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Farrell Johnson of Nampa Loses Hunting Privilege For Life

May 1, 2006

Concerned hunters, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the department's Wildlife Health Laboratory and the Idaho County Sheriff's Office all worked together to bring a moose poacher to justice.

On June 5 in Idaho County Court, Farrell E. Johnson, 65, of Nampa, pleaded guilty to a charge of wasteful destruction of a big game animal-a trophy bull moose. Originally filed as a felony, the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor through an agreement with the Idaho County Prosecutor's office.

On the reduced charge, Johnson was fined $4,080, sentenced to two years probation and lost possession of the moose antlers and cape, and he had his hunting privileges revoked for life. He also received a withheld judgment on the misdemeanor guilty plea itself, which will not affect the fines and lifetime loss of privileges.

This case was the first Fish and Game lifetime license revocation handed down in Idaho County.

The case began in November 2005 when two deer hunters contacted Conservation Officer Larry Willmott of Elk City about a large bull moose they had discovered on a hillside left to waste. A couple days earlier, the two hunters had talked to Johnson and his group of friends at the kill site and offered to help pack out the meat, but Johnson declined the offer. When the two hunters returned to the area later, they discovered only the antlers, cape and a small amount of meat had been removed.

Though the witnesses did not know the violator's name, they provided detailed information about him and a description of his white, dual-wheel Ford pickup with red flames painted on the side. After visiting the kill site, Willmott and Idaho County Deputy Mike Chlebowski confirmed that, in addition to the antlers and cape, only about 20 pounds of meat had been removed from the carcass.

After further investigation, Willmott determined that Johnson and his vehicle matched the witnesses' descriptions, and that Johnson had a valid moose permit for the same area and was hunting with a group of friends at the time of the violation.

"In this case the moose was legally harvested, but Johnson made some really poor decisions afterwards by not salvaging the meat and allowing this animal to go to waste," Willmott said. "It's the hunter's responsibility to salvage the meat from the animals they harvest, and take action to not allow it to waste."

Nampa area conservation officers Bill London and Brian Flatter interviewed Johnson and his hunting partners and collected samples of meat they claimed was from the moose Johnson had killed. DNA analysis by Karen Rudolph at the wildlife laboratory proved the meat in their possession matched the meat from the wasted moose.

"Along with DNA analysis, the willingness of the two witnesses to testify against him in court helped to solidify the case," Willmott said.
In wildlife law enforcement, when officers get help from the public, the results can be huge.

"The two hunters not only started this investigation, they put an end to it," Willmott said. "Their willingness to step forward and testify really blew the defense out of the water, and without their help, this case would not have been made."

By calling the Citizens Against Poaching hotline 1-800-632-5999 with detailed information of a wildlife crime, concerned citizens can help Fish and Game solve and discourage wildlife crimes. Rewards are available and callers can remain anonymous.


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