As five men recently learned the hard way that Wyoming takes wildlife poaching seriously, including the potential to be banned from hunting about anywhere else in the United States.
Wyoming is a member of the 48-state Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, said Regina Dickson, spokeswoman for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Green River Region.
That means people convicted of poaching in Wyoming could be restricted from hunting anywhere in the U.S., except Hawaii and Massachusetts, the only states that aren’t part of the compact.
And the Massachusetts option might not be around much longer.
“Massachusetts is in the process of joining the compact,” Dickson told Cowboy State Daily.
Poach In One State, Banned In All
The terms of the compact are straightforward.
“If (hunting, fishing and trapping) privileges are lost in any one of those states, they are lost in all of them regardless of the crime committed,” Dickson said.
For those who end up in court on criminal poaching charges, whether that hammer falls on them can be hit and miss.
“As far as how egregious the violation needs to be to lose privileges, that depends on the statutes and the sentencing judge,” Dickson said.
That hammer recently fell hard on five men involved in two high-profile Wyoming poaching cases that drew national attention.
Killing For Ego Has Lifetime Consequences
The consequences were lifelong for two of the poachers.
In one case, three men were recently sentenced on a combined total of more than 100 violations in one of Wyoming’s largest-ever poaching busts.
They are Russell Vick of Alabama, Robert Underwood of Oklahoma and his son, David Underwood of South Dakota. The Underwoods are former Gillette residents.
Vick and Robert Underwood lost hunting and fishing privileges for life.
David Underwood had his hunting and fishing privileges stripped for 20 years across the 48 compact states.
The trio was convicted of illegally killing numerous big game animals and game birds over the course of several years in Wyoming and other states.
Wyoming’s chief game warden, Rick King, said the killing spree was all about the men pumping up their egos with trophies collected from the slain wildlife. They weren’t trying to make money off of trafficking animal parts on the black market, he said.
They ended up paying a steep price for gloating over their ill-gotten trophies.
Car Crash Got Two More Caught
In another case, Texas residents Matthew Adams and Carl Denmon were stripped of their hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for five years in the 48 states, Game and Fish reports.
They were nailed on numerous charges, some of which included wanton destruction of wildlife, taking a big game animal with an illegal firearm, use of artificial light for hunting and illegal use of a silencer or suppressor.
They were accused of killing antelope with rifles outfitted with homemade suppressors and chambered for a .22 long rifle rimfire cartridge, according to Game and Fish.
That cartridge isn’t allowed for big game hunting because it is considered too underpowered to ensure quick and humane kills on large animals.
Denmon and Adams were involved in a vehicle crash early Oct. 16, and an investigation into the poaching kicked off after a “concerned citizen” spotted blood and animal hair in the bed of their pickup and called game wardens, according to Game and Fish.
Points To Ponder
For those who don’t want to have to be severely limited in their hunting options, these cases and stiff penalties are a message as hunters are set to begin applying for next season’s hunting tags.
The application periods for many tags opens Jan. 3, and most run through May.