PENDLETON
Hunter, outfitter pleads guilty to poaching

Photo Oregon State PoliceThis photo, taken in 2014 from a neighbor's trail cam, shows the trophy mule deer poached by Pendleton resident Todd Longgood later that year. Longgood pleaded guilty in the case last week in Baker County.

A local hunter, outfitter and former board member for the Mule Deer Foundation admitted Tuesday to poaching a trophy mule deer buck two years ago.

Todd Longgood, 40, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful taking of a game mammal in Baker County Circuit Court. He was sentenced to three years probation, a $1,000 fine and ordered to pay $7,500 restitution to the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. Longgood’s hunting license has also been suspended for three years.

The case stems back to the 2014 archery season. Longgood, who was hunting on private property near Daly Creek in Baker County, legally harvested a trophy mule deer. He then shot another, larger buck the next day, according to senior trooper Dain Gardner with the Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division.

Gardner, who led the investigation, said that Longgood preserved the second animal for a full year until he could apply his 2015 archery season tag. The poached buck reportedly registered 212 inches on the Pope & Young scoring system, which measures both the length and spread of the antlers.

“It was a magnificent buck,” Gardner said.

It wasn’t until Aug. 9, 2016 that Gardner was able to issue search warrants in Baker, Umatilla and Morrow counties — just a week or two before the statute of limitations was set to expire.

“On a lot of these cases, we just wait for information to come in,” Gardner said. “That’s all you can do.”

After serving the warrants, game officers were able to find photographs indicating the deer was killed in 2014. Longgood, who lives in Pendleton and co-owns Sheep Mountain Outfitters in Hermiston, was indicted Aug. 11. Gardner said there is no evidence the poaching took place on a guided trip.

Longgood could not be reached for comment Thursday. He was required by the court to forfeit the head and antlers from the deer, though the head may be returned.

Baker County District Attorney Matthew Shirtcliff issued a statement commending Gardner for his work on the investigation.

“This is an important case, as these cases can be difficult to prove when the game crime is committed on private property,” Shirtcliff said. “Concerned citizens are always important in bringing incidents like this to light, and were beneficial in this case as well.”

Longgood works as a broker for Whitney Land Company in Pendleton, and is a longtime rancher in the region. He has also served since 2015 on the board of directors for the Mule Deer Foundation, a conservation group with more than 40,000 members nationwide.

Mike Moretti, president and CEO of the foundation, said Longgood officially resigned Thursday and relinquished his lifetime membership. His name and photo were removed from the Mule Deer Foundation website that afternoon.

Moretti said the foundation subscribes to the ethics of fair chase, and is a huge supporter of anti-poaching legislation.

“We hate to see this with one of our board members,” he said. “It’s something we don’t tolerate. We hold all our members to a higher standard.”

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Contact George Plaven at gplaven@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0825.

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