Monday, March 21, 2011

Elk poacher pleads guilty to felony charge

By Evin Oneale, IDFG

Nearly one and one-half years after poaching two bull elk near Idaho City, a former Meridian man will pay thousands of dollars in fines and restitution to the residents of Idaho.

In October 2009, and accompanied by his seven-year-old son, Gary A. Parrott, 37, poached the two trophy six-point bulls outside of Idaho City before the elk hunting season. While he took the time to remove and transport the antlers from both animals to his vehicle, Parrott made only a feeble effort to care for the elk meat. By the time he returned more than 24 hours later, both animals had spoiled and were abandoned.

Eyewitness accounts, a website and other scraps of information helped Fish and Game conservation officer Rob Brazie piece the poaching case together. When two of the eyewitnesses picked Parrott out of a photo lineup, Brazie obtained a search warrant, which was executed on Parrott's Meridian home in June, 2010. There Brazie and other officers found photos of both elk taken in the field, the antlers from both animals, and a small amount of elk meat. DNA testing positively linked the antlers and meat with samples from both carcasses collected months earlier.

Faced with this evidence, Parrott confessed to the poaching, and was charged with the unlawful possession of two bull elk, hunting elk without the proper tag and littering. One of the elk racks met the legal definition of a trophy animal, upgrading the unlawful possession charge to a felony.
  Shortly after the search warrant was served, Parrott relocated to Great Falls, Montana. He soon found himself in the county jail on the felony charge and was extradited to Idaho where he negotiated a plea agreement with Boise County prosecutors. Under the agreement, Parrott entered a guilty plea on the felony charge, with the other charges dismissed.

On March 10, Fourth Judicial District Judge Patrick Owens sentenced Parrott to:
·   A $5,000 fine ($2,500 suspended).
·   A $2,750 civil penalty.
·   Five years of supervised probation.
·   A 10-year hunting and fishing privilege suspension.

"This is one of the worst poaching cases I've investigated in my 20 years as a conservation officer," Brazie noted after the sentencing. "Stealing from all of us by poaching two trophy bull elk is bad enough, but to do so in the presence of his young son, that's unconscionable."

Anyone with information about any suspected poaching incident are encouraged to contact Citizens against Poaching at 1-800-632-5999, 24 hours a day. Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward. In addition to the CAP hotline, people may also contact their local Fish and Game office with information. In the local area, contact the Nampa Fish and Game office at 465-8465.

Evin Oneale is the conservation educator in the Southwest Region.

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