Two Montana males have been arrested for committing a slew of disturbing wildlife crimes that date again greater than a 12 months. In response to the Great Falls Tribune, Ty Robert Lewis, 18, and Richard Van Meter, 20, have been detained after investigators linked them to a number of poaching incidents involving trophy bull elk and a trout stabbing incident at a hatchery close to Nice Falls, Montana.
The investigation of the lads started on August 3, 2021, when recreation wardens with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) discovered a number of trout in a Nice Falls-area hatchery that had been stabbed or slashed with a spear. FWP recreation warden Andrew Burton told the Tribune that the lifeless and dying fish have been vital spawners for the hatchery’s breeding operation and that a few of them had reached six years in age and weighed over 8 kilos. The fish stabbers had scaled an eight to ten-foot chain hyperlink fence to entry the enclosed feeding pond someday within the night time.
Lower than a month after the incident on the hatchery, FWP started receiving tips on a sequence of elk poaching incidents on personal ranches close to Butte, Montana. These suggestions unearthed two separate elk poaching instances involving trophy bulls. In each instances, the elk heads and antlers have been eliminated and brought from the scene of the crime whereas the elk meat was left to waste within the discipline.
By way of subsequent interviews with ranch house owners and a number of property searches, investigators linked each Lewis and Van Meter to the elk poaching incidents. In response to courtroom paperwork, Lewis’ mom lived in a subdivision close to one of many ranches the place the elk have been poached, and a rancher had caught Lewis trespassing on his personal property earlier than.
Throughout interrogations with FWP brokers, Lewis admitted to poaching one of many trophy bulls with Van Meter’s rifle and stated that Van Meter had held the bull’s head whereas he minimize it off. Later, Lewis admitted to killing one other bull elk on a distinct ranch close to Butte and stashing the heads of each elk in an deserted cabin. A search of the cabin turned up the elk lifeless heads. A gun matching the caliber used to kill the animals was retrieved from Van Meter’s condominium.
Whereas interviewing Lewis’ ex-girlfriend, FWP investigators discovered that Lewis and Van Meter might need been concerned within the trout stabbing incident as properly. Once they contacted Lewis about it, he denied any involvement. However a search and seizure of his cellular phone turned up pictures of one of many males holding what gave the impression to be massive rainbow trout on the Nice Falls-area hatchery. Textual content messages retrieved from each Van Meter’s and Lewis’ telephones confirmed that the 2 males had corresponded about their alleged involvement within the fish hatchery stabbings.
Court docket paperwork present that Van Meter and Lewis finally admitted to all of the alleged expenses throughout interviews with FWP brokers. All instructed, the lads face 17 fish and recreation violations that vary from illegal possession or switch of recreation animals to license violations and failure to acquire landowner permission for looking.