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Poaching ring taken down
Thank you to the North Dakota game wardens that took down this poaching ring.
Mon, 04/12/2021 A months-long investigation into the poaching of about 10, and possibly more, whitetail bucks in Barnes County beginning in 2019 ended in the conviction of four men.
“We charged them with the only ones that we could prove, which was right around 10 bucks,” said Greg Hastings, North Dakota Game and Fish Department warden in Jamestown and lead investigator in the case. “We suspected there were more deer taken, but we honestly don’t know.”
The four men were Jakob Ashline and Payne Drake, both of Valley City, and Calvin Bjornson and Ryan Rudolph, both of Spiritwood.
The convictions included, among other penalties, many misdemeanors, fines and fees:
Ashline – 15 A misdemeanors; nine B misdemeanors; $7,900 in fines, fees and restitution; 53 days in jail; and loss of hunting/fishing/trapping privileges for 10 years. Drake – One A misdemeanor; eight B misdemeanors; $850 in fines and fees; and loss of hunting/fishing/trapping privileges for two years. Bjornson – Two A misdemeanors; one B misdemeanor; and $4,750 in fines and fees. Rudolph – Four A misdemeanors; two B misdemeanors; $2,635 in fines, fees and restitution; and loss of hunting/fishing/trapping privileges for two years. In addition, Ashline forfeited two rifles and a spotlight; Rudolph forfeited one rifle and has to complete 100 hours community service; and Drake has to complete 80 hours of community service.
Beginning in October 2019, Department wardens began by investigating a buck shot near Valley City that had its antlers removed. Within a week, another buck, also missing its antlers, was discovered in nearly the same location. No meat was removed from either carcass and left to rot.
Mark Pollert, Department warden supervisor in Jamestown, said more suspicious, dead deer were reported to wardens later that fall, most near the Sheyenne River Valley from Lake Ashtabula to Kathryn. In two cases, antlers had been removed from the deer in the same manner and the carcasses left to waste.
In December 2019, game wardens, with assistance of warden pilot Jeff Sieger of Bismarck, conducted a night flight in hopes of developing suspects. That night, warden Michael Sedlacek of Fargo became involved in a ground pursuit of a vehicle that appeared to be illegally shining wildlife.
The vehicle eventually got stuck in the snow and the shining suspects, who were not involved in the same case with the four eventually convicted men, were apprehended with the assistance of other wardens and law enforcement personnel. During an interview with the suspects, wardens discovered a photo of a large whitetail buck, which lead to additional investigations.
“Catching those guys shining deer landed us a photo of a poached deer we’d been hearing about and got us to digging further,” Hastings said.
Lots of digging followed.
“Like I’ve said multiple times, it was a lot of work, a lot of investigating,” Hastings said.
Wardens spent countless hours conducting interviews, served several warrants and collected evidence for safekeeping and DNA analysis.
Assisting Hastings with much of the investigation was warden Andrew Dahlgren of Edgeley. Seven wardens from the southeastern part of the state were involved in varying degrees in the complicated case, Pollert said.
“This investigation was highly complex and involved hundreds of warden hours to successfully complete,” said Scott Winkelman, Game and Fish Department enforcement division chief. “It really shows the excellent work our game wardens do on a daily basis. The entire investigation is a terrific example of how the public, game wardens and the State’s Attorneys can work together to protect North Dakota’s wildlife.”
Wardens thanked citizens for reporting the suspicious activities that lead to the investigations. Thanks also to the Barnes County Sheriff’s office and the North Dakota Highway Patrol for their assistance. And special thanks to the Barnes County State’s Attorney’s office for their dedication in prosecuting the case.
BIG WIN for the good guys. KUDOS to the team!
“This investigation was highly complex and involved hundreds of warden hours to successfully complete,”
great job. unfortunately the validity of every investigation cant be measured by the resulting conviction or punishment...ask OJ.
Very Well Done!!
Crazy how low the fines are, especially with that many misdemeanors! I wonder why they are so low?
Wildlife crimes always seem to have paltry punishments. It's too bad
It sounds like solid case was built and they were successful. One could make some comparisons/contrasts between this case and the Cali case. Based on what is published....similar methods maybe...different outcomes.
Glad to hear this. Congrats ND F&G
Sounds like the ND court system is at least a little more efficient that California.
Disgusting not to at least take the meat wow
Any media link you can provide?
How sneaky and sophisticated were these poachers that they got away with their activities and were so difficult to catch.
