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Poaching History in Montana

November 5, 2010

Poaching History in Montana

BILLINGS - A poaching investigation involves six people and 18 wildlife violations in three counties in Montana. Officials with Montana's Fish, Wildlife, and Parks said poaching is something they are starting to see too often.

Some of Montana's most notable poaching cases have happened since 2000. Poaching is the illegal shooting or trapping of game from private or public property. Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Spokesman Bob Gibson said it's the most serious crime in the sport, "In Montana, the law says wildlife belongs to the people of Montana. Doesn't matter whose land you're on."

Gibson said money is usually the motive behind poaching and it's a crime that F.W.P. has become all too familiar with.

"The number of cases is actually growing. It's a little hard to say there's more poaching or whether we're just getting better at catching them," said Gibson.

In 2006, more than a dozen poachers killed more than 30 animals in the Huntley Projects Area. In 2007, nearly 10 people were involved in an illegal outfitting operation killing trophy game without licenses.

Gibson said it's important to abide by Montana's hunting laws because it's the only way to track and monitor wildlife. "All of the things we do as far as setting seasons, number of licenses and all of those things are designed to ensure this heritage stays in Montana," said Gibson.

Hunters are the eyes and ears on the ground and F.W.P. relies heavily on tips. "That lines getting a lot more use because now when someone's out there in the field and they see somebody do something stupid they're calling from right there," said Gibson.

Gibson said Montanans take pride in hunting and he hopes it's a tradition that never becomes extinct.

Mark Morse, the man at the helm of the investigation is set to appear in court in Billings November 23rd. He is facing $203,000 in fines and up to 21 years in prison.

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