Outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing are important to Montana’s tourism industry as well as to state residents. Unfortunately, there are those, both residents and visitors, who take advantage of the state’s abundant wildlife and rural setting by poaching.
Poaching is the illegal killing of fish or wildlife. It is mostly the killing of animals out of the regular hunting season, killing more than are allowed during season, and killing endangered species. Because of the wide open space that makes Montana so unique, it is hard for the state to know just how much poaching takes place. It is believed that, increasingly, out of state criminal rings are illegally taking wildlife for profit.
In a recent case involving Montanans, three men were prosecuted for bear poaching. Two of the men were charged with misdemeanors, while a third was charged with several felonies. The misdemeanor charges against the two men were for unlawful possession of a large game animal, reporting a false kill site, and waste of game.
The felony charges against the third man included unlawful possession of a large game animal, tampering with witnesses and informants, tampering with public records, and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence. In the course of the investigation, the third defendant admitted to being involved in the illegal killing of nine bears over the course of 5 years.
The Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission has seen an increase in investigations of organized and professional poaching in recent years. The Commission notes that poaching reduces recreational opportunities for law abiding hunters, anglers, and wildlife watchers. It also reduces tax revenues that would accrue from a healthy and vibrant hunting and fishing tourism trade.
The attorneys at Tipp & Buley support the efforts of the State of Montana to enforce Fish & Wildlife laws, but we also understand that people accused of crimes deserve quality legal representation. We have over 50 years of criminal defense experience and stand ready to help if you need representation. To schedule a one-on-one consultation with one of our experienced lawyers, call us at 406-389-4215, or contact our firm online.