Late last summer a pair of hunters witnessed another man shoot and kill two dall sheep while hunting in a drainage located 20 miles back on the east fork of King River. The two men quickly reported the incident when they later saw the man who shot the sheep leave the area without any animal in tow.
Officials responded and located two sublegal sheep, meaning they were not mature enough to hunt, and reported that the meat on neither sheep had been salvaged.
The accused, James Randall Wyatt, was promptly fined and charged for the incident along with one in which he reportedly brought another sublegal sheep into the Alaska Fish and Game office in Palmer, AK.
“This was one of the most egregious cases I have worked on in almost twenty years and it might never have happened if it weren’t for ethical hunters coming forward to help,” Wildlife Trooper John Cyr told KTUU. “They not only reported the kills but provided valuable information which proved critical in identifying the person responsible. Poaching hurts animal populations as well as puts ethical hunters, who put in time and dedication to follow the hunting regulations, at a disadvantage.”
“In the drainage where these sheep were poached there are typically only about one or two legal sized Dall Sheep every hunting season, and that is in a good year” said Captain Rex Leath of the Alaska Wildlife Troopers. “There are not a lot of sheep up there. These illegal kills have essentially eliminated legal sheep out of the valley and nixed legal hunting for the next two to three years.”
The Palmer man pleaded to wanton waste, taking a sublegal sheep, illegal possession and attempted evidence tampering. He was subsequently fined $17,200 with another $35,000 suspended, received a 10-day jail sentence with two and a half years suspended, is not able to apply for a hunting license for five years and had his rifle confiscated.
The suspended portion of his sentencing may be imposed if Wyatt is to commit any jailable offense or fish and game offenses over the course of the next five years.
Image: Alaska Wildlife Troopers