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For the week of August 30 through September 5, 2000

Elk Foundation chairman pleads guilty to game violation


By GREG MOORE
Express Staff Writer

The co-chairman of the Wood River Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation pleaded guilty in an agreement with prosecutors Friday to a charge of wasting an elk.

The charge against local resident Michael Inman stemmed from an Oct. 15 incident in which Idaho Department of Fish and Game officers alleged that he and hunting partner Kyle Perry shot an elk in a controlled hunting unit for which they did not have a tag.

Inman’s attorney, Brian Elkins, contended in an interview yesterday that his client is innocent of the original charge, but was willing to plead to the lesser charge because he was tired of the long court proceedings and wanted to make sure he did not lose his hunting privileges for a year.

During a sentencing hearing yesterday, Judge Robert Elgee sentenced Inman and Perry to a $1,000 fine each, $600 of which was suspended, and to a 10-day suspended jail sentence, as well as revoked their hunting licenses for six months,.

The location of the incident was on a ridge to the east of Galena Summit, near the boundary of hunting units 36 and 48. Fish and Game officer Lee Frost said in an interview yesterday that Unit 36 was a general hunting area, whereas a specific tag, which the two defendants did not have, was needed to hunt in Unit 48.

According to Frost, officers were informed by another hunter in the same area that day that he saw the defendants shoot down into Unit 48 from the ridge. The defendants, however, contended that they had initially shot the elk in Unit 36, wounding it, then followed it into Unit 48 where they killed it.

Frost said that in a search for boot tracks, elk tracks or rifle casings, officers "simply couldn’t find anything on the Unit 36 side."

"Our evidence indicated that all the shooting occurred on the Unit 48 side," he said.

Frost said Inman and Perry initially said that only Inman had shot at the elk. However, he said, officers found shell casings on the Unit 48 side matching Perry’s rifle.

Elkins said the defendants acknowledged they did not tell the truth about that, but that Inman was simply trying to take full responsibility for the incident.

Moreover, he said, "The evidence that I have seen clearly supports the theory that the elk was shot [first] in Unit 36."

Elkins said the informant testified that a fourth hunter appeared on the scene shortly after the initial shots and asked the informant, who was standing in Unit 36, if he had fired them.

"That leads me to believe that at least that hunter thought the shots came from Unit 36," Elkins said.

He also pointed out that a wound grazing the elk’s back was found on the carcass—consistent with the defendants’ claims that they first wounded it in Unit 36.

Elkins said that following yesterday’s sentencing hearing, Inman regretted making the plea agreement.

"He didn’t feel that justice was done," Elkins said. "He feels that he should have had a jury of his peers decide whether he was guilty or innocent."

 

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