joshua “Josh” Marsh, 20. They pleaded guilty to charges for their
“accessory” role in the crime and have been previously sentenced. Fines for the
two total over $1,800 for the deer, and Eaton’s hunting privileges are revoked
for one year in Wyoming and 39 reciprocal states.
Like several investigations, this investigation started with an anonymous tip
from the public. Poaching reports may be made to the "STOP
POACHING" Hotline: 1-877-WGFD-TIP1-877-WGFD-TIP (1-877-943-38471-877-943-3847) or 1-307-777-43301-307-777-4330 for
out-of-state "STOP POACHING" calls only.Violations may also
bereported at regional offices or on-line athttp://gf.state.wy.us/wildlife/enforcement/stoppoaching/submitTip.aspx.
GRIZZLY BEAR SHOOTING RESULTS IN
JACKSON – After a lengthy
investigation and a two day jury trial, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department
reports the successful conviction of an Etna man for the illegal shooting of a
grizzly bear near Moran in the fall of 2012. Joe B. Conger shot and killed the
grizzly bear on Sept. 30, 2012, while hunting on Mount Randolph north of
While registering the bear with the
Wyoming Game and Fish Department, it was determined that Conger had in fact
killed a grizzly bear. After an interview by Afton game warden Todd Graham, the
hide and skull were seized and the case was carried out in conjunction with the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as grizzly bears are a federally protected
animal. Upon concluding the investigation, it was decided the case would be
prosecuted by the state and charges were filed through the Teton County
Attorney’s Office, where Conger was charged with taking a grizzly bear without a
Still not convinced the bear he had
killed was a grizzly, Conger pled not guilty to the charges and a jury trial was
requested. A hide and hair sample from the bear was submitted to the Wyoming
Game and Fish Department’s Wildlife Forensic Laboratory in Laramie for DNA
analysis. The results confirmed that it was indeed the hide and hair of a
grizzly bear. A two-day trial ensued that called several Game and Fish employees
to the stand. However, after just a 30 minute deliberation the jury handed down
a guilty verdict.
Teton County Circuit Court judge,
James L. Radda, sentenced Conger to a fine of $2,500 plus $40 court costs and
one year unsupervised probation. In addition, Conger’s hunting and fishing
privileges were suspended for one year in Wyoming and 38 additional states that
are members of the Wildlife Violator Compact.
“It is not often that a wildlife case
goes to a jury trial, but when it does, it becomes a much more in-depth process
for all who are involved,” said Graham. “The successful prosecution of this case
was the result of great cooperation and hard work by a number of very dedicated
people. We especially extend our gratitude to the Teton County prosecutor’s
office and Judge Radda, for their commitment to enforcing our wildlife laws.”
Riverton Man Convicted of Poaching Large Trophy Mule Deer
LANDER – On December 3, 2013, a Riverton man plead guilty in the Ninth
District Circuit Court in Lander to poaching a large trophy buck mule deer. The
incident occurred on October 14, 2013, near Lander, Wyoming.
Joseph A. Holdren, 28, plead guilty to knowingly and intentionally taking an
antlered mule deer without a license, hunting private land without permission,
and using an illegal firearm to take the deer.
On October 14, 2013, Holdren illegally killed a large trophy class mule deer
buck without a license on private land near Lander. He killed the deer with
illegal ammunition, causing the rifle to be illegal. Recent changes to Wyoming
Game and Fish Department regulations allow the use of the .223 caliber
cartridge, as long as the bullet weight is at least 60 grains and has a soft,
expanding point. Holdren used ammunition that did not meet these
The defendant was ordered to pay $12,340.00 in fines and restitution for the
illegally taken mule deer. Holdren’s hunting and fishing privileges were revoked
for the next 10 years in Wyoming and 39 reciprocal states. In addition,
equipment used in the poaching of this magnificent animal was forfeited to the
Wyoming Game and Fish Department, including the .223 caliber AR-15 rifle used to
kill the trophy.
“A huge thanks goes out to the anonymous individual who called the Game and
Fish to report what was believed to be suspicious activity,” said Lander Game
Warden Brad Hovinga. “It’s folks like this taking the time to report possible
illegal activity that allows us to catch more of these criminals and
successfully prosecute them for their wildlife crimes.”
Lander Warden Hovinga, continued: “None of this would have been possible
without the efforts of Deputy County Attorney Tom Majdic and his dedication to
the successful prosecution of wildlife crimes. The support of County Attorney
Michael Bennett and the Fremont County Attorney’s Office is unprecedented in
Like several investigations, this investigation started with an anonymous tip
from the public. Poaching reports may be made to the "STOP
POACHING" Hotline: 1-877-WGFD-TIP1-877-WGFD-TIP (1-877-943-38471-877-943-3847) or 1-307-777-43301-307-777-4330 for
out-of-state "STOP POACHING" calls only.Violations may also
bereported at regional offices or on-line at http://gf.state.wy.us/wildlife/enforcement/stoppoaching/submitTip.aspx.
MAN SENTENCED FOR SHOOTING MOOSE FOR ELK
BAGGS—Thanks to a tip from a concerned hunter, a Rawlins man is facing fines and penalties for killing a moose he thought was an elk and leaving it to waste.
Albert Wayne Vanderford Jr., 49, of Rawlins, was sentenced by Judge Jane Eakin in the Carbon County Circuit Court on Nov. 6 for taking a moose without a license. Judge Eakin sentenced Vanderford to a one year probation, hunting and trapping privileges suspended for three years, and $8,520 in court fines and restitution for the moose.
Baggs Game Warden Kim Olson said had it not been for a tip from another hunter who suspected something was illegal this case might not have been solved.
“On Oct. 25, Vanderford asked another hunter not associated with him if he would help load his “elk”, Olson said. “This legal hunter immediately knew that was no elk and told Vanderford that it was a moose and not an elk.”
Vanderford proceeded to tell the other hunter that he moved to Rawlins from Florida and it was his first time hunting elk. The other hunter was able to provide a physical description of Vanderford, including that he had a southern accent, a vehicle description, and a partial license plate number.
“Had this man not taken the time to record this information we might not have been able to solve this case,” Olsen said.
Olson said everyone makes mistakes at some time in their life and hunters are no exception.
“We understand that accidents happen, but honesty is the best policy in every case,” Olson said. “Mr. Vanderford had two opportunities to turn himself in and admit he made a mistake. Instead, he chose to flee the scene, lie about the moose poaching, and leave a moose to waste instead of field dressing it. He could have made the best of a bad situation, but he chose poorly. If there is a bright side, it’s the fact that another hunter cared enough to notice there was a problem and take action.”
Olsen said the moose did not go to waste. “The Snake River Taxidermy and Processing Plant in Baggs donated the time and cost to process the moose and the meat was given to those in need.”
Anyone with information on a wildlife violation may call the Stop Poaching Hotline at 877-WGFD-TIP877-WGFD-TIP. Tips may be reported online at wgfd.wyo.gov and to local Game and Fish offices and game wardens. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for
a cash reward of up to $5,000 if the information leads to a conviction.
WYOMING GAME AND FISH SEEKS INFORMATION ON FOUR MULE DEER POACHED
LANDER-Dubois Game Warden, Brian Baker, is seeking information on four buck mule deer illegally shot outside of Dubois. The deer were discovered during the week of November 4, but were thought to have been shot November 2-3. They were found near the intersection of U.S. Highway 26 and the East Fork Road. Three of the four were found with the heads removed.
Baker has collected evidence from the scene, and the investigation is ongoing. He urges anyone with information about these crimes-even if it is second hand-to report it to the Stop Poaching Hotline at (877) WGFD-TIP, the Game and Fish website at wgfd.wyo.gov, or to call him directly at 307-455-2424307-455-2424.
“You never know which piece of information can lead to solving a case, and with the ability to remain anonymous, even those close to the violator who are disturbed by the crime can call without having their identity revealed,” states Baker. He adds callers may be eligible for a cash reward up to $5,000 if the information leads to a conviction.
PENNSYLVANIA MAN FINED FOR ILLEGAL OUTFITTING
GILLETTE – Gene Schiavone, age 64, of Bangor, Pa. was ordered to pay $790 in fines for operating as an unlicensed outfitter in Wyoming on Oct. 3, 2013 in Campbell County Circuit Court. Campbell County Circuit Court Judge Wendy Bartlett also ordered Schiavone to refrain from applying for an outfitter’s license in Wyoming for one calendar year.
Wyoming State Board of Outfitters and Professional Guides investigator Dan Hodge said, “Schiavone had never applied for or received a Wyoming outfitter’s license or a license to operate as a professional guide.” According to Wyoming Game and Fish Department wildlife investigator Scott Adell, Schiavone had been outfitting from at least 2010 through 2013.
The investigation of the illegal outfitting began with an anonymous tip that led South Gillette game warden Dustin Kirsch to speak to a landowner in antelope hunt area 23. Kirsch was able to identify Schiavone’s clients. Interviews were also conducted in California by California Department of Fish and Wildlife officer April Esconde.
The investigation revealed that Schiavone had been arranging hunts through major sportsman’s shows in Reno, Nev. Dallas, Tex. and Harrisburg, Pa. Schiavone claimed he was a ‘Hunting Consultant’ and that he was open for business. However, Schiavone was doing more than a hunting consultant as he went with clients helping them to spot, judge and harvest game.
Schiavone was working as an outfitter when contacted in Wyoming. He was found with four non-resident hunters and two harvested antelope. Following the interviews conducted at the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department, Schiavone said he was only taking a few people hunting and it was not like taking 50 people.
Schiavone admitted he had made a profit and had four additional hunters arriving the next day. The clients had paid in full for their hunts. In less than one week Schiavone would make approximately $8,000 after paying Wyoming landowners trespass fees. Schiavone had misled his clients about the amount the landowners were charging to allow them to hunt.
On Oct. 3, 2013 Schiavone was summoned to appear in Campbell County Circuit Court for his arraignment hearing. During the arraignment Schiavone pled guilty to one count of operating as an outfitter in the State of Wyoming without a valid license in violation of Wyoming law.
Sentencing was also held on Oct. 3. Judge Bartlett ordered Schiavone to pay $790 in fines and refrain from applying as an outfitter or professional guide in the State of Wyoming for one calendar year. Judge Bartlett also advised Mr. Schiavone to seek counsel on Wyoming wildlife laws and regulations.
Hodge, Adell, and Kirsch worked with members of the public, personnel from other wildlife agencies, Lieutenant Seeman of the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department, and Campbell County Attorney’s Office on this case. Adell and Kirsch acknowledge that the successful prosecution would not have been possible without their cooperation.
Hodge says, “Outfitters and professional guides are part of the overall sportsman’s experience, and an unlicensed outfitter and professional guide cheats the system designed to protect hunters. Hunters who hire an unlicensed outfitter or professional guide are liable as well.”
Kirsch says, “Hunters should ask to view licenses and permits when hiring anyone commercially while engaging in hunting and fishing activities and make sure to get receipts.”
Anyone witnessing a wildlife violation may call the Stop Poaching hotline at 1-877-WGFD-TIP1-877-WGFD-TIP (877-943-3847877-943-3847) Tips are most helpful when they are reported promptly and include information such as the date, time, location and specific details about the suspected violation.
Also important is a physical description of the suspected violator as well as a license plate number and description of any vehicles involved in the incident. Stop Poaching tips can also be reported on the Game and Fish Website at: http://gf.state.wy.us/wildlife/enforcement/stoppoaching/submitTip.aspx.
FOUR PLEAD GUILTY IN HUDSON POACHING CASE
LANDER – Four defendants pleaded guilty today in the 9th District Circuit Court in Riverton to three of seven charges for a poaching incident that occurred northeast of Hudson on October 15, 2012. They unlawfully killed two bull moose and two cow moose.
The four—Phillip “Rocky” Hurtado, 73, Arapahoe; Phillip “P.J.” Warren, 31, Arapahoe; Sammy Edlund, 30, Gillette; and Danielle Najera, 28, Gillette—all pleaded guilty to one count of taking an antlered moose during a closed season, one count of wanton destruction, and one count of entering closed property without permission.
Each as ordered to pay $7,500 in restitution, and $20,500 in suspended fines. Edlund’s hunting privileges have been revoked for 20 years in Wyoming and 38 states with reciprocity, while Hurtado, Warren, and Najera had their hunting privileges revoked for life.
With credit for time already served, each was sentenced to 360 days jail time. Edlund, Hurtado, and Najera will serve seven days in jail and have 353 days suspended. Warren will serve nine days in jail and have 351 days suspended. Each defendant was also given two years probation. If they violate any law during their probation, they are subject to all suspended penalties.
Jason Hunter, Lander regional wildlife supervisor, said: “this effort would not have been possible without the cooperation of the public, Tribal Fish and Game, the Fremont County Sheriff’s Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Fremont County Prosecutor Ember Oakley was instrumental in the successful prosecution.”
Like several investigations, this investigation started with an anonymous tip. Poaching reports may be made to the "Stop Poaching" hotline: 1-877-WGFD-TIP1-877-WGFD-TIP (1-877-943-38471-877-943-3847) or 1-307-777-43301-307-777-4330 (out-of-state calls only). Violations may also be reported to regional offices or online at gf.state.wy.us/wildlife/enforcement/stoppoaching/submitTip.aspx.
BUFFALO – An anonymous report Sept. 14, 2012 led to a recent conviction of a Buffalo man for shooting a trophy bull elk with a rifle during the 2012 archery-only season and without the proper license.
The investigation also discovered additional violations of a game animal being used for black bear bait and an accessory to elk being shot with a rifle during archery season.
On April 19, 2013, Kelly L. Camino, 37, was fined $17,080 and had his hunting privileges suspended for five years to taking an antlered animal without the proper license and taking a big game animal with a rifle during the archery only season. He was sentenced by Fourth Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Shelly Cundiff in Buffalo, who also ordered the forfeiture of Camino’s new Ruger 7 mm magnum bolt action rifle.
“Thanks to information from a concerned citizen, we were able to catch up with a hunter who cheated by using a rifle to kill a terrific bull elk, when only archery equipment was legal and bull elk were very vulnerable,” said Jim Seeman, Buffalo game warden. “I commend the judge for taking this violation very seriously and handing down a significant sentence.”
Late evening Sept. 14, 2012, Seeman received a telephone call from an anonymous hunter who had been hunting in a hunt area adjacent to area 49. The hunter reported a shot around sunset from the area known as Sawmill Creek. The next morning Seeman visited a hunting camp in the Sawmill drainage and asked if anyone had any luck. He was told Camino harvested a large bull elk the day before, but had already returned to Buffalo.
After four unsuccessful attempts to contact Camino at his residence Sept. 15, Seeman found him at home the next morning. Camino said he killed a bull elk with archery equipment the evening of Sept. 14 in the adjoining hunt area 34. He refused to show the game warden the carcass, which he said was hanging at a friend’s house. Camino did offer to take Seeman to the kill site and show him the gut pile.
In unsuccessfully searching for the gut pile that afternoon, Camino offered that it may have been completely scavenged, but Seeman contended there would still be very evident sign of it after only two days. Four hours of searching failed to produce a gut pile or any sign of a recent elk harvest. On the drive back to Buffalo, Camino admitted to shooting the elk in the wrong area and with a rifle.
“Although elk areas 49 and 34 are adjoining, 34 is easier to draw at 98 percent versus 82 percent drawing odds in 49,” Seeman said.
About a week later Seeman and Kaycee Game Warden Kyle Lash located the kill site in hunt area 49 and found elk remains including legs, rib cage and the brisket with an embedded 7 mm bullet. The Wyoming Crime Lab later determined the bullet was fired from Camino’s rifle. The officers also discovered some of the elk remains were being used for black bear bait – which is a violation in Wyoming. Luke J. Camino, 21, Kelly’s brother, pleaded guilty Oct. 17, 2012 to using a game animal as black bear bait and paid a $125 fine.
In addition, the investigation discovered Kelly Camino was accompanied by James W. Hansen of Sheridan who helped field dress and pack out the illegally taken bull elk and had given Camino his area 49 cow elk license to fill. Hansen was cited as an accessory to Kelly Camino’s crime, but in a plea agreement between his attorney and Johnson County Deputy Attorney Ryan Wright, Hansen, 34, pleaded guilty April 11, 2013 to a lesser charge of unlawful transfer of a big game license and was fined $1,000.
“I would also like to give a special thank you to Johnson County Deputy Attorney Ryan Wright, who spent a considerable amount of time and effort with this case,” Seeman said.
The 6-by-6 elk antlers, which scored 352 6/8 points on the Boone and Crockett scale, were ordered by the court to be forfeited to the Game and Fish and will be used for educational purposes.
CODY MAN RECEIVES HEAVY FINE, LOSS OF HUNTING PRIVILEGES IN DEER POACHING INCIDENT
CODY – In Park County Circuit Court on November 16, Wayne Lee Marshall of Cody pleaded guilty to taking a buck mule deer out of season. Marshall was ordered to pay $5,000 in fines and restitution and will lose his hunting, fishing, and trapping privileges for three years.
Marshall admitted to shooting the buck deer, knowing the buck season was closed and that he did not have the proper license. Marshall also said he knew he might be caught.
Cody Region Game Warden Travis Crane said an anonymous Stop Poaching report alerted the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to Marshall’s illegal activity. When Crane responded to the report, he found Marshall in possession of a large buck mule deer that he admitted to shooting with two firearms north of Cody.
“It is unfortunate this large buck deer was poached before the season opened, depriving legal hunters the opportunity to harvest this trophy class animal,” Crane said. “Hunters go out every year in search of a trophy deer, and it is not fair to the legal hunter to have a deer stolen from them like this.”
“Judge Bruce Waters and County Attorney Bryan Skoric are to be commended for their work on this case and their commitment to wildlife in Wyoming,” Crane said. “The anonymous Stop Poaching tip from the public and the successful prosecution of this case by the county attorney’s office sends a clear message that wildlife violations are not to be taken lightly in Park County.”
