Judge Sentences Idaho Poacher to Spend Next 3 Elk Seasons Behind Bars

by Michael Freeman
(Photo by: Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

When caught poaching, it’s standard to fine offenders and/or issue jail time along with it. After an Idaho man was caught, a judge put a creative spin on his sentencing, saying the man must spend the next three elk seasons behind bars.

A judge in Shoshone County, Idaho sentenced Paul D. Coward to 90 days in jail for poaching elk but with a twist. Rather than serving his time consecutively, he’ll see incarceration for 30 days at a time. Additionally, these 30-day increments will occur once a year for three years in a row. Why stagger his jail time like this? The month-long intervals line up with the state’s elk hunting season, meaning he’ll have to sit them out, according to Field and Stream.

September serves as Idaho’s elk archery season and starting this year, Coward can’t participate. Additionally, Coward will pay $16,000 in fines, as well as $10,000 for unlawful possession of a mountain goat. The goat was killed in Washington and Coward hid it in his Idaho home. He also pled guilty to guiding without a license, illegally hunting over bait, conspiracy to provide illegal services, and possessing wildlife taken illegally, and unlawful possession of firearms. This laundry list of crimes resulted from a three-year investigation and two decades of complaints against Coward.

Dave Overman, an Idaho Department of Fish and Game conservation officer, issued a release about the sentencing. “The most serious and intentional poaching cases are the hardest to crack. Through collaboration that began with community tips and ended with state agencies working together to gather the facts and evidence necessary for successful prosecution, this case demonstrates that justice can be brought to those who disregard Idaho’s wildlife laws.”

Bus Plows into Elk Herd on Colorado Highway, Killing 10 of Them

The past few months haven’t been kind to elk, it seems. Late last year, a bus plowed into an elk herd in Colorado, killing ten of them.

Aspen Daily News stated the crash occurred on Highway 82 near Glenwood Springs in late December 2021. A Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus was driving in snowy conditions on the highway when an elk herd appeared on the road. Unable to avoid them, the bus struck the elk, killing ten of them. A second vehicle also struck an elk and rolled over. Luckily, none of the passengers in either vehicle were harmed.

The accident prompted locals to create a Facebook group called “Roaring Fork Valley Wildlife Overpass Advocates.” Said group intends to share ideas and positively help local wildlife. For instance, one initiative involves building overpasses in areas densely populated with animals to minimize vehicle-related fatalities.

Though the group lacks momentum as of now, they remain hopeful their ideas will receive the attention they deserve.