TREASURETON, ID – The Idaho Fish and Game reported Monday, June 29, that six men pleaded guilty and were sentenced for killing and wasting elk and deer in Franklin County.
The incident occurred in 2018, a press release said.
Jay Reeder, Brandon Porter, Rick and Jesse Earl and Dustin Hollingsworth of Preston, Idaho and Brian Miller of Pennsylvania all reached plea agreements in a Franklin County court for the illegal killing and possession of three mule deer and 16 elk.
Several of the animals killed were trophy class. The incident happened in the fall of 2018 northwest of Preston, Idaho on the Reeder Ranch.
“Reeder and Porter, the most egregious poachers, combined to illegally kill three mule deer bucks and 13 of the 16 elk,” said Idaho Department of Fish and Game Regional Investigator Cody Allen. “Many of the poaching incidents were directed at large groups of elk, and Fish and Game investigators verified the men wounded and crippled other elk with no attempt made to recover the animals.”
A thorough investigation conducted by the Fish and Game conservation officers around that time, found that over the course of several months, multiple poaching incidents took place on the ranch. The individuals involved left most of the elk carcasses to waste and recovered only the antlers and choice cuts of meat from others.”
“It seemed as though they just couldn’t stop killing,” Allen said. “Most of the animals were simply shot and left with no attempt to salvage the meat; some with rifles during muzzleloader seasons and others when the seasons were completely closed.”
Fish and Game learned through their investigation that Reeder and Porter also sold some of the elk and deer meat and antlers in order to buy a new rifle. Besides the big game they illegally harvested, members of the group also unlawfully killed pheasants, magpies and wild turkeys they baited onto the property.
“While serving search warrants on the Reeder Ranch for the wildlife violations, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office arrested Reeder and Porter for felony possession of a controlled substance, which was located in the residence during the search,” a release said. Officers also found Reeder in possession of an unlawfully taken bear he poached in California.
All six men reached plea agreements with the Franklin County Prosecutor Vic Pearson.
As part of the agreements, Reeder and Porter each pleaded guilty to four felonies and received lifetime revocations of their hunting privileges. Both men received suspended two-year prison sentences held at the discretion of the court to impose if the men were found in violation of the conditions of their 20-year felony supervised probation.
Both men each spent 30 days in jail.
Earl pleaded guilty to one felony and one misdemeanor for killing two unlawful elk and illegally possessing three other poached elk and deer. He received a two-year suspended prison sentence and five years of felony-supervised probation. He served 10 days in jail and received a five-year hunting license revocation. The court ordered Reeder, Porter and Earl to provide 50 hours of community service, pay a combined $72,050 in fines and civil reimbursement for the unlawfully taken animals, forfeit their guns and animals and prohibited them from possessing any firearms.
Earl, Miller, and Hollingsworth, pleaded guilty to misdemeanors for their role in attempting to legitimize the poached elk by possessing the animals and using or facilitating the elk tags of others to cover the unlawfully taken elk. They each received one-year hunting license revocations and combined fines, civil reimbursement and court costs of $3,767.
Allen, a regional investigator has worked some large and complex cases throughout his career, found it difficult to summarize the egregious nature and seriousness of the poacher’s actions.
“These men demonstrated a complete disregard for wildlife and wildlife laws and used the seclusion of private property – theirs and trespassing on others – to carry out their desire to kill and poach, stealing animals from legitimate sportsmen and women and leaving most of them to waste,” Allen said.