Kristopher S. Schortmann of Sheridan and Cory Tasler of Dayton were ordered to pay $7,010 in fines and restitution and had their hunting and fishing privileges suspended for a combined nine years as a result of illegally shooting a buck mule deer after the season closed and for illegally purchasing resident licenses in Wyoming over a three-year period.
Sheridan County Circuit Court Judge John J. Sampson ordered Schortmann, 32, to pay $530 in fines and $2,500 in restitution to the state of Wyoming for taking a mule deer buck after the season closed. In addition, Schortmann's hunting and fishing privileges were suspended for three years, making him ineligible to purchase hunting or fishing licenses in Wyoming and the 31 other states that belong to the wildlife violator compact. The judge also ordered Tasler, 33, to pay $1,980 in fines and $2,000 in restitution for five counts of illegally purchasing resident licenses and for accessory to taking the above-mentioned mule deer after the season closed. Tasler's hunting and fishing privileges were suspended for six years.
The investigation began in mid-November 2009 when Sheridan Game Warden James Hobbs received an anonymous stop poaching report stating that Schortmann and Tasler had illegally killed a mule deer buck in the Sheridan area. Further investigation showed that Schortmann had killed a 4-by-8 mule deer buck with his crossbow about a week after the season closed just west of the Sheridan city limits on Soldier Creek Road. Tasler then knowingly stored the illegally taken mule deer at his home in Dayton. When asked by Judge Sampson why he had poached this deer Schortmann replied that he had poached it to show his friends what a nice deer he could kill. Hobbs commented, "Because of the selfishness of one person a very good, quality mule deer was taken out of the Sheridan area. This could have been a great trophy for some hunter out there to take legally during the season."
Hobbs worked a combined investigation with Dayton Game Warden Alan Osterland. During the investigation it was discovered that Tasler had illegally purchased 13 Wyoming resident licenses over the last three years without establishing residency. Tasler had not lived in Wyoming for one full year and had purchased resident licenses in Minnesota during the same time period.
On each Wyoming resident license there is a statement that states:
"Under penalty of prosecution, I swear that the information given by me above and below my signature is true and correct. I swear, under penalty of prosecution, that I am a Wyoming residen. . . and have domiciled in Wyoming for not less than one (1) year and have not claimed residency elsewhere for any purpose during the one year immediately preceding the purchase of this license."
"Mr. Tasler had not lived in Wyoming for a full year to establish his residency. As partial payment for his crime he will not be hunting or fishing legally for six years in all 32 states of the compact," says Osterland. "He took away the opportunity for a Wyoming resident to harvest several of the animals that he took. I believe the almost $4000 in fines and restitution and the loss of privileges fit the crime."
Hobbs and Osterland acknowledge that the case would not have been possible without the cooperation of members of the public. Sheridan Game Warden Bruce Scigliano, Buffalo Game Warden Jim Seeman, Investigator Scott Adell and the Sheridan Police Department also assisted with the investigation. Hobbs adds, "Because of a report by a concerned citizen and help from other members of the community we were able to solve this crime."
Anyone witnessing a wildlife violation may call the Stop Poaching hotline at 1-877-WGFD-TIP. Tips are most helpful when they are reported promptly and include information such as the date, time, location and specific details about the suspected violation. Also important is a physical description of the suspected violator as well as a license plate number and description of any vehicles involved in the incident. Stop Poaching tips can also be reported on the Game and Fish Web site at: gf.state.wy.us/wildlife/enforcement/stoppoaching/submitTip.aspx . Tips may result in a reward and informants can choose to remain anonymous.