Three men were recently convicted of several poaching-related offenses stemming from incidents occurring late last fall in the London Hills near Cardwell in Madison County. Fish, Wildlife and Parks Enforcement investigated the case uncovering three illegally taken elk, several instances of trespassing, and waste of game among other violations.
The investigation began on October 30, 2011 when FWP was made aware of a bull elk with its antlers removed on private property in the London Hills. Game Wardens were able to connect that discovery to earlier complaints of trespassing on another piece of private property thanks to some very telling four wheeler tracks – tracks which led right to the home of Clayton Deming.
On November 9th, 2011, FWP received another report of a four wheeler traversing that same ranch in the dark. After staking out the trail with the four wheeler tracks, wardens heard shots and soon stopped Clayton Deming, Frank Keyes of Pony, and Mark Birkin of Florida. The men had in their possession a 5-point bull and a spike with its head removed (the men claimed it was a cow elk).
Clayton Deming pled guilty on May 29 to two counts of hunting without a license, hunting without permission, criminal trespass, unlawful possession, and waste of game. Deming lost his hunting and fishing privileges for six years and must pay $2,460 in fines and $1,000 in restitution. Plus, he has to pay the landowner for breaking the lock on one of his gates.
Frank Keyes lost his hunting privileges for two years after being convicted of criminal trespass, hunting big game without permission, failure to tag, and unlawful possession of a game animal. His fines total $595. Keyes was convicted on May 7.
Also convicted on May 7 was Mark Birkin who won’t be able to hunt or fish in Montana (and other compact states) for two years as well. He was convicted of criminal trespass, failure to obtain permission to hunt, hunting during a closed season, and unlawful possession of a game animal. His fines totaled $1,390 and he will have to pay $1,000 in restitution.
“This was a case of blatant disregard for not only landowner and property rights, but wildlife laws which protect resources that belong to all Montanans,” said Game Warden Justin Gibson who led the investigation.
If you have information related to a case of poaching or any other fish and game related violation, please contact (800) TIP-MONT, or (800) 847-6668. You may eligible for a reward and you remain anonymous.