For wildlife crimes

by: OREGON STATE POLICE PHOTO - Police discovered the remains of numerous poached deer and elk.Two 20-year-old Oregon men have been sentenced to jail and banned from hunting for life for multiple wildlife crimes.

Following a seven-month investigation by Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division troopers in Central Oregon into big game poaching in the Metolius Wildlife Management Area, Cole Amos Craig, of Bend, and Tyler S. Mitchell, of Gold Hill, were arrested in July 2012. At that time, OSP Fish and Wildlife troopers, with the assistance of U.S. Forest Service law enforcement and the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, completed the investigation and identified suspects.

During the investigation, locks were discovered shot off gates leading to critical mule deer winter range habitat. Many of the wildlife animals were killed at night with the aid of artificial lighting.

Troopers examined the remains of 20 deer and two elk. Several of the larger bucks' carcasses were found with the heads removed, and some of the doe deer were shot and left to waste, they reported. With the assistance of the Jefferson, Deschutes and Jackson County district attorneys' offices, charges were filed and the two men pleaded guilty and were sentenced. Craig was sentenced Jan. 6, in the Jefferson County Circuit Court and Jan. 13, in the Deschutes County Circuit Court. In the two courts, Craig pleaded guilty to a total of 23 counts, mostly wildlife crimes, including one count of aggravated animal abuse related to an intentional act outside of normal and acceptable hunting activities.

In the Jefferson County Circuit Court, Craig pleaded guilty to aggravated first-degree theft, a Class B felony, which occurred on or about Nov. 1, 2011; five counts of violation of wildlife laws with a culpable mental state, Class A misdemeanors, which occurred on or about Dec. 1, 2011; second-degree criminal mischief, a Class A misdemeanor, which occurred between Dec. 1, 2011 and Jan. 14, 2012; and aggravated first-degree animal abuse, a Class C felony, which occurred on or about Oct. 1, 2011.

He was sentenced to 230 days in the JCCF, and five years of supervised probation. His hunting license was revoked for life and he must pay restitution of $13,000 to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and $535 to the U.S. Forest Service. In Deschutes County, he must pay $11,971.37 in fines.

Craig's hunting license was suspended for life, and he was banned from possessing firearms for life. He must perform 400 hours of community service, plus another 300 for the Deschutes County cases.

Three additional counts of aggravated first-degree animal abuse, five counts of violation of wildlife laws with a culpable mental state, and one of violation of wildlife law or rule adopted pursuant to wildlife law were all dismissed.

Mitchell pleaded guilty to multiple charges in November 2012, and was sentenced to 180 days in jail and 60 months of probation. His hunting license was also suspended for life.

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