If you witness a wildlife violation, please call the Stop Poaching Hotline at 877-WGFD-TIP877-WGFD-TIP . Tips are most helpful when they include specific information such as the date, time, location, and details about theGILLETTE MEN PLEAD GUILTY TO ELK POACHING
suspected violation. Include a physical description of the suspected violator, as well as a license plate number and description of any vehicles involved in the incident. You may also report violations at wgfd.wyo.gov. Upon successful prosecution of defendants, tips may result in a cash reward of up to $5,000. Informants may choose to remain anonymous.
CASPER – Two Gillette men have been sentenced after pleading guilty to shooting a cow elk in the wrong hunt area during a closed season.
Robert Golombeski, 33, and his father, Mark Golombeski, 51, appeared in Converse County court Dec. 10 to answer to charges of hunting elk in a closed season and trespass. Robert Golombeski was in possession of a general elk license for area 126. He said he shot and wounded a cow elk in area 126 on Nov. 30, but the animal made its way to private land in area 113, about seven miles away, before dying. Area 113 is a limited-quota area and not open to hunters with a general elk license.
The two men left the elk overnight and returned to retrieve it the next morning. In the meantime, the landowner contacted law enforcement. The Golombeskis were met by a deputy from the Converse County Sheriff’s Office and Wyoming Game and Fish Game Warden Gary Boyd. Boyd said evidence showed the elk was shot through both lungs and could not have traveled seven miles. After thorough questioning, Robert Golombeski confessed to shooting the elk in area 113.
Robert Golombeski was fined $750 for hunting elk in a closed season, $220 for failing to properly tag the elk, and $440 for two trespassing charges. His hunting and fishing privileges have been revoked for three years. For loss of the elk, he must also pay $3,000 to Game and Fish’s AccessYes fund. Mark Golombeski was fined $750 for acting as an accessory to hunting elk in a closed season and $440 for two trespass charges, and also had his hunting and fishing privileges revoked for three years. Boyd said the elk was confiscated and given to a family in need.
Moose Poachers Arrested
LANDER—Four people have arrested in conjunction with the four moose poached outside of Hudson in October.
Phillip “Rocky” Hurtado, 73, of Arapahoe, Phillip J. "P.J." Warren, 31, of Arapahoe, Sammy Edlund, 29, of Gillette; and Danielle Najera, 28, of Gillette were arrested this week in connection to the four moose (two bulls and two cows) that were shot and left in the Hudson area on October 15, 2012. Each of the four were charged with two counts of taking antlered moose during a closed season, two counts of wanton destruction, and two counts of waste. Trespass to hunt charges are pending.
The investigation started with an anonymous tip from the public. Poaching reports may be made to the "STOP POACHING" Hotline: 1-877-WGFD-TIP1-877-WGFD-TIP (1-877-943-38471-877-943-3847) or 1-307-777-43301-307-777-4330 for out-of-state "STOP POACHING" calls only. Violations may also be reported at regional offices or on-line at http://gf.state.wy.us/wildlife/enforcement/stoppoaching/submitTip.aspx.
Four Moose Poached Outside of Hudson
LANDER – Four moose (two bulls and two cows) were shot and left in the Hudson area on October 15, 2012. During the past week, Wyoming Game and Fish Department law enforcement personnel conducted a joint investigation with Tribal Fish and Game and the FBI. Four suspects have been identified and charges are pending.
The investigation started with an anonymous tip from the public. Poaching reports may be made to the "STOP POACHING" Hotline: 1-877-WGFD-TIP1-877-WGFD-TIP (1-877-943-38471-877-943-3847) or 1-307-777-43301-307-777-4330 for out-of-state "STOP POACHING" calls only. Violations may also be reported at regional offices or on-line at http://gf.state.wy.us/wildlife/enforcement/stoppoaching/submitTip.aspx.
SEVERAL GUILTY IN TEN SLEEP FELONY POACHING CASE
CASPER – A Wyoming landowner and several hunters from Oregon and other states pleaded guilty to felony convictions for illegal trafficking in wildlife in U.S. District Court on March 21.
The hunters were unlawfully hunting trophy class elk on the Carter Ranch, located in Ten Sleep between 2003 and 2009. The ranch owners, Richard Carter, Sr., RC Carter, and Mark Carter, also pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy to traffic in illegal wildlife. Richard Carter, 61, was convicted of conspiracy to traffic in illegal wildlife. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 4 and faces up to 5 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. His two sons, RC Carter, 34, of Ten Sleep, and Mark Carter, 31, of Jackson, pleaded guilty to felonies involving trafficking in illegal wildlife and falsifying wildlife records. Both are scheduled to be sentenced on June 4 and both face up to 15 years of imprisonment and a fine of $750,000.
Mathew S. Robinson, 29, of Bend, Ore., was found guilty of two felony charges of trafficking in illegal wildlife. Robinson had been charged federally and after a six-day jury trial, was found guilty of conspiring to traffic in illegal wildlife and trafficking in illegal wildlife and aiding and abetting. Robinson was accused of conspiring to hunt elk in Wyoming between 2005 and 2008, assisting others in hunting elk, and of illegally killing a bull elk in 2008 without a proper license. He faces up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $500,000. Robinson is to be sentenced on June 13 before Judge Nancy Freudenthal in U.S. District Court in Cheyenne.
Robinson’s father, James S. Robinson, 61, of West Linn, Ore., previously pleaded guilty to a felony on March 4, 2011, for trafficking in illegal wildlife. James was accused of killing a 7x8 bull elk without a proper license in 2005. He was ordered to pay restitution of $15,000 for the elk, a fine of $20,000, and ordered to complete community service as part of a probationary sentence.
Another hunter, Steve Ned Farah, 48, of West Linn, Ore., pleaded guilty on March 21, 2012, to two felonies involving conspiracy and trafficking in illegal wildlife. Farah was accused of unlawfully killing a 6x6 bull elk in 2007 and another in 2008. Farah is scheduled to be sentenced at 10 a.m. on June 4 and faces up to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $500,000.
Four other Oregon hunters were charged with federal misdemeanor offenses involving the unlawful taking and transportation of wildlife. Jon R. Gleason, 68, of Custer, WashJames Dovenberg, 68, of West Linn, Ore., pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting another in the killing of a 6x6 bull elk in 2006 without a proper license. Dovenberg was ordered to pay a fine of $12,000 and is prohibited from hunting for two years.
., previously pleaded guilty to unlawfully killing a 6x6 bull elk in 2006 and was ordered to pay $7,500 in restitution, a $1,000 fine, and is further prohibited from hunting for two years. Joseph Karas, 60, of Portland, Ore., pleaded guilty to unlawfully killing a 6x6 elk in 2006. Karas was ordered to pay $7,500 in restitution, to perform community service, and is prohibited from hunting for two years. John Woodmark, 63, of Depoe Bay, Ore., pleaded guilty to unlawfully killing a 6x7 bull elk in 2007 and was ordered to pay $7,500 in restitution, perform community service, and is prohibited from hunting for two years.
Several other hunters were prosecuted in Washakie County Circuit Court in relation to the case. Gerald Jay Robinson, 72, of Wilsonville, Ore., pleaded guilty of taking an antlerless elk in 2004 without a license. He was ordered to pay $3,000 restitution and a $750 fine. William Hayward Batts, 56, of Hyattville, Wyo. pleaded no contest to unlawfully transferring a hunting license and making a false statement on a Wyoming interstate game tag. He was fined $370 for each of the two counts and had his Wyoming hunting privileges suspended for 3 years. Robert Till, 53, of Columbia, Tenn., pleaded guilty to taking an antelope in 2003 without a license and ordered to pay $3,000 restitution and a fine of $750, and had his Wyoming hunting privileges suspended for 3 years. William Patrick Mercer, 65, of Arcadia, Fla., also pleaded guilty to taking an antelope in 2003 without a license and ordered to pay $3,000 restitution and a fine of $5,000.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department Investigative Unit Supervisor Mike Ehlebracht said, “This is a significant case for the wildlife resource, our department, and for the sportsmen of Wyoming. We take these kinds of violations very seriously and we encourage the public to report violations through our Stop Poaching hotline at 1-877-WGFD-TIP1-877-WGFD-TIP .”
The case was jointly investigated by the Wyoming Game and Fish, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Oregon State Patrol. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s office and the Washakie County Attorney’s Office.
CODY OUTFITTER FINED FOR GAME LAW VIOLATIONS
CODY – B. Joe Coy, owner of Yellow Creek Outfitters in Cody, was recently ordered by a Park County court to pay $2,820 in fines and relinquish his 2012 outfitter license in his conviction for five wildlife violations.
The violations included accepting payment for outfitting services on a resident guide license, outfitter’s failure to report the waste of a bighorn sheep and a mountain goat, and two counts of outfitting in unauthorized areas. Coy, 59, also received one year of probation and lost his hunting, fishing, and trapping privileges for three years.
An 18-month joint investigation by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the Shoshone National Forest revealed that Coy had unlawfully outfitted and guided out-of-state hunters. Kathy Crofts, lead wildlife investigator with the Game and Fish, said that although Coy was a licensed outfitter at the time, the Wyoming Board of Outfitters and Professional Guides allowed Coy’s Yellow Creek Outfitters to operate only on pre-approved private and Bureau of Land Management lands. Crofts said that in 2005, Coy’s commercial operating permit for the Shoshone National Forest was not renewed due to a long history of repeated violations with the forest service.
Since he could not outfit on the Shoshone, Coy obtained a resident guide license to take a Wisconsin hunter on an archery bighorn sheep hunt in August 2010. Coy accepted $8,500 from the out-of-state hunter for this hunt, an act that is illegal under a resident guide permit.
Nonresidents are required to have a guide while hunting in wilderness areas of Wyoming. Resident guide licenses give residents the opportunity to take out-of-state friends or family members in wilderness areas to hunt without the hunter paying for a professional guide or outfitter.
“To obtain a resident guide permit, a person must confirm that they are not accepting any compensation, either directly or indirectly, for their services,” Crofts said. “The Wisconsin hunter was clearly a paying client, not a family friend.”
In September 2010, Coy outfitted two other sheep hunters on the Shoshone National Forest. During this hunt, Coy witnessed his client leaving edible portions of a harvested bighorn sheep in the field and failed to report it, as required by law. Both men were hunting with Governor’s bighorn sheep licenses purchased at auction for $54,000 and $56,000.
“By law, hunters are required to retrieve all edible portions of big game animals from the field after harvest,” Crofts said. “In addition, if an outfitter or professional guide observes a game law violation, they have a legal responsibility to report it to the Game and Fish.”
When the sheep was checked in at the Game and Fish office two days after harvest, Coy and the sheep hunter could only produce the head, full body cape, and a 12-pound bag of meat containing the back straps from the animal. The hunter was also issued a citation for waste and adornment of a big game animal.
“Coy knowingly allowed waste of the sheep, failed to report it to the Game and Fish, and even paid for his hunter’s fine,” said Crofts. “There are many law-abiding hunters who would be grateful for the opportunity to hunt a bighorn sheep and be thrilled to take all the meat from a successful harvest, not just the trophy parts.”
Coy also pleaded guilty for failure to report the waste of a mountain goat that one of his clients harvested in 2008.
BURNS MAN RECEIVES HEAVY FINES FOR POACHING ANTELOPE NEAR SARATOGA
CHEYENNE – A Burns man has received heavy fines, loss of hunting privileges, and probation following his conviction of poaching a buck antelope near Saratoga on Nov. 2, 2011.
Thomas Greenwood, 28, of Burns was fined a total of $16,180 by Carbon County Circuit Court Judge Jane Eakin. In addition, his rifle was confiscated, he received six years suspension of hunting privileges, 18 months probation, and a one year suspended jail sentence.
Greenwood shot the buck antelope just off Hwy. 130 north of Saratoga, because he had always wanted to “kill an antelope.” A unique set of circumstances led to his arrest. Elk Mountain highway patrolman Tim Romig was travelling the same direction and saw a dying antelope near the road and a pickup speeding down the highway. Romig pulled the vehicle over and Greenwood confessed to shooting the antelope. Romig called Elk Mountain game warden Ryan Kenneda who arrived shortly on the scene and also received a confession from Greenwood.
Greenwood was charged with numerous violations including wanton destruction of a big game animal, shooting from a vehicle, shooting the animal without a license, hunting in a closed season, and shooting the antelope with a caliber illegal for big game hunting. In addition, patrolman Romig issued Greenwood citations for shooting from a public road, reckless endangerment, and illegal parking since Greenwood stopped on the highway to shoot the animal.
Kenneda said it was due to the alertness of patrolman Romig, noticing the dying antelope and associating the pickup with the incident, that Greenwood was caught. In assessing the penalties, Judge Eakin told Greenwood that wildlife is one of Wyoming’s jewels and wildlife crimes are taken very seriously.
Kenneda said this is just one more instance of an illegal kill depriving legal hunters of harvesting an animal in future years. The season in the hunt area had closed on Oct. 31.
TWO MEN SENTENCED FOR FEDERAL WILDLIFE VIOLATIONS INVOLVING ILLEGAL KILLING OF ELK NEAR TEN SLEEP
CASPER – Two men have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced in U.S. District Court in Casper following their conviction for taking part in the illegal killing of a bull elk near Ten Sleep in October 2006. A concerned citizen’s tip about trophy elk being illegally taken led to the convictions.
James M. Dovenberg, 68, of West Linn, Ore., was fined $12,000 for aiding and abetting in the trafficking of illegal wildlife on Dec. 20. In addition, he was placed on three years probation and received a two-year suspension of worldwide hunting privileges.
Jon R. Gleason, 70, of Custer, Wash., also pleaded guilty to trafficking of illegal wildlife. On Dec. 20 he received $8,500 in fines and restitution and three years probation and two years of hunting license revocations. He was also ordered to forfeit the bull elk mount to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
These sentences were handed down following the July 2011 felony sentencing and $20,000 fines of James S. Robinson, of West Linn, Ore., for Lacey Act violations involving a different elk. The Lacey Act violation comes into play when any illegally taken elk parts are transported across state lines.
The case started when the Game and Fish’s Investigative Unit received a tip in January 2010. Unit members traveled to Oregon in February and June of 2010, and were assisted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Oregon State Police with the investigation.
The federal charges were filed against Robinson, a real estate developer, Sept. 23, 2010, in federal court in Casper. Robinson pleaded guilty to violating the Lacey Act on March 4, 2011, pursuant to a plea agreement negotiated with his attorneys.
The Lacey Act carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in federal prison, $250,000 in fines and three years of supervised probation following imprisonment. The Lacey Act also has provisions for the payment of restitution and forfeiture of any wildlife and any vehicles or equipment used in the crime.
The penalties imposed on Dovenberg and Gleason were for their participation in the commission of the crime. Robinson also forfeited a head and shoulder mount of the elk to the Game and Fish. The 6-by-7-point antlers scored around 350 points on the Boone and Crockett scale.
Mike Ehlebracht, who is the Investigative Unit supervisor, said “Law enforcement and the court systems take these wildlife violations very, very seriously. It is important to protect this hunting privilege so every hunter has an equal opportunity to draw these cherished licenses.”
SMALL TIP LEADS TO BIG POACHING CONVICTION
CASPER – A tip to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Stop Poaching Tip Line resulted in a major conviction in a recent poaching case.
Casper game warden Daniel Beach asked for help from the public in early September after the discovery of a mule deer buck that had been illegally shot and dumped on the 33 Mile Road. An informant came forward with information that resulted in the conviction of Casper resident Joshua Simkin, 21, and his wife, 20-year-old Jessica Simkin.
Following up on the tip, Beach conducted an investigation and obtained a search warrant for the Simkin residence. Joshua Simkin then confessed to shooting the deer while teaching a friend’s two young boys how to hunt. Simkin had the boys pose for photographs with the poached deer and gave them the buck’s antlers, which were later confiscated. “It sickens me to think Simkin was trying to teach these kids how to hunt and ends up poaching a deer in the process,” Beach said.
Simkin also confessed to dumping the deer carcass on 33 Mile Road. Jessica Simkin confirmed the story and stated she was witness to the poaching and had assisted her husband in loading the deer after it was shot. Neither of them had a deer license. Joshua Simkin was found guilty of knowingly taking an antlered mule deer out of season without a license, and of wanton waste of a big game animal. The Simkins will pay a total of $10,120 in fines and restitution to the State of Wyoming for the crime. Joshua also lost all hunting privileges for seven years and forfeited the Savage .243 rifle that was used in the crime. Because she was an accessory Jessica lost her hunting privileges for five years. “She didn’t pull the trigger,” Beach said, “but she had knowledge of the crime and assisted with the poaching.”
Beach is grateful to the informant who cared enough to come forward with the tip that helped solve this case. “This shows the system works, the stop poaching hotline works,” he said. “The public is our best ally against wildlife crime.” Beach said the informant in this case will be receiving a substantial monetary reward and he encourages anyone with any information about any wildlife crime to come forward to help solve these crimes.
Beach was satisfied with the outcome of the case. “Both the Natrona County District Attorney’s office and the judge felt the egregious nature of this poaching warranted nearly the full extent of the law, and I agree with them.”
WGFD NABS ROCK SPRINGS DEER POACHERS
PINEDALE- Two Rock Springs men recently were convicted of charges relating to shooting and abandoning a mule deer doe south of Pinedale last fall.
Andrew D. McGahuey pled guilty to wanton destruction of a doe mule deer, taking deer on private land without permission, and shooting a doe mule deer from a public roadway. David A. McGahuey pled guilty to accessory to wanton destruction of a doe mule deer.
