Bison poachers sentenced
By Moosetrack Megan
Three Park County men were sentenced Tuesday in Justice Court for the illegal hunting and wasting of three bull bison in the Gardiner area on February 28.
Jesse Darr, Ryley Heidt, and Peyton Simmons pled guilty to unlawful possession, waste, and hunting during a closed season.
The dead bison were discovered March 2 by agency personnel in Beattie Gulch, an area of U.S. Forest Service land near the border of Yellowstone National Park. All three bison had their heads removed and all usable meat was left to waste. The bison skulls had been skinned and hidden nearby.
Solving the case was a matter of a collaborative enforcement effort. U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and National Park Service (NPS) officers aided FWP game wardens in the identification of the suspects.
“We’re thankful for the help of our enforcement partners,” said Warden Sgt. Coy Kline. “The value of extra sets of eyes and ears on the ground can’t be overstated.”
Also significant in this case, was the use of FWP canine, Kikka, who was integral in the discovery of evidence linking the men responsible to the case.
The FWP enforcement division is currently engaged in a research and trial period using trained canines in very limited applications. FWP currently only has two canine teams as part of this statewide trial program.
Enforcement Chief Dave Loewen said using canines to detect critical evidence at wildlife crime scenes is an incredible tool that can greatly reduce staff time and increase the chances of locating evidence.
“It is doubtful the evidence in this case would have been detected and located without the canine.”
The judge in this case ordered each of the men to pay $2,605 in fines and restitution with a 18-month suspended jail sentence. The men also lost their fishing, hunting and trapping privileges for 54 months with the added restriction of not being able to apply for permits for an additional five years after their privileges are reinstated. Remedial hunter education was also ordered.