Eleven convicted of poaching Montana elk
Yet another story of two-legged wolves taking down elk-
2010 seems to have been quite a year for elk poachers in the Rocky Mountains. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks issued this news release. Versions of it are circulating in the media.
News release: Elk Poaching Case Nets Nearly $40,000 in Fines & Restitution. Monday, January 3, 2011.
The story has a bit about each poacher. Most of them were not from Montana.
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.
41 Responses to Eleven convicted of poaching Montana elk
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2 year hunting suspension? What a joke, that should have been a liftime loss!
I sure hope we can get some legislation through this year, that make the penalties deep, strong and long lasting, this is getting ridiculous, you break the law, you pay the price and that is no hunting for the rest of your life! These are not hard rules to follow..
These are the people that are always complaining about wolves and the decimation of their game herds! With suspensions for two years they’ll be back at it in no time at all. These are habitual poachers- do you think they will stop? They must like the challenge.
I have a hard time thinking a poacher who is taking wildlife illegally worries all that much about losing their hunting privledges. They need to spend some time in prison with a cellmate named Bubba.
Yes, they do Tim, Yes they do!
I would also like to see all cases of poaching be classified as a felony, which would mean, no more guns for you!
You are right on the money. It is always the same lazy hunters who for years shot their elk and deer from the road and nos because of predators, more road hunters and more roads are finding that it is not that easy anymore. The whole point of hunting is to get off your ass and walk around in the outdoors. It doesn’t take much walking to have a successful hunt I average 3 miles a day and killed an elk, deer and pronghorn this year with my bow. I can sit for hours and count dozens of vehicles driving back and forth on the roads but never stopping to get out and hunt. Then they pull into my camp and bitch about no game and how wolves killed everything and where did I find the one I shot. I always give the same answer “In the woods”.
Right on Hilljack! Its the lazy hunters that bitch about how wolves and other predators are killing everything but its these fn poachers that are doing the most damage. Good luck with your hunting.
If it had been in a good muslim country, they would have had their trigger fingers cut off…and maybe their thumbs if the judge was in a bad mood that day.
But we are not a Muslim country…and we deal with criminals in a completely different way, I just wish we would make the time fit the crime, here in Montana it is about $20K for a trophy elk, so that should be a felony, theft in excess of a certain amount!
There would be some trade offs for making poaching a felony. People would fight the charges much harder. Most cases would go to trial costing the state millions. I am not a lawyers, but I would guess the rules of evidence would be much more stringent in felony cases. It may be much harder for the F&G to prove their cases. A Yahoo like Rex Rammell might just flee the scene with the evidence and the F&G would have no case. So then you may need to give fish and game officors more powers and more training and more equipement for collecting and presenting evidence. All this is going to cost money…lots of money. Who is going to pay?
There is no God but God! God is great!
I am sure you are aware of the extensive investigations that goes into many of these poaching cases, especially when it involves 11 individuals like this one did, the evidence was collected by professionals that are very good at their job.
There are many cases I know of that involved organized poaching such as this did, that the rules of evidence would have supported a felony charge and would have most likely resulted in convictions or pleas…just at a higher level.
There is a lot of money spent now to get these criminals, the punishment should fit the crime and they should have to not only pay for the animal(s) illegally taken, they should have to pay the costs associated with the investigation as well as loose the items used in the perpetuation of the crime.
I have no sympathy for criminals, it should be a one strike your out, by poaching you are violating not only the law, but the trust of the public that you stole that animal from.
I think if poaching were a felony, it would change the game completely. Game Wardens would no longer be able to write tickets that would summon the defendant to court. There would need to be arrests, investigations, bonds, jail, lawyers, prosecutors, detectives, etc., etc., etc. in almost every case. Game Wardens would need to build stronger cases before they could hope to get a felony conviction. They would also need the power to arrest people and be trained with guns, handcuffs, transport of felons, etc, etc.
What is it we’re trying to accomplish exactly…less poaching or just to really do a few idiots in. Software and video piracy are felonies too but, because it is so hard to prove, there are very few actual convictions and everyone does it. Maybe the software and video companies should lobby to make it a misdemeanor so it would be easier for law enforcement to administer justice….writing tickets with stiff fines. They may actually reduce the crime.
The goal should be to reduce poaching and I think making it a felony does little to that end and will only make administration of game laws more complicated, more expensive, and with fewer actual convictions.
