A poacher's offer of half an elk did little to dissuade two hunters from turning in the culprit. In turn, the poacher, Robert Dechanne of Boise was handed the maximum sentence for the offense by Boise County Magistrate Patricia Young.
On October 5, ten days prior to the area's elk season opener, two deer hunters hunting near Idaho City heard a rifle shot and went to investigate. They found Dechanne in the early stages of field dressing a six-point bull elk. Rather than accept the poacher's offer of half the meat if they said nothing, the pair immediately left the area, recorded Dechanne's license plate number and flagged down Boise County Sheriff's Deputy Gina Turner. Turner relayed the information to Fish and Game Conservation Officer Marshall Haynes, who stopped Dechanne a short time later. When confronted with the eyewitness account, Dechanne admitted to poaching the bull elk and accompanied Haynes back to the kill site.
Even though the trophy bull green scored 314 7/8, the case did not meet the requirements for prosecution under Idaho's "flagrant violator" law. "Unfortunately, this case does not fall under the legal definition for a flagrant violation because there was an elk season open in other parts of the state," Boise County prosecutor Theresa Gardunia noted.
Appearing in Boise County Court recently, Dechanne received the maximum sentence for his poaching violation: a $1000 fine; a $750 civil penalty; court costs and processing fees. In addition, Magistrate Young revoked Dechanne's hunting license privileges for three years and further sentenced him to 180 days in jail with only 150 days suspended.
The case illustrates the critical role sportsmen play in the apprehension of poachers. "Honest sportsmen were crucial witnesses in this case and we depend upon them to be our eyes and ears while in the field,& Haynes noted.
Persons with information regarding a wildlife violation are encouraged to contact the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) hotline at 800-632-5999. Alternatively, contact your local conservation officer or sheriff's office.