Utah senators complain about arrest of Southern Utah pot hunters. SL Tribune spanks senators

Senators’ attack on federal agents dangerous in these times of wingnut extremism-

Political pandering. Hatch and Bennett out of line. Salt Lake Tribune Editorial.

Destruction of archelogical valuable artifacts is a well known practice in Southern Utah. Time for a federal crackdown was way past, and finally a well planned raid was carried, arresting 23 local scoffaws.

Senators Hatch and Bennent are busy fanning the flames at a time when death theats as well as real shootings by the wingnuts have become all too common.





  1. monty Avatar

    If you are anti government (public)–or anti regulation–then it is the good citizens right to destroy government (public) land or whatever is contained within. Folks like Hatch & Bennent use religion to justify human excesses. If we can’t insert some restraint or ethics into our use of public lands then nothing will be saved. It appears that we are not a nation of laws but a nation of law breakers who only adhere to the laws that are convient to follow.

  2. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    What kind of example are these senators setting?

  3. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    Sorry guys, but from my past law enforcement career, I’d have to say…without knowing more….that when the goon squads swoop down all reasonable law enforcement goes out the window. It becomes more like something hitler storm troopers in jack boots or Stalinist Russia. The “law enforcement” boys become frenzied zombies no better than the supposed low lifes they are after.

    I want to distinguish a “raid’ such as this one as compared to an assault on some guy holed up in a house shooting at everyone going by that building..or the two LA bank robbers in bullet proof flak jackets and automatic weapons trying to take out cops. Then it is war …and most cops who have been part of zombie raids then freeze up when the real shit happens.

    It was the same with SWAT team rangers in Yellowstone. I never wanted any of them around when it was time to go in on poachers.

    The Utah bust, I’d have to believe, was a high profile action with intent to act as a deterent to others. To me this is like what some countries do when they chop off fingers and hands at public “parties” to tell others they better stay in line. What shock and awe actions, like what appears happened in Utah, do is bond the law boys as one and it is one of POWER. It becomes “us” against them. All of them know it is more a higher level enforcement action than necessary so they psychologically become abusers where they blamed the abused.

    Guys, you don’t want this kind of law enforcement around. some day it may grab you in a frenzed net where even as an innocent bystander you are treated across the board just as the “bad guys” are. Yes, face down in the mud…innocent families travelling through Yellowstone…and the goon boys rack them to the ground and do body searches ..just because they have word of something or the family is in close proximity to a group assault on supposed bad guys.

    The answer is steady long term law enforcement of violations such as those pot hunters. Show respect to those you cite or arrest and it will gain respect fror the next generation. I caught a lot of poachers and none of them liked getting caught…and hated me for a lot of years, but the stories they told their kids were different than what they told their cronies in the bars.

    Again I don’t know the specifics of this case but the scenario repeats itself too many times. I saw the results of the joint F&W, game warden and Park service busts. The stories these buds told for years wasn’t how it helped out in stopping poaching but rather the stories were how the law boys surveilance and steak outs caught those bad folks in sex with their girl friends or wives ….and they would come in on them …bust doors down when the “action” got really hot. Then they would drag the couples out nude, spread eagle ..and cuff afterwards…anything and everything as debasing as you could imagine. Photos would be taken and passed around. Yes, these are your goon squads.

  4. mikarooni Avatar

    Jackson, you need to reread your posting and think about how your words might be interpreted and spun by individuals who might already be prone to negative behavior toward law enforcement personnel. I know that law enforcement personnel like to make the big talk; but, you’re making a strong point there and, if you have proof or solid evidence of all that you are alleging, you should have taken it up with the OIG, probably still should given the changing atmosphere in the office. Otherwise, your war stories don’t seem likely to make a positive contribution; neither is your “unique” brand of science as far as I’m concerned; and you seem to be acting out more intensely in both areas as time goes by. It might be time to talk to someone qualified to listen and help you sort it out.

  5. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    As you wrote, you don’t know the details of the case, neither do it; but my disposition is on the side of the government at long last enforcing some law to protect our public lands in an area that has generally thought the law applies to someone else.

    It was just a few weeks ago that people in this area held an illegal mass ATV ride up the Paria River, and for now it looks like the BLM rangers were told to stand aside and not enforce the law. Hopefully the leaders are now being evaluated for prosecution.

    Over the years this is one of the few places where I thought violence to me, my family or friends was a realistic and immediate possibility because were outsiders with the “wrong” attitude.

  6. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Regarding this law enforcement there is a good editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune from June 19.

    Should enforcing the law be negotiable?

