THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON STATE POLICE FISH AND WILDLIFE DIVISION
On April 16, 2020 Patrol Troopers from the John Day Worksite assisted the John Day Police Department with the execution of a search warrant at a local residence regarding an ongoing theft investigation. The investigation involved an 18 year old John Day man; Austin Catron. During the warrant service, a pronghorn buck skull was observed near an outbuilding of the residence and that information was forwarded to Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Troopers.
Based upon the information and further investigation, Fish & Wildlife Troopers from the John Day Worksite executed a search warrant at Catron’s residence on April 28, 2020. During the service, Fish & Wildlife Troopers located the pronghorn buck skull, six buck deer skulls and a bull elk skull, all of which were seized as evidence. Additionally, another suspect, 19 year old Grant County resident Jonas Waite, was identified.
Following further investigation and interviews, Fish & Wildlife Troopers learned that during the fall of 2019, Catron unlawfully shot the antelope buck from a motor vehicle while Waite assisted. The unlawful take occurred in the Murderers Creek Management Unit and after shooting and killing the antelope, Catron and Waite removed the head/skull and left the rest of the animal to waste. Additionally, neither Catron nor Waite possessed a 2019 antelope tag, which is required in order to hunt for and/or take antelope. Further information revealed that Catron and Waite were also involved in the unlawful killing of multiple deer over the past two years as well as Waite’s unlawful killing of a golden eagle.
As a result of the investigation, Catron was initially charged with Unlawful Taking of Antelope and Waste of a Game Mammal-Antelope. Waite was also initially charged with Aiding in the Unlawful Take of Antelope and Aiding in the Waste of a Big Game Animal. Waite’s rifle, a 22-250, was identified as the weapon used in the taking and was subsequently seized as evidence. Additional charges will be forwarded for consideration.
According to Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division Sergeant Erich Timko, only fifty-four antelope tags are available in the Murderers Creek unit for the 2020 Big Game Season and typically, it takes an Oregon resident approximately ten years to successfully draw the tag.