Numerous recent poaching cases solved by Idaho Fish and Game
According to Blake Phillips with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, conservation officers in southeast Idaho have been busy this fall with numerous wildlife cases, most notably a recent trophy buck case in Inkom that has garnered so much attention and generated a reward of nearly $4,000.
Though that case and several others are still under investigation, Phillips said that many other recent cases have been solved. The following are the descriptions of each case by IDFG.
Poached Swan – Senior Conservation Officer Cody Allen, of Montpelier, received information from a concerned citizen regarding the illegal take of a trumpeter swan in the Geneva area of Bear Lake County.
With only a vehicle and suspect description, no license plate number, Allen gathered evidence at the scene and put together a “crime stopper” radio announcement. Within four hours of the radio spot hitting the air waves, Allen was interviewing a suspect and obtained a confession.
Brandon Jensen, of Georgetown, was cited for taking a swan during the closed season and appeared in a Bear Lake County court on December 4 before Judge Todd Garbet. Jensen was sentenced to $200 in fines, a civil penalty of $250 plus court costs, and a one year revocation of his hunting privileges.
Preston Deer – Senior Conservation Officer Korey Owens investigated a case in August regarding two mule deer does found dead in an alfalfa field near Preston, Idaho.
Based on information found at the scene and forensic results provided by the wildlife lab in Caldwell, Owens was able to develop a suspect in the case.
Bruce Haslam, of Preston, was interviewed and charged with killing two mule deer does. Haslam explained that he killed the two deer with a .22-caliber rifle because they were eating his garden.
Haslam was recently sentenced in a Franklin County court and received $3,350 in fines, civil penalties and fees, $1,000 dollars suspended, 180 days in jail, suspended, two-year hunting revocation, and two years unsupervised probation.
Unworthy Mentor – Senior Conservation Officer Jake Leal, of Soda Springs, was on a routine patrol in the Slug Creek area in Bear Lake County when he came across Vernal Poulson and his minor son, both from Utah, with a freshly harvested 5 X 4 bull elk.
The area in which they were hunting required a special draw permit and tag.
Poulson was acting as a mentor for his son, but he did not have an elk tag of any kind. Poulson’s son did possess a mentored elk tag, but it was for another zone. Poulson was cited for aiding/counseling another in the commission of a misdemeanor – taking an elk during the closed season and mentoring a youth without a tag.
Poulson was sentenced to $1,460 in fines and penalties and had his hunting privileges suspended for one year. The youth was not cited.
Rodeo Pheasant Hunters – District Conservation Officer Scott Wright, of Rockland, was spending a day off with family when he heard a shotgun blast coming from some fields near American Falls Reservoir.
Through binoculars, Wright observed two men on ATVs driving side by side, flushing pheasants and shooting the birds while seated on their moving ATVs. Wright issued citations to Howard Neil and Allan Pierson, both of Pocatello, for hunting with the aid of a motorized vehicle.
Greedy Anglers -- Senior Conservation Officer Brandon Chamberlin, of American Falls, issued citations to four different anglers in one day on the Snake River below American Falls Dam.
From October 16 through the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, this section of water down to Eagle Rock is catch-and- release only. Though the area is heavily signed, low water levels in the river have made trout particularly vulnerable and for some poachers, particularly tempting. Anglers were hiding or stashing illegally harvested rainbow trout in various ways and denied having any fish when contacted.
Chamberlin seized 17 illegally harvested trout. Fines and penalties for these anglers exceeded $1,100.
Rogue deer hunter – Conservation Officers Dan Kelsey from Upper Snake Region, Merritt Horsmon of Pocatello, and Tom Burkhart of Blackfoot received a tip regarding an illegally harvested deer in the Wolverine Canyon area near Firth.
An investigation revealed that Dustin Kindred of Firth shot a small mule deer buck from his vehicle in a closed area using a .22-caliber pistol. After concluding the investigation, citations and warnings were issued to Kindred for taking a deer during closed season, taking a mule deer with an unlawful weapon, and shooting from a public roadway.
Kindred appeared in a Bingham County court and was sentenced to $1,365 in fines, processing fees and civil penalties as well as 90 days jail, suspended, and a one- year license revocation.
Outlaw Taxidermy – A lengthy investigation into the illegal taxidermy work and other poaching activities of two individuals with their Oneida County “business,” Outlaw Taxidermy, is drawing to a close.
This past April, following the service of two search warrants, Steven Thomas and William “Harley” Jeppesen, both of Malad, were charged with or warned for multiple violations. These included several counts of practicing taxidermy without a license and unlawful possession of various wildlife species, including raptors, mountain lions, mule deer and whitetail deer. Thomas pleaded guilty in May of this year to one count of practicing taxidermy without a license and one count of unlawful possession of wildlife.
Thomas was sentenced to $1,438 in fines and penalties, with his hunting privileges suspended for three years and suspended jail time. Jeppesen recently pleaded guilty to two counts of practicing taxidermy without a license and two counts of unlawful possession of wildlife.
Jeppesen’s sentencing is scheduled for January 2013 in Oneida County.