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Illegal Pheasants Run Up A Bill

Sun., Nov. 17, 1996

Two Washington state hunters paid $2,875 in fines and restitution last week in Montana for having too many pheasant in their possession - 59 too many.

But one of them says it was a bad rap, and Montana ought to raise its possession limits, especially for people who spend as much money there as he and his friends do.

Montana hunters may kill three cock pheasants a day during the season and may have no more than nine in possession.

Donald R. Porter, 54, of Greenwater, Wash., and Jerry D. Hansen, 54, of Enumclaw, Wash., both loggers, had 77 cleaned and frozen birds in their rig when a warden forced them to pull over on Montana 200 north of Helena. They had driven past an FWP check station, where law requires hunters to stop, and Hill drove after them.

Hill said Hansen, who was driving, first refused to show his hunting license. The excess birds were found during a search of the vehicle.

Porter told the Great Falls Tribune that he and Hansen and five companions had hunted off and on for five days in Montana, and that the extra birds belonged to the friends.

Porter said the fines and restitution were “the price you pay for getting caught.”

He said Montana should increase the possession limits to accommodate people who hunt for extended periods. He said his group spends upwards of $10,000 in the state every year, and he suggested that most Montanans would prefer to have the state get the revenue rather than limit the number of pheasants killed.

Stan Meyer of Great Falls, chairman of the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission, said the limits were set to prevent a group of hunters from damaging specific pheasant populations by killing so many in the course of an extended hunt.

Porter said the men have been hunters for 15 years in the Judith Basin. That tradition will be on hold for awhile. A judge ordered the men to pay the state $25 for each illegal bird and suspended their Montana hunting and fishing licenses for three years.

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