In general, I am not one to believe that severe punishment makes better citizens nor a better society. Probably the best defense against poaching is citizens turning poachers in, particularly hunters turning poachers in. If the law is too heavy handed, and people feel it is is unjust, maybe they will stop turning poachers in. But you are entitled to your opinion on this matter. I do not want a police state, however.
Can anyone tell me the answer to two question regarding poaching and Montana and Idaho ?
1. Do they have a table of restitution costs that place a dollar value on the game that is poached so the Judge can demand the perps pay the Public for the loss of their wildlife resource? Wyoming nw has a series of guidelines for the dollar value of wildlife…from $ 15,000 for a trophy bighorn ram , as much as $ 12, 500 for a trophy elk , all the way down to $ 200 for a cottontail rabbit ( not kidding ). Wyoming judges arre now impleenting those restitutions in addition to fines and suspending privileges. [ Sidebar: if you want to see a Game and Fish employee go livid, ask them about setting a dollar value on wolves…. ]
2. Have Montana and Idaho implemented laws allowing the confiscation of any or all equipment used in the perpetration of poaching ? When wardens are allowed to confiscate guns, spotting scopes, ATV’s , pickup trucks , etc then deterrence becomes reality.
One of the earliest applications of this new law came a few years back when an unethical Cody hunter had his personal helicopter confiscated. He had used it to spot elk , drop off his son on a ridgetop bottleneck , then haze the elk towards him. Fortunately , another hunting party observed all this and one of them was a lawyer. The Wyo G&F sold the helicopter for $ 65,000 by sealed bid and the perp was prohibited from buying it back.
I bring these two legal parameters up because the fines and suspensions handed out in this Montana mass poaching case were beneath lenient . Disgraceful, actually.
Idaho has a similar restitution law with larger fines for animals that meet trophy class as defined using Boone and Crooket scoring. They can confiscate equipment but it is not as common. Idaho has a hard time charging people for some reason. What would be an easy case in some states may get dropped here. As an example I called IDFG on a guy I watched jump out of a car run down a road and shot a deer. No charges were brought because I could not say if his feet where on the maintained portion of the road or if he had stepped a foot off of it. He had filled out his tag properly and stuffed the whole thing into the trunk within 5 minutes of shooting it. The CO said it looked like he was up to something but could not prove it.
Yes, Montana has restitution laws as well, last year they were as follows:
Bighorn Sheep – $30,000
Elk – $8,000
Antlered Deer – $8,000
Moose – $6,000
Mountain Goat – $6,000
Antelope – $2,000
Grizzly – $8,000
Those restitution fees are only for trophy animals not females are non trophy males.
I realize that, that was the question that Cody was asking about, I know we have no fee’s for animals not considered a trophy, which I don’t agree and will be one of the things that I hope gets address in this legislative session..but with all of the other bills on the table that could affect wildlife, I suspect it will be difficult..
Let’s worry about defeating some of these new bills being introduced, they are a back door attempt to privatize public wildlife. The bill that needs supported is the one require’s the landowner or the one requesting the closure of a road to prove that the road in private. The way it is today one has to prove that the road is a public road.
The thing that disappoints me on this forum are those who are so pro wolf, coyote, anti or very minimal hunting that they forget about those who are working to assure access to public lands. They live out of state. From what I have been reading it is the hook and bullet crowd that are active in monitoring road closures and going to court to force open historical public roads. If wildlife watchers want to watch wildlife they better make sure that they are contributing to access issues or they are going to find they favorite piece of public land blocked by a locked gate. I gave several hundred dollars in the mid 1990’s to allow access to state lands which control by the lessee.
I agree, one of the biggest threats to either side right now is the closure of roads and denial of access to lands, which seems to really get overlooked by many
Elk 275 write: “Those restitution fees are only for trophy animals not females are non trophy males.”
So it is less a fine to shoot a female!? Isn’t that descrimination based on sex?
For the politically correct….Yes, its discrimiation…so is “buck only” days and the fact that most hunters want to shoot bucks and bulls.
Also to correct your previous response from above;
“They would also need the power to arrest people and be trained with guns, handcuffs, transport of felons, etc, etc. “……………….they DO!
And stern punishment works, thats whats wrong with our society…no accountability.
White people in the Northwest are not the only poachers. Recent poaching by Yakama tribal members earlier this week off reservation (at a place called Clover Springs feeding station off Hiway 410), and in violation of tribal wildlife codes, at protected refuges has been documented, with resulting prosecutions. The Yakima Reservation is 1.2 million acres, but ceded lands for which they retained hunting/fishing/gathering rights is 12 million acres, and comprises most of the east side of the Cascades from the Columbia to north of Wenatchee, or about 3/4 length of the state. Some tribal members don’t follow their own regulations.
