Multiple Jurisdictions Form ‘Team’ to Target Suspect Illegally Selling Wildlife
By: Carlos Gomez, State Game
Warden, Tulsa, Oklahoma
As an Oklahoma warden in a metropolitan area, I see, hear, and relate to a great many sportsmen by all kinds of methods. One increasingly growing method is social media and electronic networking. Not only do sportsmen brag, discuss, and ask for information, they buy and sell equipment, services … and sometimes wildlife.
One such issue developed into a serious violation resulting in a Texas man (represented by his attorney) being ordered by an Oklahoma judge to pay a total of $11,356 in fines and costs including $8K of that amount to be paid as restitution to the ODWC including a ‘condition of supervised probation’ for 30 months. The sentence immediately followed the man’s entering a plea of guilt for selling and offering for sale, whitetail skulls with antlers attached in Oklahoma. This all occurred following a series of bad decisions made by the “innocent sportsman” who many said was simply selling a few of HIS wildlife items on eBay! Ensuing criticisms from ‘keyboard patrollers’ declared prosecution was a case of government overreach because these trophy deer skulls were his private property and many online sportsmen were upset that “anyone wanting to sell wildlife (parts) that were their own property (and assuming they’d obtained them fair and square), should not be called illegal if they want ed to sell!” Further complicating public perceptions of this relatively simple but serious violation (in Oklahoma) is the fact that some states have varying laws that may allow the practice.