Over a year ago, two hunters at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming spotted a peculiar scene on a nearby road. Found in the road was a large pile of intestines from a large animal, such as a bison, with tracks leading from the road to the park.
According to a press release from Grand Teton National Park, the hunters reported what they had witnessed on Elk Ranch Road that night, with park rangers and game wardens arriving on the scene to confirm the report.
The investigation that followed led to the arrest of an Oregon couple who have been accused of poaching bison inside the national park.
Gary Washington pleaded guilty to violating the Lacey Act, a Class A Misdemeanor, by transporting and illegally killing a bison inside Grand Teton National Park. Washington was fined $8,025, sentenced to three years unsupervised probation, and given a worldwide hunting ban through 2017.
Additionally, Laurie Washington pleaded guilty to illegally taking a bison from the national park and was given three years unsupervised probation and a worldwide hunting ban through 2017, as well, along with a $35 court processing fee.
Law enforcement officials who investigated the case determined that the bison was killed the previous day and that the couple had ignored several park boundaries before shooting the bull bison, a quarter mile inside the park.
“After shooting the bison, track evidence demonstrated that one of the individuals involved in the illegal taking of wildlife then walked out to retrieve a utility task vehicle and drove this vehicle off road back into the park, passing several more boundary signs along the way, in order to retrieve the dead bison,” the press release stated. “As a result of this retrieval, the driver of the vehicle caused significant resource damage to vegetation in the area. The animal was subsequently field dressed at a location outside of the park boundary before being transported to a campsite along the Spread Creek Road.”
Law enforcement was able to obtain an affirmative identification of the guilty couple through leads from other hunters and other investigative information. This led to a special agent from National Park Service to travel to Oregon to interview the Washingtons. They cooperated with the investigation, confessed to shooting the bison, and surrendered the skull, hide, meat and other evidence related with the case.
Since the case has been closed, the Wyoming Fishing and Game Department will work with local organizations to help distribute the meat to those in the community who are in need.