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Oregon poachers sentenced for beheading bighorns on I-84

Bighorn sheep on hillside
Photo credits: Shutterstock

Last April, Justin Samora and Cody Plagmann were arrested after beheading two bighorn sheep near Interstate 84 in Oregon. The two were caught in the act by motorists and, once police arrived at the scene, they found one man inside of a vehicle while the other hid in the brush down the road. As goHUNT previously reported, officers found the severed heads of two bighorn sheep rams; their bodies discarded and left to waste. Troopers believed Samora and Plagmann only wanted the heads for trophy mounts. Both men were arrested immediately.

Last week, both men pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of bighorn sheep. Plagmann, the ringleader of the operation, must serve 40 days in jail; both men were sentenced to a year of probation and lose hunting privileges for three years, must complete 40 to 80 hours of community service and pay fines ranging from $1,500 to $2,000, The Oregonian reports. Yet, because Oregon recently increased penalties for a number of different species in an attempt to curb poaching and illegal hunting activities, it’s possible that Plagmann and Samora will have to pay another $25,000 in restitution for their crimes.  A judge in Gilliam County is still deciding whether they will have to pay.

Oregon is home to roughly 4,500 bighorn sheep. Harvesting one is considered an once-in-a-lifetime experience and is one hunt many hunters don’t ever get the chance to go on. Only 85 tags were handed out via state lottery last year and over 21,000 hunters vied for the chance at a tag, according to The Oregonian.

Oregonians hope the higher penalties send a serious message.

“Most sportsmen and women would not even consider [poaching],” Sen. Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay) told The Oregonian.  “We have a real hunting ethic in the West. This is one of those things where turning someone in is a real positive.”




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Chandler C. - posted 1 year ago on 05-06-2017 12:10:26 pm
Beaverton, OR

I stop and see the rams going through the gorge pretty often. You can't even hunt the rams in that unit and to have these guys take two of the rams is pretty devastating. I wish there was a little steeper penalty for poaching in Oregon. It doesn't get much mor willful of a violation than that.

Jeffrey C. - posted 1 year ago on 05-02-2017 08:36:37 pm
Kennesaw, GA

I have seen these sheep crossing I-84. I think they go down to the Columbia River for water. They are very vulnerable when they are doing this and it's despicable that someone would poach them. A very selfish act. How could they have ever looked at those mounts (if they had gotten away with it) and not been ashamed? There is no honor, and nothing to be gained from poaching.

Brady Miller
Brady M. - posted 1 year ago on 05-01-2017 12:39:05 pm
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT Team

@Philip - They were shot by the poachers.

Philip T. - posted 1 year ago on 05-01-2017 09:50:33 am

Did they kill the sheep, or find them dead and take the heads?