Hermiston men plead guilty to unlawfully killing trophy elk

The trophy bull elk was killed east of Milton-Freewater with a firearm during archery season.

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A Hermiston man and his father have pleaded guilty in Umatilla County Circuit Court to wildlife-related criminal charges stemming from the unlawful taking of a trophy bull elk east of Milton-Freewater with a firearm during archery season.

Jorey M. Peterson, 25, entered guilty pleas in March to first-degree theft, waste of wildlife and illegal taking of wildlife, according to an Oregon State Police news release.

His father, Michael L. Peterson, 47, also of Hermiston, pleaded guilty in April to first-degree theft and aiding in a wildlife violation.

They received 180-day suspended jail terms, three years of probation and were ordered jointly to pay $15,000 in restitution, the news release says.

The charges stemmed from an investigation by OSP Fish & Wildlife Division troopers. In September troopers from the Pendleton Area Command office received information that the Petersons had unlawfully taken a trophy bull elk in the Walla Walla Unit with a rifle during the last day of the 2010 archery season.

As part of the investigation, troopers 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 the news release.

"It's because of poaching incidents like this involving large trophy class wildlife that the State of Oregon has pursued enhanced penalties for violators".

In 2009, the Oregon Legislature passed a bill 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.

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