CODY – Two Cody men have received heavy fines and suspension of hunting privileges following their conviction for taking buck mule deer without a proper license.
Andrew Dean Rogers of Cody and Ira Emanuel Fellows of Cody were recently convicted on wildlife charges in separate but related cases. Rogers, 51, pleaded guilty to taking a buck mule deer without a proper license and Fellows, 61, was found guilty by a jury for taking a buck mule deer during a closed season and without a proper license. Rogers was ordered to pay $4,540 in fines and restitution and will lose his hunting privileges for three years. Fellows was sentenced by Park County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters to pay $8,040 in fines and will lose his hunting privileges for five years.
In November 2012, North Cody Game Warden Travis Crane and Wildlife Investigator Irah Leonetti launched an investigation after receiving an anonymous report that Rogers had killed two buck mule deer in the Jim Creek area west of Cody in 2012. During a search conducted at Rogers’ taxidermy studio and residence on May 2, 2013, two buck mule deer skull caps and other items were seized as evidence. The Game and Fish Wildlife Forensics Lab matched DNA from one of the deer heads to a carcass that had been left in the field and found by investigators. Rogers then admitted he killed two mule deer bucks in November 2012 near Ira Fellows’ property and that both bucks seized were the deer he illegally harvested.
Rogers said he took only the head and cape from the mule deer harvested Nov. 7, 2012 because the deer was not big enough, even though it was a mature four-point buck. Rogers admitted to investigators that he did not tag the first deer he killed because he wanted to continue hunting for a larger deer. Rogers killed a second, larger buck on Nov. 9, 2012.
During the course of the investigation involving Rogers, investigators received information there may have been a third buck mule deer illegally harvested in the same area. A resident living in the area reported observing a large buck with unique antlers in the vicinity for three days after the season closed Nov. 10, 2012. The buck, described as having drop tines coming off the terminal ends of both antler main beams, was not observed after Nov. 13, 2012.
While processing evidence from the Rogers case, investigators discovered a photo of an individual (later identified as Fellows) posing with what appeared to be a freshly killed buck mule deer head and cape. The deer had drop tines coming off the terminal ends of both antler main beams and the time and date stamp indicated the photo was taken at 5:36 p.m. Nov. 13, 2012.
During an interview in regards to Rogers’ deer hunting activities in 2012, Fellows told investigators that he shot a heavy horned 5-by-6 buck mule deer and claimed it had been killed near Meeteetse. When Fellows was asked to produce that deer for investigators, he produced a smaller 3-by-4 mule deer with thin antlers that did not match the description of the deer he had previously described.
Investigators also received information regarding a large buck mule deer that Rogers was planning to taxidermy mount for Fellows. Additional evidence was collected regarding the illegal take of the unique antlered deer and was presented to the Park County Attorney’s office. An arrest warrant was issued and executed on Oct. 2, 2013 at which time Fellows and Rogers were arrested, processed and released under terms of probation including not to hunt, fish or trap in Wyoming until released by the court.
Fellows initially pleaded not guilty to the deer poaching and the case went to trial on April 16, 2014. After a three-day jury trial, Fellows was found guilty for taking a buck mule deer without a proper license and during a closed season.
“It is unfortunate that the greed of several people deprived hunters the opportunity to harvest these animals legally,” said Crane. “Fortunately, there are people who value wildlife in Wyoming and cared enough to pass on information so we could solve these wildlife crimes.”
The Game and Fish commended the efforts of Deputy County Attorney Jim Davis and the Park County Attorney’s office for their successful prosecution of these two cases.
“The sentencing by Judge Bruce Waters and prosecution by the Park County Attorney’s office sends a clear message that poaching will not be tolerated in Park County,” Crane said.
Anyone witnessing a wildlife violation is urged to call the Stop Poaching hotline at 877-WGFD-TIP. Tips are most helpful with specific information such as the date, time, location and specific details about the suspected violation. Also include a physical description of the suspected violator as well as a license plate number and description of any vehicles involved in the incident. Stop Poaching tips can also be reported on the department’s web site at: http://gf.state.wy.us/wildlife/enforcement/stoppoaching/submitTip.aspx. Tips may result in a cash reward of up to $5,000 with the successful prosecution of the defendants. Informants can choose to remain anonymous.