Poaching is bad enough. But then attempting to turn your poached animals disguised as beef into a profit center?

Those are the findings of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department after a lengthy investigation. And while we can't say for sure that some Montanans might have purchased any of the products, central Wyoming is not exactly out of the wheelhouse of unsuspecting Treasure State tourists.

Wyoming's GFD reports that Gary Lee Ferrier, a Wyoming resident living on the Grazing Hills Ranch near Natrona (about 30 miles north of Casper) entered a plea agreement for wildlife crimes resulting in over $45,000 in fines and restitution. The investigation was started after a tip received on the state's Stop Poaching Hotline.

Mr. Ferrier had been killing deer and antelope without licenses and during closed seasons. And why pay for beef when the deer and antelope were free? As an added twist to the whole scheme, he would then substitute that poached big game meat for beef to sustain his "beef" jerky business. The products were being sold throughout Wyoming as well as online.

The case against Ferrier was reinforced when investigators went all "Forensic Files" on him. Game wardens located multiple deer and pronghorn antelope carcasses and sent  tissue and jerky samples from these animals to the Game and Fish Wildlife Forensic Lab for DNA comparison. Through those comparisons, the lab was able to identify a combination of mule deer and antelope that were poached.

In addition to $45,070 worth of fines and restitution, Mr. Ferrier had his hunting, fishing, and trapping privileges suspended for a minimum of five years and is not eligible to hunt in Wyoming or 48 other states who are members of the Wildlife Violator Compact until all his restitution monies are paid in full.

Take your time repaying, Gary Lee Ferrier. Nobody wants you out in the field anytime soon.

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