Idaho Poacher Gets Caught

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In early November 2005, Idaho residents lost a special part of their hunting heritage.

A trophy seven-by-seven mule deer buck had been poached. Only the head and antlers were taken with the body left to waste. Idaho Department of Fish and Game officers heard about it from a concerned individual.

On November 5, 2005, the reporting individual found a headless deer in the Morgan Creek drainage near Challis. Local conservation officer Mark Armbruster investigated the scene. He identified the deer as a large mule deer buck, and he determined the carcass was only a day or two old.

With the season ending on October 31, that meant the deer probably had been killed after the season had ended. At the time of the investigation, however, Armbruster was not able to develop any leads.

About a month later on December 1, Armbruster observed a video clip on a business Website operated by Aly Bruner and Rainbows End Bed and Breakfast. He recognized the geography and kill site he had investigated a month earlier. Armbruster returned to the crime scene to match photos he had taken and photos from Bruner's Website. Now he had his first lead.

At this time Armbruster was working with other Fish and Game investigators who retrieved DNA evidence from a deer that Bruner claimed he had killed during the 2005 fall hunting season. This DNA evidence and DNA evidence Armbruster collected at the crime scene were sent for analysis to Karen Rudolph at the Idaho Fish and Game Wildlife Health Lab.

Her analysis showed the two DNA samples were from the same animal. The headless deer carcass and the deer head at Aly Bruner's matched.

On December 10, 2005, Fish and Game officers and Custer County deputies served a search warrant at Bruner's residence. They seized the deer head, video and photographic evidence that eventually led to a conviction.

On February 6, 2007, Aly M. Bruner, 57, of Challis, pleaded guilty to charges of wasteful destruction of wildlife and possessing unlawfully taken wildlife.

He was sentenced to 360 days in jail with 310 days suspended and held at the court's discretion. He immediately began serving the first 10 of the remaining 50 days.

Bruner will serve out the remaining 40 days during the first 10 days of the deer hunting season each of the next four years. He also lost his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for the next six years. During this time he can't be in the field or any vehicle with a firearm, nor can he go hunting, fishing or trapping with others.

He can't be on public land without permission from his probation officer, and he is subject to searches of his vehicles or home by a police or probation officer. Bruner also was sentenced to four years of supervised probation, and he was fined $2000, and ordered to pay a $400 civil penalty and $50 processing fee.

Without the efforts of a concerned individual, this case may not have come to Fish and Game's attention. Anyone who witnesses a wildlife crime is urged to "Make The Call" to Citizens Against Poaching at 1-800-632-5999. Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.