By Angela Brandt
A well-to-do Illinois couple who invited guests to hunt illegally at their ranch near Pony has been fined alongside 24 of their accomplices.
So far, the tally of fines has totaled $72,000. Ryan Gosse, a game warden stationed in Ennis, said the investigation continues. Charges recently resolved involved 10 mule deer, seven white tail deer and four bull elk.
“There are still people out there. We took out a big chunk,” he told The Montana Standard on Tuesday, regarding years of working the case.
Gosse estimates Edward and Sharon Wachs, former owners of the Trails End and Hollow Top ranches, encouraged their business associates to poach on their land for about 15 years. The couple, who owns an international pipe manufacturing company based in Illinois, would invite their business associates to come for a week in Montana. Free of charge, they would supply airfare, firearms, vehicles and a hunting guide, Gosse said.
“It was a business endeavor basically. It was all part of being a business associate,” Gosse said.
The game, illegally hunted with falsified tags or no documents at all, was then shipped out on private jets, sometimes in chandelier boxes to the cohorts across the country. Most of the trophy animals were recovered and later sold at auction, Gosse added.
The majority of charges were filed in Madison County justice court. More....