BRITS SERVE 15 DAYS JAIL, PAY $21,000 EACH FOR LARAMIE/ALBANY COUNTY POACHING SPREE
One man came to Wyoming from Great Britain as a highly recruited "huntsman" or caretaker of the hounds and horses of English-style fox hunts to visit his friend working in the state. They will soon leave as highly convicted big game poachers. They were assessed $21,000 apiece in fines and restitution in May for illegally killing four deer and one antelope in Laramie County and four deer in Albany County.
Investigations led by Cheyenne game warden Herb Haley discovered the pair cruised the back roads of northwest Laramie County and extreme eastern Albany County April 20-29, shooting the animals with either a .22 or .30-06 rifle from their vehicle. They also admitted to killing an antelope in southern Platte County.
The British men did not remove any meat from the animals and often hid the carcasses in nearby bushes. They told investigating officers they hoped the carcasses would attract coyotes for their hounds to chase, and they did the shooting while "boony cruising" because the animals were plentiful and it was "easy" and "exciting."
In Laramie County, the 33-year-old man was convicted of intentionally taking a buck antelope out of season. His 20-year-old friend was convicted of accessory to the same charge. Both men were convicted of five counts of wanton destruction of a big game animal and one count of shooting from a vehicle. Both men were convicted of two counts each of wanton destruction of a big game animal and hunting deer out of season in Albany County.
The Laramie County charges resulted in $14,000 of fines and restitution for each man and the Albany County charges $7,000. Both men had their Wyoming hunting and fishing privileges revoked for life and were given a 60-day jail sentence with all but the 15 days they had already served, suspended.
The younger man also forfeited his 1986 Ford Bronco and .30-06 and .22 caliber rifles, which will likely be sold in the future at public auction.
Platte County charges were not filed to streamline prosecution. Both judges were asked to consider the Platte County violation when handing down the sentence. Both British men hired a Cheyenne attorney.
"The wantonness of these violations is astounding. It was just shooting for the sake of killing," said Jon Forwood, Laramie County district attorney. "The officers conducted a thorough investigation including using GPS (Global Positioning System) to create a tremendous report."
Assistant Albany County District Attorney Ken Brown also said the comprehensive investigation aided prosecution. "This case is the result of outstanding investigatory work," Brown said. "We're glad to see the court didn't take the crime lightly and followed our sentencing recommendation to send the message that this type of slaughter won't be tolerated."
The case began April 25 when acquaintances of the younger man reported they suspected him of illegal hunting on the ranch he worked on in northwest Laramie County. On April 30, Haley was informed of suspicious blood and hair in a ranch truck and a buck antelope head in the man's garage.
The next day, accompanied by fellow game wardens Bart Morris and Todd Graham and Laramie County Sheriff's Deputy Bill Swearingen, Haley served a search warrant on the man's residence at the ranch. After initially denying any poaching involvement, they not only confessed to the antelope, but also to killing a doe antelope and eight deer. The men cooperated with officers and took them to the many crime scenes, but never expressed any remorse, according to Haley.
The British pair were arrested and charged May 1 and taken to the Laramie
"The complete and utter disregard these men displayed for our wildlife is chilling," Haley said.
The older man, a horse dentist from Leicestershire, United Kingdom, said he arrived in Wyoming April 18 to visit his friend. When asked by Haley if it bothered him to kill the deer and antelope, he replied, "I never felt bad or guilty, though it was a bit wasteful."
"In less than 10 days they killed 24 deer and four antelope," said Haley, factoring in the potential of each doe to have twin fawns this June. "And with absolutely no remorse."
After serving in the Laramie County Detention Facility, the pair were held in the Albany County Jail until being handed over to the Immigration and Naturalization Service for deportation back to the United Kingdom.
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