Game Law Violations


Cross-border Wildlife Crime Doesn't Pay
By Harry Morse, Southeast Region Conservation Educator

Butch Cassidy may have gotten away with robbing banks on the Utah/Idaho border, but three hunters from Utah who shot a mountain lion in Idaho and claimed it was killed in Utah did not. They paid a total of $3,900 for their illegal acts.

Tracking on horseback in the rugged border canyons of Utah and Idaho, Utah game wardens picked up the trail of three people stalking mountain lions. Wardens found blood on the ground and drag marks where the mountain lion was killed in Idaho and dragged back into Utah.

Based on field work and information from a confidential informant, conservation officers interviewed the suspects, confiscated the dead mountain lion and obtained a confession.

Working with the information gathered by Utah wardens and prosecutor Steve Brooks, Idaho conservation officer Paul Alexander helped identify a series of charges under Idaho law. The case was brought before Judge Evans in district court in Malad. The offenders were sentenced in April 2001.

Faced with the evidence, one confession and written testimony, all three men pleaded guilty to a series of charges related to the illegal hunt.

"The judge sent a clear message to illegal guides and hunters trying to play the border game," Alexander said. "He set down fines and probation that met the severity of the offense."

Idaho hunters in border communities have complained of illegal hunting and guiding by Utah residents for big game. Idaho conservation officers search license records each year to find illegal license purchases. Nonresidents illegally purchase resident licenses and tags to avoid the costs of a nonresident license and tags. A nonresident big game license costs $128.50, deer tags are $235, elk $338.50, bear $235 and mountain lion $235. Nonresident license fees in Utah are correspondingly priced.

Guided hunts are strictly regulated in Idaho by the Idaho Guides and Outfitters Board which issues outfitting licenses. The first man paid $1,050 for a guided mountain lion hunt to the second man, who pleaded guilty to illegal guiding in Idaho.

Fines, Penalties and Probation
The first man, from Roy, Utah, paid a civil penalty of $400 to IDFG; $350 for hunting without a license, with $200 suspended; must attend a hunter education class; $350 for taking a mountain lion without a license, with $200 suspended; and loss of hunting and trapping privileges in Idaho for two years.

The second man, from West Haven, Utah, paid a civil penalty of $400; $500 for outfitting or guiding without a license; $500 for hunting without a license; $500 for hunting without a valid hound permit; and $200 taking a mountain lion. He was also ordered to perform 32 hours of community service; sentenced to 90 days in jail with 90 days suspended; probation for 24 months and cannot hunt, run dogs, or be with anyone who does; and three years loss of hunting or trapping privileges in Idaho.

The third man, from Ogden, Utah, was fined $400 for illegally killing or possession of a mountain lion, $200 for taking a mountain lion unlawfully, and $500 hunting without a license. His hunting and trapping privileges were suspended for one year; sentenced to 24 months court probation; and two years loss of hunting and trapping privileges in Idaho.

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