SHERIDAN, WY— The Wyoming Game and Fish Department released their annual Law Enforcement Report for 2018 on Monday. In total there were 4,228 law enforcement actions statewide last year, 832 of which were in the Sheridan region.
Game wardens issued 355 citations, 389 warnings and investigated 88 cases in which a suspect was never developed. Particular areas of concern in the region are the out-of-season take of big game (8 violations), fishing without a license (30 violations), fail to properly tag big game (45 violations) and ethics-related violations. Ethics-related violations, such as shooting from a public road (23 violations), waste of big game (42 violations), and trespassing to hunt (63 violations) were observed across the region.
Several notable cases were closed in the Sheridan region last year, those included catching several deer poachers from Tennessee, catching a repeat-violator, finding a previously unknown suspect from 2017, and solving a 2016 elk poaching.
Detailed versions of those cases are posted below.
You can read the entire 2018 law enforcement report HERE.
Tennessee Deer Poachers Caught: Thanks to an important tip from a member of the public, three Tennessee men plead guilty to poaching three mule deer in the fall of 2015. In late September 2015, Dayton Game Warden Dustin Shorma received a call about two buck mule deer that were shot and left west of Sheridan. Only the heads were removed from both animals. A third buck mule deer was found shot and left in mid-October. With limited information to go on at the time, the Department sent out a news release requesting help from the public regarding the poached deer. A local landowner saw the request for information and contacted Warden Shorma with a tip about a group of antelope hunters from Tennessee. Using the information provided by the landowner, Warden Shorma began an investigation with assistance from the USFWS and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The investigation revealed that three Tennessee men each killed a mule deer buck and removed only the antlers. A fourth mule deer buck was also shot but not recovered. The meat from each of these animals was left in the field to rot. The men were charged with three counts of wanton destruction of big game, three counts of taking big game animals from a motor vehicle and one count of taking a deer without a license. Through a plea agreement with the Sheridan County Attorney’s Office in the spring of 2018, the group paid $15,285 in fines and restitution, forfeited a $3,200 custom rifle and lost their hunting privileges for three years.
Unknown Suspect Case from 2017 Solved: On October 9, Buffalo Game Warden Jim Seeman was contacted by a landowner east of Buffalo reporting that trespassers were hunting on his property. When the landowner explained that the hunters drove on a private road, but were actually hunting on BLM land, Seeman advised the landowner to contact the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, but he would also be responding. The landowner called a short time later and advised that the two hunters could be the same hunters from 2017 who wasted parts of three antelope. During that investigation, no one was apprehended and the case was unsolved. During the initial contact made by the landowner, he asked the two hunters from Idaho if they were the same guys who harvested antelope about the same time last year in the same area and they said yes. When Warden Seeman visited with the hunters about the previous year’s hunt, he noticed some cryptic responses. It became apparent that the hunters were hiding something and they eventually admitted that the third antelope that was shot was actually an over-limit. Both hunters were cited for criminal trespass by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and waste of edible portions of a game animal. One was also cited for taking an over-limit of big game. One was fined $870 and the other $435.
Repeat Violator: Buffalo Game Warden Jim Seeman met with a nonresident taxidermist in Buffalo. The taxidermist was in possession of two mule deer heads that had been brought in by an Oregon-based outfitter. One of the deer heads was not accompanied by any license information or other paperwork to indicate who had killed it. Upon further investigation, Warden Seeman determined that the outfitter had killed both mule deer bucks, tagging one with the license of a client from Pennsylvania who was unable to make the trip to Wyoming due to illness. This is similar to a charge the outfitter was convicted of in 2009, when he allowed one of his employees to tag an antelope with the license of a client who had to cancel his trip to Wyoming. During the latest investigation, Warden Seeman also learned that the outfitter had guided an antelope hunter in an area the hunter’s license wasn’t valid for. When the hunter shot a small buck antelope, the outfitter told him to leave it and shoot another one, which he did. The outfitter accepted a plea agreement with the Johnson County Attorney’s Office for acting as an accessory to taking an antelope in the wrong area and without a valid license, taking an over-limit of deer and transfer of a big game license. He was fined $4,000 and agreed to pay an additional $4,000 in restitution. He also agreed to forfeit his hunting privileges for eight years. He has not renewed his outfitter license and most likely will not outfit in Wyoming again.
Elk Poaching from 2016 Solved: An elk poaching case involving a Montana man was finally closed in April. Dayton Game Warden Dustin Shorma discovered the violation while working on another poaching case. Information from a search warrant revealed the suspect from Wyola, Montana had killed a mature bull elk during July of 2016 on a private ranch west of Parkman. He allegedly shot the animal at night and with the aid of artificial light. An additional search warrant was served which revealed the suspect had also been trying to poach a very large buck white-tailed deer living in the same area but never was able to kill the animal He was charged and through a plea agreement with the Sheridan County Attorney’s Office, he was fined $2,605, sentenced to 120 days in jail (suspended) and lost his hunting privileges for three years.