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Idaho Poacher Banned From Hunting in 29 States

December 3, 2008.

From Idaho Fish and Game:

A Grangeville, Idaho man has lost his hunting privileges in Idaho and 28 other states, potentially forever.

Scott Richards, 51, was sentenced November 21 in Grangeville's Magistrate Court on charges stemming from several wildlife violations, two years after Idaho Fish and Game officers served their first search warrant at Richards' home.

He was found guilty of five misdemeanors at two separate jury trials in Idaho County Court. Richards was set to appear in a third trial October 28 on a felony charge of killing a mule deer during a closed season and taking an over-limit of deer that included two mule deer in velvet. Both exceeded the 150-point minimum required for enhanced penalties.

Before the third trial could begin, however, a plea agreement was reached between the county prosecutor and Richards' defense attorney.

One deer's antlers measured 196 3/8 "nontypical" and the other measured 207 3/8 points, using the Boone and Crockett scoring system. Because combined civil penalties of the two violations exceed $1,000, they constitute felony status.

In a combined sentence, Richards was fined $5,666 including civil penalties, fines, processing fees and court costs, with $1,000 of the fines suspended, as well as 120 days in jail.

Richards' hunting privileges were revoked for life. But he can petition the court to have his privileges reinstated after 10 years if he has no criminal violations during that time.

During the final sentencing, Second District Magistrate Judge Randall W. Robinson told Richards that he was not to be in the field assisting hunters in any way, and if he did so he would be considered engaged in hunting.

"Fines can be of little significance to some chronic poachers," Regional Conservation Officer Mark Hill said. "But when they cannot hunt or be associated with hunting in any way, it can really hurt."

Richards was originally charged with two felonies and one misdemeanor, which were split up to accommodate Richards's Fifth Amendment right. Second District Court Judge Jeff Brudie decided, out of fairness to Richards, that the cases be tried separately in the event Richards did not want to testify in his own defense and inadvertently incriminate himself in other charges brought against him.

During the first jury trial on June 16, Richards was found guilty of killing and possessing a bull elk killed during a closed season in Big Game Management Unit 13, and illegally possessing a mule deer buck. The second jury trial on September 15 and 16, resulted in a guilty verdict on the killing and possessing another closed season trophy mule deer taken in Unit 13.

Under the plea agreement, charges were dismissed in exchange for a guilty plea of killing and possessing the closed season elk in 2006, killing and possessing one trophy mule deer killed in 2004, and forfeiting the trophy non-typical velvet antlers of a deer killed in 2005 to Idaho Fish and Game.
Hill said the efforts of many helped solve this case.

"We received several anonymous reports on Richards, and we did our job," Hill said. "And because of those reports and a lot of hard work by our officers and the prosecutor's office, a poacher is now out of business for a long time, if not forever."

Idaho is a member of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, an agreement signed by 29 state wildlife agencies under which anyone who loses their hunting privileges in one of the participating states would lose those privileges in all 29 states. The compact includes most western states, along with the eastern states of Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota and Missouri.

"Mr. Richards' privileges will not be reinstated in any of the compact states for at least 10 years," Hill said.

Anyone with information about wildlife violations is urged to contact the nearest Fish and Game office or call the Citizens Against Poaching hotline at 1-800-632-5999. Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.

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