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Poachers Pay $6,113, Draw Jail Time

A southeast Idaho judge has raised the ante for folks who want to gamble with poaching laws.

Judge Lynn Brower of Bear Lake County sent a clear message to offenders of fish and game laws with fines and penalties totaling $6,113 and jail time handed out to two men who confessed to poaching two mule deer in Bear Lake County.

Josh Christensen, 22, and Nathan Humphreys, 24, both of Montpelier, appeared August 16 in a Bear Lake County court to plead guilty and were sentenced for the illegal taking of two mule deer out of season.

Fish and Game Officer Blake Phillips, acting on an anonymous tip, located the kill site of a doe deer and found other evidence to begin his investigation. Based on this information, Phillips obtained search warrants for two residences. Both Christensen and Humphreys gave full confessions. Humphreys killed a two-point buck while Christensen killed a doe. Both animals were shot with a .22 caliber magnum pistol equipped with a scope. The deer were field dressed, taken to town for processing and the remains were thrown into the Bear River.

Court records showed that eight months earlier, Christensen was sentenced by Judge Brower for illegally taking a large trophy mule deer buck during the closed season. This, combined with Christensen's failure to comply with court ordered probation and fine payments, resulted in one of the stiffest sentences ever handed down in a Bear Lake County Court for poaching. In order to avoid felony charges, Christensen plead guilty to hunting while revoked, hunting with the aid of artificial light and taking a mule deer during the closed season. His sentence included fines, civil penalties, and court cost of $3,592, all hunting, trapping, and fishing privileges were suspended for nine years, 1 _ years of jail (one year suspended), forfeiture of yet another firearm (the Smith and Wesson pistol) and 7 1/2 years of probation, all to be served consecutively.

Terms of the probation prohibit Christensen from being in possession of any firearm at any time, and allow any law enforcement officer to search Christensen, his home and his vehicle at any time of the day or night. Should he violate his probation, he would immediately return to jail to serve the balance of his two-year jail sentence. Christensen was remanded to the custody of the sheriff to begin serving his six months in jail immediately with no work release.

Humpherys' sentence included fines, civil penalties and court cost totaling $2,521. All hunting, fishing and trapping privileges were suspended for six years. He was given one year of jail with all suspended except 30 days, and four years of probation under the same terms as Christensen.

Judge Brower pointed out that Humphreys had larger problems ahead of him as he faced an appearance before a district judge for violation of his felony probation which in all likelihood will land him in the state penitentiary for the next five to six years. Humphreys' felony probation stems from an incident involving a threat to a police officer with a firearm.

A third individual involved in this incident will appear in court later for his arraignment.