DNA, Check-In Stations and Computers Helped Find Five Montana Poachers From Washington
Five Washington men will be paying big fines for their roles in a series of poaching incidents in the Rocky Mountain Front. Montana State Game Warden Bryan Golie has been investigating the case for a year, and explains how he first got involved.
"An individual was hiking around on a ranch, and was able to find some carcases that were very suspicious,"Golie said. "He notified the land owner, who of course notified the game warden, saying that there was something going on. We went up to the property and found these suspicious kill sites, which turned out to be bull elk, which were actually not even allowed to by shot in that district during rifle season."
Investigators found human DNA on one of the elk, and were able to track the poachers by finding the list of hunters in the area from a nearby check station. After confiscating a computer with pictures of six different poaching incidents, investigators had all the evidence they needed to get a confession.
"Through the court process and through the county attorney we were able to plead this down to misdemeanors, high misdemeanors, which is still very, very serious in this state," Golie said. "To $8,000 restitution for the elk and then $2,000 fines for the individuals. It was $41,000 total."
According to Golie, this isn’t the first time the five Washington men had broken Montana’s hunting regulations, but because their ability to hunt in Montana was revoked for five years, it may be their last.