Tasmanian poachers plead guilty and are kicked out of Idaho after paying fines

Poachers killed a big bull elk and also illegally transferred wolf tags-

Here is the outcome of the matter of the elk poaching Tasmanians in the Idaho wilderness. Many of the details came from an article by Australian reporter Paul Toohey for The Mercury.

The 3 men, Darren Tubb, 43, Anton Kapeller, 58, and Samuel Henley, 18 plead guilty to killing a bull elk (a big one) out of season. Henley also shot two wolves that had been attracted to the discarded elk carcass. They took the antlers, but left the big carcass of the elk to rot in a nearby meadow. Two of the men had wolf tags, but Henley shot both wolves. He used his uncle’s tag (Tubb) illegally to tag the second wolf.

Although this was way back in roadless Sawtooth Mountains, unfortunately for the poachers, the whole thing was staked out by Idaho Fish and Game. That was because Kapeller had been coming to Idaho to hunt for many years, and for a long time IDFG thought he had been poaching elk (hunting them during closed season before the legal hunt). So officers were ready to follow him.  Tubb and Henley were on their first trip to Idaho. Kapeller actually killed the elk after Tubb took three shots that missed.  There was also a very incriminating photo taken of Heney posing by the dead elk (and date stamped by the camera). Here is that photo and the story.

The story about the two wolves menacing Henley was made up according to IDFG who watched Henley shoot them from a distance as they scavenged the abandoned carcass. It has long been my opinion that the “menacing wolf” stories, almost always told by people who don’t like wolves, are made up. Too bad they can’t be fined in general for lying.

Waiting for trial the men spent 6 days in jail, and later paid substantial fines and lost their weapons.

To be more specific, Henley, the youngest (18) was fined $2500 for misuse of  his wolf tag and for aiding and the poaching of the big bull elk. He also had to forfeit $4000  in bond money. He was banned for hunting in Idaho for 3 years. Tubb paid fines and restitution close to $5300, had his rifle and scope forfeited,  and lost $5000 in bonds. He was told he couldn’t hunt again in Idaho.

Kapeller, the man who IDFG originally set up the observation for, paid fines and restitutions paid of $6000. He lost $7500 in bond money and weapons. He was ordered never to come back to Idaho to hunt.

The men were ordered to pay their fines before they could return to Tasmania. This was a big, labor intensive effort by IDFG. I would be interesting to know if the monies paid and ending up with the department paid for the time and supplies used to track the men.

– – – – –


Australian Journalist Paul Toohey traveled to Idaho “to watch three arrogant Australians face US justice for illegal hunting.” Toohey took great interest in this. He contacted me very early in the story to see if I had special information (I didn’t). He came to their hearing before the judge.

At any rate, his story, in the Herald Sun, is fascinating and troubling to me. From Toohey’s story, these Tasmanian poachers and their attorney impress me as very disagreeable people, and at the end the Idaho Fish and Game officers appear to be a pair of overforgiving dummies of the kind likely to attract more poachers to the state.



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  1. Mike Avatar

    If these guys were American good ole boys, they’d have gotten slaps on the wrist.

    Apparently,if you spout enough hate towards predators and abuse animals and are a white male, you only get a three year ban anda small fine.

    And what’s with this:

    ++The story about the two wolves menacing Henley was made up according to IDFG who watched Henley shoot them from a distance as they scavenged the abandoned carcass++


    1. WM Avatar

      ++If these guys were American good ole boys, they’d have gotten slaps on the wrist.++

      More likely prediction is that non-residents would have been treated about the same as these scuz balls (still not enough in fines and confiscation of weapons in my view). On the other hand, Idaho residents would have gotten…….

      1. Salle Avatar

        A medal and a ticker-tape parade through all the hunting propaganda rags and blogs…

        The handshake… “No hard feelings, mate. Sorry we had to bust you”.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    Jealousy theory on elk hunt. By Nick Clark. The Mercury.

    So according to the main rascal of this bunch, Tasmanians like him have the ability to hunt higher than Americans who can’t sleep or hunt way up high (7000-8000 feet). So there is jealousy.

    7000-8000 is “way up high?” First time I heard that.

    1. Jay Avatar

      Also interesting is the fact that the highest point in Tasmania is only 5500 feet–those sissies don’t know what high is!

    2. JEFF E Avatar
      JEFF E

      more often than not I start out at about 7000′ and go up from there. These are not hunters by any definition of the word. Merely another bunch of scumbags.

      1. Mike Avatar

        Jeff –

        They bought tags, so yes they are hunters. Putting them in a “magic box”, as if poaching miracuously wipes away any hunter/hunting traits only serves to damage hunting further.

