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Case File  #24   November 2009

Illegal Moose Poacher Nabbed

On November 3, 2009, Warden Ryan Fitzpatrick received an Operation Game Thief (OGT) complaint of an illegally killed moose in the town of Grand Isle in northern Aroostook County. Warden Fitzpatrick and Warden Ed Christie responded to the scene at approximately 8:30PM and found a dressed, young male moose calf covered with grass in an apparent attempt to conceal the moose. The entrails of the moose had also been covered with grass. Given the manner in which the moose was concealed, the wardens felt that the poacher would return to the scene so their vehicle was hidden, the wardens concealed themselves and spent the night watching the moose.

At approximately 6:15AM the next morning on November 4th, the wardens observed a male subject in a white pickup pull into the Christmas tree plantation where the moose had been killed, exit his vehicle and walk directly to where the moose was covered with grass. The male subject began to butcher the moose with an axe. The wardens noted that the subject acted nervously as he would make a cut on the moose and then nervously look around. He proceeded to cut off the two hind legs and then hide them under a tree a few feet away from the moose. At this point, the two wardens announced their presence to the poacher. Asking the poacher what he was doing, the poacher acknowledged that he could not speak any English.

Asking the poacher to accompany the wardens to the poacher's vehicle, the wardens recovered only a .410 shotgun on the seat of the truck. Warden Jeff Spencer and his canine were asked to report to the scene and Warden Spencer's canine quickly found 4 fresh 30-.06 cartridges approximately 75 yards from the dead moose.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent responded to the scene to act as an interpreter for the poacher. The poacher was read his Miranda rights and agreed to speak with the officers although the poacher stated he did not kill the moose, nor did he know who did. The poacher was placed under arrest and taken to jail. Securing a search warrant, the wardens searched the poacher's home seizing a 30-.06 scoped rifle and a magazine. The Maine State Police Crime Lab tested the firearm as well as the cartridges found at the scene of the illegal moose kill. The tests revealed the cartridges found were fired from the seized firearm.

At trial, the poacher was found guilty of illegally killing a moose in closed season, was fined $1,000 and spent three days in jail. Additionally, the poacher lost his firearm as well as his hunting privileges. Were it not for the concern of a Maine citizen and a call to Operation Game Thief, this poacher would not have been caught.  A most important element of the case needs to be remembered: the patience and excellent warden work of these three Maine game wardens was also instrumental in this poacher being apprehended. Maine sportsmen and women should be proud of every Maine game warden! Thank you to them!


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