Double-Dipping Deer Poacher Pleads Guilty

A deer poaching case involving a distinctive vehicle, an alert citizen, and a groundswell of public interest has concluded with fines and license suspensions for a Roosevelt, Utah man.

Idaho Mule DeerA Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) call started it all. In early November of 2014, a concerned citizen called the CAP hotline to report what he thought to be an illegally-taken mule deer. While fueling his vehicle at the Boise Stage Stop on Interstate 84 east of Boise, he visited with two men driving a new tan Ford Raptor pickup truck. A tarp-covered mule deer buck in the back of the Raptor caught his attention, and motivated him to report his observations.

Just days later, Fish and Game investigators identified one of those men as Mark Richens (34) of Roosevelt, Utah. It was also determined that Richens had just purchased a duplicate deer tag, reporting to the issuing license vendor that his original unit 40 late-season buck tag had been lost.

Shortly afterwards, it was determined that Richens was back in Unit 40, actively hunting trophy mule deer. Officers eventually located both Richens and his hunting partner where they proved to be less than cooperative during an interview, suggesting that officers “contact our attorneys.”

On December 19 2014, some case information and photographs were released to the public via standard media as well as the Fish and Game Southwest Region and CAP Facebook pages, with an appeal for additional information that might bolster the case against Richens.

Public reaction was both rapid and overwhelming, as the post was quickly relayed from one Facebook user to another. “We had an amazing response from the Facebook world,” Fish and Game regional investigator Kurt Stieglitz noted. “I received a message the very first evening from a caller who identified Mark Richens as the driver of the Ford Raptor and provided other case details.” Additional information funneled into Stieglitz’ office in the days that followed, allowing him to seek a criminal complaint against Richens for attempting to take a second trophy mule deer.

Mark Richens was eventually charged with one count of hunting/unlawfully taking a big game animal in Owyhee County, Idaho, and one count of hunting with an invalid tag. In early October 2015, the invalid tag charge was dropped as part of a plea agreement by which Richens was ordered to pay $665 in fines and court costs. Owyhee County Magistrate Judge Dan Grober also handed down a two-year hunting license revocation which included the provision that Richens cannot be in possession of a firearm while in Idaho, nor accompany another hunter in the field in Idaho for the two-year period. A 90-day jail sentence will be imposed should Richens fail to comply with these conditions during his one-year probationary period.

Fish and Game officers did the legwork, but the real heroes in this case were ordinary citizens. “We developed a solid case thanks to citizen involvement,” Stieglitz said. “It’s gratifying to know that so many Idahoans value the state’s wildlife and will move quickly to defend it.”

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