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Two Wyoming men convicted after poaching multiple bull elk, buck mule deer

Skulls and antlers related to wildlife crimes committed by Justin Chewning and Steven Macy. (Wyoming Game and Fish)

CASPER, Wyo. — Two Wyoming residents have recently been convicted of multiple wildlife violations committed in Sweetwater County and Sublette County, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department said Wednesday.

Game wardens began investigating over concerns about wasted game birds and, with the help of Green River probation and parole officers, were eventually able to uncover multiple crimes committed by Justin Chewning and Steven Macy, according to Game and Fish.

While investigating the wasted game birds, wardens discovered that Chewning and Macy had illegally killed mature bull elk sometime between Oct. 1 and Oct. 6, 2019, within Elk Hunt Area 100, according to Game and Fish. The men hunted in the area during a closed season and tagged the mature bull elk with general elk licenses, the department said.

Wardens were able to locate where the elk had been killed and also found a carcass from a bull elk that Chewning poached on Oct. 1, 2019, according to Game and Fish.

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“DNA analysis conducted by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department Forensics Laboratory confirmed the carcass at the kill site was a match to the skull and antlers Chewning had in his possession,” the department said. “The lab verified there was a 1 in 5 billion chance that another elk had the same DNA.”

The investigation also found that Macy illegally killed a buck mule deer, which Chewning had illegally tagged, on Oct. 4, 2020, in Sublette County.

“Later that same day, while returning from the Pinedale area to Rock Springs, the two men hunted elk in Elk Hunt Area 100 with general elk licenses,” Game and Fish said. “Elk Area 100 is limited quota and didn’t open until Oct. 8, 2020, for properly licensed hunters. Macy shot and killed two mature bull elk, and Chewning tagged one of the two illegally killed bull elk with his general elk license.”

Chewning was charged with the following crimes, according to Game and Fish:

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  • Five counts of intentionally taking antlered big game without a license or during a closed season
  • Two counts of transferring a license
  • Two counts of intentionally wasting edible portions of game bird and big game back straps
  • Five counts of transporting game without an interstate game tag. The illegal transportation charges related to five skulls with antlers attached that Game and Fish said Chewing illegally collected

He pleaded guilty to three counts of intentionally taking antlered bull elk without a proper license, one count of taking a buck mule deer without a license and one count of transferring a license, according to Game and Fish. Chewning’s hunting and fishing privileges were suspended for 15 years and he was ordered to pay $1,585 in fines and $7,000 in restitution. The other charges against Chewning were dismissed.

Macy was charged with the following crimes, according to Game and Fish:

  • Five counts of intentionally taking antlered big game without a license or during a closed season
  • Two counts of transferring a license

He pleaded no contest to one count of taking a buck mule deer without a license and two counts of intentionally taking a bull elk without a proper license, according to Game and Fish. Macy’s hunting and fishing privileges were suspended for two years and he was ordered to pay $5,640 in fines and $1,500 in restitution. He was also ordered to forfeit the Browning .338 rifle used in the crimes, according to Game and Fish. All other charges against him were dismissed.  

All wildlife seized in the case were forfeited to the state.

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“This investigation would not have been successful without the skilled assistance provided by Green River Probation and Parole Office, the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Department, the Sweetwater County Attorney’s Office and the Sublette County Attorney’s Office,” Game Warden Kelli Pauling said.

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