A judge sentenced a Hermiston-area father and son Tuesday for poaching a trophy bull elk near Milton-Freewater during archery season.
Michael Peterson, 47, and Jorey Peterson, 25, must together pay $15,000 in restitution and spend three years on probation for the crime.
Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife troopers discovered last September that the Petersons had unlawfully taken an elk with a rifle during the last day of the 2010 archery season. Troopers searched the Peterson residence and seized a large 10x7 trophy-class bull elk and the rifle allegedly used to kill the animal.
As part of the investigation, troopers also located the scene east of Milton-Freewater where the bull elk was killed and found the elk's carcass. Upon inspection they determined the meat had spoiled and was no longer fit for human consumption.
Local landowners had observed this particular elk in the same area for several years, Senior Trooper Rick Carter, lead investigator on the case, said in a press release. Its because of poaching incidents like this involving large trophy class wildlife that the state of Oregon has pursued enhanced penalties for violators.
The Oregon Legislature passed a bill in 2009 enhancing civil damages for the unlawful taking or killing of wildlife, including a $15,000 fine for any elk with at least six points on one antler.
Jorey Peterson pleaded guilty to first-degree theft, waste of wildlife and illegal take of wildlife. In addition to restitution and probation, his hunting license was suspended for three years. Michael Peterson pleaded guilty to first-degree theft and aiding in a wildlife violation. His hunting license was not suspended.