South Pinedale Game Warden, Jordan Kraft holds the antlers of the two illegally shot mule deer bucks.
(Pinedale, Wyo.) – Two northeast Wyoming residents, who were working in the Pinedale area, have been convicted of several charges relating to the illegal shooting and abandonment of two trophy-class mule deer south of Pinedale last fall.
Matthew Mulcare, of Moorcroft, was convicted on two counts of Wyoming’s Winter Range Statute for taking two antlered mule deer out of season, one count of waste, one count of wanton destruction, one count of shooting from a public road and one count of illegal caliber for big game. As a result, he was fined $5,840 in fines and $6,000 in restitution for the two deer illegally shot. The .223 caliber rifle used in the crime was forfeited to the State of Wyoming and his hunting privileges were suspended for 6 years. In addition, Mulcare was ordered to serve 35 days in jail.
Joel Newberry, of Gillette, was convicted on one count of accessory to waste, one count of accessory to wanton destruction, and two counts of accessory to taking antlered deer out of season. As a result, he was fined $5,160, ordered to serve 19 days in jail and his hunting privileges were suspended for 4 years.
The two deer were illegally shot near Buckskin Crossing, off the Lander Cut-Off road southeast of Pinedale, on November 12, 2012. Wyoming Game and Fish Warden, Duane Kerr, was on patrol as part of the annual mule deer winter range task force and discovered the head-less, and partially processed, carcass of a mule deer within hours of the deer being killed. Subsequent investigation revealed a second deer had been shot and left in the same area.
The case was made after items of trash from both crime scenes, including a can of Copenhagen chewing tobacco and a can of Monster energy drink, were found to have been purchased from the Boulder Store on the morning the deer were poached. Analysis of receipt transactions confirmed that both of these items were purchased from two young men in a tan Dodge truck, which matched a description of a truck in the area, according to witnesses. The men were identified from video surveillance and transaction history information. A search of the two individual’s homes in Gillette and Moorcroft revealed a severed deer head and two quarters of deer discarded into a ravine at Mulcare’s residence.
The two men were subsequently apprehended at a gas field “man camp” near Big Piney, at which time a search of the suspect’s truck revealed a set of deer antlers and the .223 rifle used in the crime. The Wyoming Game & Fish Wildlife Forensic Laboratory in Laramie matched blood, hair and tissue DNA samples from the field to the suspect’s truck, the suspect’s house and the recovered deer antlers. Additionally, the Division of Criminal Investigation’s Crime Lab matched ballistic samples from the field and the abandoned deer carcass to the suspect’s gun.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department South Pinedale Game Warden, Jordan Kraft, touts the successful conviction of these two deer poachers as a shining example of hard work and cooperation amongst the many who were involved. “This case is a credit to witnesses providing key information, fantastic cooperation of the store owners, a coordinated team of 10 different game wardens and investigators from both corners of the state and both investigative labs,” said Kraft. “I would also commend Circuit Court Judge, Curt Haws, and Deputy Sublette County Attorney, Clay Kainer, who continue to aggressively protect the treasured mule deer, and other wildlife, of Sublette County.
Although trophy mule deer can be difficult to find in the vast backcountry during hunting seasons, they are more visible, and thus more vulnerable, as they transition to winter ranges. Each year, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department operates a winter range task force, which brings wildlife enforcement officers in from around the state to help patrol mule deer winter ranges. Kraft credits the task force for the successful conviction of these two deer poachers. “Clearly, the additional law enforcement presence made the difference in discovering these two illegally shot deer in a timely manner.”
But even with the increased enforcement presence, Kraft is asking for help from the public. “We do not have the personnel to be everywhere, all the time, so we rely on reports from the public,” said Kraft. “There are quite a few people out there watching the deer and their reports of suspicious activity can be extremely helpful. Whether you’re a hunter, or just a wildlife enthusiast, the illegal shooting of these animals should not be tolerated by anyone.”
Anyone with information on a possible poaching incident should call the STOP POACHING hotline at 1-877-WGFD-TIP (1-877-943-3847), any Game and Fish regional office or any Game Warden. Information can also be reported online by clicking on the Stop Poaching icon found on the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s homepage at:http://wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/