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Local hunter handed tough sentence for elk poaching

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO James S. Robinson of West Linn poses with a trophy bull elk he illegally killed in 2005.

STORY UPDATE:

The attorney of a West Linn man convicted of illegally taking a bull elk he killed on a Wyoming hunting trip says his client is remorseful and that he was misled by hunting guides.

Attorney Ron Hoevet said Jim Robinson of West Linn is among a handful of customers of Big Horn Adventure Outfitters who have been prosecuted for similar federal charges stemming from hunting on the company's Wyoming grounds.

Big Horn Adventure Outfitters offers private hunting and fishing access to more than 100,000 acres of land in Ten Sleep, Wyo., near the Bighorn National Forest.

As many as seven customers - in addition to Robinson - have recently faced federal charges, Hoevet said. On the other hand, 'Big Horn Adventure Outfitters, the guide, induced folks to go hunting, and they haven't yet been prosecuted.'

'They've been prosecuting the low-hanging fruit,' he said.

Robinson also is among among almost 30 hunters pictured with trophy elk they landed in a photo gallery on the Big Horn Adventure Outfitters website.

Hoevet contends the hunting guide told Robinson, who had a license to kill a cow elk, that he could use a 'landowners tag' if he needed one for a bull elk.

But while the guide had five such tags, Hoevet said, 'The truth is these landowner tags are not transferable.'

Even so, Robinson does not plan to sue Big Horn Adventure Outfitters, Hoevet said, and he is fine with the terms of a plea deal requiring him to participate in public service announcements and speak publicly about issues related to federal wildlife laws.

'Jim is very remorseful for his conduct in this affair, and he has accepted responsibility from the beginning when he was first contacted (by fish and game officials),' Hoevet said. 'He is prepared to help others.'

AS PREVIOUSLY REPORTED:

A local man accused of poaching in Wyoming was recently handed a tough sentence for violating federal wildlife laws.

James S. Robinson, 60, will have to pay a $20,000 fine, $15,000 in restitution and $100 in special assessments and court costs, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

He also can't hunt anywhere in the United States for five years and, during three years of probation, must give three speeches annually about wildlife conservation and the consequences of violating federal wildlife rules.

Judge William Downes of the U.S District Court in Casper, Wyo., delivered the sentence earlier this month.

Robinson is alleged to have violated Wyoming statute when, in October 2005, he killed a bull elk without the proper permit; he only had a license to kill a cow elk in the area, near the ranching town of Ten Sleep, population 328.

Although the violation occurred in 2005, Wyoming wildlife officials didn't receive a tip about the incident until 2010.

The violation became a federal Lacey Act case when the illegally taken meat and mounted head and antlers crossed state lines to Oregon. The Lacey Act, a conservation law introduced in 1900, prohibits the trafficking of wildlife and plants that were illegally taken, transported or sold.

According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, its investigative unit supervisor, Mike Ehlebracht, received a tip in January 2010 about an illegally taken trophy bull elk.

Ehlebracht followed up with trips in February and June 2010 to West Linn, where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Oregon State Police assisted with the investigation.

Federal charges were filed against Robinson in September 2010, and he pleaded guilty to violating the Lacey Act this past March in a plea agreement negotiated with his attorneys, wildlife officials said.

In addition to speaking publicly about conservation, Robinson's plea deal requires him to participate in five public service announcements under the direction of Wyoming Game and Fish, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Oregon State Police.

Robinson, who also had to forfeit a head and shoulder mount of the elk, did not respond to a phone call seeking comment.

'It's a sentence that's very appropriate for the crime, and I think the public service speeches Judge Downes ordered are an interesting new twist for a wildlife crime,' said Ehlebracht.

'It is important to protect this hunting privilege so every hunter has an equal opportunity to draw these cherished licenses.'