THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
A judge sentenced a poacher to ten days in jail, fines, probation, weapon forfeiture and license suspension for shooting a branch bull elk on opening day of deer season in the Wenaha unit last Fall, according to authorities.
Cody Murrill, 42, of Elgin, appeared in Union County Circuit Court on Jan. 20, 2023, and pleaded guilty to poaching charges after admitting to OSP Fish & Wildlife Troopers that he had intended to poach a cow elk for the meat, but mistakenly shot a bull as darkness set in on Oct. 1, 2022. He then left the bull to waste.
Hunters who came across the carcass on Oct. 3 notified OSP F&W Troopers of their discovery.
Troopers investigating the crime identified Murrill’s truck after reviewing footage from area game cameras. When they interviewed him at his home, Murrill denied having anything to do with the incident. But later that evening he contacted OSP F&W Troopers to confess to the crimes.
Murrill told Troopers he intended to poach a cow elk, and mistakenly shot the large 5×6-point bull in near darkness. He said he abandoned the carcass, intending to recover the meat and antlers later that night. When he returned well after dark, the carcass was partially scavenged. Fearing wolves in the area, Murrill abandoned the carcass again. He said he returned the next day to remove the antlers but was unable to do so because he broke his saw. Leaving a game animal to waste is also a crime.
In addition to jail time and a one-year license suspension, Murrill received one-year probation, according to Union County District Attorney Kelsie McDaniel. He also forfeited his .308 rifle with scope, likely worth about $1,400 and paid $440 in fines.
OSP F&W Sergeant Chris Hawkins, who collected evidence in the case and confiscated the rifle for ballistics testing, said the jail time was appropriate.
“The ten days in jail is more jail time than we typically see in fish and wildlife cases, which is one positive outcome of this sentencing,” Sgt. Hawkins said, citing shortages of both jail space and resources for prosecuting wildlife crimes. “It’s a result of DA offices being overrun, which leads to fish and wildlife cases not taking a priority.”
The person who reported the incident to OSP F&W had a choice of receiving either $500 cash or four hunter preference points. They chose the hunter preference points, which will allow them a better chance of drawing an opportunity to hunt in the future.
The Turn In Poachers (TIP) Line incentive program is successful, according to Oregon Hunters Association (OHA) President Steve Hagan. Sgt Hawkins and Hagan agree that when people pay attention to their surroundings and report suspicious incidents, it helps solve crime.
“We agree that eyes in the woods are key to acquiring evidence in order to make cases and I’m glad preference points were given in this case,” Hagan said, “That method of reward has proven to be very effective with regards to the gathering of evidence.”
The incident happened on opening day of deer season, with bull elk season in the area yet to come. A poacher removed an animal that would have otherwise contributed to legal, legitimate uses of Oregon’s natural resources according to ODFW Stop Poaching campaign coordinator Yvonne Shaw.
“Poachers steal from all Oregonians,” Shaw said, “whether that is from a legitimate hunter who paid fees to hunt, or a hiker or photographer who missed the experience of seeing that animal.”