    By Paul Rolly

    The Salt Lake Tribune

  7. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    Maybe as I “mature” I can say the things most everyone in law enforcement is aware of. At least the law enforcement I am aware of.

    There was quite a change in law enforcement attitude from the first years I was in Yellowstone to the last 5-10 years of my career. I have searched my mind to see if the difference was just in my not knowing what was going on…and it is true one doesn’t know as much…and it is true there were rogue cops we all knew about from the beginning.

    It was a change, however, to one of the public being dirt bags in the eyes of the majority of rangers ….and their associates in other agencies ….that came in the Park that became pervasive …that could not be overlooked, however. Yearly Law enforcement 40 hour refreshers showed a climate where instructors from places such as the FBI would be laughed down if they showed any sensitivity at all. The ones liked were the presentations by US Marshalls who held joint training in Yellowstone with rangers (50-100 in attendance). Slides of zuchinni contests on the tops of buses at biker camps in Sturgis where the instructor says, “now you see it now you don’t” brought the most vocal responses. Undercover videos of bikers doing gang bangs on picnic tables of drugged 12 year olds were presented all the time at FLETC for joint federal law enforcement agencies in Georgia. Yes, graphic training is needed for those going into law enforcement but the attitudes of the instructors that accompanies these films does a lot of harm to those going out “enforcing the law”.

    Why do you think assaults on NPS officers has gone up so much? Is it because of better reporting? No, it is because of the actions of those officers towards the public. Yellowstone had the highest number of increased assaults on officers reported in the nation…as reported by PEER….Folks, 99% of the people going to Yellowstone are just families on vacation. It isn’t the streets of LA. I never once saw a true assault on on officer. I did see on a number of occassions officers cinching down cuffs and then yanking the arms up as drunks were placed in the back seats..all uncalled for. I heard lots of reports from consessioners of what my fellow officers were doing, however. I would also hear from friends of friends, from places such as Missoula where they would be having camp fires on the beach not knowing they shouldn’t and having an officer in a patrol vehicle circle them around and around 50 yards away ….with spot lights….then block the exit a quarter mile away. Another ranger car would pull up 20 minutes later and then both would come in on them, ask them not to move, shine flashlights in their faces, look in the cars for whatever and then finally tell them campfires outside designated areas were not permitted. The bad guys?….two middle aged female middle school teachers.

    I have seen where drunks, to tipsy to stand up reached out to stabilize themselve, were then taken to the ground and then charged with assault because the officer said the guy lunged at him.

    At Lake (in Yellowstone) the supervisors told the rangers they should not go to the local pizza pub on their off time because there could be drunks in there and “we shouldn’t associate with those types”.

    Rangers who questioned the rough house tactics of other cops were derided and minimized by superiors too many times. This is what I saw happening more and more through the years. One of the worst abusers, a guy who kicked the head of an elk calf the guy just shot with his assault rifle in front of the Mammoth Motor Inn went on to be a firearms instructor at FLETC. there were plenty of complaints against him from the public but he was protected no different than the catholic priests abusing the kids. Now it was on to teaching all kinds of law enforcement agency recruits his style of enforcement.

    These are the supposed “way out things” you say I am talking about, Mikarooni. I say, when you get individual acts such as these then think of what it does when you put these goons together in a joint action. Yellowstone’s SWAT team was composed of rangers that sign up for for this business. They aren’t rangers assigned. This means excesses are multiplied. I would hear from Park Aids who were to be picking up these guys after simulated assault training. The session would be over and these guys were to be found at different parking lots. Only thing was training didn’t stop for these guys. A person would come out of hiding still all camouflaged up, look all around, get in and not say a word to the pick up. Finally they would say they were not suppose to say anything of why they were there. For christ sake, the person picking them up was only there because they were told to pick up SWAT team members doing exercises.

    Personally, I told Law Enforcement Office there was a lot of bison skull poaching going on in Hayden Valley. I’d say we needed sensors on some of these skulls and where these skulls were to put these sensors on. Maybe a couple weeks later I’d come out of the back country and hear the tell tale beep on the radio notifying a normal beep of a sensor. I’d call up LEO and ask them if they had a sensor in Hayden (since it was a localized beep then it had to come from close to this area) and then ask if they were getting any results. I would be told this was a secret mision and no one could be told. I said back,” I was the one who gave you the information to put these sensors out”. Finally after 5 minutes I’d get acknowledgement but they would not tell me anything else.

    This is the law enforcement I talk about and it should not be hushed up just because it gives rise to possible negative perception of enforcement officers. The reason this bad behavior isn’t punished is because it is easier for supervisors to look the other way. To monitor and change behavior takes a lot of work and thus those legit officers are minimized when they complain of other officers abuses.