        1. JEFF E Avatar
          JEFF E

          Wrong Mike, no more than any other criminal hiding behind the trappings of legality.
          I full well realize you have an anti-hunting agenda, and from reading your posts you also are possibly the least knowledgable poster on the subject matter at hand. On any given day you add nothing to the discussion of any revelance; only take every thread you post to on the same old tired, ignorant, pridictable path.

          Not sure why admin puts up with it……

          1. Mike Avatar

            You can’t just say they’re not hunters because they poached. That’s “magical thinking”, and it’s usually imparted by those who feel an urge to defend something.

            Clearly, these poachers bought tags, love guns, take pictures of the animals they kill, and enjoy the hunting culture. They accessed Idaho wildlife by legally purchasing hunting tags. They just happened to poach. They are hunters…and they are poachers. Saying they are not is unrealistic.

            I’m not getting into the hunting thing. Yes, I do feel much of it needs an overhaul, but I’m getting tired of seeing hunters on this blog sweep these kind of actions under the rug. Instead of denial and creating a magic “lock box” for hunters doing things you disagree with, it’s better to realize a huge portion of the hunting community is corrupt, and to work to separate ethical hunters from that segment. You do this by
            vociferously denouncing these actions, and admitting that much of the hunting culture is poisoned by similar people.

            You fail to do it by putting your hands to your ears and shouting “not hunters, not hunters, not hunters” and tapping your feet while ignoring they are indeed part of the hunting community.

    3. Mike Avatar

      To someone at 600 feet, it’s incredibly high. 😉

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    I put up a second story on this today (it is below the first as “an update”).

    It is a story by an Australian correspondent about the trial and related matters. Everyone should read. I really don’t like these poachers and Idaho Fish and Game doesn’t look so good either, IMO.

  4. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    What a story. Who is this Bublitz idiot- making the derogatory comment about wolves….A local Idaho Attorney?

  5. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    This guy has been poaching elk in Idaho for 2 decades and the IDFG conservation officers shook his hand after the trial? Someone should have searched their homes in Tasmania and confiscated the photos they took of poached elk and other animals for the other 19 years that the IDFG DIDN’T catch them. If they used digital cameras and saved them on any storage media, you can look in the file info and get the date and time the photo was taken. Did these officers just fall off of the potato truck?

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      Larry Thorngren,

      That’s what got me too. At first I thought this was great ID Fish and Game work. It still might have been, especially for the field observation and capture, but as for the rest, maybe tip of the iceberg and no interest it seems in looking further.

    1. Nancy Avatar

      Seems we have a lot of thoughts & concerns in common with the folks “down under”

  6. Ken Cole Avatar

    I actually know the conservation officers who are referred to at the end of the article and I doubt very much that they over forgiving about this. Brian Flatter is actually a fisheries biologist who decided to switch over to being a CO and Marshall Haines has been been a CO since the late 90’s. This is actually quite the accomplishment for them and I congratulate them for catching these fools. I don’t know what the handshake at the end of the proceedings was about but I strongly doubt it had anything to do with forgiveness.

    1. WM Avatar

      I like this Aussie’s writing style. Crisp and to the point. Anyone speculate as to why the arresting CO’s shook hands with the defendants after the court proceedings, and the “I’d kick your sorry asses out of ID forever, if I could,” disposal of the case by the judge (Contrary to Chicago Mike’s assertion, apparently the judge decided for the maximum penalty and did all he could under the law he had to work with)?

      The handshake does seem a bit odd to me, as well. Maybe, Ken, you could ask them why, if you have the opportunity and are curious yourself.

      1. Ken Cole Avatar

        I don’t like to speculate as to why the officers shook their hands but maybe it was something like players on opposing teams shaking each other’s hands after a match. I don’t know, but virtually all of the CO’s who I know don’t have much forgiveness towards poaching. In fact, I watched one cite a fellow IDFG employee for keeping a salmon that had been snagged. It’s not in their nature.

      2. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
        Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

        Only the officers can describe their personal thoughts. It is not unusual for officers to shake hands with a defendant(s) as a simple gesture of professional respect and emphasis thatthe officer does not presume to judge them. That is up to the judge and society as a whole. The officer has a responsibility and duty to maintain impartiality as best she/he can. Their focus should be the crime and ensuring that the suspect is appropriately held accountable by our legal system. There is also a practical/pragmatic element to the gesture of respect these officers demonstrated. Experience has shown, repeatedly, that sometimes, the most hardened poachers are redeemable in ways that are positive to wildlife conservation. The boot “Game Wars” by Marc Reisner chronicles numerous examples. There is wisdom in not presuming to judge the moral worthiness of individuals, despite their history.