Sublette County Circuit Court Judge Curt Haws sentenced Andrew D. McGahuey to pay $3,000 in restitution for the deer, a $720 fine, and loss of hunting and fishing privileges for five years. The loss of hunting and fishing privileges applies not only to Wyoming, but 13 additional western states. Additionally, McGahuey had $2,000 in fines and 180 days jail suspended while he serves six months probation.
David A. McGahuey was sentenced to a $740 fine and loss of hunting and fishing privileges for five years as well. Additionally, $4,500 in fines and 180 days jail were suspended while the elder McGahuey also serves six months probation.
On Oct. 10, 2010, South Pinedale game warden Jordan Kraft received a trespass complaint from landowners of the Mountain Springs Ranch located southeast of Pinedale. The report indicated two men may have shot at mule deer on their deeded property from the Scab Creek Public Access Road. Initially, the men were confronted by a ranch worker, but denied shooting and fabricated a story that they had seen other hunters shooting and watched them flee the area. The ranch worker was able to record partial license plate information from the McGahuey’s truck.
Subsequent investigation revealed that the McGahueys had in fact shot a doe mule deer and left it to waste on the Mountain Springs Ranch.
“This is a good example how a concerned citizen stepping forward with information on a wrong-doing can make a big difference,” said Kraft. “We wouldn’t have been able to bring these individuals to justice without the efforts and concern of the members of the Mountain Springs Ranch.”
Kraft also commended the work of Judge Curt Haws and assistance of the Sublette County Attorney’s Office. “I think the sentence sends a strong message that wildlife is a treasured resource in Sublette County and such wildlife crimes will not be tolerated.”
Anyone with information on a possible poaching incident should call the STOP POACHING hotline at 1-877-WGFD-TIP1-877-WGFD-TIP ( 1-877-943-38471-877-943-3847 ), any Game and Fish regional office, or any game warden.
Information can also be reported through the hunting page of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s website at http://gf.state.wy.us. Any information leading to an arrest and conviction may result in a reward of up to $5,000.
SARATOGA MAN RECEIVES FINES, PROBATION, LICENSE SUSPENSIONS FOR TRAPPING VIOLATIONS
CHEYENNE – A repeat offender of Wyoming trapping laws has had his hunting and trapping privileges suspended for 15 years for violation of Wyoming trapping laws.
Robert Mclean of Saratoga was charged with 12 trapping violations from 2003-2007, and in 2007 was convicted of trapping on private land without permission and received fines and a three year suspension of trapping privileges. In February 2010, then Elk Mountain Game Warden Jordan Kraft received a report of bobcat traps set illegally on private land. Further investigation by Kraft revealed the traps did not contain identification and one trap had been set within 30 feet of a bait of more than five pounds in weight. Setting a trap or snare within 30 feet of any exposed bait or carcass of more than five pounds is prohibited in Wyoming. Kraft recognized the very specific trapping style used in the bobcat trap sets from his investigation of Mclean’s illegal traps in 2007. After execution of search warrants and the evidence gathered, McLean was convicted of violations that took place during the 2009-2010 trapping season. These included trapping while under license suspension, accessory to fail to tag traps and/or snares, and two counts as an accessory to trapping on private land without permission.
Carbon County Circuit Court Judge Jane Eakin levied a $1,550 fine, 540 days of jail time, and a 15-year revocation of hunting and trapping privileges. During the 15-year revocation period, McLean is prohibited from taking any wildlife, being in the field with a firearm, or associating with anyone in the field with a firearm. He was also ordered to forfeit three mink pelts. The jail time and $1,110 of the fine was suspended and Mclean was also placed on two years probation. Kraft states that Judge Eakin’s sentence sends a clear message that repeated offense of wildlife laws will not be taken lightly.
Kraft said the prosecution of the case was made possible thanks to involvement and cooperation of numerous game wardens and wildlife investigators, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Carbon
County Sheriff’s Department, Saratoga Police Department, and the Carbon County Attorney’s Office.
LARAMIE AREA MAN RECEIVES HEAVY FINES FOR ELK POACHING
LARAMIE – A three-year-old case involving the poaching of two large bull elk near Laramie was recently resolved with Robert Mason of Tie Siding receiving heavy fines for the illegal killing of two trophy class elk in 2008.
Mason was assessed $18,000 in fines and restitution by Albany County Circuit Court Judge Robert Castor. In addition, Judge Castor revoked Mason’s hunting privileges for six years.
Laramie game warden Bill Haley started his investigation into the incident following a tip from a concerned individual, that back in 2008, Mason had illegally killed a large bull elk during the archery season. Haley uncovered enough information to obtain a search warrant and with the help of fellow wildlife officers John Demaree, Kelly Todd, and Jason Sherwood, a search of Mason’s premises was conducted where the antlers of the elk in question were found. The search revealed that Mason had also illegally harvested a second bull in 2008. Haley’s investigation showed that Mason held a general license during 2008, when the elk were taken, but the two elk were killed in Elk Hunt Area 8 which is a limited quota area where general elk licenses are not valid.
Haley said that Mason had shot the larger elk which was scored at 394 points on the Boone and Crockett trophy measuring system on one of his hunting trips, but didn’t find the animal until a week later. In the meantime, he had killed another trophy class elk. Because he was hunting in a limited quota area with a general license, both of the kills were illegal. Mason was charged with taking a trophy class big game animal without a proper license and an over-limit of elk.
Haley said it was a terrible waste that two trophy class animals were removed from the population depriving legal hunters of an opportunity to harvest a once-in-a-lifetime trophy. “Judge Castor remains a strong supporter of wildlife law enforcement efforts,” Haley said. “Hopefully the fines levied will send a message to illegal hunters that their actions will not be tolerated.”
OREGON MAN SENTENCED FOR FEDERAL WILDLIFE VIOLATIONS IN CASPER
Casper – A concerned citizen’s tip about a trophy bull elk being illegally taken in October 2005 near Ten Sleep has led to an Oregon man being convicted for felony wildlife violations July 12 in U.S. District Court in Casper.
After James S. Robinson of West Lynn violated Wyoming statute by killing the bull elk Oct. 21, 2005 with an improper license – he only had a cow elk license for the area – the case became a federal Lacey Act violation when the illegally taken meat and mounted head and antlers were transported across state lines.
Robinson, 60, was fined $20,000 and ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution to wildlife law enforcement in Wyoming and $100 in special assessments or court costs. Judge William Downes also revoked Robinson’s hunting privileges in the United States for five years and ordered him to give three speeches a year about wildlife conservation and the consequences of violating the Lacey Act during the three years of his supervised probation.
The case started when Mike Ehlebracht, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Investigative Unit supervisor, received the tip in January 2010. He traveled to the Portland suburb in February and June of 2010, where he was assisted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Oregon State Police with the investigation.
The federal charges were filed against Robinson, a real estate developer, Sept. 23, 2010 in federal court in Casper. Robinson pleaded guilty to violating the Lacey Act on March 4, 2011 pursuant to a plea agreement negotiated with his attorneys.
The Lacey Act carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in federal prison, $250,000 in fines and three years of supervised probation following imprisonment. The Lacey Act also has provisions for the payment of restitution and forfeiture of any wildlife and any vehicles or equipment used in the crime.
“The prosecutor, Darrell Fun, did an absolutely tremendous job of prosecuting this case and achieving the felony conviction,” Ehlebracht said. “Kathy Crofts, our wildlife investigator in Cody, along with several other of our investigators were also key to the success of this case.”
Like all criminal felony convictions, Robinson also loses his rights to vote, possess firearms and serve on a jury for life – unless the president issues a pardon or restores his rights.
“It’s a sentence that’s very appropriate for the crime, and I think the public service speeches Judge Downes ordered are an interesting new twist for a wildlife crime,” Ehlebracht said.
In addition to the conservation/Lacey Act speeches, Robinson is also ordered to perform five public service announcements under the direction of the Game and Fish, USFWS and Oregon State Police. Robinson also forfeited a head and shoulder mount of the elk to the Game and Fish. The 6-by-7-point antlers score around 350 points on the Boone and Crockett scale.
“Law enforcement and the court systems takes these wildlife violations very, very seriously,” Ehlebracht said. “It is important to protect this hunting privilege so every hunter has an equal opportunity to draw these cherished licenses.”
In 2005, the chance to draw the license in hunt area 45 where the crime was committed was only 9 percent for nonresidents and 24 percent for residents.
GAME AND FISH NABS COKEVILLE DEER POACHERS
AFTON- Two Cokeville men have been convicted of charges relating to the illegal take of two mule deer bucks in western Wyoming this past fall. One deer was poached west of Afton and the other was taken near Cokeville.
Gunner Gay pled guilty to taking an over limit of big game animals and failure to tag a big game animal. Stetson Hess pled guilty to accessory to taking an over limit of big game animals.
Lincoln County Circuit Court Judge Frank Zebre sentenced Gay to 180 days in jail with 175 days suspended for the charge of taking an over limit and 30 days jail, all suspended, for failure to tag. Additionally, Gay was sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation and a total of $880 in fines and court fees.
Hess was sentenced to 120 days in jail with 117 days suspended, six months unsupervised probation and $540 in fines and fees. Additionally, both lost all hunting and fishing privileges in Wyoming and all other member states of the violator compact for 2011, 2012 and 2013.
According to statements made by the two, Gay shot a yearling buck mule deer in the hills west of Afton in September, but then later shot a large mule deer buck near Cokeville in October. Gay did not tag the first deer. The two had planned for Hess to tag the first deer but he never purchased a license. Hess was an accessory on both occasions that Gay shot the deer.
“This is a good example how one person stepping forward with information on a wrong-doing can make a big difference,” said Afton game warden Todd Graham. “We wouldn’t have been able to bring these individuals to justice without it.”
Graham also commended the work of Judge Frank Zebre and Deputy County Attorney Joe Cole. “I think the sentence sends a strong message that we will not tolerate such wildlife crimes here in Lincoln County and Wyoming.”
Anyone with information on a possible poaching incident should call the STOP POACHING hotline at 1-877-WGFD-TIP1-877-WGFD-TIP ( 1-877-943-38471-877-943-3847 ), any Game and Fish regional office or any game warden. Information can also be reported through the hunting page of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s website at: http://gf.state.wy.us. Any information leading to an arrest and conviction may result in a reward of up to $5,000.
MINNESOTA MAN GUILTY OF MOOSE POACHING
GREYBULL- Thanks to information provided to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department by a concerned Greybull area hunter, Gordon Slabaugh of Stanchfield, Minn., pleaded guilty to the wanton destruction of a cow and calf moose in the Big Horn Mountains—a poaching act that will cost him $18,690 and the loss of hunting privileges for four years in 31 states under the Wildlife Violator Compact.
Slabaugh appeared pro se by telephone before Big Horn County Circuit Judge Tom Harrington on Dec. 29, 2010, and pleaded guilty to two counts of wanton destruction of moose. The incident took place in moose hunt area 41/42, an area known for trophy quality bull moose.
The 67-year-old Slabaugh was sentenced to 10 days imprisonment (suspended), restitution of $7,500 for each animal, a fine for each count of $1,750, loss of hunting privileges in Wyoming for four years and unsupervised probation with the conditions specifying no violation of Wyoming law. Court costs of $40 and $150 Crime Victims Compensation were also levied.
“The needless destruction and waste of these animals was fairly addressed by the court,” said Bill Robertson, Greybull game warden. “It is our hope that the public continues to alert the Game and Fish of the illegal take of moose or any other wildlife.”
According to Robertson, Slabaugh had approached a local hunter asking for assistance in packing out two moose that he had killed in the Iron Mountain area of the Big Horn National Forest. “The local hunter declined and reported the incident,” Robertson said.
A field investigation led to the discovery of a cow and calf moose—both left to rot in the field. A .270 caliber slug was recovered from the cow moose; the bull calf had been field
dressed, moved a short distance and abandoned.
“There are people who are willing to go out of their way to report violations and for that we are very grateful,” Robertson said. “We will continue to make every effort to bring justice to
those who blatantly disregard the wildlife regulations governing fair chase and the legal taking of wildlife.”
STIFF SENTENCES DELIVERED IN ARCHERY BULL MOOSE CASE NEAR LANDER
LANDER – Although the violator claimed he launched the arrow accidentally on Sept. 5, 2009, the mature bull moose was still killed south of Lander and the contended accident had nothing to do with all the meat being wasted.
But the actions – and lack of actions – of the violator and his hunting partner have everything to do with the stiff sentences they are dealing with for their roles in the crime.
Gilbert A. Mascarenaz of Pavillion pleaded guilty to knowingly taking an antlered moose without a proper license and was sentenced by Circuit Court Judge Robert Denhardt in Lander. Mascarenaz, 37, was fined $7,530, ordered to pay $7,500 in restitution and sentenced to five days in jail. He also had his hunting privileges revoked for 10 years and was placed on one year unsupervised probation.
Devon D. Scherf of Riverton pleaded guilty to waste of big game (allowing game animal to intentionally or needlessly go to waste) and transporting game animal parts without an interstate game tag, was fined $1,560 and given a 60-day suspended jail sentence. Scherf, 26, also had his hunting license privileges revoked for three years and was placed on one year unsupervised probation and ordered to complete a hunter education course by December 2012.
The investigation started Sept. 10, 2009 when an archery elk hunter reported finding an ungutted bull moose carcass. The carcass, which had its antlers removed, was reported to be located near Blue Ridge about 20 miles south of Lander in the Shoshone National Forest.
Finding no evidence at the scene that pointed to any suspects, Lander Game Warden Brad Hovinga and Investigator Scott Browning contacted the five hunters who were fortunate to draw a moose license in hunt area 2 in 2009 and possible archery elk and deer hunters who may have been in the area that Labor Day weekend.
On Oct. 8, the officers asked the public for information about the crime through the local media and received some tips. That response combined with details gleaned from some of the interviews directed the officers towards the defendants.
Browning contacted Scherf at his Riverton home Oct. 8 and received a full confession about his role in the crime. Both officers interviewed Mascarenaz at his home Oct. 9. He admitted killing the moose, but contended he thought it was an elk when he shot. He said he was hunting near dusk and the long antler points he could see in the timber convinced him the animal was an elk. He did take the officers to where he stashed the moose antlers sporting a 38-inch-spread in willows near his home.
On Oct. 12, the officers got a unique response from the media request. Eric Manasco of Lander offered a series of photos – taken less than two hours before the crime occurred – of two bull moose just east of the crime scene. “It was easy to see, the moose in the photo with the wide palms and long points was the same moose that was illegally killed,” Browning said.
The officers interviewed Mascarenaz again on Nov. 2 and the suspect admitted he knew the animal was a moose when he shot and collaborated most of Scherf’s statement. But he contended he nocked and fully drew the arrow on his recurve bow just to get a “sight picture” on the mature bull and the arrow was released inadvertently when he accidentally hit the trigger release.
From the collaborating interviews with the suspects, both unemployed oil field workers during the investigation, the officers reconstructed the crime: Around noon Sept. 5, the archery elk hunters were returning to camp on an ATV from the back side of Blue Ridge when Mascarenaz spotted two bull moose a short distance from the two track road. He approached the moose raising and drawing his bow twice and one animal trotted off. He drew again on the remaining bull and released the arrow. The men followed up on the shot discovering the dead moose and returned to camp. Later that day, they hiked back to the moose from camp, removed some meat, but left it at the scene. The next night, Scherf returned to the scene and retrieved the antlers by sawing the skull plate off the moose and Mascarenaz later picked up the antlers at Scherf’s house.
“This crime was just such a waste of the resource in several ways,” Browning said. “All the meat – upwards of 250 pounds – was wasted and so was the chance for a long-suffering moose hunter to legally harvest this dandy bull, which is the nicest moose I’ve ever seen in the Lander area. Plus, moose populations have been depressed in western Wyoming and the Game and Fish works hard to tightly manage this species.”
In 2009, it took 14 years of accruing preference points for a resident and 10 years for a nonresident to draw a license in moose area 2. In the random draw, residents had a one-in-241-chance of drawing the one license available.
In addition to the hunting license suspensions delivered, Judge Denhardt also ordered that Mascarenaz cannot be in possession of a firearm, or be in the company of someone in possession of a firearm while in the field, during any hunting season during his license suspension. The same order also applies to Scherf – with the exception that Scherf can accompany his wife on her hunts. In addition, if Scherf is cited for any Game and Fish violation during his three-year license suspension, the suspension is extended for an additional three years.
“The judge did not take this crime lightly and also viewed it as a needless waste,” Browning said. “He actually gave Devon Scherf a harsher sentence than Brad and I recommended. It’s clear that the judge takes wildlife violations very seriously.”
TWO SHERIDAN AREA MEN FINED $7,010 AND LOSE HUNTING PRIVILEGES FOR NINE YEARS
SHERIDAN – Kristopher S. Schortmann of Sheridan and Cory Tasler of Dayton were ordered to pay $7,010 in fines and restitution and had their hunting and fishing privileges suspended for a combined nine years as a result of illegally shooting a buck mule deer after the season closed and for illegally purchasing resident licenses in Wyoming over a three-year period.
Sheridan County Circuit Court Judge John J. Sampson ordered Schortmann, 32, to pay $530 in fines and $2,500 in restitution to the state of Wyoming for taking a mule deer buck after the season closed. In addition, Schortmann’s hunting and fishing privileges were suspended for three years, making him ineligible to purchase hunting or fishing licenses in Wyoming and the 31 other states that belong to the wildlife violator compact. The judge also ordered Tasler, 33, to pay $1,980 in fines and $2,000 in restitution for five counts of illegally purchasing resident licenses and for accessory to taking the above-mentioned mule deer after the season closed. Tasler’s hunting and fishing privileges were suspended for six years.
