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Idaho State News

Illegal Possession of a Bighorn Sheep Head Leads to Big Fines and Penalties

J Brower | IDFG

COEUR D’ALENE – On March 1, 2024, an Idaho resident was sentenced in a Kootenai County court for the unlawful possession of a bighorn sheep ram he claimed to have salvaged as a roadkill in Idaho. The offender was granted a withheld judgment and ordered to pay a $10,000 Civil Penalty, $1,307 in restitution for DNA processing, two years supervised probation, and a two-year hunting license revocation.

The case originated in Fremont County where Idaho Fish and Game opened an investigation after the filing of a suspicious Roadkill Salvage Report of a bighorn sheep ram reported to have been picked up as a roadkill in Fremont County, Idaho. Under Idaho law, individuals may recover and keep wildlife species classified as upland birds, upland game animals, big game, furbearers, and predators that may be lawfully hunted or trapped that have been killed by accidental vehicle collisions. Some of those animals, including big horn sheep, require inspection by Fish and Game staff after the salvage report. Montana’s vehicle salvage law only allows for the salvage of deer, elk, moose, and antelope, not bighorn sheep.

“The salvage rule in Idaho provides the opportunity for individuals to recover and possess certain wildlife killed by accidental vehicle collisions so that parts of those animals can be utilized,” says Upper Snake Regional Conservation Officer Barry Cummings. “Fortunately, we have seen very few individuals abusing the law and using it to unlawfully smuggle wildlife across the border as was done in this case.”

With help from Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks and the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office, investigators determined the offender had picked up the sheep’s head near Ennis, Montana, and not in Idaho. In an effort to pass off the salvage as legal, the offender took the sheep to the Fish and Game regional office in Coeur d’Alene, claimed it as an Idaho roadkill, and falsified the mortality report.

“We place a high value on our wildlife resources in Idaho and our officers work tirelessly to protect them,” says Cummings. “I do appreciate the court taking this case seriously and want to thank all of the agencies involved for their efforts.”

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