Six men plead guilty in Idaho poaching case involving killing of 16 elk, three deer - Cheyenne, WY Cap City News
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Six men plead guilty in Idaho poaching case involving killing of 16 elk, three deer

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CASPER, Wyo. — The Idaho Department of Fish and Game said on Monday, June 29 that six men have plead guilty and have been sentenced for crimes related to the “illegal killing and possession of three mule deer and 16 elk, including several trophy class animals.”

The poachings occurred in the fall of 2018 near Preston, Idaho, according to the Fish and Game release.

“Through an investigation conducted around that time, Fish and Game conservation officers learned that over the course of several months, multiple poaching incidents took place on the ‘Reeder Ranch’ and surrounding private property northwest of Preston, with complete disregard for season and weapon restrictions or tagging requirements,” the release states. ” The individuals involved left most of the elk carcasses to waste and recovered only the antlers and choice cuts of meat from others.”

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The following individuals reached plea agreements in a Franklin County court in connection with the case:

  • Jay Reeder of Preston, Idaho and
  • Brandon Porter of Preston, Idaho and
  • Rick Earl of Preston, Idaho and
  • Jesse Earl of Preston, Idaho and
  • Dustin Hollingsworth of Preston, Idaho
  • Brian Miller of Pennsylvania

Fish and Game Regional Investigator Cody Allen said of those involved in the poachings: “It seemed as though they just couldn’t stop killing. Most of the animals were simply shot and left with no attempt to salvage the meat; some with rifles during muzzleloader seasons and others when the seasons were completely closed.”

“These men demonstrated a complete disregard for wildlife and wildlife laws and used the seclusion of private property – theirs and trespassing on others – to carry out their desire to kill and poach, stealing animals from legitimate sportsmen and women and leaving most of them to waste.”

Fish and Game referred to Reeder and Porter as “the most egregious poachers” of the six men. The department said the two were responsible for the killing of the three mule deer and 13 of the 16 elk.

“Many of the poaching incidents were directed at large groups of elk, and Fish and Game investigators verified the men wounded and crippled other elk with no attempt made to recover the animals,” the release adds. “Fish and Game learned through their investigation that Reeder and Porter not only killed gross over-limits of elk and deer, but also sold some of the elk and deer meat and antlers in order to purchase a new rifle.” 

Fish and Game add that members of the group of six men also “unlawfully killed pheasants, magpies and wild turkeys” which were baited onto the Reeder Ranch.

“While serving search warrants on the Reeder Ranch for the wildlife violations, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office arrested Reeder and Porter for felony possession of a controlled substance, which was located in the residence during the search,” Fish and Game said. “Officers also found Reeder in possession of an unlawfully taken bear he poached in California.”

Fish and Game described the plea agreements the six men reached as follows:

  • Reeder and Porter
    • each plead guilty to four felonies
    • both had their hunting privileges revoked for life
    • each received suspended two year prison sentences, 20 year felony supervised probation
    • each served 30 days in jail
    • “The court ordered Reeder, Porter and Rick Earl to each provide 50 hours of community service, pay a combined $72,050 in fines and civil reimbursement for the unlawfully taken animals, forfeit their guns and animals and prohibited them from possessing any firearms.”
  • Rick Earl
    • plead guilty to one felony and one misdemeanor “for killing two unlawful elk and illegally possessing three other poached elk and deer”
    • received a two year suspended prison sentence, five years felony supervised probation
    • received a five-year hunting license revocation
    • served 10 days in jail
    • “The court ordered Reeder, Porter and Rick Earl to each provide 50 hours of community service, pay a combined $72,050 in fines and civil reimbursement for the unlawfully taken animals, forfeit their guns and animals and prohibited them from possessing any firearms.”
  • Jesse Earl, Miller and Hollingsworth
    • each plead guilty to misdemeanors “for their role in attempting to legitimize the poached elk by possessing the animals and using or facilitating the elk tags of others to cover the unlawfully taken elk”
    • received one year hunting license revocations
    • “combined fines, civil reimbursement and court costs of $3,767”

This article originally appeared on Oil City News. Used with permission.