The investigation began in mid-November 2009 when Sheridan Game Warden James Hobbs received an anonymous stop poaching report stating that Schortmann and Tasler had illegally killed a mule deer buck in the Sheridan area. Further investigation showed that Schortmann had killed a 4-by-8 mule deer buck with his crossbow about a week after the season closed just west of the Sheridan city limits on Soldier Creek Road. Tasler then knowingly stored the illegally taken mule deer at his home in Dayton. When asked by Judge Sampson why he had poached this deer Schortmann replied that he had poached it to show his friends what a nice deer he could kill. Hobbs commented, “Because of the selfishness of one person a very good, quality mule deer was taken out of the Sheridan area. This could have been a great trophy for some hunter out there to take legally during the season.”
Hobbs worked a combined investigation with Dayton Game Warden Alan Osterland. During the investigation it was discovered that Tasler had illegally purchased 13 Wyoming resident licenses over the last three years without establishing residency. Tasler had not lived in Wyoming for one full year and had purchased resident licenses in Minnesota during the same time period.
On each Wyoming resident license there is a statement that states:
“Under penalty of prosecution, I swear that the information given by me above and below my signature is true and correct. I swear, under penalty of prosecution, that I am a Wyoming resident… and have domiciled in Wyoming for not less than one (1) year and have not claimed residency elsewhere for any purpose during the one year immediately preceding the purchase of this license.”
“Mr. Tasler had not lived in Wyoming for a full year to establish his residency. As partial payment for his crime he will not be hunting or fishing legally for six years in all 32 states of the compact,” says Osterland. “He took away the opportunity for a Wyoming resident to harvest several of the animals that he took. I believe the almost $4000 in fines and restitution and the loss of privileges fit the crime.”
Hobbs and Osterland acknowledge that the case would not have been possible without the cooperation of members of the public. Sheridan Game Warden Bruce Scigliano, Buffalo Game Warden Jim Seeman, Investigator Scott Adell and the Sheridan Police Department also assisted with the investigation. Hobbs adds, “Because of a report by a concerned citizen and help from other members of the community we were able to solve this crime.”
Anyone witnessing a wildlife violation may call the Stop Poaching hotline at 1-877-WGFD-TIP1-877-WGFD-TIP . Tips are most helpful when they are reported promptly and include information such as the date, time, location and specific details about the suspected violation. Also important is a physical description of the suspected violator as well as a license plate number and description of any vehicles involved in the incident. Stop Poaching tips can also be reported on the Game and Fish Web site at: http://gf.state.wy.us/wildlife/enforcement/stoppoaching/submitTip.aspx. Tips may result in a reward and informants can chose to remain anonymous.
120 CITATIONS ISSUED FOR FALSIFYING RESIDENCY INFORMATION FOR HUNTING AND FISHING LICENSES
CHEYENNE – In a coordinated project with wildlife investigators from Utah, Colorado and Idaho, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has issued more than 120 citations resulting in fines of more than $36,000. The citations were issued to individuals that were claiming dual residency between the states for the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses. An additional 60 warnings have also been issued.
The violations were uncovered following a project initiated in 2007 by the Wyoming Wildlife Investigative Unit. The project involved a resident license cross-check between Wyoming and the three neighboring states that combined computer programs from resident license purchases for 2005 and 2006 with data from Wyoming residents who purchased resident licenses during that time period.
Of the more than 130,000 individuals in Wyoming who purchased resident licenses, 320 were found to be claiming dual residency. Wildlife statutes in all the involved states allow the claiming of residency in only one state for the purchase of resident hunting and fishing licenses.
Further investigation of the 320 individuals found that 130 residents were not in violation as Wyoming statutes allow certain exceptions. Some 90 individuals were found to be full-time residents of Wyoming and these have been referred to investigators in Idaho, Utah, and Colorado for prosecution of dual residency.
Wyoming investigators contacted the remaining individuals and received a variety of reasons for the dual resident license purchases. Many thought dual residency was allowed, and claimed misinformation given by license agents. Others knew it was a violation and were simply trying to get away with buying cheaper resident licenses.
According to Wildlife Investigative Supervisor Mike Ehlebracht, false oath violations are a serious concern for the department. “This type of double dipping cheats hunters and anglers in all states,” Ehlebracht said. “The department and the investigative unit are committed to identify and prosecute as many of these people as possible. We plan to continue these dual-residency law enforcement projects with the other states.”
POACHER IGNORES WILDLIFE VIOLATOR COMPACT
CODY - A Worland man convicted of poaching in Colorado found out the hard way that the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact should not be ignored.
After committing violations in Colorado in 2004, Keith Searle had his hunting and fishing privileges suspended until Nov. 2010. “Searle moved to Wyoming and began hunting and fishing,” said Worland Game Warden Matt Lentsch. “However, an individual who loses their privileges to hunt in a state that is a member of the wildlife compact actually loses them in all 32 compact member states.”
According to Lentsch, Searle pleaded guilty to purchasing eight resident licenses while under suspension over a three-year period. He was also cited for taking a deer without a license, accessory to taking a deer without a license and two counts of accessory to transferring licenses.
Washakie County Circuit Court records show that Searle was ordered to pay $8,000 in restitution to the State of Wyoming and $390 court costs. He was ordered to serve three consecutive one-year jail terms in the Washakie County jail, with all but 90-days suspended. He was fined $840 and lost his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for 18 years.
“Searle was placed on four-years of supervised probation and ordered to sign a waiver of extradition. The conditions of his probation are very strict,” Lentsch said.
Searle’s probation conditions state that he is not to posses any firearms, bow, arrow, hunting knives, binoculars, spotting scopes, fishing equipment, or any item that is used in any type of hunting or fishing in any state. Nor is Searle to be in the presence of anyone that has any of the mentioned items. He is not to engage in any hunting, fishing, trapping and/or shed antler gathering, nor be in the presence of anyone engaged in these activities. “Searle was given 30 days to remove all hunting and fishing equipment from his possession,” Lentsch said.
According to Lentsch, wildlife violations are taken seriously by judges and prosecuting attorneys and the wildlife violator compact was created to serve as a deterrent to poaching. Any
person whose license privileges are suspended in Wyoming would also be suspended in the other 31 member states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon,
South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
POACHER TO PAY $30,030, LOSE HUNTING AND TRAPPING PRIVILEGE FOR 10 YEARS
CASPER – Casper resident Timothy J. Alme was ordered to pay $30,030 and has lost his privilege to hunt or be in the field with anyone hunting for the next 10 years after poaching two mule deer near Lusk.
On Nov. 23, 2008, Game Warden Shawn Blajszczak received a phone call from Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Andy Jackson concerning a possible poaching case. Trooper Jackson and fellow officer Karl Southam were investigating a traffic accident involving a guard rail and a pickup truck on Highway 89 near Alpine. They discovered that the bed of the pickup truck, a white 2008 Dodge, had a lot of blood and deer hair in it. The truck was left abandoned along the highway, and a check of the license plate revealed it was registered to Timothy J. Alme of Casper.
A consented search of Alme’s residence revealed deer meat in the freezer, several sets of deer antlers and pronghorn horns in the garage and a number of deer and pronghorn carcasses in a draw on the property. Four of the deer carcasses – three mule deer and a white-tailed deer – were fresh kills and had the skull caps and antlers removed. Blajszczak determined two of the mule deer appeared to have been killed within the past week, while the other mule deer and the white-tailed deer were killed a few weeks earlier. Blajszczak and game warden Aaron Kerr collected the four carcasses and antlers that matched them as evidence. They also collected other biological evidence from the property. While executing a search warrant in Jackson, game wardens collected additional evidence from the 2008 Dodge pickup. All evidence was sent to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department Laboratory for DNA analysis and genotyping.
During an interview with Alme and his attorney, Alme confessed to poaching two mule deer along Highway 270 in Niobrara County on Nov. 14, 2008. There was no open season for mule deer in this area during that time and Alme had no license for either of the animals he shot. Alme said he was alone at the time and confessed to shooting the deer from the cab of his 2008 Dodge while stopped along the highway.
Alme said he loaded the deer into his truck and later field dressed them at home. He said he then butchered the animals and put the meat in the freezer in his garage. Alme said all the other carcasses found in the draw on his property were legally taken and explained each kill to the wardens. Various other interviews were conducted, and other evidence was also collected. During the investigation Blajszczak learned that one of the buck mule deer and the whitetail deer were legally harvested.
Alme was charged with the illegal killing of antlered big game animals without a license and during a closed season. He was also charged with shooting a big game animal from a vehicle and for hunting, shooting and killing wildlife from a highway. Alme was also issued numerous warnings for various wildlife violations as part of the plea agreement.
In Niobrara County Court he was sentenced to two years suspended jail time, $22,000 in fines, $8,000 in restitution and $30 in court costs. He also forfeited the .270 caliber Winchester rifle, which he used to poach the two mule deer. In addition, Alme lost all trapping and hunting privileges for 10 years and cannot accompany any individual on any hunting venture during that time. The Game and Fish Department thanks Niobrara County Court and County Attorney Ed Buchanan for their assistance with the case.
RAWLINS MAN CITED FOR KILLING ELK WITH RIFLE DURING ARCHERY SEASON
CODY – A man has received heavy fines for killing a bull elk with a rifle during the September archery season. Ronald G. Leak from Rawlins was sentenced in Big Horn Circuit Court to pay fines of $780 and was ordered to pay $6,000 restitution to the State of Wyoming. In addition, Leak was placed on six months supervised probation and lost his hunting privileges for three years.
According to Wyoming Game and Fish Department investigating officers Tom DeSomber (Ten Sleep) and Jim Seeman (Buffalo), Leak poached the bull in elk hunt area 45 on Sept. 12 in the East Ten Sleep Creek drainage.
“When we interviewed Leak about the incident his story did not match the evidence and he eventually admitted his guilt, DeSomber said. “He said he was frustrated because he was unable to get close enough to the bull with his archery equipment, so he chose to harvest the elk with his rifle. The rifle season was closed.”
Both DeSomber and Seeman feel strongly that poaching is a serious crime. “Hunting lawfully and ethically will help to ensure future hunting opportunity; intentionally breaking the law will not,” DeSomber said.
Seeman added, “Poaching is mutiny on everyone’s bounty. People that poach deprive legitimate hunters from harvesting many game animals each year and we will continue to do what we can to catch them.”
According to DeSomber the department and many county attorneys and judges also take wildlife violations seriously. "An individual who loses their privileges to hunt in Wyoming actually loses them in 31 states, all of which are members of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact," DeSomber said. The compact includes a reciprocal recognition of license suspension.
Any person whose license privileges are suspended in Wyoming would also be suspended in the member states of Alaska, Nevada, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Idaho, Arizona, Utah, Montana, Missouri, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, New Mexico, Iowa, Indiana, California, Georgia, South Dakota, Michigan, Kansas, New York, Florida, Tennessee, Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Louisiana.
ILLINOIS MAN FINED $4200 AND LOSES HUNTING AND FISHING PRIVILEGES FOR SIX YEARS
SHERIDAN – Fred G. Plambeck, 60, of Cary, Illinois paid nearly $4200 in fines and had his hunting and fishing privileges suspended for six years as a result of illegally purchasing a resident licenses in Wyoming over a six year period.
Sheridan County Circuit Court Judge John J. Sampson ordered Plambeck to pay $4,170 in fines for five counts of false statement to procure a license. In addition, Plambeck’s hunting and fishing privileges were suspended for six years, making him ineligible to purchase hunting or fishing licenses in 31 states that belong to the wildlife violator compact.
The case was instigated in late July of 2009 when Sheridan game warden James Hobbs received information that Plambeck had been purchasing resident licenses illegally. Further investigation showed that Plambeck had purchased or applied for a total of 35 licenses from 1998 to 2009.
Plambeck had been a resident of Wyoming until 2004 before moving to Illinois to live with his wife. Plambeck said that because he owned a home in Arvada, a mailing address and paid property taxes that he could remain a resident of the state.
On each resident license purchased and signed there is the statement that is partially as follows:
“Under penalty of prosecution, I swear that the information given by me above and below my signature is true and correct. I swear, under penalty of prosecution, that I am a Wyoming resident… and have domiciled in Wyoming for not less than one (1) year and have not claimed residency elsewhere for any purpose during the one year immediately preceding the purchase of this license.”
“Mr. Plambeck had not lived in Wyoming more than a month each year since 2004. As partial payment for his crime he will not be hunting or fishing legally for six years,” says Hobbs. “He took away the opportunity for a Wyoming resident to receive a limited quota license for elk for two years. I believe the $4200 in fines and loss of privileges fits the crime.”
Hobbs acknowledges that the case would not have been possible without the cooperation of members of the public. Sheridan game warden Bruce Scigliano and Sheridan special investigator Scott Adell also helped with the investigation. Hobbs adds, “Because of a report by a concerned citizen and help from other members of the community we were able to solve this crime.”
Anyone witnessing a wildlife violation can call the Stop Poaching hotline at 1-877-WGFD-TIP1-877-WGFD-TIP . Tips are most helpful with specific information such as the date, time, location and specific details about the suspected violation. Also important is a physical description of the suspected violator as well as a license plate number and description of any vehicles involved in the incident.
Rangers say the brothers were hunting with a floodlight, and drugs and alcohol were found.
By Howard Pankratz
The Denver Post
A bull elk and his harem of cows 26 miles north of Jackson, Wyo., in the heart of Grand Teton National Park were just too much of a temptation Thursday for two hapless would-be poachers, according to the National Park Service.
The two men, brothers Ryan and Tracy Palmer from Rawlins, Wyo., had intended to go hunting in Bridger-Teton National Forest. But early Thursday, Ryan, 25, and Tracy, 32, decided to spotlight wildlife in Grand Teton National Park — an illegal activity in the park, according to the Park Service.
Spotlighting involves using a floodlight on a vehicle to look for game along a road after dark. After the pair spotted a bull elk and the harem in the heart of the park, things went downhill quickly for the pair, investigators said. About 2 a.m., a Teton County sheriff's deputy saw Ryan swerving in the road and stopped him for an alcohol- related investigation, ultimately citing him for possession of an open container.
A search of the vehicle yielded methamphetamines, drug paraphernalia and loaded firearms. Ryan told the deputy that Tracy, armed with a bow and quiver of arrows, was in the bushes not far away in pursuit of the elk.Park rangers began a "systematic search" and located Tracy about 9:30 a.m. as he emerged from the underbrush and approached the road in an effort to hitch a ride.
According to investigators, Tracy found himself without a ride after Ryan saw the sheriff's deputy who ultimately apprehended him. Ryan drove down the road hoping to avoid the deputy, leaving Tracy in the brush. A thorough search of the area found no elk carcasses, and every indication is that "Tracy missed his intended target," according to the Park Service.
Both men are in a lot of trouble.
TIP LEADS TO CONVICTION IN MULE DEER POACHING
LANDER – A Stop Poaching tip led to the arrest and conviction of a Pavillion man for violating both State of Wyoming and Reservation game laws by taking a mule deer during a closed season on State of Wyoming land while in possession of a Reservation white-tailed deer tag.
According to a tip received by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, a concerned citizen noticed a large blood spot in a 2-track road that had not been there the previous day and suspected a four-point buck had been killed on November 20, 2008. Riverton Game Warden Brad Gibb confirmed the blood spot and what appeared to be deer hair at the scene and noticed a pickup with fresh blood on the tailgate at a neighboring residence. After locating the owner, who was identified as Pivot Dolan, 44, of Pavillion, Gibb went to Dolan’s residence to find a fresh mule deer skull with antlers.
When Gibb questioned Dolan about the head, Dolan produced a Wind River Indian Reservation tag for white-tailed deer. Dolan stated he was an enrolled tribal member and that he had killed the deer on the Reservation. Gibb contacted tribal Game Warden Robert St. Clair, who investigated potential tribal game violations with Dolan.
Gibb and Riverton Game Warden Chris Daubin collected samples of blood and hair from the road, blood on Dolan’s tailgate, and the mule deer skull. All were sent to the Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Forensic Laboratory in Laramie. Genetic testing confirmed all three samples were male mule deer and likely from the same animal.
Dolan was charged with and convicted of taking a deer during a closed season. He was ordered to pay $5,030 in fines, serve 6 months probation and to stay off private property in the area unless invited by the owner. He also lost his hunting privileges for 5 years in Wyoming and the 30 other member states in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. In addition, he cannot be in possession of a firearm in the field or be with anyone in possession of a firearm in the field or go hunting with anyone. Dolan was also charged with violations of Reservation game laws.
“This was a good case to solve because we were able to work closely with tribal wildlife officials,” said Gibb. “And I thank Judge Wesley Roberts and County Attorney Brian Varn for taking wildlife violations so seriously. Wildlife crimes are crimes against all citizens of Wyoming and should not be taken lightly.”
Anyone who witnesses a wildlife crime should call the Stop Poaching tip line at 1-877-WGFD-TIP1-877-WGFD-TIP or online at….. Gibb encourages anyone calling the tip line to be alert and gather as much specific information about a violation as possible. “Try to document the date, time, location and specific nature of the violation. Include a physical description of the suspected violator or include contact information if possible, as well as a license plate number and description of any vehicles involved in the incident.” Informants can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.
MULE DEER POACHER FINED $8,000, LOSES HUNTING PRIVILEGES
SHERIDAN – Poaching of a trophy mule deer has resulted in nearly $8,000 in fines and restitution and suspension of hunting and fishing privileges for eight years for Rocky Donaldson Jr. of Story.
Sheridan County Circuit Court Judge John J. Sampson ordered Donaldson to pay $5,410 in fines and $2,500 in restitution for killing the 10 by 8 point buck without a license and making a false statement on an interstate game tag affidavit. In addition, Donaldson’s hunting and fishing privileges were suspended for eight years, making him ineligible to purchase hunting or fishing licenses until 2017. Donaldson was also placed on one year unsupervised probation and sentenced to sixty days in jail, suspended upon successful completion of his probation.
