Wildlife GPS collars help Idaho recover stolen trailer

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The person who took an Idaho Fish and Game trailer from the agency’s headquarters dumped GPS wildlife tracking collars during the getaway across two states and left a trail leading to a remote Utah canyon, officials said Tuesday.

“He was like Johnny Appleseed, dropping stuff as he went along his route,” Fish and Game spokesman Evin Oneale said.

Authorities have identified a suspect but haven’t released his name. The trailer was being returned to Boise on Tuesday, Oneale said.

Oneale said the collars don’t transmit while in storage, but the process of dumping them out of the trailer apparently jostled loose magnets that caused some collars to activate. “Our biologists get these errant signals from collars that aren’t supposed to be out there, and they traced them back and found a box of collars,” Oneale said.

Collars were found east of Boise off Interstate 84 and in Mountain Home and then Jerome, he said. But the trail went cold from there, and the trailer was ultimately recovered by Utah authorities on Friday when someone reported spotting it in a canyon east of Logan.

The 14-foot (4.25-meter) white trailer with no Idaho Fish and Game markings, valued at $100,000 with contents, disappeared April 8 from Fish and Game headquarters in Boise where it had been temporarily parked in an unsecured lot. It’s normally stored at a secured facility, but that area is near the high-flowing Boise River and in danger of flooding.

Besides several dozen collars ranging in value from $500 to $2,000, the trailer also contained 100-foot-long nets used to capture deer and elk. It also contained tranquilizer dart guns and ear tag supplies.

Oneale said most of the items appeared to still be in the trailer but officials will have to do an inventory to see if anything is missing. He said he didn’t have information about whether the dart guns remained.

Oneale said Fish and Game’s capturing operations weren’t hindered because that takes place in the fall.

He said officials are considering putting Idaho Fish and Game markings on the trailer to make it easy to identify if stolen again.

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