Antelope Harassment Leads to Charges for Hill County Youths

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After-school antelope harassment leads to charges for Hill County students

Four students at North Star High School in Rudyard have lost a total of 8 years of fishing and hunting privileges and must pay more than $3,500 in fines stemming from a mid-February incident in which they used vehicles, rifles and poor judgment to harass a herd of antelope.

Four antelope were killed in the incident north of Gilford, which apparently started after school.

“These fellows had the idea earlier that they wanted to annihilate a herd of antelope, and on this particular day they were driving around shooting coyotes and rabbits when they encountered some antelope,” said Shane Reno, the FWP game warden who investigated the case. “They surrounded the antelope in two vehicles and drove across the stubble, chasing them and shooting at them from their moving vehicles.”

Reno, who was contacted by the Hill County Sheriff’s office, linked tire tracks and empty cartridges found at the scene with vehicles at the high school. The students initially denied involvement in the incident, but after several interviews confessed to their actions.

All four students were charged in Hill County Justice Court with hunting out of season, shooting from a vehicle, waste and abandonment of a game animal and harassing wildlife. Two students, a 19-year-old from Hingham and another 19-year-old from Havre, were each fined $1,140 and lost two years of hunting and fishing privileges. A 16-year-old and 17-year-old, both from Havre, were fined $740 apiece and also lost two years of fishing and hunting privileges. All four students are required to take remedial Hunter Education and to volunteer in two Hunter Education classes.

“This was just a case of a dumb idea that somehow took on a life of its own,” said Reno. “But we tend to see this in the spring. Kids start to get restless and are antsy to be outside. But it’s also the time of year that antelope and other wildlife should be left alone. They are recovering from the winter and preparing to have their fawns. Plus, this sort of activity is just flat-out illegal.”

Reno also pointed out that the students’ behavior was “indescribably risky. At some points during this chase, they were shooting toward each other out of moving vehicles. A few seconds, or a few feet, difference and we’d be talking about a human fatality instead of a wildlife crime.”