The case was instigated in early 2008 when Wyoming Game and Fish Department Sheridan game warden Bruce Scigliano received information that Donaldson had killed a large buck deer without a license east of Sheridan. Further investigation in April 2009 showed that Donaldson had taken the head of a trophy class deer to a Sheridan taxidermy shop, signing an affidavit claiming that a Sheridan area woman had killed the animal.
As a result of further investigation by Scigliano and Dayton game warden Alan Osterland, it was learned that Donaldson had killed the deer without a license on Oct. 1, 2007. Donaldson then persuaded the woman to buy a license to “cover” the illegal kill. Donaldson had only recently moved to Wyoming in the summer of 2007 and was not eligible to purchase resident licenses.
“Not only did Mr. Donaldson choose to kill a large deer without a license, he then convinced a second person to transfer a license, allowing Donaldson to take the animal to a taxidermy shop,” says Scigliano. “When an individual takes an animal in for taxidermy they are required to sign an interstate game tag affidavit, supplying the name of the person who harvested the animal and attesting that the animal was taken legally. In this case, this was obviously false and the sentence reflects the importance of a properly signed affidavit.”
Scigliano acknowledges that the case would not have been possible without the cooperation of members of the public and a Game and Fish clerical worker. “This was a large deer taken on public land,” Scigliano said. “Unfortunately, due to the actions of one individual, it was not available for legal hunters. It took the cooperation of several folks to bring the case to its successful conclusion.”
CHRONIC POACHER TO PAY $25,000 FOR CRIMES
UPTON – A chronic poacher was ordered to pay $25,000 in fines and restitution for killing several antlered big game animals without proper licenses between 2003 and 2008.
Upton resident Mike A. Hagerman, 47, pled guilty to five violations of taking antlered big game animals without a license. The case started with a call from an informant to Newcastle game warden Dustin Shorma in March of 2008. Wildlife Investigator Scott Adell was called in and the two officers started the long process of gathering additional evidence and formulating a plan.
The informant provided officers with information and photographs of deer that Hagerman allegedly killed over the last five years. Wildlife officers obtained a warrant and, with assistance by officers from the Upton Police Department and the Wyoming Highway Patrol, arrested Hagerman. He was held at the Weston County Detention Center.
When Wyoming Game and Fish Department wildlife investigators Scott Adell and Jim Gregory questioned Hagerman, he confessed to killing several deer and antelope and two turkeys without a license. He said some of the animals were killed using his father’s pioneer license and some were taken using his daughter’s deer license. Investigators executed a search warrant of Hagerman’s home and confiscated game meat and a personal computer. A consented search of his father’s ranch in Upton revealed a mounted deer head and additional game meat. The evidence was submitted to the Wyoming Game and Fish forensics laboratory in Laramie for testing.
Test results determined the species and the gender of the animals that were killed and the total number of animals killed. Working in cooperation with the Weston County prosecutor, Hagerman was charged with six violations of taking antlered big game animals without a license and two counts of taking a turkey without a license. Hagerman said he was killing the game animals for food for his family. But Judge Stan Sheehan said he did not believe that claim because questioning from County Prosecutor Jim Peck revealed that Hagerman shot only bucks and no does.
Hagerman pled not guilty during the initial court appearance and immediately retained an attorney. As part of a plea agreement he pled guilty for five of the six big game charges. The other big game violation and both turkey charges were dismissed pursuant to the plea agreement.
Hagerman was ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution and $10,000 fines and his hunting privileges were suspended for 15 years. He was also sentenced to a 30-day suspended jail sentence and one year probation.
Adell said the case was especially disturbing because after killing the animals, Hagerman then used students enrolled in Upton High School’s Outdoor Recreation class to unknowingly butcher the poached animals. “Several of the animals were brought into the high school, where Hagerman is employed,” Adell said. “These types of crimes don’t just affect one person. When he brought these deer into the school, he brought more people into the case.”
Adell and Officer Shorma said it is unfortunate that the school became an innocent victim. “This is a good school program and the students are learning a valuable skill. We encourage this kind of thing when it is done legally,” Adell said.
LARAMIE MAN PAYS HEAVY FINES FOR MOOSE POACHING INCIDENT
CHEYENNE – A tip from a concerned citizen has led to the arrest and subsequent conviction of a Laramie man who illegally killed a moose a short distance from Laramie.
On Feb. 16, north Laramie game warden Roger Bredehoft received a report from a concerned citizen that a moose had been poached near the Summit Rest Area east of Laramie. The citizen reporting the incident said a conversation had been overheard that led to the belief that Samir Yousef had killed a moose just off Happy Jack Road. The person providing the information also provided a description of Yousef’s vehicle and said that Yousef was a student at Wyoming Technical Institute and would be returning that night to the site of the poaching incident.
Following the report, Bredehoft went to the area to look for the moose and encountered Yousef driving along a U.S. Forest Service road. Bredehoft stopped the vehicle and inquired if he had been hunting and received a reply that he had not. Bredehoft then asked and received permission to search the vehicle and found no evidence of any poaching or any firearms. Since he had no evidence that a poaching had occurred, Bredehoft let Yousef go and continued down the Forest Service road. A short distance later, Bredehoft found a fresh trail with human and moose tracks going off the road into a thick patch of willows where he found a dead moose. The moose was an adult bull that had already shed its antlers. None of the meat had been removed.
With assistance from the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, Bredehoft located Yousef’s apartment where he questioned Yousef concerning the incident. Yousef initially denied shooting the moose, but then admitted to encountering a moose that was walking down the road, getting out of his vehicle, following it and then shooting twice at it as it was going through the willows. He said this occurred on Feb.15, but he did not realize he had hit and killed the moose until the next day. He returned on Feb. 16 and decided to take some of the meat but became frightened and left.
Yousef was cited for taking a moose out of season and waste of a big game animal. Although the moose was an adult bull, it had already shed its antlers so Yousef did not shoot the moose to secure a trophy. In Albany County Court, Yousef was fined $780 for taking a moose out of season, $440 for waste of a big game animal and an additional $7,500 for the loss of the moose to the State of Wyoming, for a total of more than $8,700 in fines and restitution. Yousef also lost all hunting privileges for four years.
The moose was in area 38 which is one of the top trophy areas in Wyoming and is among the toughest drawing odds for a license of any moose area in the state. In 2008, there were 1,654 applicants in the random draw for Area 38 for three resident licenses. An additional nine licenses were available in the preference point draw with 66 applicants having the maximum 13 preference points for less than a 14 percent chance in the draw. For those with less than maximum points, the drawing odds in 2008 were less than one fourth of one percent.
As with a number of poaching incidents, this case was solved through the help of a concerned citizen. Anyone with information on wildlife violations can contact their local game warden or Game and Fish regional office or call the stop Poaching Hotline at 1-877-WGFD TIP (943-3847). Calls are kept confidential and a cash reward may be rewarded with the successful arrest of wildlife violators.
GAME AND FISH NABS BIG PINEY DEER POACHERS
BIG PINEY- On Saturday, February 21, what appeared to be an illegally killed mule deer buck was discovered in the Deer Hills west of Big Piney. Less than two weeks later, Lee Hedlund and Travis Core, both of Big Piney, found themselves in court receiving a stiff sentence for the crime.
After receiving the report of the dead deer, investigative work by Adam Hymas, Big Piney game warden, revealed a vehicle description and that the deer had been shot on Feb.18. Within an hour of putting the word out, the vehicle had been located in Pinedale and the two suspects were apprehended and questioned. Hedlund admitted to shooting the antlered deer while Core assisted, salvaging some of the meat.
On Mar. 5, Hedlund, 27, plead guilty to taking a deer during a closed season and Core, 26, pled guilty to accessory to taking a deer during a closed season. Circuit court Judge Curt Haws sentenced both individuals to five days in jail (30 days with 25 suspended), a loss of hunting and fishing privileges for three years, $780 fines (all fines were suspended), 80 hours of community service, and one year of probation. Both Hedlund and Core had recently relocated to Big Piney from the state of Washington.
Big Piney Game Warden Adam Hymas applauded the efforts of Judge Curt Haws. “I think a clear message was sent that the illegal shooting of wildlife will not be tolerated in Sublette County,” Hymas said.
Hymas also recognized the efforts of Sublette County Attorney Allegra Davis and his office for their efforts in prosecuting the case and the individuals who commit wildlife crimes. “This is a good example of how justice was achieved through good investigative teamwork and great vigilance and attentiveness from those that care about Wyoming's wildlife resource,” said Hymas. “I applaud both Judge Haws and prosecutor Davis for their continued dedication to our local wildlife.”
Thousands of mule deer from the Sublette and Wyoming Range deer herds spend their winters in the Pinedale-Big Piney-LaBarge area. “It’s no secret these animals are vulnerable this time of year,” said Hymas. “Not just to poachers, but vehicle collisions and harassment by winter recreationists, including antler hunters and photographers trying to get too close.”
In recent years, Game and Fish enforcement personnel have focused more attention on these mule deer winter ranges, but they still need help from the public. “Obviously, we do not have the personnel to be everywhere, all the time, so we rely on reports from people who are out there,” says Hymas.
“There are actually quite a few people out there watching deer and their reports of suspicious activity can really help us, as it did in this case. Whether you’re a hunter or just a wildlife enthusiast, people should be outraged about the illegal shooting of these animals,” said Hymas.
The Game and Fish has identified several poacher profiles:
· Vehicles with evidence of travel in the countryside – often sport utility vehicles or pickups with toppers.
· Presence of camping, hunting or outdoor equipment.
· Firearms, spotlights, scanners or night vision equipment.
· Folks claiming to be in the area to hunt coyotes or photograph deer.
· Vehicles traveling in rural areas during the early morning, evening or late at night.
· Small amounts of blood or hair – poached wildlife are typically not readily visible.
TIP LEADS TO CONVICTIONS IN ELK POACHING
CASPER - A Stop Poaching tip led to the arrest and conviction of a Casper man for taking elk during a closed season in an area chronically plagued by poaching.
According to a tip received by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, an individual was seen loading a large bull elk into the back of a pickup truck in elk hunt area 113 on the Thunder Basin National Grassland on Nov. 30, 2008. There was no bull elk season open in area 113 at the time of the incident. However, elk season was open in area 129 several miles to the east.The informant provided a license plate number from the pickup truck and this led game wardens to Adam Hausman, 34, of Casper. Upon questioning, Hausman stated that he had a general elk license for area 129 and had gone hunting there on Nov. 30. He claimed to have killed a bull elk early that morning in area 129. Wardens later discovered that Hausman was in possession of two large bull elk. He said his friend, Richard Chappell, 38, of Casper, killed the second elk.
Game Wardens Aaron Kerr and John Lund asked Hausman to point to the location on a map where he killed his elk. When he had difficulty doing so, the wardens requested he lead them to the kill site to show them the gut piles. On December 13, Hausman led wardens to locations in area 129, where he had moved the gut piles the week before to disguise the location of the kills. Unknown to Hausman, wardens had already investigated the location given by the informant in area 113 and discovered two gut piles. They took DNA samples and sent them to the Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Laramie. The lab matched these samples to DNA samples taken from blood and elk hair in Hausman’s truck and the heads of the two bulls. Hausman later confessed to killing both elk in area 113.
Hausman was charged with one count of taking an elk during a closed season; one count of taking an elk without a license; and interference with a peace officer. He was ordered to pay $2,440 in fines and $12,000 in restitution. He also lost his hunting privileges for six years and was given a 90-day suspended jail sentence with one year of unsupervised probation. Chappell was charged with transfer of license, was fined $780 and lost his hunting privileges for two years.
“Elk area 113 is a highly-sought-after trophy bull elk area,” game warden Kerr said. “There are limited licenses for this area and it is not even open every year. This is just one of several cases in the past few years where people have killed elk in area 113 and claimed to have killed them in area 129. In this case, we were fortunate to have a witness call in with information critical to the investigation. Without it, this crime would have likely remained unsolved.”
Poachers killing a bull elk in a closed area could potentially be subjected to the trophy statute, which carries a minimum fine of $5,000 and mandatory 5 year suspension of their hunting privileges.
Anyone who witnesses a wildlife crime should call the Stop Poaching tip line at 1-877-WGFD-TIP1-877-WGFD-TIP . Kerr encourages anyone calling the tip line to be alert and gather as much specific information about a violation as possible. “Try to document the date, time, location and specific nature of the violation. Include a physical description of the suspected violator or include contact information if possible, as well as a license plate number and description of any vehicles involved in the incident.” Informants can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.
Man gets 100 days in jail for shooting antelope
A magistrate in Sweetwater County has sentenced a Tennessee man to serve 100 days in jail and pay $6,000 in fines and restitution for shooting a doe antelope several times with a semiautomatic rifle.
Magistrate Stephen K. Palmer sentenced Tori Stephen Bowman, 23, of Cookeville, Tenn., on Monday.
Rock Springs Game Warden David Hays says the fawn antelope was lactating when it was killed on Sunday. Hays says it probably left a pair of orphaned fawns behind.
Hays says wanton killing of wildlife is an increasing problem in southwestern Wyoming. He says that many cases involve young men who come into the area to work in the energy industry from places where they don't typically see so much wildlife.
BUFFALO JUVENILES SENTENCED FOR WANTON DESTRUCTION
On April 11, 2008, the final suspect in a very disturbing case involving wanton destruction of wildlife was sentenced in Johnson County Circuit Court. Sentencing brought to a close a case that had been on going since November 2007.
On November 23, 2007, three juveniles from Buffalo killed at least eight big game animals, probably many more. The three boys, all age 15, drove a loop from Buffalo to Ucross, then towards Clearmont before heading back to Buffalo, killing and likely wounding deer and antelope along the way.
“This was the most disturbing act of wanton destruction that I have seen in 16 years,” says Buffalo Game Warden Jim Seeman. “None of the animals were taken from the field, leaving them all to rot.”
Fines for all the cases totaled over $29,000, although most were suspended. The juveniles were also ordered to serve community service and were put on supervised probation for three years. One of the suspects was also ordered to serve 20 days in a juvenile detention facility and lost his hunting and fishing privileges for 12 years. The other two boys lost their hunting privileges for six years each.
“This case could not have been solved if it weren’t for the cooperation of a local rancher, a business owner, the Buffalo Police Department and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office. I wish to thank everyone who cooperated, with a special thanks to the Johnson County Attorney’s Office,” said Seeman.
HUNTER’S JOURNAL HELPS LAND 20 WILDLIFE CONVICTIONS FOR FIVE MEN
LANDER – This case hits home why wildlife crime should be reported even if the violation may seem insignificant.
In October 2002, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department received information from a confidential informant that a California man was applying for resident licenses. The following investigation led to a hunting camp in the southern Wind River Mountains and spiraled into 20 wildlife convictions for five men, involved officers in two states and recently culminated with a Pennsylvania man being sentenced for taking an overlimit of elk in a closed season.
“When it comes to wildlife violations, this was another case of ‘where there’s smoke there’s fire,’” said Lander Wildlife Investigator Scott Browning.
The initial tip reported Dwayne D. Ribley of Solvang, Calif. was applying for resident big game licenses. Lander Game Warden Bob Trebelcock discovered that from 1997-2002, the 62-year-old retiree had applied for 20 resident big game licenses, drawing 14 and purchased one moose preference point.
When interviewed, Ribley felt he had dual residency in Wyoming and California, because he had driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations in both states. During a conversation about the case, he offered Trebelcock his personal journal of his Wyoming hunting trips.
“The journal not only helped make the argument Mr. Ribley was not a resident, it also chronicled other violations of hunters in the camp or camping nearby,” Trebelcock said.
Although Ribley did have an expired Wyoming driver’s license with a Lander address, his journal recorded him departing California for his Wyoming hunts and then returning to the West Coast. A check of records revealed he voted in California 12 times from 1992-2002, but not in Wyoming during that period. He also admitted to the officer he had not lived in Wyoming for a full year prior to purchasing resident hunting licenses.
The game warden added the 107-page journal was very well written and would have been interesting reading even if it didn’t lead officers to additional violations.
“The journal made this one of the most unique cases I’ve ever investigated,” said Trebelcock, a 31-year Game and Fish veteran. “It’s not often a suspect offers written evidence of violations.”
On Nov. 29, 2005, Ribley pleaded guilty to 14 counts of what officers commonly call “false oath” or swearing a false statement to procure Wyoming resident hunting licenses: six elk, five deer and three pronghorn. He was fined $3,980 by Judge Robert Denhardt in Ninth Circuit Court in Lander.
The most egregious violations discovered in the journal, according to Browning, who was enlisted to help investigate when the case expanded with the journal, were those of Carl E. Mostoller, 65, of Somerset, Pa. The journal indicated that on or about Sept. 22, 2000, Mostoller killed two elk – a 6-by-6 bull and a cow – in either area 99 or 27 on an area 98 license. He had the bull mounted by a Lander taxidermist.
Since Mostoller’s violations were not discovered until four years after being committed and he was residing in Pennsylvania, Browning enlisted the help of Pennsylvania Conservation Officer Travis Anderson to interview him.
On June 9, 2006 Mostoller was interviewed by Anderson, his hometown conservation officer. Mostoller claimed he did not consciously commit any violations and he was just following the directions of the outfitter. Mostoller was a veteran hunter in Pennsylvania and has also hunted several other states.
“As is so often the case when we ask for the help of a wildlife officer in a sister state, Travis Anderson was a tremendous assist,” Browning said. “He quickly addressed the situation after being contacted and did a great job of getting to the bottom of the violations. We might not have ever gotten the conviction without his fine work.”
Due to a backlog of cases in Sublette County and legal questions in Pennsylvania concerning custody of the elk mount, the case was just recently sentenced. In a plea agreement, Mostoller pleaded no contest to hunting elk in a closed season and taking an overlimit of elk.