It is also interesting to note that tribal members can obtain “ceremonial” or “subsistence” permits which are liberally granted. The enrolled number of Yakama tribal members is about 10,000. A ceremonial permit is rarely denied, I am told. An application might say: “It is Uncle Ed’s birthday next saturday, and I want elk for his party.”
No recent news, but as of two years ago the the Yakamas had one of the very worst tribal court systems in all of Indian Country, according to an independent Indian court auditing group – poor records, unqualified judges and resulting lenient sentences for doing bad things that did not reflect magnitude of crimes, or deter them in the future.
Has anybody ever heard this term before?
“wildlife thrill killing”
In certain areas of the country this has happened several times over the years, I remember way back when I was in my teens it happening on the Oregon coast a couple of times…
Yes, these same people have been saying that wolves kill thrill forever it seems. Ask anyone on here how many times they had heard that wolves kill for fun or for the thrill of it. these same people who accuse the wolves of doing it are doing it themselves. They are hypocrites plain and simple.
This probably goes on a lot in Montana and Idaho as well. So much talk about wolves and their effects on elk. You ever see anyone bring up poachers and all of the animals they kill.
There are no wolf issues in this part of Washington….I will address this to Daniel because I know Jon is ignoring me!
Ken, Ralph and Brian, do we really need to put up with the bullshit and rhetoric as well as accusations of this nature from Jon??
This area – Aberdeen/Montesano and Grays Harbor County is one Washington’s poorer areas. It was hard hit when the timber industry and commercial fishing went down and has never recovered. Unemployment is high. Downtown is boarded up and people cannot sell their houses. The young men here, the ones that remain and with little hope of a future, have alot of time on their hands. What is that saying – “idle hands are the devils’s tools,” or something to that effect? A beater truck that gets 10 mpg and has mudder tires is the preferred transportion mode.
If one ever wonders what a smaller community is like, walk into a Wal-Mart and just look at who comes in. It will give you a pretty good cross-sectional read of the socio-economic mix in short order.
From the video, this happened in a clear cut, which looks to be a couple of years old. Decent winter browse, but not much cover. These were Roosevelt elk.
It’s time to put down the guns.
I’ve also heard about many poaching incidents involving fish and Yakama tribal members. A couple of years ago they actually caught tribal game wardens poaching steelhead. If I remember right, they didn’t even lose their jobs over it, or ended up being rehired. Other tribal members admitted that it was a widespread problem and that offenders felt like they could get away with whatever they wanted for the most part.
I grew up next to the Muckleshoot reservation. There was always a lot of talk about tribal members grossly underreporting in order to fudge quotas for salmon, and poaching or slob-hunting up in the foothills outside of Greenwater. Only ocassionally though did I ever see any concrete proof of that kind of activity. I don’t know how much of it was just talk. I’m not sure how much autonomy the tribes have in “policing” themselves in regards to poaching?
A couple of years ago a Yakama was cited by an officer of the Columbia River Inter Tribal Fisheries Commission (CRITFC) for wasting fish. It is a long and very complex story, but the jist of it is that that this guy was caught tending a net from his boat, where his family had fished in the past and the net had his ID on it. The many salmon, caught in the untended net were days old and rotten. He was written up and commanded to appear in state court in Hood River (as the CRITFC officer a Shoshone-Bannock, and was sworn as an OR game warden and can write tickets anywhere in the river right up to the WA side bank). The guy contested the ticket saying the CRITFC officer had no jurisdiction, and coincidentally the Yakama tribe had not renewed its annual cooperative law enforcement agreement with CRITFC of which it is one of 5 member tribes. I lost track of the case because it took a long time for things to be resolved, but it is my understanding the claim of OR jurisdiction was defeated and the guy appeared in Yakama tribal court and got less than a slap on the hand. CRITFC, informally was furious, but since the Yakamas are the largest of the tribes in the group, there was little they could do and wanted to keep harmony.
The upshot of this case is that the fish this Yakama wasted belonged to all of us, and he walked because of a comlicated system of enforcing game/fish laws and a very weak tribal court. It is not unusual for tribal court or even tribal game wardens not to arrest or follow the law, because of the social ties in the often small Indian community, or in this instance, also the larger confederated Indian community. Harmony is sometimes preferred over hardline justice, that a non-Indian might not understand. In addition, I am aware of instances when a tribal warden arrests somebody, the tires on his vehicle are slashed, or his kids get beaten up at school.
