By Betsy Simon
The Game and Fish Department is closing cases and investigating new possibilities of poaching across the state.
Mike Choma, law enforcement supervisor for G&F in Casper, says the department has stepped up efforts in recent years to cut down on illegal taking of the state’s wildlife resources.
It’s an effort of which the public is taking notice by offering anonymous tips that have led to breaks in poaching cases, which happen throughout the state.
“We rely on tips because we can’t be every place all the time,” he said. “And this time of year we try to publicize our biggest cases to remind people what can happen if a violation is committed.”
The investigations are highly involved, as was the case G&F started investigating last year that involved alleged poaching of mule deer in Park County by two Cody me, Ira Emanuel Fellows and Andrew Dean Rogers.
A case also wrapped up last month involving a black bear that was shot in Sweetwater County in September by Charles Matthew Ziska of Cody who did not have a license, according to court records.
He was fined $750 in that case, according to court records.
Irah Leonetti, G&F wildlife investigator in Cody, says as a whole there probably is not more poaching in northwest Wyoming compared to other parts of the state.
But there is a diversity of wildlife in the region, so there may be more serious violations on average in this region, he added.
“That’s why we focus on education and letting people know the value wildlife has for them and the state,” Leonetti said. “General deterrence with putting more officers on patrol also helps, but most people don’t poach and follow the rules.”
From September through November, Choma says wildlife become more visible as they make their way to winter ranges and animals are spending more time on public roads, increasing chances of contact with humans.
“They’re often focused on breeding this time of year or are just trying to make it through this time of year,” he added. “And sometimes they don’t take as much effort as they do during other times of the year to avoid humans.”
That can be difficult in Wyoming, where the state boasts more than 600 species of wildlife, according to the state Office of Tourism website. More....