Judge Curt Haws of the Ninth Circuit Court in Pinedale fined Mostoller $860 and ordered him to pay $1,000 in restitution to the Wyoming Wildlife Protector’s Association, who oversees the Stop Poaching Program. His Wyoming hunting and fishing license privileges were revoked for three years and he was placed on one year unsupervised probation. The judge also ordered Mostoller to forfeit the shoulder mount of the 6-by-6 elk, which he paid $740 for in 2000, to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
Charges of compensating an unlicensed outfitter and making a false statement to procure an Interstate Game Tag were dropped as part of the plea agreement.
On March 26, the paperwork was completed that also revokes Mostoller’s hunting and fishing privileges in the 23 other cooperating states of the Wildlife Violator Compact. His forfeited elk mount is being permanently displayed at the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s regional office in Bolivar.
From the journal and confessions, these individuals were also cited and forfeited the bond they posted:
Jerry W. Plowman, 55, Santa Ynez, Calif., fishing without a license, $110.
James R. Whorley, 66, Santa Maria, Calif., taking pronghorn without a license, $410. Warning citation for failing to purchase a conservation stamp.
John T. Silva, III, 47, Orcut, Calif., taking pronghorn without a license, $410, taking elk in the wrong areas, $210. Warning citation for failing to purchase a conservation stamp.
“This camp made shambles of the Wyoming laws and regulations that work to manage wildlife and provide opportunity to lawful sportsmen,” Browning said. “For example Mostoller hunted in the wrong area, with a rifle in archery season, killed two elk on one license and used an illegal outfitter. He did not seem to care about our wildlife laws at all.”
Browning believes that some members of the camp were involved with an illegal outfitter. Charges of outfitting without a license, along with taking a bull elk out of season and in a wrong area were also going to be filed against another individual, but he died in 2006.
CALL TO STOP POACHING HOTLINE NABS TWO BRIDGER VALLEY MEN
FORT BRIDGER—On Sept. 22, 2007, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department received a tip on its Stop Poaching Hotline concerning a buck mule deer that may have been shot and left on the Bigelow Bench Walk-in Access Hunting Area.
Game and Fish warden Rick King responded to the call and discovered a mature four-point buck deer that had been recently shot and left to waste. King said several items of evidence were obtained at the scene and the caller to the Stop Poaching Hotline was able to give a description of two male suspects in the area, just prior to the discovery of the deer.
"The next day, I received a call from a ranch manager near Lonetree, who reported a dead buck mule deer on the old Wadsworth Ranch Sage Creek Pasture," King said. "I investigated and located two buck mule deer that also had been recently shot and left to waste. I collected evidence at this crime scene and submitted that evidence, along with evidence from the Bigelow Bench buck, to the Wyoming State Crime Lab in Cheyenne."
"The Game and Fish Wildlife Investigative Unit immediately provided their assistance in the case following the discovery of the two bucks in Sage Creek.” King said. “We received several informational tips in the weeks following the initial investigation that indicated Aaron Adams and Sean Davis were responsible for killing the Bigelow Bench buck, the bucks in Sage Creek and a fourth buck killed on private property south of the Walk-in Area on Bigelow Bench."
King said a search warrant was served on two vehicles and a residence in Fort Bridger in early October.
"We were able to obtain further evidence linking Davis and Adams to the crimes, including spent rifle casings from a rifle uncovered during the search. The Wyoming State Crime Lab determined the casings obtained during the service of the search warrant matched the casings found at the Sage Creek crime scene. The crime lab also matched fingerprints from evidence secured at the Bigelow Bench crime scene with those of one of the suspects."
During the course of the investigation, Wildlife Investigator Jim Gregory obtained videotape from a residence in Mountain View, which showed Adams and Davis killing a buck deer with a .22 caliber rifle.
"Adams and Davis filmed the killing of this deer and the videotape ended up in the hands of an acquaintance of the two men. We later determined that the deer killed on the tape was the fourth deer killed by Adams and Davis.” King said.
Both men have been charged with conspiracy to commit cruelty to animals, a felony charge. In addition, each man faces misdemeanor counts of wanton destruction of wildlife. If convicted of a felony, the two could face up to two years imprisonment and lose the ability to possess a firearm. The misdemeanor wanton destruction charges could result in the loss of all hunting privileges in Wyoming and 27 other states that are members of the Wildlife Violator Compact.
Charges and sentencing for Adams and Davis are pending in Uinta County.
INFORMATION REGARDING DUBOIS POACHING LEADS TO CONVICTION
DUBOIS – Information received following the discovery of an unusual scene near Dubois in October 2007 has resulted in the conviction of two Wyoming men for their involvement in several wildlife violations.
Clinton Brower of Riverton, 20, received penalties for wanton destruction of a bull elk, taking an over limit of elk, and failure to tag a big game animal. A fourth charge of waste or abandonment of elk was dismissed. Brower’s brother, Edwin A. Shearer of Kinnear, 25, received penalties for waste and abandonment of edible portions of a bull elk. A second charge of accessory to wanton waste or destruction of elk was dismissed.
Fremont county court Judge Rob Denhardt ordered Brower to pay a penalty of $90 in fines and $6,000 restitution to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in addition to a 270-day jail sentence, of which 254 days were suspended. Brower also lost his hunting and trapping privileges for 6 years, 3 of which were suspended provided Brower does not commit any more wildlife violations. Shearer’s penalties totaled fines of $530 for waste or abandonment of edible portion of a bull elk as well as a 60-day jail sentence that was suspended provided he does not violate any law, particularly wildlife laws of this state or any other jurisdiction through July 28, 2008.
Two hunters’ discovery of a suspicious scene on Arrow Mountain south of Dubois prompted them to report their findings to Dubois Game Warden Cole Thompson. Thompson and one of the witnesses investigated the scene and found one entire bull elk along with edible portions of two other bull elk abandoned and left to waste.
Witness statements and interviews of Brower and Shearer revealed that the brothers had been hunting in the area on Oct. 2nd when Brower killed a small bull elk. They then packed some of this elk to camp, leaving substantial portions of it to go to waste. They went hunting again the next day and each killed a 6-point bull elk. They packed some of each of these elk to the Torrey Creek trailhead, again abandoning to waste substantial edible portions of each elk. All of the small bull elk killed by Brower on the 2nd was abandoned at their camp and allowed to go to waste.
Approximately 200 yards from the site of the first small bull elk killed by Brower, the spoiled carcass of another small bull was found. Although some evidence indicated the killing of this elk might have been connected to the case, evidence was not sufficient to warrant charges. Information regarding this elk is still being sought. Anyone with information about this crime or any other wildlife violation should call (877) WGFD-TIP . Callers can remain anonymous and are eligible for cash reward up to $5,000 if the information leads to a conviction.
The successful prosecution of this case was a result of the reports received by two concerned hunters that were witness to the incident and coordination between Lander Region Game Wardens Cole Thompson, Chris Daubin, Brad Gibb, Bob Trebelcock and Brian Debolt; Regional Wildlife Supervisor Kent Schmidlin; Fremont County Probation and Parole Officer Annie Fowler and the Fremont County Attorney’s Office.
GREYBULL MAN RECEIVES HEAVY FINES FOR ILLEGAL MOUNTAIN LION KILLS
GREYBULL - A Jan. 5 coyote hunting trip that took a wrong turn when three juvenile mountain lions answered an electronic predator call and were shot, has cost a Greybull man $10,290 in fines and restitution and three years of hunting and trapping license privileges.
In the Fifth District Circuit Court in Basin Feb. 28, Demar “Dusty” Hill, 48, pleaded guilty to three counts of taking a trophy game animal without a license. He was fined $2,700, ordered to pay $7,500 restitution to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and $100 in court costs. Plus, Hill had his hunting and trapping license privileges revoked, which includes purchasing preference points, for three years. Judge Robert Skar handed down the sentence.
The case started Jan. 6 when a chukar partridge hunter reported discovering two mountain lion carcasses near the mouth of Shell Canyon east of Greybull. Local Game Warden Bill Robertson investigated the scene that evening and the next morning discovered the fresh carcasses of two juvenile, or young of the year, female mountain lions, .204 Ruger shell casings and boot prints.
Robertson checked with local license agents and discovered Hill, a family physician in Greybull, purchased a mountain lion license at 6 p.m. Jan. 5.
“At that time I thought I had identified a probable suspect,” Robertson said. “And with my supervisor’s advice, I decided to wait and see if Hill would come to me.”
On Jan. 8, Hill contacted Robertson to report he had harvested a mountain lion and wanted to check it in. Robertson inspected the lion and found it to be a juvenile male, likely a littermate to the two females he had found in the field. Hill told the officer he killed the mountain lion Jan. 6 at a location several miles north of the site where the carcasses were discovered. Robertson told Hill he had investigated the scene, knew when he purchased the license and suspected him of killing the other two young mountain lions.
Hill readily confessed to the crime and gave a statement to the officer and later under oath to Judge Skar recounting the events of that day: He’d taken his sons coyote hunting Jan. 5. and a mountain lion responded to an electronic predator call. He had always wanted a mountain lion for a mount, so he shot at it not realizing it was a juvenile - which are not legal game - and believing he had 24 hours following the kill to legally obtain a license. His sons said he missed, so he shot again with the .204 Ruger. His sons said the lion was still running around and he attempted to shoot again but the gun misfired. He removed and cleaned the rifle bolt, reloaded and spotted the mountain lion moving upslope and shot again, killing it. Upon reaching the site, the father and sons discovered three carcasses, but Hill said he thought he had only been shooting at one animal. He transported all the carcasses towards his truck, but left two in the field. He later asked a neighbor to buy a license to tag one of the other animals. The neighbor declined and informed Hill of the regulations and the registration requirement.
As a “high misdemeanor,” Hill could have been fined a maximum of $10,000 for each charge and restitution could have been as high as $5,000 per animal. “I think the amounts recommended by Deputy County Attorney Jim Hallman and myself and accepted by the judge were appropriate for the crime,” Robertson said.
In addition to the requirement of purchasing a license before hunting any species, Wyoming law requires hunters to use a firearm of at least .23 caliber to hunt big or trophy game. Hill was also issued a warning citation for taking trophy game with an illegal caliber rifle.
“I believe Dr. Hill had no illegal intentions going coyote hunting that day,” said Robertson. “A person just needs to know the laws and regulations, stick with their original intentions and not get carried away in the excitement of the moment.” Hill had no prior convictions for wildlife violations and passed hunter education in Oregon.
INTERNET POST LEADS TO CONVICTION FOR WANTON DESTRUCTION OF ANTELOPEGREEN RIVER - Nearly three months after intentionally hitting and killing two antelope with his vehicle Dec. 7 and posting the photos on the Internet, a Rock Springs man was sentenced by Circuit Court Judge Victoria Schofield.Jonathan L. Hefner, 24, pleaded guilty Feb. 29 to two counts of wanton destruction of a big game animal. His sentence included: $6,000 ($3,000 for each antelope) of restitution to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, five-year suspension of hunting privileges, 12 months unsupervised probation during which time he can have no wildlife violations and a 360-day suspended jail sentence. Hefner was also ordered to pay $100 to the Crime Victim’s Compensation Fund, $20 court costs and a $10 court automation fee. The Game and Fish Department received a Stop Poaching tip December 2007 reporting a man who had posted photographs on the Internet of two antelope he hit and killed with his vehicle. Game and Fish officers recognized the vehicle and location near Farson. The officers contacted the man's employer and identified the antelope hit-and-run motorist as Hefner.
GILLETTE MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO DEER POACHING
GILLETTE—A Gillette man has been sentenced after pleading guilty to shooting a large buck mule deer out of season northwest of Gillette in early November.
On February 22, Troy Bauder, pled guilty to killing an antlered mule deer out of season and was ordered to pay $10,000 in fines and restitution. He also received six months probation, and a 90-day suspended jail sentence. Bauder’s hunting privileges were revoked for five years, and he was ordered to forfeit a rifle to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
The incident occurred on Nov. 8, in northeast Johnson County near the Powder River, where Bauder had been checking oil wells. While on his way to a well, Bauder saw a large non-typical buck mule deer standing near the oilfield road and shot it two times in the head with a .22 caliber rifle. He then proceeded to check the well, thinking the deer was dead. Shortly after Bauder left the scene, a survey crew drove by and noticed the deer, which was still alive. When they noticed blood dripping from its head, they contacted the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. North Gillette game warden John Lund responded, and verified that the deer had indeed been shot. A .22 caliber bullet was recovered from the deer’s head, and an empty shell casing was found on the road close to where the deer had been located by the survey crew. The survey crew advised that they had seen an oilfield pumper in the immediate area, and gave Lund a detailed description of the vehicle and its driver.
The following morning, the warden returned to the scene and waited for the pumper to return to check his wells. Just after 1 P.M., the pumper, who was then identified as Troy Bauder, returned, and eventually admitted to shooting the deer. He then showed the warden where he had hidden the rifle and a box of ammunition in a treater house located at the oil well. The rifle had one empty shell in the chamber, which was identical to the empty shell located at the scene where the deer was shot, as well as ten live rounds in the magazine.
“With a 28-inch spread, this six-by-nine point non-typical buck would have been a trophy of a lifetime for any law abiding hunter,” Lund said. “I applaud the survey crew for reporting the crime, as well as their attention to detail, which greatly assisted the investigation.” Lund said that without their assistance, this crime would likely have been undetected. “Due to limited enforcement personnel, wardens rely heavily on citizens to report wildlife violations,” Lund added.
ARE YOU A WYOMING RESIDENT?
Hunting and fishing in Wyoming is a privilege granted by state law and Wyoming, like other states, has different fees for residents and non-residents.
The difference in cost can be substantial and for some newcomers to Wyoming the cost savings lead them to claim they are a Wyoming resident when in fact, they are not.
"There is no cost savings if you get caught," said Gary Brown, Cody region wildlife supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. "When you sign your name on a resident license, you are stating that you are a Wyoming resident. If you are not telling the truth you have committed a false oath violation."
Michael B. McGoogan of Russellville, AR, was recently convicted of two false oath violations to obtain elk licenses. McGoogan was found guilty and fined $780 for each violation. And, since he had also harvested a bull elk on a falsely obtained license, he was found guilty of taking an elk without a proper license and was fined another $780 and ordered to pay $5,000 restitution to the state of Wyoming. He has also had his hunting privileges revoked for three years in Wyoming and the other 23 states included in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.
"The residency law is simple; you must be a United States citizen or legal alien, and you must be domiciled and physically reside in Wyoming for one full year—365 consecutive days—immediately preceding the date that you apply for or purchase a license," Brown said. According to Brown, domicile means that place where a person has his true, fixed, and permanent home. Having a mailing address, owning property or a business or being employed in Wyoming does not in itself prove Wyoming residency for license buying purposes.
In a separate case, Pennsylvania resident Patrick S. Baillie was found guilty of four false oath violations. Baillie's violations involved false statements to obtain antelope, mule deer, elk, fish, and archery licenses. Baillie's fines totaled $3180.
"Those who cheat the system once often find it easy to do again and again. But, if they get caught and many do, there is a domino effect and the costs often escalate," Brown said. "Newcomers are better off establishing their residency and waiting the full 365 days."
Brown also noted that a person could lose their Wyoming residency if they leave the state for extended periods. By law, if you reside in another state, territory, or country for an aggregate of one hundred eighty days (six months) or more in a calendar year you are no longer a resident for purchasing licenses. Exceptions to this are minor dependants, those temporarily employed in the service of the United States, students, military personnel, and other special situations.
A brochure entitled "Am I a Wyoming Resident" provides basic guidelines and information regarding the complex issue of residency and is available at all Game and Fish offices.
ILLEGAL CRAYFISH INTRODUCTION COSTS COLORADO COMPANY $100,000
CASPER –The owner of a Colorado company must pay $100,000 in fines and restitution for illegally transporting rusty crayfish into Wyoming, a U.S. District Court judge ruled.
Thirty-four-year-old Shannon Skelton, owner of Fort Collins, Colorado-based Colorado Fisheries, Inc., a company that creates fish habitats and sells trophy-quality fish to high-end ranches and fishing lodges, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful transportation of illegally possessed wildlife, a violation of the Lacey Act. Skelton and Colorado Fisheries, Inc. must jointly pay $40,000 in fines for the Lacey Act violation, and $60,000 in restitution to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. The restitution will pay for expenses incurred to eradicate the illegal crayfish. Chapter 10 of the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission Regulations prohibits the importation of rusty crayfish into the state.
The Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 3371-3378, protects both plants and wildlife by creating civil and criminal penalties for a wide array of violations. Most notably, the Act prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported or sold. Thus, the Act underscores other federal, state, and foreign laws protecting wildlife by making it a separate offense to take, possess, transport, or sell wildlife that has been taken in violation of those laws. A violation of the Lacey Act automatically results in a federal case. This case was prosecuted in cooperation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The case is centered around the illegal importation of rusty crayfish as a forage base for fish in ponds on three private ranches in Wyoming. In May of 2006, a ranch owner who had previously contracted with Colorado Fisheries, Inc. contacted Game and Fish for a permit to move some crayfish from one pond to another on a private ranch near Douglas. Fish biologists requested the identification of the crayfish prior to any movement between the ponds. Upon investigation, biologists identified the prohibited rusty crayfish; a species not previously found in Wyoming. Game and Fish determined that the ranch was unknowingly the victim of illegally stocked crayfish through its dealings with Colorado Fisheries, Inc. Biologists also discovered rusty crayfish had entered a tributary of the North Platte River. Eradication efforts began immediately to remove the unwanted crayfish.
Rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) measures two and one-half inches in length (not including claws). They have dark, rusty spots on each side of their carapace (outer body shell). Their claws are grayish-green to reddish-brown and are smoother than most other crayfish. Rusty crayfish can cause a variety of negative environmental and economic impacts when introduced to new waters. They are an aggressive species that often displace native or existing crayfish species. Invading rusty crayfish also reduce the amount and kinds of aquatic plants and invertebrates, and reduce some fish populations. “Rusty crayfish are very aggressive and very prolific,” said Al Conder, regional fishery supervisor for the Casper Game and Fish office. “If this species establishes in our waters we could potentially see a loss of our native crayfish species and severe impacts to other aquatic species.”
