Two local men charged with poaching

EVANSTON — Two local teens were charged last week with several hunting violations, including intoxicated hunting and hunting without a license. Austin Jarrell, 19 years old, pleaded guilty to the charges, while 18-year-old Gerald Lewis pleaded not guilty. 

They were each charged with five Game and Fish violations, including wanton destruction of a big game animal, taking game animals without a license, wasting edible portions of a game animal, violating a commission order and hunting while intoxicated. 

According to court documents, local game warden Nick Roberts was called to the dam on a reservoir near Dee Ranch to investigate a poached deer. He reported that a lactating doe deer had been shot through the chest and head and left as she was, with no apparent attempt to salvage any of the meat. Upon scanning the area, he allegedly found empty 30-06 bullets and an ATM receipt, and a ranch hand also described a vehicle he had seen on July 6, the date that gunshots had been heard.

Law enforcement traced the owner of the ATM receipt, ending up at Austin Jarrell’s residence in Evanston, where investigating game warden Chris Baird found a truck matching the ranch hand’s description. Court documents also report that Baird saw two spent large caliber rifle rounds on the seat of the truck. 

Jarrell was not home, having been arrested the evening of July 6 for driving while under the influence. Both he and Lewis, who was riding in the truck as well, were allegedly intoxicated; according to court documents, Jarrell blew a .07 percent BAC and Lewis blew a .069. The game warden calculated that the arrest time was consistent with how long it would have taken to get to Evanston from where the deer was shot. 

During the investigation, Jarrell allegedly admitted to shooting the deer, although his original story (contradicted by Lewis and another passenger in their statements) was that he had struck the deer with his truck and shot it to put it out of its misery. The game warden also reported that the deer had no injuries consistent with being hit by a vehicle. 

Lewis, who also faced the same charges Jarrell pleaded guilty to, allegedly stated that he shot at the deer with a .22 magnum rifle but missed.

Lewis pleaded not guilty to the five charges, and so his case will continue. 

After pleading guilty, Jarrell was sentenced to several fines and jail time, some of which have been suspended. He will have to pay $500 to the Wyoming Wildlife Protectors Association and serve a total of 20 days in jail. His hunting and fishing privileges have also been suspended for nine years.

He could have faced $2,000 in additional fines (which have been suspended) and nearly three and a half years in jail for the combined crimes. 

“It was quite a mess, and these kids are getting what they deserve,” Roberts told the Herald.

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