It’s approximately 1,400 miles from Wyoming to Tennessee but thanks to a tip by one landowner, game wardens were able to solve a poaching case that dated back to 2015.
Back in September 2015, a warden with Wyoming Game and Fish (WGF) received a call regarding two mule deer that were shot dead west of Sheridan. The perpetrators removed the heads from the animals. A third mule deer carcass turned up about a month later.
Seeking additional information, WGF distributed a news release. A local landowner saw the call for help and provided a tip about three antelope hunters from Tennessee. WGF reached out to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
The investigation revealed Zachary Mathis, Philip Hickerson and Cody Duncan, each killed a mule deer buck and removed only the antlers. A fourth mule deer buck was also shot but not recovered. The meat from each of these animals was left to rot.
The men were cited with three counts of wanton destruction, three counts of taking big game animals from a motor vehicle and one count of taking a deer without a license. Through a plea agreement with the Sheridan County Attorney’s Office, the group paid $15,285 in fines and restitution, forfeited a $3,200 custom rifle and lost their hunting privileges for three years.
“This is an excellent example of how a single tip on a wildlife-related crime can go a long way,” said Dustin Shorma, WGF game warden. “If people have tips on a poaching case there are several ways to get that information to us. They can call their local game warden, a Game and Fish Regional Office or the Stop Poaching Hotline. People might think that the little bit of information they know won’t help, but even a small piece of information may be just the piece of the puzzle we need to solve the case.”
(Photo source: Wyoming Game and Fish Department)