Perhaps the most serious impact from rusty crayfish is the destruction of aquatic plant beds. Rusty crayfish have been shown to reduce aquatic plant abundance and species diversity. Submerged aquatic plants are important for habitat for invertebrates (which provide food for fish and ducks), shelter for young gamefish, panfish, or forage species of fish, nesting substrate for fish, and erosion control. “Illegal introductions are the most serious violations in terms of damage to aquatic resources and fishing opportunity,” said Mike Stone, chief of fisheries for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
To date, Game and Fish has spent $34,424.81 to remove the crayfish from several ponds and a portion of one stream. Additional expenses will be incurred for monitoring the site and any subsequent eradication efforts.
“We’re very fortunate that we had the opportunity to get there early and control it,” Conder said. “Had we not got there early they would be downstream in the North Platte drainage and upstream toward Casper. If they had made it to the North Platte River we could not have controlled them.”
The Game and Fish Department will continue its efforts to prevent the introduction and/or spread of unwanted species in the state. “This case should show the residents of Wyoming that we take the illegal importation of injurious species very serious,” said Mike Ehlebracht, Investigative Unit Supervisor for the Game and Fish Department.
LOVELL ANGLER NETS OVERLIMIT—TWICE
CODY— Ice fishing on Buffalo Bill Reservoir can be very good at times, so good that some people find it difficult to resist taking more than the law allows.
On Jan. 1, 2008, a new set of fishing regulations went into effect that included many changes in creel and possession limits. In an effort to conserve trout in Buffalo Bill Reservoir the creel limit on trout was reduced from four to three, allowing no more than two of the three to be cutthroat trout. A separate creel and possession limit was established for the reservoir’s lake trout.
“When the ice forms on Buffalo Bill Reservoir quite a crowd of anglers gather,” said Travis Crane, game warden trainee for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. “And, when the fishing is good it is tempting to keep more than the legal limit.”
On Jan. 4, 2008, warden Crane observed Cory R. Snell of Lovell, Wyo. do just that. Snell was cited for taking and possessing eight trout while ice fishing on Buffalo Bill Reservoir—none of the trout were lake trout. Only five days later, Snell was again observed fishing on Buffalo Bill Reservoir and when checked by Cody game warden Craig Sax, was found to be over his trout limit by four.
“I was surprised when I discovered that Mr. Snell had committed this same violation only a few days prior to my field check. In most cases, citations serve as a deterrent to future violations, but it seems Snell didn’t learn a lesson after being caught with an overlimit the first time.” Sax said.
On Jan. 14, 2008, Snell appeared before Park County Circuit Court Judge Bruce B. Waters, where he pleaded guilty to both overlimit violations. Judge Waters levied a fine of $210.00 for Snell’s first violation. Judge Waters fined Snell $400.00 for the second violation and revoked his fishing privileges for two years from the date of the sentencing.
The loss of fishing privileges extends beyond the borders of Wyoming. The states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming are member states of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.
Under the Compact, when a person has their hunting, fishing, or trapping privileges legally suspended in the Compact state where the violation occurred, the suspension is recognized by all of the member states of the Compact.
“I think this case demonstrates that the cost associated with wildlife violations may not always serve as a deterrent to future violations, however, losing your privileges in 24 states including Wyoming should be a deterrent to anyone who values hunting and fishing,” Sax said.
Dubois man forfeits snaring privileges for 24 years for snaring at least 16 deer
DUBOIS – Attempting to snare coyotes and bobcats, a Dubois man’s snares killed at least 16 deer from 2003-06 and he was recently convicted for the violations.
Robert Charles Johnsen, 57, was fined $1,600 for eight counts of taking a deer without a license with his snares. In addition, Circuit Court Judge Robert Denhardt revoked Johnson’s privilege to obtain a trapping license for five years and his privilege to use snares for 24 years, plus ordered him to forfeit his trapping equipment – 271 leg-hold traps and 127 snares – to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
The case started in the winter of 2003, when Johnsen contacted Dubois Game Warden Cole Thompson that he’d accidentally killed a deer in his snare. Over the next two years Johnson reported five more deer killed in his snares. Thompson did not cite Johnson, but urged him to adjust his snaring practices, such as moving his snares from deer trails and areas of high deer activity.
The officer suggested setting the snare just off the deer trail and placing a tin can in the trail so the coyote would veer off the trail to avoid the can and be caught. Deer would likely ignore the can and continue down the trail and avoid being snared. Johnsen was also encouraged to set a deflector such as a stick over the snare so smaller animals like coyotes and bobcats would go under the stick and get caught in the snare, while larger animals like deer would jump over the stick avoiding the snare. Thompson saw no evidence of any of these suggestions being tried by Johnsen.
“Since Mr. Johnsen also owned leg-hold traps, I urged him to switch to leg-hold traps because they were less likely to catch deer, but he never did,” Thompson said.
Johnsen killed another deer on Dec 30, 2005, and Jan. 12, 2006. He was issued warning tickets for both violations and was told by Thompson all subsequent deer killed in his snares would result in citations. Johnsen did not report another snared deer until the following November.
From Nov. 23, 2006, to Jan. 6, 2007, seven more deer were killed in Johnsen’s snares, and he was issued a citation for taking a deer without a license for each incident. Two deer were caught and killed in the exact locations where Johnsen snared and killed previous deer.
“I do commend Mr. Johnsen for contacting me and reporting these deer he caught in his snares,” Thompson said.
On the majority of the reports, Thompson would accompany Johnsen to the scene. Twice on patrol Thompson discovered a deer in Johnsen’s snares before Johnsen did. Johnsen later reported both to the officer.
Johnsen reported to Thompson he would have approximately 35 snares out at a time. All 16 deer – two does and 14 fawns – were snared on public land in the Dubois area including Game and Fish’s East Fork, Whiskey Basin and Jakey’s Fork wildlife habitat management areas. One buck and two does were caught in Johnsen’s snares and released alive.
Johnsen appeared in court Jan. 12, 2007 for the violations and was ordered by Judge Denhardt to cease snaring until the charges were settled. While removing his snares the next day he discovered a whitetail fawn killed by a snare and was issued another citation for taking a deer without a license.
Chief Game Warden Jay Lawson says violations resulting from inadvertent snaring are not uncommon in Wyoming. In 1999, a Cody man killed at least 15 deer in snares set along fences about 15 miles northeast of Meeteetse. He was convicted of two counts of destruction of state property (deer) and ordered to pay $8,000 restitution and $200 to the Wyoming Crime Victim’s Fund. A $400 fine for each count was suspended providing the defendant complete 25 hours of community service for each count.
Anyone with information about protected animals being killed in snares are urged to call the Stop Poaching Hotline at (877) WGFD-TIP . Callers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward if the information leads to a conviction.
TENNESSEE MAN SENTENCED FOR LEAD ROLE IN NOV. 2006 BIGHORN SHEEP CRIME
DUBOIS– A Tennessee man who played the lead role in a November 2006 poaching of a 3/4 curl bighorn sheep ram near Dubois, was sentenced Dec. 7 for the crime after an investigation that involved three states, multiple state and federal wildlife officers and a concerned outdoor writer.
Roger E. McKean, 27, of Knoxville, Tenn. pleaded guilty to the following charges involving the bighorn ram: knowingly taking a bighorn sheep without a license and during a closed season, waste and abandonment of a bighorn sheep and taking a bighorn sheep from a vehicle.
Ninth Circuit Court Judge Robert Denhardt fined McKean $5,200, ordered him to pay $10,000 restitution for the ram and revoked his hunting privileges for 79 years. McKean was also sentenced to serve in the Fremont County Detention Center for a minimum of 60 days. After that time he can be released from jail when he pays his fines and restitution.
The investigation into the bighorn sheep crime revealed McKean also illegally killed a mule deer doe. He pleaded guilty to taking a deer without a license, hunting deer during a closed season and taking a deer with aid of artificial light. Judge Denhardt fined McKean $250 for those violations, ordered him to pay $500 restitution and revoked his hunting privileges for an additional 12 years. He was also assessed a total of $180 in court costs for the bighorn sheep and deer convictions. Charges of taking a deer from a vehicle and shooting from a public road against McKean were dismissed.
“I feel that Judge Denhardt drew a clear distinction between sportsmen and a poacher in this case with the penalty. McKean had no respect for either the wildlife or lawful hunters,” said Lander Wildlife Investigator Scott Browning, who along with Dubois Game Warden Cole Thompson, led the investigation. “He did absolutely nothing right or legal in regards to Wyoming wildlife in the short time he was in our state.”
The investigation started as a result of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department requesting information about four bighorns illegally killed in the Whiskey Mountain area in November 2006. A tip was received that Kelly J. Grove of Dubois may have been involved in illegally killing a ram, and on Dec. 9, 2006 Thompson and Browning began the investigation. Interviews conducted with Grove and forensic evidence revealed Grove was an accessory to McKean killing the sheep Nov. 25, 2006, but McKean was in the Aspen/Snowmass, Colo. area.
Before McKean could be located in Colorado, he’d left for Tennessee, but he still provided evidence of the Wyoming wildlife crimes by leaving his truck at a local ranch. Colorado Division of Wildlife officers obtained a search warrant for the truck and collected blood, hair, a knife, bloody clothing and various rifle rounds and cartridges for forensic analysis by the Wyoming Game and Fish laboratory– but they did not locate the ram’s head. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Ryan Noel and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Wildlife Officer Joe Durnin, located and interviewed McKean in Knoxville, Tenn. McKean cooperated with the officers and provided a statement that the ram’s head was left on a ranch near Crowheart and he helped arrange for Wyoming officers to pick it up.
In the interview, McKean told the federal agent that he learned he could sell the head for $2,000 and needed the money. From the interviews and forensic analysis, officers learned about the deer violations and that McKean had also been involved in illegally killing two antelope on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
“As a result of McKean’s interview with the officers in Tennessee and interviews with Grove and other Dubois area contacts, the full story was mostly pieced together,” Browning said. “McKean and Grove were largely forthright once located.” From information garnered in the interviews, Grove and McKean encountered a band of bighorn sheep on Sheep Ridge south of Dubois on Nov. 25, 2006. McKean shot a 3/4 curl ram with Grove’s .243 rifle and then Grove shot it again to finish killing it. Interviews with both men determined McKean solely removed the head and hid it in nearby rocks and later Grove drove McKean back to the site to retrieve it. The interviews also revealed David V. (Dusty) Rhoads, a Crowheart ranch hand, and an unidentified male helped McKean poach the mule deer doe on non-tribal deeded land near Crowheart on or about Nov. 20, 2006. Rhodes was charged with accessory to take deer in a closed season and forfeited $410 in bond. McKean said he used the deer for meat and consumed the entire animal. Colorado officers found blood in McKean’s truck which was later determined to be from the mule deer doe, but no meat was found at any location.
Rhoads, 50, was also cited by Wind River Indian Reservation wildlife officers for his role in helping McKean illegally kill the two antelope on the reservation.
McKean returned to Wyoming this summer to be charged and to enter an initial plea of not guilty but lost his court appointed counsel and failed to appear for his July 30 docket call in court for a scheduled Aug. 17 trial. The court issued an arrest warrant for him Aug. 1 With information that McKean had returned to Tennessee, Browning actively worked with Tennessee authorities, including officer Durnin to locate and arrest McKean, but without success. In November, the Game and Fish pitched the story to Bob Hodge, the outdoor editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel. He was eager to help with locating McKean and printed an article about McKean’s fugitive status Nov. 11. The next morning McKean, who was working jogging horses at a racetrack in East St. Louis, Ill. expressed his desire to settle the charges. He told Browning that one reason he wanted to get this case resolved was so he could legally return to Wyoming to compete again as a saddle bronc rider at Cheyenne Frontier Days.
“The help and cooperation of so many concerned persons from the wildlife agencies in Colorado and Tennessee, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Fremont County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Knoxville outdoor editor contributed substantially to the successful outcome of this case,” Browning said. On Nov. 28, McKean flew to Riverton at his own expense, and Browning met him at the airport, served him with his arrest warrant and took him to the Fremont County Detention Facility. He appeared in court the next day represented by attorney Sky Phifer. Judge Denhardt allowed him to post a small bond and be released on his own recognizance but he chose to stay in jail until Dec. 4. At a hearing Dec. 7, McKean expressed his desire to get the case resolved, although the prosecution and defense could not agree on plea agreement, so the judge solely decided the penalties.
“McKean’s cooperation with state and federal officers, in addition to eventually returning to the state to resolve the case, was taken into account and saved him from even stiffer penalties,” Browning said. “He did the right thing by returning to Wyoming because the Fremont County Attorney’s Office and Wyoming law enforcement, with the help of Tennessee authorities would have eventually found him and extradited him back to Wyoming on the active arrest warrant.”
In addition to losing his hunting privileges in Wyoming, McKean is also prohibited from hunting in the 24 states that were members of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact at the time of the violation – which includes Tennessee. The ram’s head will be used by the Game and Fish for educational purposes. Grove, 22, was assessed $3,990 in fines and restitution and had his hunting privileges revoked for three years for being an accessory in the bighorn sheep crime, plus for wasting the meat from an elk and deer and falsely claiming to be a Wyoming resident to buy 2006 elk and deer licenses, in a plea agreement engineered by Deputy County Attorney Bob Bundy. He was also ordered to forfeit a .243 bolt action rifle used in the bighorn sheep crime. His elk and deer violations were discovered during the bighorn sheep investigation. Browning also specifically cites USFWS Special Agent Roy Brown, Colorado Division of Wildlife District Wildlife Manager Kevin Wright, Robert St. Clair, Fish and Game director for the Wind River Indian Reservation, and Dee Dee Hawk, Ian Abernathy and Kim Sargeant of the Game and Fish Laboratory for their key help in the case.
Information is still being sought on the original four bighorns illegally killed in November 2006 in the Whiskey Mountain area southeast of Dubois. Anyone with information about those crimes or any other wildlife violation should call (877) WGFD-TIP . Callers can remain anonymous and are eligible for cash reward up to $5,000 if the information leads to a conviction.
SALT LAKE CITY MEN CHARGED WITH POACHING TROPHY MULE DEER FOLLOWING HIGH SPEED CHASE AND ROLL OVER ACCIDENT NOV. 16
PINEDALE - A report of possible poaching activity southeast of Pinedale Nov. 16 led to a high speed chase, a roll-over accident and two Salt Lake City men being charged for taking a trophy mule deer out of season.
Mid-morning Nov. 16, a concerned citizen reported suspicious behavior near the old town site of Big Sandy to Game Warden John Hyde. The citizen helped Hyde search the area on foot, and they found a mule deer carcass sporting a 5-by-5, 28-inch-wide antler rack laying behind a large rock.
Hyde put the scene under surveillance. At approximately 5 p.m. a pick-up truck arrived and dropped off an adult male. After the truck departed, Hyde notified Pinedale Game Warden Brian Nesvik and reported the man walked to the area of the deer before fleeing on foot after possibly being detected.
A few minutes later the truck returned to the scene. Hyde approached in his truck and told the occupants to pull off the road and exit the vehicle. The driver pulled to the side of the road and then fled at a high rate of speed. Hyde, the Lovell District game warden who was working the area for winter range mule deer surveillance, pursued the suspects westbound on the Eastfork-Big Sandy Road. With Nesvik close behind, the suspects reached speeds upward of 50 miles per hour on the winding gravel road and lost the flat bed trailer they were towing. Approximately 1 mile later, the suspects lost control of their vehicle at a corner and rolled several times. The game wardens said it was amazing the two were able to walk away from the accident with only minor cuts and scrapes. The men received treatment at the scene and refused to be transported to the hospital.
Nesvik obtained the cell phone number of the man originally dropped off near the deer carcass. The officer sent him a text message that his truck had been wrecked and to walk to the county road. The suspect complied by walking out to the county road near a residence.
With the help of the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office, the men, who had been working as subcontractors on commercial construction projects in the Pinedale and Lander area, were interviewed, arrested and transported to the Sublette County Jail at approximately 8 p.m.
Gregory L. Carter, 48, was charged with taking an antlered mule deer out of season, shooting from a vehicle and trespassing. Jeremy S. Zumwalt, 30, who was driving the pick-up, was charged as an accessory to the crime and interference with a peace officer. The officers suspect a .22-250 caliber rifle, a caliber not authorized for big game hunting in Wyoming, was used in the crime. The passenger of the vehicle was not charged.
Carter and Zumwalt were released from jail the evening of Nov. 18 after posting bond. Both suspects are scheduled to appear for arraignment on Dec. 13 in the Sublette County Circuit Court in Pinedale. The officers remind readers that all suspects are presumed innocent until convicted in a court of law.
TWO MEN CONVICTED FOR HALLOWEEN 2006 TROPHY MULE DEER POACHING
PINEDALE - Michael J. Meeks of Pinedale and Cody R. Post of Riverton were recently convicted of illegally killing a buck mule deer near Daniel on Oct. 31, 2006. The Halloween night escapade resulted in the two individuals killing the large buck during a closed season, at night, with artificial light and rifle calibers not authorized for big game.
Only the head with antlers were taken and the meat was left to waste. The two used .17 caliber rifles to kill the trophy class deer.
Both Meeks and Post were charged with taking an antlered deer during a closed season, taking a deer with artificial light and wanton waste and abandonment of game meat. They were each sentenced to $8,540 in fines and restitution, totaling $17,080. Both lost their hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for five years. In addition, two .17 caliber scoped rifles, ammunition, a knife and a flashlight were ordered forfeited to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department by the Sublette County Circuit Court.
