Brothers Facing Felonies for Poaching 8 Elk in Montana

Twins allegedly poached on a ranch without permission for years.

The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department have just announced 16 charges (eight of which are felonies) in a major elk-poaching case in Fergus County near Lewiston.

Two brothers, James Stephen Page and William Thomas Page allegedly poached eight different bull elk over several years on the 3 Bar Ranch. A press release says the brothers didn't have permission or licenses for incidents that happened between 2006 and 2016. James is from Montana while William is from Washington.

"The Pages are accused of serious crimes that should concern all sportsmen and sportswomen in Montana," FWP Warden Shawn Briggs said in the press release. Briggs is just one of three wardens who helped work this case.

"Our team worked very hard to bring these two men to justice," he said.

Under Montana state law, seven of the eight bulls qualify as trophy animals. The largest bull scored a whopping 365 inches. The law says a bull has to have one main beam of at least 43 inches, a 36 inch inside spread and at least one antler with six points to fall under the "trophy" classification.

James got the brunt of the felony charges with six for unlawful possession of a trophy game animal. He also received two other felonies for tampering with evidence, as well as three misdemeanors. Two of them are for failure to obtain the landowner's permission and one for hunting without a proper license.

William got one felony for unlawful possession of a trophy game animal and four misdemeanors. Three of those counts are for purchase of a hunting license by a non-resident. The fourth misdemeanor is for unlawful possession of a game animal. This charge is lesser because the bull apparently wasn't classified as a trophy bull.

A conviction could mean a lifetime loss of hunting and fishing privileges for both brothers. They are also potentially facing thousands in fines.

This case is definitely one of the larger poaching stories to come out of the West this fall. We'll bring you more information on this case if there's a conviction.