By Katherine Mozzone
A big state wildlife investigation in southwest Montana ended with more than $72,000 in fines and restitution from 26 people who illegally took game animals.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region Three Warden Captain Sam Sheppard showed us a breakdown of everyone who was fined, what they took and how much they'll have to pay in restitution.
From Nevada to New York, Sheppard says for the last 10 to 15 years, Edward and Sharon Wachs invited select people from across the country to hunt and issued them ranch tags. Only there's no such thing as ranch tags and visitors often took more than the law allowed.
"Rich people basically that owned a couple very large ranches that thought the game on there was theirs to do with what they want," says Sheppard.
In all, Sheppard tells us 14 mule deer, 11 whitetail deer and five bull elk were taken illegally, but says there could be many more and wardens will continue to work on leads as they come in.
Sheppard explains the visitors were hunting and fishing without proper licenses and tags but some ranch workers were also involved and consequently fined. He says six people also used ranch addresses to unlawfully buy resident licenses.
"Basically, shooting whatever they felt like and using tags of people from other people that did have tags and shuffling them back and forth," says Sheppard.
He tells us wardens were tipped off when they noticed a discrepancy with doe tags. More....