Oregon State Police used a Pendleton teen’s own digital images to help put him in jail for poaching multiple game animals in 2017.
The crimes also cost Joseph Reid St. Pierre, 18, his hunting license for life.
St. Pierre faced seven criminal cases for poaching, according to Umatilla County Circuit Court records, and on April 26 he pleaded guilty to multiple counts of poaching and related charges.
Oregon State Police began investigating St. Pierre for poaching a mule deer on July 22 on Highway 395 near milepost 20-B, according to search warrant affidavits, which are public records. The police sought the warrants to obtain images from St. Pierre’s Snapchat account.
Snapchat is a video and chat messaging app that allows users to send digital photos and videos. Depending on the privacy’ settings, all Snapchatters or just friends of the sender can see the images.
State police on Oct. 21 searched St. Pierre’s home in Pendleton, according to the affidavits, where he allowed a detective to look at his two cellphones. The phones had multiple pictures of dead game animals.
That led police to dig further and find videos and images of poaching on St. Pierre’s Snapchat account. Police on Dec. 11 saw a video showing “multiple dead elk somewhere in a meadow like area” with “snow on the ground and a lot of blood from the elk,” the affidavits state. St. Pierre’s pickup was in the video along with a red Toyota pickup belong to another Pendleton man, and people loading the elk into that pickup.
State police also questioned St. Pierre and three friends, including his girlfriend, according to the affidavits. Some changed statements during subsequent interviews, including who did or did not illegally shoot game.
But some also told police the head of one buck deer was at a house on the Umatilla Indian Reservation. State police troopers and officers with Umatilla Tribal Police visited the house. The homeowner knew nothing about the deer but allowed police to search the property. Police eventually found the head in a shed and brought it back to the state police office in Pendleton.
Overall, the investigation yielded the probable cause for police to arrest St. Pierre on Jan. 6 on multiple charges for poaching.
Court records show he took plea deals and admitted to the following:
•hunting on enclosed land, unlawful taking of a buck deer, waste of a game animal, and assisting another in taking a buck deer on July 22
•unlawful taking of a bull elk and unlawful waste of the animal on Sept. 23
•unlawful taking of a buck deer and assisting another with a wildlife violation on Oct. 8
•unlawful taking of a buck deer and waste of a game animal on Oct. 16
•unlawful taking of a buck deer and trespassing with a firearm on Nov. 29
•two counts of taking antlerless elk on Dec. 9 and exceeding the annual bag limit.
Circuit Judge Jon Lieuallen sentenced St. Pierre to five years probation, $2,300 in fines and suspended St. Pierre’s hunting license for life. Lieuallen also ordered St. Pierre to show up by June 10 to serve time in the Umatilla County Jail, Pendleton.
Jail staff reported St. Pierre arrived Monday and with good behavior can get out June 29.