THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
Three elk, three pronghorns, a mule deer, two turkeys and a bobcat round out a collection of animals illegally killed, tagged, processed or taxidermied last November in a case that spans multiple jurisdictions.
Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Trooper Tom Juzeler issued more than a dozen citations for offenses including borrowing and lending tags, hunting without tags, illegally taking bull elk, failure to validate big game tags, exceeding the bag limit of game birds, illegally taking a turkey, no fur takers license, and counseling or aiding in a wildlife offense.
OSP Fish and Wildlife Trooper Kameron Gordon issued multiple citations and warnings for unlawful possession of antelope, mule deer and bobcat. He also issued two warnings for importing a cervid carcass from a state with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
Trooper Juzeler, based in Pendleton, took the initial call to the Turn In Poachers (TIP) Line in Nov. of 2020. The caller suspected an individual camped with others in Umatilla County had placed someone else’s tag on a trophy bull elk he had harvested. When Trooper Juzeler began investigating the incident, it became clear that more than one individual was involved, that more than one hunting encampment was involved, and that the activity expanded into Klamath County. Trooper Juzeler contacted his counterparts in Klamath County and continued the investigation.
Trooper Juzeler and Klamath County Trooper Gordon discovered that two people in the second encampment had recently returned from a game farm in Idaho, with heads from legally harvested elk. However, the heads still had intact brain matter. Brain and spinal tissue can transmit Chronic Wasting Disease, which plagues deer and elk herds in other states.
The investigation in Klamath County led Trooper Juzeler to a local taxidermist. There, he found three pronghorn hides, a mule deer head and a bobcat, all lacking documentation that they were legally harvested. The subject had neither a license nor an updated record book, both of which are required to operate as a taxidermist in Oregon.
When people shoot an animal and tag it with someone else’s tag, it deprives another person of hunting that animal, according to ODFW District Biologist Brian Wolfer, who is the acting game program manager for the agency. Biologists determine the number of tags to issue for hunt units using a formula that considers the number of animals in the area, how many animals the area can support, and the likelihood of hunters successfully filling their tags.
The hunter success rate is another data formula that considers hunter proficiency based on their experience and weapon choice. When excellent hunters kill multiple animals and then tag them with less-successful hunters’ tags, the formula becomes skewed. This leads to more animals being taken in a unit than planned, and biologists may need to compensate the following year by issuing fewer tags.
“Just because a person has a tag, doesn’t give them the right to have it filled by someone else,” Wolfer said, “And it possibly deprives another hunter of filling their tag.”
Court dates for offenders are pending.
The Stop Poaching Campaign educates the public on how to recognize and report poaching. This campaign is a collaboration among hunters, conservationists, land owners and recreationists. Our goal is to increase reporting of wildlife crimes through the TIP Line, increase detection by increasing the number of OSP Fish and Wildlife Troopers and increase prosecution. The Oregon Hunters Association manages the TIP Line reward program. This campaign helps to protect and enhance Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitat for the enjoyment of present and future generations. Contact campaign coordinator Yvonne Shaw for more information. Yvonne.L.Shaw@odfw.oregon.gov.