Editorial: Long time Idaho conservationist pleads guilty to elk poaching

Marv Hoyt of Idaho Falls cited for illegally killing 2 elk and wasting the meat-


I must have known Marv Hoyt for over 30 years, and sometimes worked with him on Greater Yellowstone issues. He has always been an avid fly fisher. I knew he hunted too.

He was an early volunteer for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and soon became their regional representative for Idaho. Over the years he worked on many conservation issues.  He recently told me he would soon retire. This was before the elk incident.

In recent years he worked on the huge Smoky Canyon phosphate strip mine which sits near the Idaho/Wyoming border. It goes on for miles and has been the source of great controversy. The Greater Yellowstone Coalition waged a hard and expensive campaign against the mine’s expansion, but ultimately lost.

Hoyt poached the elk not far from the mine location.

I heard about the forthcoming story for the first time last night. It was hard for me to believe. When I read it this morning, the matter looks even worse than I thought. The article says that Hoyt engaged in questionable activities as early as 2001.

Because I was so surprised by this, I can imagine how badly the Greater Yellowstone Coalition feels. This will hurt them, but their good works are too numerous to ignore. I will consider this as one person who gave us a terrible surprise.

Ralph Maughan
Pocatello, Idaho

Read this article in the Idaho State Journal for details.



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  1. Tom McNamee Avatar
    Tom McNamee

    Marv Hoyt has disgraced not only the Greater Yellowstone Coalition but all of conservation. As a former chairman of GYC’s board–and, alas, a bitterly disillusioned former friend of Marv’s–I can’t understand why the organization hasn’t fired him. He left dead elk to rot on the ground! For this he gets to continue at full pay and then “retire”?

    1. Ed Loosli Avatar

      Tom; This is heart breaking news, and as a long time advocate for the wildlife of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, I am as outraged as you are.
      I am glad to know that you are still fighting the good fight. Ed-L(at)sbcglobal.net

  2. Tom Woodbury Avatar
    Tom Woodbury

    Wow – I worked closely with Marv on the challenge to the travel management fiasco in the Little Snowies WSA. I found him to be really smart and seemed, if anything, overly principled — eventually it became near impossible to work with him, as he was inflexible in his views of how things needed to be done. But I never would’ve guessed anything like this. Sad to hear…

  3. Donald J. Jackson Avatar
    Donald J. Jackson

    Not only has he disgraced the Yellowstone Coalition, he has disgraced the hunting community. This is a double whammy and perhaps some will finally understand why the hunters that post on this blog, get so darn pissed when others spend so much time trying to blame all hunters for the actions of few hunters.

    I think he should have received a far more severe sentence than he did, including actual jail time and a complete loss of hunting privileges for life and loss of the right to own his guns. A willful act of poaching and waste should be a felony, the first time.

    1. Barb Rupers Avatar
      Barb Rupers

      A agree the sentence should have been more severe.

      Is there not something about the value of the game as to whether the poaching crime is a misdemeanor or a felony in Idaho? A bull elk’s value is based on the size of the rack; what about a cow’s?


      1. Salle Avatar

        Interesting how the value of an elk when poached is far less than the value when taken by a natural predator… like a wolf pack. One of the reasons I think Idaho has collectively gone insane.

  4. ramses09 Avatar

    There is no excuse for this. NO excuse.

  5. Joe Avatar

    Well, this doesn’t make me think better of GYC, although it’s true I haven’t thought much of GYC for years. According to the linked article, Hoyt was convicted in November, yet GYC didn’t fire him. He’s being allowed to “retire” instead.

    All we got from GYC was a mealy mouthed comment from GYC ED Carolyn Byrd that “our credibility depends upon consistently holding ourselves to the highest legal and ethical standards. This incident does not in any way reflect our values.”

    What an arrogant bunch of hypocrites we find at GYC.

  6. Ken Watts Avatar
    Ken Watts

    A wolf in sheep’s clothing?

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      Ken Watts,

      I don’t think so because he worked for GYC 25 or so years doing what looked to me an adequate or better job. Then this came at the end of his career.

      I am tempted to say he had “buck fever” as an explanation, but I really can’t figure any reason a person in his position would do this.

      1. Donald J. Jackson Avatar
        Donald J. Jackson


        You might be tempted, but I think you know better, unfortunately.

      2. Larry Thorngren Avatar

        From the article, it seems that Marv has been poaching elk in that area at least since 2001.
        He only addressed the accusations from one resident in the area. I don’t think he really came clean.
        I think he shot each of the abandoned elk in turn and when he saw that they were shot through the hind quarters, he shot another with more available meat.
        This guy is slimey.
        He makes hunters AND environmentalists look bad.

        1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
          Ralph Maughan

          Larry Thorngren,

          Yes, I noticed the 2001 right off. It seems awful.

  7. Tom McNamee Avatar
    Tom McNamee

    Caroline Byrd, the executive director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, called me this morning and made a reasonable case about the Montana employment laws, which are the fiercest of any state in the country. So it may be that letting Marv “retire” was not so unreasonable a decision. I still think that GYC’s comments were excessively soft–by a mile.

    1. Donald J. Jackson Avatar
      Donald J. Jackson


      You might want to do some investigation, Montana is a right to work state. They could have simply said, we don’t want you anylonger and he would be gone.

      1. SAP Avatar

        DJJ – I think that would apply to an “at will” employee, and Marv Hoyt likely had a long-term contract.

        I guess an employer — especially one like GYC — would never have foreseen the need to spell out in a contract that doing things that publicly disgrace the organization, even if they are misdemeanors, are grounds for termination. I anticipate that GYC’s lawyers are hard at work on a “Marv Hoyt clause” as we speak. There may be some boilerplate language in the standard contract about felonies, but the same contract probably treats misdemeanor crimes all the same (that is to say, they may not legally be able to treat this atrocity any different from getting in a fender bender).

        Marv Hoyt’s crimes — even though Idaho code treats them as misdemeanors — are so corrosive to the public reputation of GYC that he ought to have been terminated post haste. Especially since it’s clear he has a pattern of this kind of behavior. If I was a donor to GYC, I’d sure be unhappy that my investment was giving this criminal even a day of paid leave, let alone a few weeks.

        One wouldn’t think an employment contract would need to specify things, but some people are capable of anything.

    2. Bill Avatar

      Agree 100% with your statement: “I still think that GYC’s comments were excessively soft – by a mile.”

      I find it pretty telling that Ms. Byrd states the organization does not condone Marv’s “judgment”. I’m sorry, this was not a failure of judgment. It was a crime. How about not condoning his actions? As a former donor to this organization, I needed to hear that they find his actions to be deplorable, unconscionable, etc. Instead, Byrd dishes out a weak, duck-and-cover response, more reflective of big-industry than a non-profit conservation group.

      That’s it for me. I had already started to question my support for this organization, but this solidifies it. What Marv — and GYC — have singlehandedly done is further marginalize environmental interests. They’ve destroyed our collective credibility with this arrogance and hypocrisy.

      Last point: I agree with DJJ. Montana is a right to work state…. it sounds like another cop-out.

  8. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    Rocky Barker, at the Idaho Statesman, wrote an interesting take on Hoyt today.

    Rocky Barker: Hoyt’s poaching conviction brings enough shame

    1. SAP Avatar

      Good of him to share this perspective. Compassion and forgiveness are always healthy choices. I’ll put that in the category of personal choices, versus Mr. Hoyt’s employers’ duty to impose some hard consequences for his crimes.

      1. Donald J. Jackson Avatar
        Donald J. Jackson

        As hard as people fight over these issues, I am sorry, I have very little compassion or forgiveness for this person. He is worse that a normal poacher, he headed up a portion of a group that presents itself as a conservation group and he had a pattern of breaking wildlife laws. The refusal of the GYC to actually condemn him and his actions are even worse.

        1. Donald J. Jackson Avatar
          Donald J. Jackson

          He should have had his contract terminated and been fired as soon as the conviction was entered into the record, he should not be allowed to retire.

        2. SAP Avatar

          DJJ – ’tis the season: forgiving someone is a gift you give yourself.

          It does not mean you have to forget, or to set yourself up for being wronged again by them, but it does mean walking away from the burden of carrying around those feelings. It’s healthy, without being hippy-dippy touchy feely.

          I forgive Marv Hoyt, but feel very strongly that he should have borne more consequences for his crimes. But, like I said before, GYC may have lacked a legal way to dump him for a misdemeanor, regardless of how much this particular misdemeanor damages their reputation.

          1. Donald J. Jackson Avatar
            Donald J. Jackson


            As I have stated many times over the years on this blog as well as in editorials, I have no forgiveness for poaching, I believe it should be a felony the first time and you should loose your right to hunt as well as own guns for life. I have no tolerance for anyone who breaks the law, especially those who do it knowing full well they are doing it. Then throw in the Waste of game animal, nope I don’t care who they are, I have no forgiveness in me for them, whether is is Marv, or jo blo.


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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Ralph Maughan