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UT: Two poachers sentenced to jail, lose hunting privileges

Two poachers sentenced to jail, lose hunting privileges. Each also fined $2,500 and together must pay $18,000.

By Stephen Hunt
The Salt Lake Tribune

Updated: 05/28/2009 06:46:34 PM MDT

Two Panguitch men who pleaded guilty Thursday to a handful of wildlife violations were sentenced to jail for illegally killing 13 animals. The two poachers also lost their hunting privileges for decades to come.

Gary Harp, 35, pleaded guilty in 6th District Court to two third-degree felonies and three class A misdemeanors and was sentenced by Judge Wallace Lee to 36 months probation and six months in jail.

Gavin Smith, 19, pleaded guilty to one third-degree felony and four class A misdemeanors and was sentenced to probation and 60 days in jail.

The men were also fined $2,500 each and must jointly pay $18,000 in restitution. Their weapons -- two .22-caliber rifles and a 30-30 rifle -- were confiscated.

Garfield County Attorney Barry Huntington added that Harp could lose his hunting privileges for up to 48 years, and Smith could be banned from hunting for up to 34 years.

"That's a big deal. My main focus was I wanted their hunting privileges revoked," said Huntington, who added that the ultimate duration of the hunting ban will be determined by the state Wildlife Board.

Huntington said Harp -- the boyfriend of Smith's mother -- was treated more harshly because he was considered to be in a position of trust. "He was kind of a father figure" to the teen," he said.

The men were arrested Tuesday after someone reported seeing a doe hanging in a shed at the home of one of the defendants. Law enforcement officers later found evidence of nine buck deer, two does and two buck antelope, which were killed between October 2008 and May, Huntington said.

In addition to the heads -- two of which had trophy sized antlers -- meat was found in a freezer, he said.

Huntington said the men told investigators that antlers were primary and meat was secondary in importance to them.

It is the state's second major poaching case this month.

Earlier this month, four Utah County men were charged with poaching 18 deer in Juab County, wildlife officials said.

Violators can be reported by calling the Utah Turn-In-A-Poacher hot line number at 800-662-DEER, or e-mailing a report to turninapoacher@utah.gov

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