After illegally killing an elk in the Bob Marshall Wilderness in 2015, a father and son duo was finally sentenced as part of plea agreements last week.
According to reports, William Bartlett and his son Leland were charged last fall after a conversation overheard inside a Seeley Lake gym spawned an investigation by Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks. Court documents indicated U.S. Forest Service officer Tyler Robinson was working out in the gym during the beginning of September 2015’s rifle season, when William’s wife told him the pair had just shot an elk.
Unfortunately for the Bartlett’s, Robinson and others in the wildlife management community were already aware that Leland was in the middle of serving a two-year license suspension for a previous elk poaching conviction.
As officials began to place the pieces of the puzzle together, the Bartlett’s become unwound, spinning different stories with the wrong people across town. Fish Wildlife and Parks game warden Chris Hamilton stated that William had informed him that his wife – the owner of the gym – had killed the elk.
As Robinson and Hamilton later swapped stories, the inconsistencies were glaring. After corroborating with other members of the gym who stated they had seen William’s wife, Terryl, that day at the gym, investigators turned to cell phone records for confirmation.
A warrant allowed officers to retain cell phone records from Terryl’s phone, proving that she had, in fact, been making calls from a Missoula tower during the days of the hunt. A feat that would have otherwise been impossible had she’d been hunting in the Bob Marshall.
William’s wife, Terryl, eventually pled guilty to obstructing a peace officer and was handed several-hundred-dollars in fines.
As part of the plea agreements, William has lost his right to hunt, fish or trap for five years and his son, Leland will be unable to partake for the next ten years. Additionally, the pair is banned from accompanying another hunter, fisher, or trapper into the field.
William also received an 18-month suspended jail sentence and 100 hours of community service while Leland got a two-year suspended jail sentence with 250 hours of service. Monetarily speaking, William was subsequently fined $3,000, Leland for $4,000, and the pair is responsible for an additional $8,000 in restitution to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.