A Washington-based trophy elk hunter was sentenced to pay $5,000 for not being truthful about how he filled his Governor’s Tag in the state’s Blue Mountains and has been barred from chasing wapiti on any national forest land for the next two years.
That after Tod L. Reichert, 72, of Salkum pleaded guilty last Monday in U.S. District Court in Spokane to misdemeanor charges of interfering with and giving false information to a U.S. Forest Service agent.
Also pleading guilty in court that day, Jon C. Wick, 46, of Summerville, Ore., and Outback Outfitters for providing guide services outside of his special-use permit area and doing so without a special-use authorization.
Wick is due to be sentenced in September; the charges carry a maximum penalty of up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
The case caught some hunters’ attention several years ago but took awhile to bring to court.
According to Micheal C. Ormsby, U.S. Attorney for Eastern District of Washington, Reichert bought the 2007 Eastside any-elk Governor’s Auction Tag for around $47,000. He hired Wick to provide guide services for his hunt, and apparently just to make sure, also hired a helicopter to spot animals — illegal in Washington.
In December, Reichert killed a bull in the Umatilla National Forest with Wick’s help but outside of the area that the guide was licensed to provide outfitting services.
Later, Reichert falsely claimed that Wick had not provided professional help nor had he paid any money for his services, according to the U.S. Attorney.
Then, in 2008, Wick again provided help in the forest to that year’s Governor’s Tag buyer (which set the man back $65,000), but at the time, Wick was not authorized to provide guide services, according to the feds.
Both defendants were indicted by a federal grand jury last December.
Reichert was sentenced to a two-year probation that also stipulates he can’t enter or remain in any national forest for any recreational purpose.
Described as “a strong supporter of elk hunting and improving elk habitat,” he has killed several monster bulls by outbidding other rich trophy hunters to get coveted tags, including $40,000 for the 2007-08 New Mexico Governor’s Tag, $19,000 for the 2001 Oregon Governor’s Tag, $16,000 for the 2003 edition, and an undetermined amount for the 1999 California tule bull elk tag.
Typically governor’s tags allow for extra-long hunting seasons. The proceeds are generally plowed back into managing the species for which the tag is given, though auctioning organizations can get a cut of the proceeds. In 2008, deer, elk, moose, mountain goat and bighorn ram tag auctions raised just over $200,000 in Washington.
WDFW and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service participated in investigating the Reichert and Wick case.
“The protection of our wildlife resources is vitally important to the public and wildlife crimes will not be ignored by this office,” said Ormsby, the U.S. attorney.
“We will continue to enforce the permitting process and the laws designed to protect the natural resources for all users,” added Barb Severson, USFS special agent in charge.