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Court verdict reached on Wyoming poaching case of 230” mule deer

 

 Nate Strong poached Wyoming mule deer buck
Photo of the buck poached by Nate Strong at the Western Hunting & Conservation Expo in 2016. Photo credit: Jason Radakovich

Nate Strong was in court today for the hearing on the poaching of a 230” Wyoming mule deer that he shot back in November of 2015. This is one of the largest poaching cases in the history of Wyoming. The case is now closed with a guilty verdict.

Last week Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the prosecuting attorney offered Strong a plea bargain. The plea bargain is a lot less severe than what could have happened if the case went to a full trial.

If you’re unfamiliar with the case, you can read more details in the articles below:

Wyoming investigates possible poaching of nontypical mule deer
Breaking: 230” mule deer poached in Wyoming
Updates on the 230” Wyoming mule deer poaching case
New details on the largest Wyoming mule deer poaching case

Nate Strong has been charged with the following:

  • Hunting and fishing rights suspended for 7 years in Wyoming
  • $9,040 in fines/restitution
  • 10 days in jail or 5 days in jail along with 50 hours of community service

Note: Wyoming is part of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact (IWVC). So when a person has their hunting, fishing and/or trapping privileges legally suspended in the compact state where the violation(s) occurred, the suspension may be recognized by all of the member states of the Compact. Having your privileges suspended in Wyoming means you are prevented from hunting, fishing and/or trapping in all the compact member states. Currently there are 45 states that are part of the IWVC.

Poaching. Just by reading that word one can tell how negative it is.

Last week we covered a story on states starting to use Boone and Crockett records as a means to determine higher poaching fines. According to a 2015 B&C research study, over 92% of sportsmen believed that higher fines were necessary for poaching big game animals and 88% were supportive of even higher fines for those who were guilty of poaching big game trophy class animals.

This was not a case of someone who accidentally took a deer on a section of land that they didn’t know was private. This was a disregard for wildlife. Nate Strong is someone who has been hunting for a very long time and knows what is right and wrong. It’s a hunter’s responsibility to know what they are shooting at. In this case it was shooting a very large mule deer buck during a closed season for mule deer on a winter range because it was a trophy buck when he only had a whitetail tag.

When someone decides to take the life of an animal out of season they are a poacher. When someone tries to cover up a crime by having an out of state taxidermist work on it, they are a poacher. When someone switches their angle after being confronted by a Game Warden and now says the deer they claimed was a mule deer (based on the trophy report paper that was on the mount) at one of the West’s largest hunting conventions, the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo, is now a whitetail/mule deer hybrid, then they are a poacher.

Too many times poachers have gotten off with a slap on the wrist fine. The minimum sentencing for large poaching cases is a small reason why poachers continue to poach wildlife each year. When poaching fines are less than what someone would be paying for a guided hunt or paying for access to prime hunting property, it gives poachers a reason to take animals illegally because they know that they will only get a small fine. The risk of getting caught has not been enough to deter poachers.

Hopefully Strong learned his lesson and this lesson will deter future people who might consider poaching a giant animal.

 

 

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