        1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

          Mark Gamblin,

          With all respect, the facts as we known them, including especially the information generated by the reporter from the Australian newspapers tell me that the men, especially Anton Kapeller, are arrogant, and they think we are a bunch of lazy yokels.

          It is fortunate they will not be returning to hunt.

          1. Larry Thorngren Avatar

            Ralph- The way Mark Gamblin spins all of his explanations and promotes political Otter/IDFG propaganda, he thinks that everyone that comments on your blog just fell off of a potato truck.

        2. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) Avatar
          Mark Gamblin (IDFG)

          With equal respect, what relevance does that have to the officer’s gesture of civility in the courtroom?

          1. Immer Treue Avatar
            Immer Treue

            Civility and professionalism sure, the gesture is what I think some of us question.

          2. Daniel Berg Avatar
            Daniel Berg

            I doubt that most folks can work with wildlife for their entire career and not be disgusted with with what those Tasmanian poachers were convicted of. One could only guess what they did to get the attention of IDFG over the last few years. The handshake doesn’t bother me a whole lot because what is an empty act of civility really worth anyway? If anything, there is more to gain than to lose by it. They are supposed to be able to pay their debt to society through the punishment handed down by the judge. In this case, I wish there were stiffer penalaties because I belive they got off easy for the crimes they committed.

          3. WM Avatar

            In my experience it is typically the lawyers who exchange pleasantries of professionalism like shaking hands after the court room battle is done (afterall it is a job for the prosecutor and defense attorney, and usually nothing personal). As for the CO’s doing so with the defendants, maybe there is some value, but one has to wonder, especially since it is personal for the defendants.

  7. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    Just an educated guess but my take is the “handshake” is a sign of dominance. The CO’s were able to get right up in their face and looked them directly in the eye and my guess is the scum buckets averted there eyes. Basic biology. How many times have we seen the dominant wolf grab a subordinate by the muzzle in much the same gesture. Everyone is wagging their tails but the message is abundantly clear.”Cross me and I will kick your ass”

  8. Steve Avatar

    Now that these guys have been convicted what are the impacts on their being able to enter the US in the future? Usually a convicted criminal is not allowed to enter the US- possibly a higher punishment then the fines they received in Idaho?

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan


      The judge’s punishment among other things, said they could not hunt again in Idaho, but they can return to the state and the country.

      1. Salle Avatar

        Well… The judgement says they can’t hunt in IDaho again, but that doesn’t rule out guiding… what’s to say the ringleader won’t go a-guiding again? The IDFG guys should have left out the friendly gesture and left it to the legal teams to make that gesture… it just looks too fishy to me. But then, I don’t anticipate anything different from that gang, mixed signals and thinly veiled gestures, the Otter probably suggested leniency given they killed wolves.

        And, as the Aussie reporter said:

        And, after all, these are descendants of that group of fear-mongering Europeans who hold on to those ugly myths about which species are good or evil…

        1. Salle Avatar

          Hmmm… That didn’t come out right. The Aussie reporter said in his article:

          No one really minded that they had illegally transferred tags. In fact, no one really cared about the wolves at all. They are seen as a menace to livestock and the state of Idaho refuses to protect them.

          “I don’t think anyone’s bleeding hearts the wolves have died,” said the Australians’ defence attorney, Gerald Bublitz, in court.

          Everyone kind of nodded at that. In Idaho, they don’t see wolves as noble creatures, but bad dogs.

          And nobody even really minded that the elk had been shot four days before open season.

          What they really objected to was the fact that Kapeller – the expedition leader – had abandoned his camp, leaving his fire burning, in an area that can be devastated by wildfire.

          They were furious he left the campsite littered with rubbish. As he has been doing for years.

          They were most of all disgusted the men had left the elk to rot. The judge could not understand that. Elk meat is highly valued by locals, much more so than the antlers.

          They were aggrieved that Idaho’s hospitality had been abused. It was really a matter of manners.

          And I say…

          After all, these are descendants of that group of fear-mongering Europeans who hold on to those ugly myths about which species are good or evil…

  9. Kevin Avatar

    These dirtbags (with the possible exception of the 18 year old who would have been adversey influenced by the older two) should have been locked up for a good stretch to teach them a lesson. What they did was what they have been doing all over the world for years!! I hope the US never lets them back – ever! I also hope the Firearms Registry in Tasmania cancels their firearms license forever. The shooting sports dont need trash like this in its ranks. Kevin, Tasmania Aust.