Guilty Conscience Prompts Anonymous $900 Donation

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Many years after illegally shooting a bull elk, a man who lived with nagging guilt and sadness about the crime sent $900 in cash to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for restitution.

"I was alone and don’t know why I did it," the man wrote in an anonymous four-paragraph, typed letter, placed in a padded mailer with nine $100 bills and postmarked Soda Springs, Idaho. He said he shot the animal when he was younger and had "never told a soul."

The man said he had taken a "pot shot" at the elk, which was running about 1,500 yards away, while he was deer hunting and hit and killed it.

"I have felt deeply ashamed ever since," he said in the letter, which was addressed to the G&F’s director and received Oct. 14. "All I have wanted to do is make things right. Since then, I have volunteered my time to help the Game and Fish on occasion. I have also tried to strictly obey all game laws and encouraged others to do so on numerous occasions."

After reading fines published in the newspaper for poaching violations, the man said he determined his fine, if he had been convicted, would be about $900. He asked that the money be used to help sportsmen of Wyoming "in whatever way you see fit."

"I have a deep love for the outdoors and have come to better understand the value of the laws that protect everyone’s right to enjoy hunting," he said. "I am sorry and want to give you my promise that I will always uphold the game laws of whatever state I may hunt in."

Acting Game and Fish Department Director Gregg Arthur said the letter exemplifies what he learned as a game warden for 26 years. "Anyone can make a mistake, however, the vast majority of people are good and decent folks who value wild places and wild things.

"Though the department does not condone this illegal act and would vigorously pursue prosecution of any person who might perpetrate a similar act, at times, the mental anguish imposed on oneself may last much longer and make more of an impression than any penalty imposed by a court."

Arthur said the money will be utilized to help Wyoming’s wildlife.