Citizen involvement leads to Idaho poaching convictions

April 01, 2014 09:03 am

A call to Citizens Against Poaching has lead to the conviction of four men who went on a four week killing spree that left more than a dozen deer and three domestic cows dead. Those men must now pay more than $24,000 in fines and penalties.

In September of 2012, Fish and Game conservation officer Mark Sands received a CAP call about the poaching of a mule deer buck. The caller’s description led Sands to a location off of Rock Creek Road northwest of Weiser, where his investigation revealed the poaching of numerous deer that were left to waste in the area. With the help of IDFG’s K9 ‘Pepper’ Sands found shell casings from bullets used in the crime. He also found three domestic cows, shot and left to waste.

In January of 2013, Sands received an anonymous tip naming a local Weiser resident as the shooter and implicating several other Meridian, Idaho men.

At the end of the 18-month investigation, Sands concluded that multiple young adult men went on a killing spree over a four-week period. By their own admission, the defendants killed or wounded more than a dozen deer, protected birds, and various types of other wildlife. One of the defendants shot and killed three domestic cows.

During the course of the investigation, 65 violations were detected, including 23 felonies and 29 misdemeanors against four men. Several others were found to be in violation, but were granted immunity in exchange for their testimony against the four primary defendants.

Charges included hunting without a license, taking big game with the aid of artificial light, unlawful possession of deer parts, taking deer during closed season, waste and cattle rustling.

Through plea agreements with the Washington County Prosecutor’s office, the four defendants agreed to pay $24,450 in fines and penalties – including restitution for the livestock losses, and lost their hunting licenses for three to five years. These license suspensions are also valid in 37 other Wildlife Violator Compact states. The defendants were each given 24 months of probation; any violation committed during that period could lead to 180 days in jail for their poaching crimes.

This case demonstrates the importance of public involvement in the protection of Idaho’s wildlife. “Simply stated, without critical information provided by local citizens, this case might never have come to a successful conclusion,” officer Sands commented.

Anyone with information regarding a possible wildlife violation is encouraged to call the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) hotline at 1 (800) 632-5999 twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.