Wyoming duo convicted of poaching wildlife
What Wyoming officials thought was a wasted game bird investigation took a different turn when game wardens discovered other poached big game animals during their search. This week, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) reported that residents Justin Chewning and Steven Macy have been convicted of multiple wildlife violations that occurred in Sweetwater and Sublette counties and include poached game birds and two poached bull elk, according to the Oil City News.
Wardens were able to locate the actual kill site of the bull elk, which was killed between Oct. 1 and 6, 2019 during a closed season. Chewning and Macy used a general elk license to tag the animal.
“DNA analysis conducted by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department Forensics Laboratory confirmed the carcass at the kill site was a match to the skull and antlers Chewning had in his possession,” the department said. “The lab verified there was a 1 in 5 billion chance that another elk had the same DNA.”
Further, investigations found that Macy also illegally killed a bull elk (tagged by Chewning) on Oct. 4, 2020 in Sublette County.
“Later that same day, while returning from the Pinedale area to Rock Springs, the two men hunted elk in Elk Hunt Area 100 with general elk licenses,” said WGFD. “Elk Area 100 is limited quota and didn’t open until Oct. 8, 2020 for properly licensed hunters. Macy shot and killed two mature bull elk, and Chewning tagged one of the two illegally killed bull elk with his general elk license.”
Chewning was charged with “five counts of intentionally taking antlered big game without a license or during a closed season, two counts of transferring a license, two counts of intentionally wasting edible portions of game bird or big game back straps and five counts of transporting game without an interstate tag,” which are associated with five skulls with antlers WGFD found during the search, according to Oil City News. Macy was charged with “five counts taking antlered big game without a license or during a closed season and two counts of transferring a license.”
Chewning will lose hunting and fishing privileges for 15 years and must pay $8,585 in fines and restitution. Macy lost his hunting and fishing privileges for two years and is required to pay $7,140 in fines and restitution and had to forfeit his Browning .338 rifle.
Officials seized all poached wildlife during the case.
“This investigation would not have been successful without the skilled assistance provided by Green River Probation and Parole Office, the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Department, the Sweetwater County Attorney’s Office and the Sublette County Attorney’s Office,” said Game Warden Kelli Pauling.