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Idaho Man Gets Fines, Lifetime Hunting Ban After Poaching Bighorn Sheep

bighorn sheep
Travis Smola

Wildlife officers caught the alleged poacher with blood on his hands. 

An Idaho man who poached a bighorn sheep found himself hit with jail time, a hefty fine and a lifetime hunting ban after being found guilty.

The Idaho Statesman reports 53-year-old Paul Cortez was found guilty of poaching the ram in hunt unit 19 last November. Conservation officers caught Cortez red-handed, quite literally. When officers approached him on November 6, his hands were covered in blood. Idaho’s bighorn sheep season had ended back in mid-October in that area.

He eventually admitted to the officers that he had shot a ram and stashed the body up in some rocks.

Cortez was given 30 days of jail time, a $10,000 civil penalty and $753 in fines. “The [illegal] killing of animals, especially rare animals, has serious consequences in this state,” Judge Gregory FitzMaurice said at Cortez’s sentencing.

The poacher was also cited for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia in the incident, but those charges were dropped when Cortez took a plea agreement where he pled guilty to a felony count of illegally killing a big game animal.

That charge called for 15 days in jail, but FitzMaurice increased the jail time to 30 days in addition to the lifetime hunt ban.

Officials in most states where bighorn sheep live have taken recent incidents of the poaching of the animals quite seriously. Two Oregon men are also facing potential jail time and massive fines after state troopers allegedly caught them with the severed heads of two bighorn sheep back in April.

It is little wonder they take these incidents so seriously, especially considering how difficult it is to get a license to hunt sheep in many states. Back in January, one hunter paid a staggering $305,000 for a bighorn sheep license in Montana.

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Idaho Man Gets Fines, Lifetime Hunting Ban After Poaching Bighorn Sheep