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WASHINGTON—Paul L. Arnold was sentenced today by Judge Ronald Bush of the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho to pay a $2,500 fine, serve two years probation, and perform 50 hours of community service for two misdemeanor violations of the Lacey Act, a federal wildlife enforcement statute, which occurred near Soda Springs, Idaho, the Justice Department announced.
Arnold was also sentenced to pay $2,500 in restitution to the Idaho State Fish and Game Department. Additionally, he was ordered to forfeit his hunting privileges for a period of two years, and the mounts of two elk and a bow used in a hunt that led to the charges. The judge also required Arnold to write a letter to Eastman’s Bowhunting Journal explaining the circumstances of his conviction.
The case arose from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) investigation of several hunts Arnold undertook in 2002 and 2003. On Sept. 8, 2002, Arnold participated in a hunt while based at a lodge outside of Soda Springs where he shot a trophy-class elk with a distinct commercially available bow. At the time Arnold shot the elk, the bow he used had an illegal electronic sight mounted on it. The legal tension requirement on the bow also exceeded the 65 percent limit allowed under state of Idaho Fish and Game regulations at the time. He later transported the elk from Idaho to Virginia where he resides. An article by Arnold with accompanying photographs appeared in the May 2003 edition of Eastman’s Bowhunting Journal and alerted FWS to the illegal sight on the bow.
On Sept. 15, 2003, Arnold again participated in a hunt while based at the same lodge. Despite not possessing a valid Idaho elk tag, Arnold shot an elk with a bow from a tree stand around dusk but was unable to track it because of darkness. The next day, he tracked the elk and found the animal dead. After dressing the animal and bringing it to the lodge, Arnold drove to Soda Springs and purchased an elk tag. A search by FWS agents prevented Arnold from transporting the elk to Virginia.
As part of the investigation, FWS special agents in Virginia obtained a search warrant to seize a trophy elk illegally shot by Arnold in Idaho in 2002 and transported to Virginia where the elk was made into a mount. On June 22, 2004, the agents questioned Arnold about the location of the elk mount. Arnold told the agents the elk mount was in the possession of a friend, when in fact, the elk mount was in his cabin. FWS agents subsequently seized the elk mount.
“We take wildlife violations seriously. Not only do these crimes harm wildlife populations, but they violate existing laws that legitimate hunters are following,” said John C. Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
“Through joint investigative efforts by Idaho Fish and Game, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this case has been a success,” said Robert Romero, Resident Agent in Charge, Office of Law Enforcement, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We hope that this conviction sends a strong message that the unlawful take of wildlife will not be tolerated.”
The case was investigated by the Fish and Wildlife Service and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney, Michael Fica and Senior Trial Attorney J. Ronald Sutcliffe of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section.