That would make an interesting story , then again no need to inform wannabes of such things.
The similarities between this and the California case is shocking. Clearly the powers that be take these violations a little bit more seriously in ND. I have to wonder though, if Jakob Ashline, Payne Drake, Calvin Bjornson and Ryan Rudolph were bowsiters and "really nice guys that hunt with kids" came on here swearing their innocents and that they had been framed by "The Man" would this thread look a little different? I mean with this case, we currently don't have any details. No pictures of bait piles or molasses spray bottles but they are guilty and good for ND Game and Fish.
I have to say that I think it is great that North Dakota and California are spending their time and $ protecting the resources we presumably all care so deeply about. I'd rather see a million bucks go towards catching these poachers than sex changes for inmates on death row!!! You???
I agree with Yukon Paul. No love for these guys in N.D.? All the love used up on the Cali boys?
Good to see these dirtbags get caught. ND is wide open and this kind of stuff goes on way more than anyone knows.
There are zero similarities beyond being charged by a Conservation Officer. The guys in this story were jack-lighting and shooting animals with rifles, cutting the antlers off, and leaving the animals to rot. Chris and Joe were accused of hunting over bait and were never caught in the act of hunting over bait even though they had tracking devices attached to their trucks, game cameras stashed at their hunting spots, and planes following them around. How is that similar in any way?
They were more than accused. They reached a plea deal because the State didn't pursue them as ND did these guys. The ND guys were not "caught in act" of "jack-lighting and shooting animals with rifles, cutting the antlers off, and leaving the animals to rot." Circumstantial Evidence!! Isn't that what the apologists say???
Honestly, given how heinous the ND guys were as compared the Chris & Joe the penalty seems equitable. The point is, these guys from what we know are not blaming everyone but themselves. Maybe they are in their circle, wherever that is.
Honestly, I think the sentence is still too light for these ND boys. They robbed us of years of hunting in a few short months.
And I do think ND needs more of Yukon Paul here soon! Hope all is well sir!
These guys not be bowsite hErOs.
Thank god they weren’t Bowsiters.
Good job ND!
Sounds like they are young punks that can’t stay out of trouble
Too bad F&G can't add the cost of the investigation to the fines given. That would really hit the poacher hard in many cases.
Strange that the OP called this a "poaching ring", when not even the sensationalist media used that term. I haven't read how the four were connected, but it doesn't sound like an organized "ring". It is about the same difference as a "protest" at the capital or an "insurrection". Words mean things.
I am glad they were caught, but from the sketchy reporting is sounds like a few low lifes, not some organized poaching ring.
Fines are tougher than they used to be. Caught some guys shining years ago convinced them to hand over their drivers license on the spot. They claimed they were hunting coyotes which was legal at night but not till after deer season. The next day I found a the doe they shot. They came back and wanted their DL's back . Warden already had them but they still claimed they were shooting coyotes. I made the mistake of telling them I found the doe. Well once that cat was outa the bag they began cooperating with the warden. They wanted to file a complaint against me for getting rough with them. Warden laughed and told them they got off lucky. The fine was only fifty bucks I felt like it was a waste of my time. But they were shooting directly at my house and that's why I got pretty hot. Idiots
Doesn't sound like they got fined very much for as much time and resources the wardens burned up to catch them.
oj was found not guilty. does that mean the millions of dollars and thousands of man hours spent to investigate him was a waste?
Yes the end result was the same as if they never charged him. Free man. For that charge.
so the only time an investigation is worth it is if it results in a conviction? interesting.
That’s the dumbest post I have ever seen on Bowsite Ricky. Strong work.
The worst kind of poachers in my book.............................cutting off the heads and leaving the meat to rot! : ( Glad they got caught.
That being said, to the guys that say they got off easy..........................................if that had happened in PA, they would have gotten a lot less. No jail time and much less in fines in PA.
"That’s the dumbest post I have ever seen on Bowsite Ricky."
really...why is that?
Losing your hunting privileges for ten years is a big deal.
^^^ Not if you’re a poacher! Jail time would be better...
-^^^ this. They can still hunt as much as they want, whenever they want. Sorta like the myth that convicted felons can't own firearms. Hahahahaha!
Agreed-they don't care about hunting laws or any other law-they've already proven that to the public. Jail time AND bigger fines need to be the norm on these cases. Restitution to the state residents for stealing our resources should also be part of the fine.