SE Idaho outfitter gets heavy sentence for poaching and related crimes

30 months in prison and other punishments when he’s out of the slammer-

Sidney Davis of Soda Springs, ID received a heavy sentence from federal judge Lynn Winmill. It’s 30 months in prison, 3 years of supervised probation when he’s out, $40,000 in restitution and no hunting or fishing or going with hunters or fishers anywhere in the world while on probation.

The animal poached was mule deer, but Davis violated the federal Lacey Act, making it a federal crime and also bankruptcy laws.  Judge Winmill made it clear he believed Davis was a habitual violator. He was doubly irritated about the bankruptcy violations at a time when there are so many legitimate bankruptcies in court.  An article in the Idaho State Journal quoted Judge Winmill as saying “Without some prison time, I am convinced Mr. Davis will go back to business as usual.”

Reading the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service News release, the feds and also Idaho Fish and Game seemed very happy to get this guy. Here is the News Release.

Outfitter Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison For Lacey Act and Bankruptcy Crimes

POCATELLO – Sidney R. Davis, 46, of Soda Springs, Idaho, was sentenced to
30 months in prison today for violating the Lacey Act by operating an
unlicensed outfitting and guiding business and making a false declaration
in a bankruptcy proceeding. Upon his release from prison, Davis must serve
three years of supervised release during which he is prohibited from
hunting or fishing, accompanying others hunting or fishing, or providing
services related to hunting or fishing, anywhere in the world.

Idaho law requires that outfitters and guides maintain a valid license
issued by the Idaho Outfitter’s and Guide’s Licensing Board (IOGLB).
Davis, who has owned and operated the Trail Creek Lodge near Soda Springs,
Idaho, since approximately 1993, was once licensed as an outfitter and a
guide. On July 26, 1996, the IOGLB revoked Davis’ licenses after he
admitted violating Idaho outfitting and guiding regulations. On November
19, 1998, Davis was convicted of two Lacey Act violations based on his
role in illegal hunts at the Trail Creek Lodge.

On May 26, 2011, Davis pled guilty to the charges in United States
District Court in Pocatello. According to the plea agreement, Davis
admitted to guiding or outfitting a mule deer hunt between October 11-16,
2008, at the Trail Creek Lodge near Soda Springs. The hunters traveled
from Nevada for the hunt on the understanding that they would receive
outfitting and guiding services. Over the course of five days, both Davis
and his employee, Jeffrey J. Dickman, guided the hunters into the field at
various locations on both private and public land. During the hunt, one of
the hunters killed a mule deer while being guided by Dickman. After the
deer was killed, Davis and Dickman arranged to have the meat from that
deer transported to the hunters in Nevada. Davis outfitted and guided the
hunters, and instructed Dickman to guide the hunters, even though Davis
knew that neither he nor Dickman possessed a valid Idaho license to
perform these tasks. Dickman pleaded guilty for his role in the offense.

According to the plea agreement, Davis also admitted that he falsely
omitted certain material information from documents in the Chapter 7
bankruptcy case that he filed on October 14, 2005. Specifically, Davis
admitted that he omitted certain creditors who had claims against him on
the date he filed bankruptcy; that he transferred 21 acres of real
property within a year of filing for bankruptcy; and that he served as an
officer, director and managing executive of Trail Creek Lodge, Inc.,
within six years of filing for bankruptcy. Davis formed and has served as
president of Trail Creek Lodge, Inc., since August 30, 2000.

“Protecting our natural resources and ensuring that hunters and guides
follow fish and wildlife laws is vital to all Idahoans,” said Olson. “Mr.
Davis repeatedly showed disrespect for the law and for judicial processes.
Today’s sentence sends a strong message that flouting the law results in
federal prison time. I commend the cooperative work of investigators and
prosecutors with fish and wildlife and bankruptcy fraud expertise in
bringing Mr. Davis to justice.”

“One of our top law enforcement priorities is putting a stop to illegal
commercial operators who by their unlawful actions infringe upon those
hunters who comply with wildlife protection laws,” said Paul Chang,
Special Agent in Charge of Law Enforcement for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service’s Pacific Region. “Our state law enforcement partners are
essential to accomplishing this priority.”

The case was investigated by agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The case was prosecuted
by the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s
Environment and Natural Resources Division, and the United States
Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho.








  1. Dude, the bagman Avatar
    Dude, the bagman

    So when Tasmanian hunters poach and waste wildlife, they get fines and lose their privileges and rifles. When unlicensed ouftitters don’t pay their IOGA dues and hide money from creditors, they get heavier fines and lose their privileges, but also get prison time and probation. To me, the Tasmanians’ acts seemed more egregious.

    Is the moral of the story that no one takes the issue very seriously unless a financial obligation goes unfulfilled? Or are the different consequences better explained by federal vs. state laws being enforced in federal rather than state court? Or the defendant’s history of operating as a guide without the state’s imprimatur?

    Either way, this seems to be more about money and disrespect for authority than conservation ethics.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      I did want to add, “wonder if he got a handshake?”

      1. Dude, the bagman Avatar
        Dude, the bagman


        Does anyone know why he initially lost his guiding privileges in 1996?

        1. Steve Avatar

          He did not loose his guiding privileges. He gave them up voluntarily. Remember when it comes to dealing with the feds,(FWS especially), accepting a plea agreement and actually being guilty are very different things. Plea agreements are usually the accused’s only way out from the insanity and deep pockets of the over zealous federal agents and investigators. This was NOT about protecting wildlife and more about money and vindictiveness.

      2. Larry Thorngren Avatar

        IDFG officers only shake your hand if you managed to kill a few wolves while commiting your other crimes.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan


    I don’t know.

    I felt I should point out though that this was only part an Idaho Fish and Game issue. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seems to have played the major part, and then there was the fake bankruptcy too.

  3. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    How about those decimated game herds, with inbred outfitters wreaking havoc in the woods, nobody wants to talk about the impact that has on game animals


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.

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