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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Alaska

Friday, February 8, 2013

Sheep hunter sentenced for unlawfully taking under-Sized Dall Sheep

Anchorage, Alaska- U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced that a Colorado man was sentenced today in the U.S. District Court in Fairbanks for transporting an unlawfully taken Dall sheep.

Thomas M. McGann, 58, of Longmont, Colorado, pled guilty today and was sentenced by U.S. Magistrate Judge Scott A. Oravec in Fairbanks on a charge that he transported a Dall sheep he had killed illegally.  The court ordered McGann to pay a $10,000 fine, forfeit the sheep, and not engage in hunting for one year.  McGann admitted that he shot an under-sized sheep in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in 2008 and transported it to Fairbanks for the required state inspection of the horns, knowing the sheep was unlawful and that one of its horns had been altered to make the kill appear legal.  

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Cooper, who prosecuted the case, McGann’s Plea Agreement included the facts he admitted to in support of the charges.  These facts showed that McGann’s guide advised McGann to shoot the sheep while mistakenly believing it was of legal size.  After the kill, they saw that one horn was broken and the other unbroken horn was less than the required minimum of one full curl in length.  McGann’s master guide-outfitter, Joe Hendricks, altered the unbroken horn by hammering it with a rock to obscure the fact that it was less than the legal minimum size. 

McGann, knowing that this alteration had been done, transported the sheep to Fairbanks and presented it for the required Fish and Game inspection.  The sheep passed inspection. McGann later denied he knew the horn had been altered, but other evidence showed he was aware of the illegal alteration before he presented the horns for inspection. 

McGann later admitted he knew that the horn had been altered before the inspection.  McGann acknowledged that Master Guide Joe Hendricks advised him to destroy any kill site photos to conceal the alteration of the horn.  McGann declined to destroy his photos, which showed the sheep before Hendricks broke the horn, and showed the sheep was undersize.  For his part in this and other guiding offenses, Hendricks was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Fairbanks on August 24, 2012, to pay a fine of $125,000 and was restricted from hunting and guiding for five years.  The assistant guide who called the shot is also under indictment on allegations that he played a part in these and other offenses in ANWR.

Ms. Loeffler commends the United States Fish & Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement for Northern Alaska, and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge staff, for the investigation of this case.

Updated January 29, 2015