GILLETTE – Gene Schiavone, age 64, of Bangor, Pa. was ordered to pay $790 in fines for operating as an unlicensed outfitter in Wyoming on Oct. 3, 2013 in Campbell County Circuit Court. Campbell County Circuit Court Judge Wendy Bartlett also ordered Schiavone to refrain from applying for an outfitter’s license in Wyoming for one calendar year.
Wyoming State Board of Outfitters and Professional Guides investigator Dan Hodge said, “Schiavone had never applied for or received a Wyoming outfitter’s license or a license to operate as a professional guide.” According to Wyoming Game and Fish Department wildlife investigator Scott Adell, Schiavone had been outfitting from at least 2010 through 2013.
The investigation of the illegal outfitting began with an anonymous tip that led South Gillette game warden Dustin Kirsch to speak to a landowner in antelope hunt area 23. Kirsch was able to identify Schiavone’s clients. Interviews were also conducted in California by California Department of Fish and Wildlife officer April Esconde.
The investigation revealed that Schiavone had been arranging hunts through major sportsman’s shows in Reno, Nev. Dallas, Tex. and Harrisburg, Pa. Schiavone claimed he was a ‘Hunting Consultant’ and that he was open for business. However, Schiavone was doing more than a hunting consultant as he went with clients helping them to spot, judge and harvest game.
Schiavone was working as an outfitter when contacted in Wyoming. He was found with four non-resident hunters and two harvested antelope. Following the interviews conducted at the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department, Schiavone said he was only taking a few people hunting and it was not like taking 50 people.
Schiavone admitted he had made a profit and had four additional hunters arriving the next day. The clients had paid in full for their hunts. In less than one week Schiavone would make approximately $8,000 after paying Wyoming landowners trespass fees. Schiavone had misled his clients about the amount the landowners were charging to allow them to hunt.
On Oct. 3, 2013 Schiavone was summoned to appear in Campbell County Circuit Court for his arraignment hearing. During the arraignment Schiavone pled guilty to one count of operating as an outfitter in the State of Wyoming without a valid license in violation of Wyoming law.
Sentencing was also held on Oct. 3. Judge Bartlett ordered Schiavone to pay $790 in fines and refrain from applying as an outfitter or professional guide in the State of Wyoming for one calendar year. Judge Bartlett also advised Mr. Schiavone to seek counsel on Wyoming wildlife laws and regulations.
Hodge, Adell, and Kirsch worked with members of the public, personnel from other wildlife agencies, Lieutenant Seeman of the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department, and Campbell County Attorney’s Office on this case. Adell and Kirsch acknowledge that the successful prosecution would not have been possible without their cooperation.
Hodge says, “Outfitters and professional guides are part of the overall sportsman’s experience, and an unlicensed outfitter and professional guide cheats the system designed to protect hunters. Hunters who hire an unlicensed outfitter or professional guide are liable as well.”
Kirsch says, “Hunters should ask to view licenses and permits when hiring anyone commercially while engaging in hunting and fishing activities and make sure to get receipts.”
Anyone witnessing a wildlife violation may call the Stop Poaching hotline at 1-877-WGFD-TIP (877-943-3847) Tips are most helpful when they are reported promptly and include information such as the date, time, location and specific details about the suspected violation.
Also important is 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 Game and Fish Website at: http://gf.state.wy.us/wildlife/enforcement/stoppoaching/submitTip.aspx. Tips may result in a reward and informants can chose to remain anonymous.