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Timely Tip puts Officers on Trail of Mule Deer Buck Poachers

DRIGGS - Teton Basin Senior Conservation Officer Doug Petersen had his family's peaceful Thanksgiving Holiday festivities disturbed by a telephone call from a concerned landowner reporting some suspected poaching activity. While holiday disruptions are no fun for officers, poachers don't take holidays off, so neither can the officers sworn to protect Idaho's wildlife. Heading to a remote area near the rim of the Teton River Canyon, Officer Petersen was able to take advantage of fresh snowfall to determine that only one set of vehicle tracks entered the site, all he had to do was wait and see who came out. Petersen called for backup and then waited in a place where he could observe anyone leaving the area. His hunch paid off when a vehicle carrying three individuals came out and entered back onto the highway. Petersen made contact with the individuals who stated they were out scouting for an elk for their wives to hunt. During the contact, Officer Petersen observed blood and animal hair in the open bed of the pickup truck. He was told it came from a deer that they had helped someone haul the night before in an area still open for deer hunting, Petersen collected samples anyway. With the individual's identities and potential evidence in hand, Petersen sought out to see if a crime had actually been committed. He wouldn't have to look hard; the telltale snow once again aided him in his search. Petersen joined up with Senior Conservation Officer Justin Williams of Island Park, together they traced the tire tracks back into an area where footprints then led them to where two mule deer bucks had been shot and left. One of the deer had antlers that would have been a trophy set if scored by Boone & Crockett. The area in question was closed to deer hunting, so a crime had indeed been committed! The officers tracked down the three suspects, who when now confronted with the evidence all told the truth regarding the poaching incident. On January 2, 2001, Judge Walker of Fremont County found Dale Daw, Dalan Garner, and Luke Davis guilty of Fish & Game Violations. Daw received a total of $2,200 in fines plus court costs, Garner $600 and costs, and Davis $200 and costs. In addition to fines, all had jail time ranging from 10 days to 30 days suspended. Davis had his hunting privileges revoked for one year, Garner and Daw had theirs suspended for two years. Not only did they lose the right to hunt, but they are even prohibited from being with a hunting party or hunting camp. Thanks to the timely call of a concerned citizen, officers were not only able to apprehend the violators, but they were also able to recover the deer carcasses soon enough so that they could be salvaged. The meat was given to needy families in the county for use during the holidays.