HUNTING – Women and ranchers are making poaching headlines in Nevada this week after an 18-month investigation into big game hunting in northeast Nevada that bagged three convictions on charges ranging from the illegal killing of three trophy elk to interfering with state investigators.
Here's the rest of the story by AP reporter Scott Sonner:
“This has to be one of the most bizarre case we’ve seen in years,” Nevada Department of Wildlife Chief Game Warden Tyler Turnipseed said Tuesday. “We had landowners trying to stop the investigation, and we had numerous crimes on both sides of the border.”
The most serious charges involved Steve Frank Bennett, 69, of West Valley, Utah. He recently was ordered to serve 18 months’ probation, do 40 hours of community service and pay $16,000 restitution to an anti-poaching fund after pleading no contest to poaching-related charges in both Nevada and Utah.
He also was ordered to pay more than $1,000 in fines and court costs and has lost his hunting privileges for 20 years. A judge initially sentenced him to up to two years in jail, but suspended the sentence as long as he successfully completes his probation.
The three-state probe began in October 2015 at a ranch in the northeast corner of Nevada’s Elko County along the Idaho and Utah state lines.
Nevada game wardens said they saw Amy Jo Summers, 42, of Tremonton, Utah, shoot a bull elk in October 2015 at K-Savy Ranch, which stretches into all three states. Summers had a Utah elk tag and claimed the animal was in Utah, but the wardens said she clearly was across the state line in Nevada, where she had no license.
“The evidence in this case showed that this wasn’t just an issue of a hunter accidentally crossing state lines but that this was an act of criminals deliberately poaching Nevada’s elk and not fully cooperating with the authorities,” Nevada game warden Nick Brunson said.
Summers ultimately was convicted of willful possession of unlawfully killed big game. An Elko County District Court judge ordered her on May 15 to pay a $2,000 civil penalty, $625 in fines and court costs. Her hunting privileges were revoked for five years, and she had to forfeit a rifle and the bull elk’s antlers.
Her arrest led investigators to Bennett and the third person charged, Susanne Akroosh Bedke, 42, of Oakley, Idaho.
Bedke was fined $680 for what game wardens said was her role in the obstruction of the investigation. Prosecutors say she held a game warden “behind closed gates as he looked into the original crime” on Bedke’s ranch. She pleaded no contest to interfering with an officer in Box Elder County Court in Utah on May 3.
“It took a lot of leg work,” Turnipseed said. “Our partner organizations in Utah did great work, and our guys were able to piece together a complex case.”