Family convicted of poaching herd of elk

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Three family members have been convicted of poaching six elk from the same herd. The incident occurred on Nov. 2, 2021, when the Curtiss family was seen illegally shooting at a large herd of elk near Arco, Idaho, according to the East Idaho News.

Two separate witnesses reported the incident. Here’s what happened: Travis Curtiss was in the driver’s seat while his father, Donald, shot at elk from the passenger window and his son, Eben, shot at the herd from the bed of the truck. Travis chased the fleeing elk “for a considerable distance.” The group eventually killed a raghorn bull, a cow, a spike, a calf and two mature bulls. The men left all of the dead or dying animals after collecting the head, quarters and backstraps of the two bulls. While the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) officers were able to confirm that they killed six elk, there was “good evidence” that another bull had been “mortally wounded” though officers were unable to find it.

Armed with a search warrant, IDFG officers arrived shortly after the family had returned home and recovered both bulls. Soon after, the Curtiss family invoked their fifth amendment rights and refused to answer any questions. This could have led to yet to the poachers going free; however, four witnesses came forward and later testified in court, resulting in the conviction of Travis, Donald and Eben Curtiss.

Two of the witnesses saw the incident take place and a third helped officers after spotting the license plate on a truck that matched the Curtiss vehicle description. A four witness was a gun collector who was “to provide invaluable information for forensic analysis of the unique bullets shot” by the family, according to IDFG.

Photo of one of the bullets used in the poaching case. Photo credit: Idaho Fish and Game

All were found guilty on a total of 10 felony charges and eight misdemeanor charges. Each will have to pay a $1,000 fine and $6,000 in restitution. All have a 10-year hunting and trapping license suspension and will be required to fulfill community service.


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