Big Piney Game Warden Brad Hovinga, applauded the efforts of judges John Crow and Kurt Haws, who were both involved in the case. “I think they sent a clear message that the poaching of mule deer will not be tolerated in Sublette County,” Hovinga said.
The game warden also recognized the efforts of Sublette County Attorney Ralph Boynton and his office for their relentless effort in prosecuting the case. “This was definitely a team effort on the part of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department game wardens and the Sublette County Attorney’s Office,” said Hovinga.
PARTY HUNTING COSTS SHERIDAN MEN OVER $23,000 AND 42 YEARS OF HUNTING PRIVILEGES
SHERIDAN - The collective actions of four overzealous Sheridan hunters who repeatedly shot into a large herd of elk Nov. 10, 2006, killing at least 10 animals and leaving the majority of the meat to waste, generated a collective sentence June 28 of more than $23,000 in fines and restitution and 42 years of forfeited hunting privileges.
The men - two sets of brothers - were also sentenced to 90 days in jail which was suspended and placed on one year unsupervised probation by Circuit Court Judge Robert Skar of Big Horn County, who presided over the case in the Fourth Judicial District, Sheridan County Circuit Court.
The case commenced on Nov. 10, 2006, when a concerned hunter, who was hunting that day near the Kerns Wildlife Habitat Management Area northwest of Sheridan, reported to Dayton Game Warden Alan Osterland hearing a long barrage of up to 90 rifle shots that day coming from the Kerns habitat area.
Osterland responded to the Kerns unit the next morning and visited hunting camps in the area. At the camp of Albert D. and Ivan L. Pierce and Michael L. and Aaron L. May, the officer was told the party had killed four elk and crippled a couple more the day before in the Broderick Bench area of the Kerns WHMA. The men said they had retrieved the boned meat from two elk, had left two more elk at the site and further said that a member of their party had returned with others to retrieve the other two elk that day.
Osterland began to suspect that the party may have been responsible for the shooting barrage. He and Game Warden Troy Achterhof returned to the camp near evening and were told the party had yet to return from retrieving the other two elk. The officers returned the next morning to find the men had returned with only 100 pounds of boned meat from the two elk, which Osterland said he felt was clearly spoiled.
The two officers went out to the Broderick Bench area on Nov. 12. They discovered nine cow elk carcasses, all shot, and another wounded cow elk with a shattered rear femur unable to move in the close vicinity. This elk, just barely alive, was put out of its misery by the officers. Members of the Pierce/May party had earlier stated they had been shooting at a cripple dragging its rear in that area. None of the nine carcasses had been gutted and three had been partially boned out.
"In my 18 years of wildlife law enforcement this was far and away the most sickening crime scene I've had to investigate," said Osterland, who led the investigation and patrols the district where the crime occurred.
The officers performed necropsies on the elk carcasses and also collected DNA samples from the carcasses for laboratory analysis.
On Nov. 16, Osterland and Wildlife Investigator Scott Adell served search warrants on the residences of Aaron May and Albert Pierce. About 190 pounds of frozen elk meat was confiscated from Pierce's residence.
The Game and Fish Forensics Laboratory later confirmed the confiscated meat matched some of the carcasses at the crime scene.
In their initial statements to Osterland, the defendants admitted to firing collectively 58 shots from their bolt-action rifles. The men said they first started shooting from 500 to 700 yards away from the herd numbering between 150 and 300 elk. An eyewitness spoken to during the course of the investigation confirmed seeing men shoot continuously at a large herd of panicking elk on the Broderick Bench at distances of up to 700 yards. He confirmed earlier reports as to the amount of shots fired, estimating that the hunters he saw fired approximately 90 shots.
"The case was the worst dearth of sportsmanship that I'd ever investigated," Osterland said.
The May brothers - Michael, 21, and Aaron, 24 - and Ivan Pierce, 37, each pleaded guilty June 28 to one count each of wanton destruction of elk, waste of game meat and taking an overlimit of elk. They were each assessed $5,200 in fines and restitution, had their hunting privileges revoked for 10 years and were placed on one year unsupervised probation.
In the plea agreement between the Sheridan County Attorney's Office and the three defendants and their attorneys, additional charges, including failure to retain evidence of sex and failure to tag, were dismissed.
Interviews required in the plea agreement also identified an 11th elk that was killed in the melee. The officers and county attorney's office commended the men for their cooperation in the investigation.
Albert Pierce, 48, did not participate in a plea agreement and pleaded no contest to one count each of wanton destruction of elk, waste of game meat, overlimit of elk and failure to tag a game animal. Judge Skar ordered him to pay $6,000 in restitution and $1,600 in fines and revoked his hunting privileges for 12 years. He also was placed on one year unsupervised probation and in addition was given a 90-day suspended jail sentence.
Deputy County and Prosecuting Attorney Christopher LaRosa said the difference in the two sentences stemmed from the fact that the three defendants who had reached agreement with the state of Wyoming and pleaded guilty, had by their actions and statements more fully accepted responsibility than had defendant Albert Pierce.
In the sentencing hearing, Albert Pierce argued that the state should have laws or regulations limiting the number of shots that can be taken when hunting and laws stating proper shooting distance. His attorney downplayed the severity of the offenses, contending the Game and Fish wants cow elk harvested to meet management goals.
"These were egregious violations," LaRosa said. "The actions taken that day violated Wyoming Game and Fish regulations and also betrayed fundamental ethical responsibilities taught to the hunting public in hunter education classes."
The officers commended LaRosa for his diligent attention and many hours invested in the case. The prosecutor was prepared to take the case to trial. "I believe the sentences were just," LaRosa said. "When you abuse the privilege, you should lose the privilege."
Adell said there are lessons to be learned from the case, which he considers to be a flagrant example of party hunting. "This case shows how important hunter education and positive role models are in hunting," Adell said. "Ethics are such an important part of hunting. Ethics instill a respect for wildlife, fellow sportsmen and will also help keep you out of trouble."
He encourages anyone who does commit a violation to seek a quick resolution to the situation to minimize the state's investment in investigation and prosecution and to gain the benefit accorded to those who fully cooperate with investigations.
Dubois man sentenced for poaching deer
LANDER--A Dubois man, with two previous convictions related to the illegal taking of big game, has been sentenced for a third incident. The case dates back to December of 2002, when a game warden received an anonymous report of gunfire near the Red Rocks Lodge east of Dubois. At the scene, the warden found a gut pile and a trail where a carcass had been dragged. A lodge renter said he'd heard the shot and seen Benjamin Barto carrying a rifle, but said Barto claimed only to be scaring away deer. But Barto told investigators a different story -- that he was sighting a rifle. And blood tests eventually matched blood at the lodge with the gut pile. In a plea deal, the 54-year-old Barto was convicted of using an illegal firearm to take big game and illegal baiting of game, while other charges were dropped. He was fined 680-dollars and placed on one year's unsupervised probation. A 120-day jail sentence was suspended, so long as Barto sticks to the terms of his probation.
ANTLER-HUNGRY ROCK SPRINGS DEER POACHERS NABBED
ROCK SPRINGS - It's okay to pick up shed antlers in the spring to add to your "bone pile." But it's pathetic when poachers shoot mule deer in December and cut their head off to get the antlers.
That is just what Rock Springs residents John May, Mike May and Jerry Harris are alleged to have done and thanks to a concerned citizen and superb investigative techniques, they got caught - nearly red-handed.
On Dec. 2, Wyoming Game and Fish Department Game Warden Brad Gibb was patrolling deer winter range near the Big Sandy River. Gibb had seen a pickup and happened to write down the partial license plate number of a vehicle that passed him.
"About four hours later, the occupants of the same truck killed a large buck mule deer," said Gibb. "I saw the vehicle at the site from a distance, but was not aware of the dead deer at the time. The truck left the area before I could approach it and identify the occupants. I returned to the area at daylight Sunday morning and discovered a dead buck deer with the antlers gone. Tire tracks showed that the individuals who killed the deer returned during the night to take the antlers. It was at this point I determined this case needed a quick and big response, so I asked for assistance."
Gibb's quick thinking led to a cooperative investigation by game wardens from Pinedale, Big Piney, Riverton and Green River.
While that kill site was being investigated, a concerned person alerted wardens to deer in the area with the antlers removed. That site was also located and investigated.
Green River Game Warden Duane Kerr returned from the investigation and decided to follow up on the partial license plate.
"We lucked out when Brad wrote down the license plate," Kerr said. "He had most of the plate correct except for the last letter. The state dispatch center was able to run some plates and finally came back to the pickup truck, which matched the description we were looking for.
"I drove to John May's residence and was able to match the vehicle description and tire tracks to the vehicle parked in front of the residence. This evidence, along with the evidence recovered from both kill sites, including distinctive tire tracks, bullets recovered from the deer carcasses and other observations made during the investigation, permitted us to get a search warrant."
John D. May, 41, Mike May, 37, and Jerry M. Harris, 30, were interviewed Dec. 5, and all three admitted to being involved in killing the two bucks. Only the antlers were taken and the carcasses left to rot at the kill sites. Officers recovered both sets of antlers: 28-inch-wide 4-by-4 and very heavy 23-inch-wide 6-by-7.
All of the investigating officers concurred that one of the most disturbing aspects of this investigation is that information obtained in this case suggested the subjects went to this remote deer winter range with the intent of killing large bucks, partly because they felt that deer like this aren't available to hunters during the season.
In addition to Gibb and Kerr, Game and Fish officers Brian Nesvik, Brad Hovinga, Scott Werbelow and Ryan Kenneda were involved in the investigation. The Rock Springs Police Department also provided assistance with serving search warrants. The Sublette County Attorney is studying the information gathered and charges against the three men are pending.
Anyone with information about any wildlife violation should call the local game warden or the "Stop Poaching Hotline" at (800) 442-4331(800) 442-4331 . You can remain anonymous and may be eligible for cash reward if the information leads to a conviction.
PINEDALE POACHER IGNORES SENTENCE; ENDS UP WITH FELONY AND JAIL
PINEDALE - Landen Wisell, who became known locally as the "Pinedale Poacher," is once again behind bars in the Sublette County Jail.
On Nov. 15, Wisell appeared before District Court Judge Nancy Guthrie to face charges of violating his probation from his conviction of illegally killing deer, moose and antelope in the Pinedale area in the summer of 2004.
In July 2004, Wyoming Game and Fish Department game wardens Dennis Almquist and Herb Haley began investigating the poaching of three mule deer shot and left in the town of Pinedale. All three deer had been killed with bow and arrow and left where they died.
The investigation eventually revealed that Wisell and Cody Callison, had illegally killed four mule deer, a bull moose and buck antelope in June and July of 2004 in what Almquist and Haley described as one of the "most egregious poaching sprees" either had investigated.
Both suspects were arrested and convicted on numerous charges, including a felony charge of destroying state property, which in this case was the wildlife. According to state statutes, deer, moose and antelope are the property of the state and are valued at more than $1000, making their destruction a felony.
In February 2005, Wisell pleaded guilty to felony destruction of state property, knowingly killing a bull moose without a license, knowingly killing a horned antelope without a license, two counts of killing a deer out of season, and two counts of wanton destruction of deer. He received a deferral on the felony charge, but was sentenced to $15,110 in fines, $7,500 in restitution, four years in jail and nine years of probation. The judge ruled $9,000 of the fines and all but 60 days of the jail sentenced be suspended. In addition, Wisell's privileges to hunt, fish and trap were suspended for 15 years.
The court agreed to defer the felony charge if Wisell complied with all the conditions of his probation for five years. If he completed his probation, the felony would be permanently stricken from his record.
While on probation, Wisell was forbidden from taking any wildlife, possessing any equipment that could be used to take wildlife, accompanying anyone who was taking wildlife and could not acquire any new wildlife parts.
Less than a year after Wisell's sentencing, officers in Ohio began investigating Wisell for possible hunting violations in Ohio. "I was surprised when I got the call from Ohio," Haley said. "Landen shouldn't have been hunting at all, let alone violating Ohio's hunting laws. With the possibility of being a convicted felon, along with all the jail time and fines that were suspended, it surprised me that he violated his probation so soon after being sentenced. He was given a second chance and he chose to ignore that chance."
In September 2006, the Sublette County Attorney's Office filed a motion to revoke Wisell's probation, alleging that he violated several conditions of his probation, including taking wildlife, possessing equipment that could be used to take wildlife, and acquiring new wildlife parts.
On Nov. 15, Wisell again stood before Judge Guthrie and admitted he had hunted, killed a deer in Ohio and had possessed hunting equipment, all in violation of his probation.
After hearing the testimony and arguments, Judge Guthrie revoked Wisell's probation, which included revoking the earlier deferral on the felony charge, and sentenced him to serve two to four years in the state penitentiary in Rawlins. In a "split sentence," Guthrie suspended the Rawlins term and then sentenced him to serve six months in the county jail starting immediately.
As a result, Wisell is now a convicted felon, which prevents him from possessing any firearms, voting or getting federal aid, along with other ramifications. He will continue on probation after being released from jail and if he violates any condition of his probation again, he could be sent to the penitentiary in Rawlins.
According to Deputy Sublette County Attorney Mike Crosson, "This should serve as a warning to others that the Game and Fish Department will aggressively investigate and the county attorney's office will aggressively prosecute, anyone who chooses to illegally poach our treasured wildlife resources."
The Sublette County Attorney's Office indicated they would continue to consider charging poachers with felony destruction of state property if caught committing such serious violations as killing antlered big game on winter ranges.
FIVE-YEAR INVESTIGATION CULMINATES IN MAXIMUM SENTENCE FOR MULTI-STATE POACHER
LARAMIE - When former Tie Siding resident Steven M. Herrmann is released from the Colorado Correction Facility in Sterling in March 2008 where he's serving a three-year sentence for multiple felony wildlife crimes, it's unlikely he'll be returning to the Cowboy State.
That's because Herrmann, 43, has a Wyoming sentence of $33,320 in fines and restitution and three years in the Albany County Detention Center waiting for him for killing two bull elk out of season and trespassing.
The sentence - the maximum allowed by law - was recently levied by Judge Robert Castor in Second Judicial Circuit Court in Laramie. But the beginning of the investigation dates back five years, ended up involving three states and in Wyoming was also assisted by the Highway Patrol and Albany County Sheriff's Office.
In September 2001, Laramie Game Warden Bill Haley was alerted to a headless mature bull elk carcass on private land near Tie Siding. Haley was able to recover a .22 Hornet bullet from the carcass, but did not suspect Herrmann - who was previously under investigation for purchasing resident licenses as a nonresident - in the elk poaching crime until a month later when Herrmann was cited for trespassing on the same property.
In January 2002, Haley was alerted by the suspect's landlord that Herrmann moved. The game warden searched the vacant residence and found several rounds of .22 Hornet and 7 mm ammunition.
It was discovered Herrmann had moved to the Loveland, Colo. area, but exactly where was unknown because he used fictitious "Otter Drive" addresses on all the licenses he purchased. But word was out to notify Haley if Herrmann returned to Wyoming and that occurred on Jan. 15, 2005. The informant said Hermann and three others were elk hunting just south of the border in Colorado, but snowed-in roads would force their route to dip briefly into Wyoming. The Wyoming Highway Patrol was notified and troopers apprehended the party in possession of four illegal elk on the Sportsman's Lake Road one mile south of Tie Siding. Herrmann was arrested on outstanding warrants for failure to pay for the 2001
trespassing ticket and failure to appear in court for operating an unregistered vehicle and was taken to the Albany County Detention Facility.
Haley helped a Colorado conservation officer search the vehicle and the party was issued multiple Colorado citations for taking the elk illegally. Herrmann spent one day in jail before posting bond and fleeing to Kentucky.
"This is when the case really began to mushroom," Haley said.
Armed with additional information and evidence obtained from Herrmann's companions about his Colorado wildlife crimes, Herrmann was located in Kentucky by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agent, Colorado wildlife investigator and Kentucky conservation officer.
"Boone County, Kentucky conservation officer, Charles Phillips, was masterful in helping interview Herrmann and obtain important information and evidence," Haley added.
A .22 Hornet rifle was confiscated from Herrmann in Kentucky, which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Laboratory in Ashland, Ore. matched to the bullet Haley originally recovered from the elk in September 2001. Fueled by the information from the Wyoming apprehension, Colorado built a case against Herrmann that included 12 felony charges of willful destruction of wildlife inflicted on a variety of species from antelope to eagles.
Hermann was extradited to Colorado to face trial but that didn't end his Front Range culpability. While being held in the Larimer County Detention Center awaiting trial, Herrmann was again interviewed by Haley. The suspect admitted to killing the September 2001 elk and in addition confessed to trespassing and illegally killing another mature bull elk near Tie Siding also in September 2001.
Although there is no statute of limitations, or time limit, to be tried for Wyoming wildlife violations, to insure Herrmann faced his Wyoming charges, Colorado released Herrmann from prison to the custody of Haley and Albany County Sheriff Jim Pond Aug. 7, 2006. The officers drove Herrmann from the Sterling facility to Laramie where he pleaded guilty to two counts of the "winter range statute" of taking antlered elk out of season and without a license, and two counts of trespassing to commit the crimes. Judge Castor fined him $10,000 for each winter range count and $600 for each trespassing charge. Plus, he was ordered to pay $6,000 restitution to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for each elk and court costs. In addition, his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges were revoked for life in Wyoming and the 20 other member states of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.
"Judge Castor has consistently been a strong advocate for wildlife in all the 29 years I've worked with him," Haley said. This August, Herrmann was also indicted for evidence tampering in Kentucky and had a warrant issued for his arrest.
"This was a poacher who killed just for the sake of killing and who had killed more wildlife than he could remember," Haley said. "He was brought to justice because of the teamwork and cooperation of three states' wildlife officers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents, two crime labs, prosecutors and judges. "Although it took awhile, the bottom line is that the good guys won one for wildlife."
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