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Sacramento couple fined for illegal Elk hunting in Idaho

December 17, 2010

Sacramento couple fined for illegal Elk hunting in Idaho

A Sacramento couple were fined more than $8,000 and had their hunting licenses suspended for five years by a county judge in northern Idaho earlier this week for using bait to hunt elk, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Robert Johnson, 41, pleaded guilty in Boundary County Court on Monday to two counts of possession of unlawfully taken elk and one count of hunting elk without a tag, a Fish and Game spokesman said.

Barbara Johnson (seen in photo supplied by Idaho Fish and Game), 40, also pleaded guilty Monday to one count each of taking an elk over bait, hunting elk without a license and hunting elk without a tag, said Fish and Game senior conservation officer Greg Johnson.

Robert and Barbara Johnson could not be reached for comment.

The charges were the culmination of an investigation into baiting activities carried out by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game that began last December.

Department officials found out a year ago that people using a private property in Bonners Ferry may have been putting out feed to bait elk onto the property, making them easier hunting targets, Greg Johnson said.

It is "highly illegal" to hunt over bait, he said. "When it gets cold and they're hungry and you're showing feed, they're sitting ducks."

Officers surveyed the property last December and found evidence of those activities, including a tree stand and a baited site.

However, they did not find evidence that elk had been killed, possibly because low snow levels meant elk were scarce, Greg Johnson said.

Officers returned to the property earlier this month and observed 40 to 50 elk being baited almost right up to the residence, Johnson said.

Officers observed Barbara Johnson shoot and kill a bull elk with a bow and arrow from a tree stand on the bait site, Greg Johnson said.

A county prosecutor then applied for a search warrant for the property, which was issued on Dec. 11 and served on Dec. 12.

During service of the warrant, Fish and Game officers discovered a cow elk that had been killed by Robert Johnson hanging in a shop on the property with the bull elk killed by Barbara Johnson.

Officers also discovered that Barbara Johnson had killed the bull elk without a license or tag, and there was evidence that the couple had hunted after shooting hours, Greg Johnson said.

"There was fairly blatant disregard for hunting ethics and the hunting rules," he said.

Fish and Game officers arrested Robert Johnson and issued citations to Barbara Johnson and her father, Richard Raine, the owner of the property.

All three pleaded guilty to all charges.

Raine pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of unlawfully taken elk and was fined $1,000.

Barbara Johnson was fined $3,000. Robert Johnson was fined $3,000 and assessed $2,250 in civil penalties. He was also assessed $350 in processing fees.

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