Steve Slavinsky will do five years in Montana State Prison-

Serial wildlife killer’. By Jodi Hansen Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer.

Should he have received a stiffer sentence?

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

20 Responses to One of the worst poachers in Montana history goes to the Pen

  1. Save bears says:

    I don’t think they were stiff enough with him, with his total blatant disregard for the laws, he should have been locked up longer has his property confiscated and then when he gets out, be monitored for the rest of his life..

    5 years for what this guy did for so many years is nothing more than a slap on the wrist and he will probably go right back to what he did when he gets released, heck he was already prohibited from having a firearm and that didn’t stop him! It didn’t even slow him down..

  2. Has anyone ever fantasized about having a fair chase hunting season on poachers? Now, of course, I don’t necessarily mean hunt with bullets . . . maybe just some (using “Cheney-speak”) “enhanced aversive conditioning.”

  3. jdubya says:

    In Utah it is a felony to be a poacher, but if you are driving a car and do a hit and run on a pedestrian or cyclist, it is only a misdemeanor. I think my fantasy might be in doing a hit and run on a offender rather than trying to shoot a poacher.

  4. Maska says:

    Ralph, ummmm, yes. Somebody down this way once suggested using paintballs full of pepper spray to aversively condition our lobos. Seems like the weapon of choice for your “most dangerous game.” 🙂

  5. Mike says:


    I’d like to see even more jail time though.

  6. dave smith says:

    I think the damage poachers do is insignificant compared to the damage done by state approved hunting. Oh my God, wolves are killing all the elk north of Yellowstone Park!!! What about the number of elk legally killed by hunters in Montana north or Yellowstone Park? I’m anti-poaching, I deplore the characterization of poachers as modern-day mounatin men who are anti-govment heros, but big picture . . . poachers are litte piss-ants.

  7. Ryan says:


    First off if there killed in YNP, they are killed by poachers. Secondly that is a controlled harvest, unlike un regulated poaching. Do you have any more anti hunting rants up your sleeve?

  8. The take by poachers can be significant in some areas. There tend to be local hotbeds of poaching, and sometimes town has to be cleaned out.

  9. Ryan says:


    I was astounded at the amount of poaching that goes on in some rural areas. Its really sad to see wildlife being stolen from the public in that manner.

  10. ProWolf in WY says:

    “I’m outraged by your conduct,” Judge John Brown told Slavinsky at a sentencing hearing in Gallatin County District Court Wednesday. “Your conduct tarnishes” every hunter’s reputation.

    This is a great message from the judge in this case.

  11. dave smith says:

    Ryan–in 2000, Montana FWP offered 2800 late season tags for the elk slaughter north of the park. By comparison, your alleged poaching is insignificant. Please spare me the anti-hunter accusation. It’s got nothing to do with mismanagement by the state.

  12. Chris H. says:

    Yes, I have also contemplated the most dangerous game scenario. However, it might be more effective to open a season on livestock on public lands. The Blue Range in AZ would be a GREAT place to start.

  13. ProWolf in WY says:

    Chris, I like that idea. get some steak and burgers much cheaper!

  14. Ryan says:

    in 2000, Montana FWP offered 2800 late season tags for the elk slaughter north of the park. By comparison, your alleged poaching is insignificant. Please spare me the anti-hunter accusation. It’s got nothing to do with mismanagement by the state.

    Since then, the tag numbers have been falling consistently every year since 2000 in response to the herd numbers falling (which was the goal btw) Sounds like pretty good management to me. The herd is now near carrying capacity, not overpopulated. Poaching is a huge problem, that most do not realize the scope of.

  15. dave smith says:

    Ryan–you might want to inform wolf-haters and commercial hunting outfitters that the Northern Yellowstone elk herd was “overpopulated,” and that part the reason for Montana FWP selling 2,800 late season elk tags in 2000 was to reduce the elk herd to “carrying capacity.”

    Any proof that poaching is a “huge problem?” How many elk to you think hunters killed legally (max 2800) as part of the highly publicized Montana FWP elk reduction program compared to the “huge” number of elk killed by poachers? A guesstimate will do.

    Does Montana FWP realize the extent of the “huge” poaching problem, and adjust elk mortality limits accordingly, or is Montana FWP part of those that “do not realize the scope of” the poaching problem you know so much about?

  16. Ryan says:


    I don’t know much about Montana, As an FYI the Gardner late hunt had been going on with nearly that many tags for several years.The gardnier hunt had a high success rate so I would estimate that ~2000 plus elk were taken. The drop in tags has been severe as of late.. Hence the concern from hunters and outfitters. As for poaching, I have spent several years hunting and talking to locals in small communities that I have been fortunate enough to work in. Whether it be poaching by filling anothers tag during the legal hunting season, or outright blatent poaching its a larger problem than is let on. There are not a ton of statistics on it as scavengers clean up the gut piles and it happens at night and is un reported. For example I turned in a poacher in Sutherlin who had taken 3 elk, 5 bears, and I believe he was caught with 6 deer as well in one season. It seemed very prevalant there. Estimate I have heard from OSP here in OR put poaching at close to 30-40% of the legal harvest numbers.

    The impact is not just the number of animals, but the stress put on them as well from being shot during all year long. Obiviously if you don’t want to accept it as a problem thats your decision.

  17. Ryan says:


    Love the condescending tone to your posts, that’ll bring the groups closer together!

  18. dave smith says:

    Ryan–Poaching is a “huge” problem based soley on what you’ve “heard” from officials in Oregon.

    In 2000, Montana FWP issued 2,800 elk permits for the Gardiner area/Northern Yellowstone elk herd as part of a scientific strategy to reduce the herd to carrying capacity–hunters and outfitters weren’t concerned.

    You estimate that on top of the 2000 elk legally take by hunters, we can add another 30-40% (600-800) taken by poachers. That’s a minimum of 2600 elk killed from the Gardiner area/Northern Yellowstone elk herd.

    Then one day hunters and outfitters became concerned about the “severe” drop in the number of elk tags available? What were they expecting?

    Why do hunters and outfitters blame wolves for the drop in the elk population and the corresponding drop in the number of elk tags? Why don’t hunters and outfitters look in the mirror and say, “we were dolts for going along with the Montana FWP elk reduction plan? We liked things better when the elk herd was beyond carrying capacity because we got to massacre elk, and it was easy.”

  19. ProWolf in WY says:

    Why do hunters and outfitters blame wolves for the drop in the elk population and the corresponding drop in the number of elk tags?

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say it is because these are the same types of hunters who think that elk are like cattle and should be there for their use only. Although I do think the word “massacre” is a bit of a stretch. While it was easier to find elk, it was not by any means a massacre. I still had to do a lot of walking in -20 degree temperatures to get my elk on one of those late season hunts. I might also add that a lot of the elk I have seen around there that leave the park are smart enough to go either into Gardiner of walk into private land with no hunting.

  20. Ryan says:


    Obiviously your all knowing, sorry I questioned you..



‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey