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Citizen’s Against Poaching - Thanks to You It Works

Thursday, May 5, 2016 

Poached does
Poached mule deer does.
Detailed Sportsmen Info Helps Solve Poaching Case

October 2015 - Senior Conservation Officer Julie Lininger, Panhandle Region

The afternoon of October 11, 2015 was a busy one. I was in the middle of an illegal elk case when my cell phone began to ring. The cell phone connection was poor and the call was lost. I was able to continue the conversation via text message. A concerned sportsman had just observed three individuals shoot three mule deer does about 3 hours from my location. There is no legal hunting season for antlerless mule deer in the Panhandle Region.

As I made my way to the location where the suspects were supposedly camped I received another phone call from yet another citizen who also observed three suspects with three antlerless mule deer near where the first caller stated suspects were camped. This citizen gave me an exact location of the camp and relayed ATV license plates identical to what I already received.

At about 7 PM I contacted the three suspects at their camp. They all admitted to shooting three antlerless mule deer illegally. I issued all three people citations for unlawfully taken deer, and seized the three does. The carcasses were processed and are currently being held until the cases have gone through the court process. Usually seized meat from these cases is donated to the local food banks after the court process is finalized.

Without the efforts of these concerned sportsmen, it is highly unlikely these violations would have ever been detected. Not only did the sportsmen relay vital information about the suspects and their location, but one of them took photos of the ATV license plates, and of the three illegal deer.

Thanks to all those who make the call to report wildlife violations. You are instrumental in catching poachers stealing wildlife from Idaho’s citizens.

Cow elk
Cow elk with calf.
Crossing Boundaries Crosses the Line

September 2015 - District Conservation Officer Justin Williams, Salmon Region

Leadore, ID - The Beaverhead zone A tag has two boundary rules to legally shoot a cow elk with a rifle during the months of August and September: 1) hunters must be within one mile of an agricultural field; and 2) those participating in this hunt must stay outside of the national forest administrative boundary. Nick named the "greenfield hunt," this hunt was designed to keep pressure on elk damaging agricultural crops, and move them back into the mountains away from the fields.

On September 30th, the last day of the greenfield hunt, the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) hotline received a call. Two archery hunters witnessed a group of six hunters in three vehicles violate both of these rules – the elk and hunters were about 4 miles from the nearest field, and they were on national forest lands. Additionally, the group was driving off road and using their vehicles as an aid to the hunt. A call to the CAP hotline with detailed information on vehicle makes, models, colors, and even an approximate year of manufacture along with a description of those involved enabled responding officers to quickly locate the group.

Senior Conservation Officer Andy Smith and Conservation Officer Nic DeBolt contacted two of the vehicles and five of the hunters at the site. District Conservation Officer Justin Williams contacted the sixth person in the third vehicle near the town of Leadore. Armed with the information from the witnesses the officers quickly determined that a number of violations had occurred. The group claimed they didn’t kill any elk, but a search of the area revealed a different story. A cow had been shot and left to waste. Evidence collected from the shooters and evidence found at the scene linked one of the five shooters to the killing of that elk. Additional information revealed that the shooter had also killed an elk earlier in the season resulting in several other violations.

Kelly Cook pled guilty in Lemhi County Magistrate Court to waste of game, exceed the big game bag limit, and taking elk during a closed season. He was sentenced by the Honorable Judge Stephen J. Clark to pay fines and restitution in the amount of $2,357 and his hunting privileges were revoked for 5 years.

Lance MacFarlane pled guilty to attempt to take elk during a closed season and hunting with the aid of a motorized vehicle. He was sentenced to pay $886 in fines, had his hunting privileges revoked for 1 year, and ordered to perform 10 hours of community service.

Three others in the group were also charged but their names are not being released pending court adjudication.

"Without the detailed call from the concerned hunters, we never could have made this case," said Conservation Officer Nic DeBolt. "We need other hunters to be our eyes in the field. We need them to call the CAP hotline when they witness a wildlife crime."

Confiscated guns and poached trophies.
Confiscated guns and poached trophies.
Out of Season Poaching Results in Major Penalties

November 2015 - Regional Investigator Marc Arms - Upper Snake Region

Idaho Fish and Game Investigators began a lengthy investigation after a Madison County Sheriff’s Deputy observed a vehicle spotlighting on the benches above Cress Creek Trail. The deputy attempted to stop the vehicle, and a after a short chase, the vehicle became stuck in the snow and Adam Harris and Brandon Harris fled on foot. Officers from Idaho Fish and Game began investigating what ultimately turned out to be a three-month long killing spree. This was an especially egregious case as these animals were killed at a time of year when they are most vulnerable and concentrated on the winter range. Most of these animals were taken with a multitude of weapons and the use of a spotlight or from a snow machine within the closed travel area of Tex Creek Wildlife Management Area.

Two Eastern Idaho men were sentenced to jail time, lifetime license revocations, fines, and ordered to pay civil penalties in excess of $100,000.00 for poaching multiple big game animals.

Adam R. Harris, 33, pleaded guilty to two felonies for unlawfully killing or possessing a cow moose and unlawfully killing or possessing a spike elk and at least five deer. Also, through a plea agreement, a third count for unlawful possession of a firearm by a prohibited person was dismissed.

District Judge Dane Watkins Jr. sentenced Adam Harris to prison for two to five years. The term is to run concurrently with a prison sentence Adam Harris is currently serving. Watkins also ordered Adam Harris to pay a $500.00 fine for each count, a reimbursable damage assessment of $14,680 dollars, and a lifetime revocation of hunting privileges.

Brandon C. Harris, 35, pleaded guilty to two felonies for unlawful killing or possessing a cow moose and unlawfully killing or possessing a spike elk and at least eight deer.

District Judge Dane Watkins Jr. sentenced Brandon Harris to prison for two to five years. Brandon Harris was credited for time served and allowed to continue his release from prison on parole. Watkins also ordered Brandon Harris to pay $200.00 in fines for each count, a reimbursable damage assessment of $104,250.00 dollars, and a lifetime revocation of hunting privileges.

At the time of the incident, Adam Harris was on parole and fled the state. He was arrested in Michigan and extradited back to Idaho to face the charges nearly two years later.
Land posted no hunting sign on fence.
Posted land is not open to hunting.
Posted Land is Not Open to Hunting

October 2015 - Senior Conservation Officer Meghan Roos - Magic Valley Region

On the morning of October 25th, 2014, Senior Conservation Officer (SCO) Meghan Roos received a call from dispatch about a person trespassing and hunting in a field that SCO Roos had just driven by not 10 minutes before. SCO Roos let dispatch know she was in the area and headed towards the field. Dispatch relayed that the landowner was following the trespasser down the road and that the suspect was wearing blue jeans and a “Cowboys” NFL team jacket.

SCO Roos caught up to the landowner and then pulled in behind the man who would not look at her or acknowledge her presence. She finally had to sound the siren to get him to stop. SCO Roos approached the man who she identified as Aquilino Anta. Mr. Anta told her that he hadn’t been hunting or trespassing, but that he and his wife had gotten into an argument and she had dropped him off along the edge of the road. The landowner had a far different version of the events. The landowner had two people hunting on his property that saw a green SUV pull up and a man get out of the vehicle and shoot onto the private property. The man that was shooting was wearing a “Cowboys” jacket. The SUV pulled away, but the man that had been dropped off, continued shooting. The landowner was notified, drove to the area and began following the suspect.

At this point SCO Roos was skeptical of the story Mr. Anta had given her so she left Mr. Anta with a sheriff’s deputy to go investigate the scene. She noticed that the property was well marked with orange and “No Trespassing” signs. She also talked to the two hunters that had seen the incident and decided things weren’t adding up. She called SCO Jim Stirling and asked for assistance from him and his K9 companion, Pepper. The K9 could track Mr. Anta’s movements and help locate evidence, which would help prove that he had trespassed. The deputy brought Mr. Anta to the scene of the trespass. He had put Mr. Anta in handcuffs and detained him in the back of his vehicle. The deputy told SCO Roos that he had taken 2 knives from Mr. Anta and informed her that he had blood on his hands.

SCO Roos also noticed blood on Mr. Anta’s hands and when she picked up one of the knives she noticed blood and deer hair on the knife and sheath. She asked Mr. Anta about the bloody knife and, after initially being untruthful, he admitted that he had been shooting at a deer. He said the deer had been standing on the side of the road and when he shot it, the deer jumped the fence and that he thought he had every right to go get the deer. During her conversation with Mr. Anta, SCO Roos discovered that he had a deer tag, but that it was not validated. SCO Roos asked Mr. Anta to tell her how to get a hold of the friend that had dropped him off. Mr. Anta initially said he didn’t know his friend’s name, phone number or how to get to where he lived, but after a while he gave SCO Roos a first name –Tommy—and a street name in Jerome. Fellow officer SCO Ross began trying to locate Tommy, even though it was unlikely with such limited information.

A short time later, SCO Stirling and K9 Pepper arrived at the scene and started assisting with evidence collection. SCO Stirling and K9 Pepper located multiple 20 gauge shotshells, shotshell wads, and last, but certainly not least, two dead mule deer bucks. Both deer had their throats cut. SCO Roos talked to Mr. Anta about the second deer and initially he told her it wasn’t his and that he’d only shot one of them. However, SCO Roos knew that the witnesses only saw Mr. Anta shooting and that Mr. Anta had likely killed both deer.

As if on cue, SCO Ross called to say he had found Tommy! SCO Roos headed to Jerome to talk with Tommy. When she arrived, SCO Ross had part of the story from Tommy and even had a 20 gauge shotgun in hand that he claimed Mr. Anta had used to kill both deer. Tommy told the officers that Mr. Anta had seen the deer, yelled at him to stop the vehicle, jumped out, and gunned them both down. He said that Mr. Anta jumped the fence onto the private property and asked him to come back in 20 minutes to pick him up. Then, after he had driven off in the SUV, Mr. Anta realized he was in trouble and hid the gun along the fence of the private property. After hiding the gun, Mr. Anta called him and told him to come and get the gun that he had stashed so the officers wouldn’t find it (which Tommy did). Later, during the follow up investigation SCO Roos discovered that Mr. Anta was a felon and wasn’t allowed to possess firearms.

All of the evidence in the case was presented to the Gooding County Prosecutors Office. The prosecutor opted to charge Mr. Anta with the following: unlawful possession by a convicted felon, a felony; destruction/concealment of evidence, a felony; unlawfully taking 2 mule deer within 12 months, a felony; trespass in violation of warning signs, a misdemeanor; shooting from/across a public highway, a misdemeanor; and failure to validate tag, a misdemeanor. In the end, after several court proceedings, Mr. Anta took a plea bargain and pleaded guilty to one felony charge of unlawfully killing 2 mule deer within 12 months. For that crime he received the sentence of: 4 years in the state penitentiary (the prison time was suspended as long as he completes 3 years of probation); $233 in court costs; a 3 year hunting license suspension; and $3100 in restitution to Idaho Fish and Game which includes the civil penalty for the mule deer, the processing fees, and DNA testing costs.
Vehicle used to kill deer.
Vehicle used to kill deer.
Vehicle Used to Kill Roadside Deer

September 2015 - Senior Conservation Officer Cody Allen - Southeast Region

If you have lived in Idaho for very long, chances are you have seen the glowing eyes of deer as you travel the highways at night. Some of us have even had the unfortunate experience of colliding with one on the roadway. Most of us take extra precautions to avoid those chance encounters, but there are some that see it as an opportunity.

On April 22nd, 2015, Idaho Fish & Game Officer Cody Allen was informed that an individual from Wyoming had been traveling between Afton, Wyoming and Montpelier, Idaho late at night and had intentionally hit deer standing on the shoulder of the highway. Officer Allen was able to locate 2 freshly killed deer along the route on Highway 89. Both deer had obviously been hit very hard, evident by the number of broken bones and the fact that the resting place of the deer was nearly 100 feet from the point of impact. A further mystery was that no accident reports had been filed with the Bear Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Usually any deer that are hit with that much force would cause enough damage to disable most vehicles.

Idaho Fish & Game caught a break in the case when the suspect was arrested on other charges, and was being held in the Lincoln County Wyoming Jail. With the help of a series of interviews and eyewitness accounts, Colter W. Watsabaugh (22) of Thayne, Wyoming, plead guilty to using his truck to intentionally kill 2 mule deer during closed season.

During an interview with Watsabaugh, he admitted to driving between 70 and 75 mph when he was hitting the deer. He said he liked having the heavy grille guard on the front of his pickup because it could take the brunt of the deer and not cause damage to the truck, which saves him from having to report the incidents. He did say that one of the deer he hit spun around with enough force to put a softball sized dent in the driver’s door of his truck. “I was laughing, then I smoked it, then it was serious for about 10 seconds then everybody was like, whatever, that sucks, like one died, but you know there are a million more.”

Watsabaugh was sentenced to 180 days in jail (165 suspended), supervised probation for 1 year, and a $375 fine.
Long-billed curlew / Photo CC BY-NC by Rachid H
Long-billed curlew / Photo CC BY-NC by Rachid H
Education and Officer Presence Pay Off

August 2015 - Regional Conservation Officer Charlie Justus, Southwest Region

Idaho Fish and Game officers and staff teamed up with area partners to aid the Long-billed curlew. Curlew populations are declining; especially in Southwest Idaho. Boise State researcher Jay Carlisle is studying the large shore bird using satellite backpacks attached to the birds to monitor their movement from their breeding grounds in Idaho to wintering grounds in Southern California and Mexico. The Long-billed curlews that nest on the Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC, a grassland between the towns of Middleton and Emmett) are having a hard time. The ACEC is a popular recreational area.

Curlews are a protected non-game bird and cannot be hunted. Since 2009 seven adult curlews were killed by gunshot, and one nest was run over by an ATV traveling cross-country. This unlawful human activity impacted the nesting site and the local curlew population, already severely depleted. No suspects were ever located in any of this unlawful activity.

Idaho Fish and Game teamed up with the BLM, the primary land owner, an ATV club, a gun business owner, an outdoor writer, a hunting club and private citizens to make a change. Signs and brochures were developed and placed in high traffic areas of the ACEC. Public talks were given to interested parties and service clubs to educate area users. Fish and Game and BLM officers also increased uniformed presence in the area.

It is exciting to report that no curlews were killed by gunshot during the 2015 breeding season. You can follow the internet link below and follow our local Southwest Idaho curlews as they winter in California and Mexico.

Powered parachute
Powered parachute.
It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Violation!

October 2014 - News Release by Gregg Losinski, Regional Conservation Educator, Upper Snake Region

Man and his technology have come a long way since Idaho became a state. Hunting today is not about survival, it’s about pursuing a form of recreation, a sport. Like all sports, hunting has its rules. In mid-October of this year, Idaho Department of Fish & Game (IDFG) conservation officers came across three individuals who attempted to use a combination of modern technologies to gain an unfair advantage in their pursuit of wild game. Their actions not only violated the concept of fair chase, but also violated a number of actual hunting regulations.

On October 18, 2014, Senior Conservation Officers Tim Klucken and Josh Leal responded to reports of a powered parachute flying low over the Mud Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA). On the way to the WMA, officers could hear someone giving location instructions about deer over the FRS radio. The officers were able to make contact with Jake Tanner and Neil Wood who were carrying shotguns and admitted that they had been communicating with the person in the powered parachute about locating deer. It also turned out that Tanner lacked a tag to hunt deer.

Upon further investigation, officers were able to determine that the individual in the powered parachute, Braxton Tomlinson, was trying to locate deer hiding in the reeds of the WMA marsh and then communicate their location by radio to Tanner and Woods, who were on the ground. Use of aircraft to locate wildlife and communicating information to someone on the ground is against Idaho Code and specifically mentioned on page 97 of the 2014 Big Game Regulations.

In Jefferson County Court, all three pleaded guilty and were fined $500 with $400 suspended, plus court costs, sentenced to 10 days in jail, suspended. Judge Crowley also sentenced them to one year unsupervised probation and revocation of hunting for one year.

To learn more about the concept of fair chase, visit the website of Orion The Hunter’s Institute at
Suspected poachers
Social Media Aids in Poaching Case.
Quick Response Via Social Media Aids in Poaching Case

November 2014 - Regional Investigator Kurt Stieglit, Southwest Region

A deer poaching case involving a distinctive vehicle, an alert citizen, and a groundswell of public interest has concluded with fines and license suspensions for a Roosevelt, Utah man. And a Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) call started it all.

In early November of 2014, a concerned citizen called the CAP hotline to report what he thought to be an illegally-taken mule deer. While fueling his vehicle at the Boise Stage Stop on Interstate 84 east of Boise, he visited with two men driving a brand new tan Ford Raptor pickup truck. A tarp-covered mule deer buck in the back of the Raptor caught his attention, and motivated him to report his observations.

Just days later, Fish and Game investigators identified one of those men as Mark Richens (34) of Roosevelt, Utah. It was also determined that Richens had just purchased a duplicate deer tag, reporting to the issuing license vendor that his original unit 40 late-season buck tag had been lost.

Shortly afterwards, it was determined that Richens was back in Unit 40, actively hunting trophy mule deer. Officers eventually located both Richens and his hunting partner where they proved to be less than cooperative during an interview, suggesting that officers “contact our attorneys.”

On December 19 2014, some case information and photographs were released to the public via standard media as well as the Fish and Game Southwest Region and CAP Facebook pages, with an appeal for additional information that might bolster the case against Richens.

Public reaction was both rapid and overwhelming, as the post was quickly relayed from one Facebook user to another. “We had an amazing response from the Facebook world,” Fish and Game regional investigator Kurt Stieglitz noted. “I received a message the very first evening from a caller who identified Mark Richens as the driver of the Ford Raptor and provided other case details.” Additional information funneled into Stieglitz’ office in the days that followed, allowing him to seek a criminal complaint against Richens for attempting to take a second trophy mule deer.

Mark Richens was eventually charged with one count of hunting/unlawfully taking a big game animal in Owyhee County, Idaho, and one count of hunting with an invalid tag. In early October 2015, the invalid tag charge was dropped as part of a plea agreement by which Richens was ordered to pay $665 in fines and court costs. Owyhee County Magistrate Judge Dan Grober also handed down a two-year hunting license revocation which included the provision that Richens cannot be in possession of a firearm while in Idaho, nor accompany another hunter in the field in Idaho for the two-year period. A 90-day jail sentence will be imposed should Richens fail to comply with these conditions during his one-year probationary period.

Fish and Game officers did the legwork, but the real heroes in this case were ordinary citizens. “We developed a solid case thanks to citizen involvement,” Stieglitz said. “It’s gratifying to know that so many Idahoans value the state’s wildlife and will move quickly to defend it.”

Persons with any information about suspected poaching activity are encouraged to call the Citizens against Poaching (CAP) hotline at 1-800-632-5999, twenty-four hours a day. Callers can remain anonymous and cash rewards are often paid for information leading to the successful conclusion of a case. In addition to the CAP hotline, persons may also contact their local Fish and Game office with information regarding a suspected poaching case.

Poached elk
Poached elk left to waste.
Last Day of Archery Hunt Ends in Fines

December 2014

On December 20, 2014, Terry Jones of Cottonwood, and Brett Bubba Kuhn of Grangeville, grabbed their rifle and went hunting on the South Fork of the Clearwater. It was the last day of an archery only elk and deer hunt in Unit 15. During the drive in, Kuhn shot at and missed a deer. At about 9:00 am the men saw some elk in the lower end of Earthquake Basin and Kuhn shot and killed one. Those few shots were heard by some very concerned archery hunters about a mile away in Earthquake Basin.

One archer hunted his way to the area hoping to get a chance at an elk. About an hour after the shots were fired, the archer saw two men come to the area and they left the same way. The archer worked his way through the basin and at 3:00 pm saw 3 men, one with a bow and the other two with pack-frames where he heard the shots that morning. The archer decided to contact them. The men were nervous and very evasive as to why they were wearing pack-frames, and why they were coming to the hunting area that late on the last day of the archery season. The archer realized he had cell service and called the CAP line as soon as he was clear of the men.

Officers Kinner and Fischer went to the area immediately and contacted 3 men coming off the hill in the rain at about 6:30pm that evening. The men had no meat, no rifle, no indication they had killed anything. However, one man did have blood on his pants, which he said came from his elk he was processing that morning. During questioning the men denied killing anything and were allowed to leave.

On Monday, December 22, Biologist Jim White notified Officers Fischer and Kinner that a collared elk may be dead as the collar started sending a mortality signal on Saturday from the same area. Officers Kinner, Fischer, and Roll returned to the location and found the collared elk, with a bullet in the shoulder, and left to rot. Evidence was collected and interviews conducted ultimately ending in confessions from the three men.

The third man Roger Davis of Stites received written warnings for attempting to assist with the elk recovery. Jones was cited for kill big game with a rifle during an archery only season and obstruct and delay and Kuhn was charged with kill big game with a rifle during an archery only season and wasteful destruction of wildlife.

Total fines and penalties for Jones were $3462, 30 days in jail, 20 suspended, and license revoked for 8 years. Total fines and penalties for Kuhn were $4662, 30 days in jail, suspended 20 days, and license revoked for 10 years.

Poached mule deer
Poached mule deer in Lehmi County.
Trespassing Poachers Receive Stiff Sentences

December 2014

Two men who trespassed to poach deer in Lemhi County won’t be legally hunting in Idaho anytime soon.

On December 7, 2014, conservation officers received a trespass call from a landowner near the town of Lemhi Idaho, who said hunters had trespassed and shot a deer in their field. The suspects fled the scene with the deer, but were caught by conservation officers on Hwy 33 near I-15. When officers looked in vehicles they found the mule deer from the trespassing complaint, and parts and pieces of four other deer adding up to five total animals for only four hunters. Officers discovered multiple violations in addition to the trespassing, including tagging violations, taking mule deer during closed season, possession of unlawfully taken deer, failing to leave evidence of sex and species naturally attached to the carcass and purchase of a wrong class license. The majority of the deer meat was seized, and DNA samples were taken to determine their species as the mule deer season was closed.

At the hunters’ abandoned camp officers found three of the deer carcasses. One had only the hind quarters and back-straps removed, while the rest of the meat was left to waste. Officers were unable to locate the fifth deer carcass at that time, but suspected another mule deer had been taken, based on the size of the hind-quarters. Further investigation revealed one hunter was a non-resident who had purchased resident licenses and tags. Officers also learned that same suspect killed a mountain lion in 2009 without a tag.

An eventual confession led officers to the carcass of the other mule deer which was taken in the closed season. The suspects had dumped it along the Salmon River, and had left most of the meat, including both front shoulders, to waste.

All four men pleaded guilty and received the following sentences:

Chad Anderson of Heber City, Utah: Unlawfully taking two or more big game animals within a 12 month period, Wasteful destruction of game, purchase of wrong class licenses and trespassing.
- License Revocation: 7 years
- Total Fines/ Fees/Restitution: $2,634
- Jail: 180 days with 177 suspended for each charge
- Probation: 2 years Community service: 40 hours
Jessie Jolley of Rupert, Idaho: Trespassing on cultivated private property and taking a mule deer during the closed season.
- License Revocation: 5 years
- Total Fines/ Fees/Restitution: $1,152
- Jail: 180 days all suspended
- Community service: 20 hours
- Probation: 2 years
Kim Jolley of Rupert, Idaho: Possession/transportation of unlawfully taken wildlife.
- Total Fines/Fees/ Restitution: $940
- License Revocation: 1 year
- Jail: 180 days all suspended
- Probation: 1 year
Bret Peterman Paul, Idaho: Failing to leave evidence of sex and/or species naturally attached to carcass.
- $72 in fines/fees
3 Lions Taken Without License Or Tag
Todd Navarro’s truck after the hunt, January 2012. Photo courtesy of an unknown resident of Sandpoint, Idaho.
Panhandle Poachers Pay the Price

January 2012

Early in 2012, Senior Conservation Officer Greg Johnson received an anonymous tip the Todd Navarro had taken three men from Williston, ND on an illegal mountain lion hunt in Boundary County. None of the three men had a current Idaho hunting license or mountain lion tag. The informant continued to tell Officer Johnson that all three had killed lions with the aid of hounds, and that they had paid $500 each to Mr. Navarro. Mr. Navarro is not a licensed outfitter or guide in Idaho, so he could not legally guide anyone. Hunting with hounds in Idaho as a nonresident also requires a hound hunter permit, which is very limited and can be obtained by special drawing only.

Following up on that tip Officer Johnson discovered that Todd Navarro, his son Jacob Navarro, and their friend Chris Wilson all reported killing mountain lions, in a two day period the previous week. Officer’s Johnson and Dave Overman contacted the US Fish and Wildlife Service and North Dakota Game and Fish for assistance. ND Wildlife Officer Brent Schwan located three Idaho mountain lion hides at a taxidermy shop in Williston. The taxidermy records showed that Eric Harmel, Dwayne Hellman, and Richard Gustafson, all from Williston, claimed the three lions.

Officers Overman and Dan Hislop drove the 750 miles from Coeur d’Alene, ID to Williston, ND to interview the three men, all of whom confessed to knowingly killing lions illegally in Idaho. Officers seized skulls, hides, and archery equipment, all of which had been associated with the illegal hunt. All six men were charged with Lacey Act violations in federal court. Under the Lacey Act, any unlawfully taken animal that crosses state lines becomes a federal violation.

In August 2012 Gustafson, Harmel, and Hellman all pled guilty at the federal courthouse in Coeur d’Alene. They were each sentenced to pay $4800 in fines, fees and restitution, perform 25 hours of community service, lose hunting privileges in the US for one year, and forfeit their bows, and the lion skulls and hides.

In May 2014 Jacob Navarro and Chris Wilson both pled guilty in federal court and received $775 and $525 in fines and fees respectively, and both lost their US hunting privileges for three years.

In October 2014 Todd Navarro pled guilty in federal court and was sentenced to pay $525 in fines and fees, five years of probation, and a five year loss of hunting privileges in the United States. He is also required to complete 50 hours of community service and take a hunter education class.

This case was an excellent example of several different agencies working together to combat wildlife crime. North Dakota Game and Fish, US Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agents, Idaho Fish and Game, and the US Attorney’s Office all worked together to successfully bring this case to a close.


Idaho is a member of the Wildlife Violator Compact, which means that if an individual’s hunting, fishing or trapping license is revoked by any of the 42 member states; all the remaining states will revoke the same license or privilege for the same time period.

Anyone with information about a wildlife violation are encouraged to “Make the Call” and contact the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) hotline at 1-800-632-5999. Callers may remain anonymous, and they may be eligible for a reward.


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Last Updated: April 11, 2016 
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