Out of Season Forest Grouse
Saturday, October 25, 2014
The reporting party had given great details. The officers had a license plate and description of the truck, good physical descriptors of the two men, the breed and color of the dog they had with them, good details on how many shots were fired and where the casings would be found in the roadway, and the last place he had seen the two men before making the call. The “last place I saw them” statement was important in this case, leading Officers to an outhouse, behind which they found the carcasses of two young dusky grouse stashed in the heavy brush. Officer’s Ferguson and Shackelford found all the evidence needed. Officers searched the local area but did not find the suspect vehicle that day.
Senior Conservation Officer Steve Roberts picked up the investigation from there. He began his investigation by visiting the Camas County Sheriff’s Office to see who the license plate was registered to. He recognized the name on the vehicle but didn’t know why. A quick driver’s license query of the name showed an individual that Steve immediately recognized. Steve checked this individual the previous week hunting with a youth hunter who had drawn an early season cow elk tag in Unit 48. The description from the reporting party matched that of the youth hunter; the second shooter!
As Steve searched through the database, he found who he believed to be the youth hunter and noticed that he lived on the same street and just 5 houses down from the registered owner of the pickup truck. A visit to the house put Steve in contact with his parents who were able to verify and confirm that he had been with the first suspect and that they had been camping North of Fairfield during that weekend.
The youth hunter immediately admitted to what they had done, corroborated all the details given by the witness, and also explained that the reason we had not located the other suspect was because he works out of town and only stays at his house on weekends, leaving early on Sunday to get back to the job site. Officer Roberts was able to contact the owner of the pickup truck by phone and he admitted he shot the grouse, in a spur of the moment action, only because they wanted something for lunch that day.
Both individuals were charged with taking a closed season game bird and shooting from a public roadway. Each appeared before Honorable Camas County Magistrate Judge Daniel Dolan and pled guilty for the crimes they committed. Judge Dolan accepted their plea of guilty and sentenced each individual to pay $533.00 in fines and court costs as well as a civil penalty of $50.00 to the state of Idaho for each bird they killed illegally. Judge Dolan sentenced both individuals to 30 days of jail, stipulating that the full 30 days would be suspended if each would satisfactorily complete 12 months of supervised probation and 20 hours of community service. In addition each had their hunting privileges revoked for 12 months.
This case and so many more are not made by Idaho Fish and Game Conservation Officers doing routine patrols. They are made because honest sportsmen and concerned citizens see something happen and pick up the phone and make the call to report a violation. If you see something out of the ordinary while enjoying the outdoors, we ask all parties to pick up the phone and call the Citizens Against Poaching hotline at 1-800-632-5999. Your call may provide the information needed to help Idaho Conservation Officers catch a wildlife violator and bring them to justice.