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Oregon teen arrested on charges of poaching bighorn ewe

Baker City, Oregon (AP) 10-07

Two miners using high-tech gear instead of pick and ax helped officers nab a teenage poacher who killed a bighorn sheep, the Oregon State Police said.

The animals have been the subject of a decades-long restoration effort in Oregon.

The 16-year-old from the Portland suburb of Durham admitted shooting the ewe in the head September 29th near Brownlee Reservoir on the Oregon-Idaho border, said Trooper Chris Hawkins.

He said the youth gave no explanation.

The police said October 1st an adult in the party, Yuriy Zlobin, 47, of Milwaukie also was charged, with aiding the in poaching. Four other men and a 12-year-old boy were not cited.

There is no open hunting season for bighorn ewes in that hunting area, and the season for rams ended more than a week ago, said state wildlife biologist Nick Myatt.

One miner rode an ATV out of a canyon and up to high ground September 30th to get cell service and report finding the ewe’s corpse along a path near his claim along Connor Creek.

The other miner, separately, had taken digital photos of a hunting party and its pickup truck because the party camped on his claim and made a mess.

Troopers with the license plate number and a description of the truck waited along Interstate 84, and the youth was arrested September 30th.

The ewe, gutted and butchered, was packed in plastic bags but not on ice, so the meat spoiled, Hawkins said.

Hawkins said wildlife officers act aggressively in poaching cases because the state has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over 40 years to restore the sheep, extirpated from Oregon due to overhunting and diseases spread by domestic sheep.

“It’s a big deal when one gets poached,” he said.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife released 24 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in Fox Creek, just south of Connor Creek, in early 1994.

The sheep have thrived on the steep slopes above Brownlee Reservoir, Myatt said. Earlier this year biologists counted 90 bighorns in the area, which didn’t include the year’s lambs, he said.

Two hunters with state-issued tags and a hunter from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation killed rams this season, Myatt said.

Two other sheep have died recently, a yearling ram hit by a car this summer, and an adult ewe that fell from a cliff, he said.

But, he said, the deaths shouldn’t threaten the herd’s future.

Information from:
Baker City Herald,
http://www.bakercityherald.com/
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