Nine hunting offenses result in hefty fines and loss of privileges
People who hunt game illegally blame all legitimate hunters, and that’s why Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is cracking down on illegal hunters.
Regional education and programs manager for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Dillon Tabish provides details about an illegal hunter in western Montana.
“In October 2021, a Sanders County man, Toby Bridges, pleaded guilty to nine hunting misdemeanors, including illegally hunting black bears with bait and unlawfully killing an out-of-season elk,” Tabish said. . “The main focus of our investigation by our game wardens was the illegal hunting of black bears with bait, but other hunting infractions were discovered during the investigation.”
Tabish explained the other violations Bridges has been charged with.
“These charges included two counts of unlawful possession of black bears that were killed over bait, one count of killing an elk after the end of the general elk season, unlawful possession of this elk, then a head of loan and transfer a permit for a downed whitetail deer with someone else’s permit. These charges resulted in $9,605 in fines and restitution, as well as the loss of hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for 54 months.
Tabish said reputable sportspeople speak out against those who hunt illegally, knowing that these actions are hurting everyone who hunts and fishes within the rules.
“These sportsmen are hunters who are really playing a big part in this by calling and reporting incidents through our 24-hour hotline (1-800-TIP-MONT) and callers can remain eligible until $1,000 for information that leads to a conviction,” he said. “However, you often hear hunters call this type of advice because they know it’s wrong and by cheating you’re being pushed away from people who are doing it right.”
Tabish said illegal hunting is a stain on all sportsmen and therefore such offenses carry a heavy penalty.
“When we have irresponsible or unethical hunters, it causes a ripple effect and it hurts them; it hurts their righteous hunting; it harms the sport of our traditional hunting,” he said. “It creates a bad image of hunting and hunters, so that people who are against hunting or on the fence, or who don’t really have an opinion either way, just start to think negatively about the hunting and hunters, then more Over time, our strong hunting tradition can begin to erode.
Bridges has pleaded not guilty to two additional charges related to a third black bear shot over bait.
The law isn’t over with Bridges yet.
Bridges did not show up for both counts and multiple warrants were issued for his arrest.
Anyone with possible information about crimes involving fish and wildlife resources and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks sites is encouraged to call FWP’s 24-hour hotline, 1-800-TIP-MONT (1-800-847 -6668). Callers may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to a conviction.
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