    And when the abused public files a complaint it is easier to give a nice letter back of “looking into it” and then do nothing. A transfer to the next GS level is easier and someone else can deal with it.

    I see the Forest Service being even worse than the Park Service when it comes to this. And I see a lot of local boy Game Wardens not getting fatherly advice either. The attitudes of those from Border Patrol at FLETC was as crude as one can imagine, also. Huge drunken bar fights on base and next day training included 5th grade math.

    Yes, we need to honor those who “protect our country” but at the same time I believe we need to be aware of the abuses these folks, unchecked can do. just because we don’t like pot hunting or pot hunters…or any other abuse of the lands doesn’t mean we have the right to carry out those emotions in abusive manners. There has to be respect for anyone we cite or arreat. Without it one eventually gets revolution.

  8. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    I guess I was writing my post when you posted yours. I agree it is long overdue for enforcement like those of ATv’ers or pot hunters on public lands. But, when enforcement does happen… finally, there needs to be firm even handedness.

    And enforcement at this late stage needs to be even more wisely carried out than if enforcement has been ongoing. If closed roads are finally enforced then plenty of advance notice needs to be put out before that action is taken. It needs to be told what that action is going to be ….and then when that action commences respect needs to be number one in all enforcement officers minds. The supervisors should be on hand to explain this to people at the site, not burden the officer doing the citing or cuffing. This is where a lot of the problem lies. Supervisors give the orders but then stay at the desk.

    When I took over as the Thorofare Ranger it was known a lot of illegal dog in the back country use was happening. All those violating knew the rules so all I had to do was enforce, right? But long time infractions without action means a lot more work to do it right if there is not to be bitterness. Signs at Forest Service trailheads(those leading to Yellowstone 20 miles away) needed to be posted with not only the law but why the law…. letting the Forest Service personel know I was going to enforce …. and then getting hold of outfitters and long time horse users in Cody ahead of time. All this I did. I still cited 14 dog cases that year and only 2 the next. The first year I could have cited 25 but each case meant asking questions. I drug along supervisors to the Forest Service headquarters to explain actions coming up.

    In the NW section of the Park where I was stationed as back country ranger from ’74-’82 there was a huge unified outfitter coalition in the Gallatin Canyon. the Nine quarter circle, Rim rock etc. They did as they pleased. the first year I went to each ranch before the season… with the supervisor along …. and talked to them about what I knew was happening in the past and why it couldn’t continue. These outfitters had even been stocking “secret” lakes. That is to the extent these outfitters thought they owned this turf.

    Yes, they still tried things but all one had to do was track a bunch of horses and one had them. Even then one had to have respect…as compared to bonding …as so many horsemen law enforcement types fell into.

    Maybe all this was done in Utah before this action commenced. I don’t know. Yes, I’m sure there are a lot of threats and it is scarry. I had my horses poisoned twice, was threatened with being shot and even had one outfitter charge his horse at me, whipping his horse with his reins, across a meadow while I was on foot patrol. But that doesn’t change professionalism. …And what I saw with most goon squad endeavors was far from respect to those laws were “enforced on”.

    Yes, there can be shock wave compliance because the law dogs swoop in but what kind of simmering resentment stays with those in the area? Put the hammer down and sometime it bounces back to hit those who endorse this kind of action. At least it does in dictatorships and that is what I see happening with goon squads.

    When the public feverously endorses action, finally they say…without questioning how this action was carried out, then the public …the same as any of those posting here saying YES…. are culpable of abuse as well.

    One has to know futher the motives of the Senators writing those letters but it still means accounts of those supposedly being abused while enforcement was happpening to them needs to be considered. It is easy to see the probable motives of those being cited but just because “we want action” doesn’t mean we should turn a blind eye to how that actrion was carried out. From my past experiences I saw way to many over the top enforcement actions. I point out from what I saw from the “inside” only as a check to further blind endorsement of such abusive activities possible by those licensed by the citizens of this country to carry out those laws.

  9. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    While I think the raid in Utah was long over due, I agree with Bob that the law enforcement attitude in Yellowstone has changed over the years. Yellowstone rangers act more today like they are in some third world country called Yellastan. I was in Yellastan over the Mother’s Day weekend and the rangers were out in force yelling at the local families bringing mom out to see the bears. They all were armed with at least three weapons: A side arm, a 12 gauge shotgun and a M-16 prominently displayed next to the seat in their loudspeaker- blaring patrol cars. I heard many comments on Mother’s Day weekend about the lack of common sense that seems to go with being a Yellastan ranger today. It is in- your- face law enforcement that only brings resentment towards law enforcement officers and laws in general.


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.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ralph Maughan