It is sometimes perceived that game violations by tribal members are victimless crimes (they were all our fish/game anyway, not the white man’s). That may have worked decades ago when Indian civil rights were being violated, but in the 21st Century, it is harder to justify. And, paranthetically, a fishing net cannot distinguish between a native or hatchery salmon or steelhead.
This is a great example of how social norms (i.e., the rules for how one should behave that develop among members of a group) can be more important than the law for establishing what behavior is appropriate. Someone who thinks most people poach (especially those people with whom they are close) are more likely to do it themselves. When this type of norm becomes so pervasive in a community that law enforcement follows the norm instead of the law, there is a serious problem.
“That may have worked decades ago when Indian civil rights were being violated, but in the 21st Century, it is harder to justify.
I have to ask… how is it that you come to that conclusion?
Some suggested reading to clear some of this misconception up. (And I do mean misconception. What is required here is actually reading and comprehending all that is involved with Indians’ civil rights which most nonIndians don’t come close to understanding. Most will accept the FauxNews version and call it good.)
And then there’s wikipedia…
“Indian Civil Rights Act (1968)
With the passage of the Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA) in 1968, also called the Indian Bill of Rights, Native Americans were guaranteed many civil rights they had been fighting for. The IRCA supports (1) the right to free speech, press, and assembly; (2) protection from unreasonable search and seizure; (3) the right of a criminal defendant to a speedy trial, to be advised of the charges, and to confront any adverse witnesses; (4) the right to hire an attorney in a criminal case; (5) protection against self incrimination; (6) protection against cruel and unusual punishment, excessive bail, incarceration of more than one year and/or a fine in excess of $5,000 for any one offense; (7) protection from double jeopardy or ex post facto laws; (8) the right to a trial by a jury for offenses punishable by imprisonment; and (9) equal protection under the law, and due process .
Many other civil rights such as sovereignty, hunting and fishing, voting, and traveling have been fought for or are being sought. The fight for American Indian civil rights is a significant part of American History, and continues on today.
Although Native Americans consented to or were forced to give up their land, the government allotted them hunting and fishing rights both within their reservations and on their old land that had been sold to and settled by whites. The reserved rights doctrine allowed for tribes to hunt and fish, along with any other rights, as long as they were not specifically denied in a treaty. This angered white hunters and fishers who had restrictions placed on them by the government and they protested against the Indian’s right to fish and hunt off of reservations. State agencies pointed out that conservation efforts were possibly compromised by the Native American’s habits; however the Supreme Court upheld the privilege with certain cases, such as United States v. Winans, even going so far as to appropriate Indian’s the right to hunt and fish on all of their old grounds whether or not they were currently privately owned. The largest amount of opposition and resentment towards Native American’s fishing and hunting rights stems from the Pacific Northwest.”
Not a topic to be speculated about or opined upon by the unknowing. I do know for fact that among the various tribes I have contact with and with whom I share friendship, they are nearly constantly fighting in federal court where nearly Indian affairs are handled, to defend the treaty rights they were “given” waaaay back in the 19th century – still in effect today in many cases. Civil rights issues still top the bill in most cases. It’s always a fact that white folks deny while claiming that the Indians share the same rights as we do, even though it just isn’t so.
Perhaps their standards and laws reviewed in tribal court just aren’t the same as the ones we observe… they do have a different culture with different values after all.
When I lived in Washington, I on many occasions ran into tribal members in the Columbia River Gorge are that were poaching, one time I remember vividly, I was sitting on the side of the road watching a group of Black Tail does, this was on the road that goes up to the hills above the Klickitat river out of Lyle, WA.
They pulled over and asked my wife and I if we were going to shoot them, I replied no, not legal, well they drove up the road about 50 yards and started blasting away, I turned in their plate number, but never did hear if anything was done about it..
The culture of death continues, and these guys get wrist slaps.
The tribal rant is a pretty sad deflection from the fact that most charged poachers in the U.S. are white males.
And you have a link to back up that claim Mike?
I will agree, that most prosecuted poachers are white males, but I will not concede that most poachers are white males, there are a good number of poaching incidents in the US that cross racial boundaries that happen that are never prosecuted, in the state of California, most incidents are actually Latino males..