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Central Oregon Poaching Cases Conclude With Guilty Plea and Sentencing

January 17, 2014

Sergeant Lowell Lea
Oregon State Police - Bend
Fish & Wildlife Division
(541) 388-6213

Photograph link valid at least 30 days - Source: Oregon State Police

A 20-year old Bend-area man was sentenced related to multiple crimes following a seven month investigation by Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division troopers in Central Oregon into big game poaching in the Metolius Wildlife Management Area.

In July 2012, OSP Fish & Wildlife troopers, with the assistance of U.S. Forest Service law enforcement and Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, completed the investigation and identified suspects. During the investigation, locks were discovered shot off gates leading to critical mule deer winter range habitat. Many of the wildlife animals were killed at night with the aid of artificial lighting. Troopers examined the remains of 20 deer and two elk. Several of the larger bucks' carcasses were found with the heads removed, and some of the doe deer were shot and left to waste.

With the assistance of Jefferson County District Attorney's Office, Deschutes County District Attorney's Office, and Jackson County District Attorney's Office, charges were filed and two men pled guilty and were sentenced.

One defendant, TYLER S. MITCHELL, age 20, pled guilty in in November 2012 to multiple charges and was sentenced to 180 days in jail, lifetime hunting license suspension, restitution, and 60 months' probation.

The second defendant, COLE A. CRAIG, age 20, from Bend, was sentenced Friday, January 10, in Jefferson County Circuit Court and Monday, January 13, in Deschutes County Circuit Court. COLE pled guilty to a total of 23 counts, mostly wildlife crimes, including one count of Aggravated Animal Abuse related to an intentional act(s) outside of normal and acceptable hunting activities. Sentencing included:

Jefferson County Circuit Court
* 230 days in jail
* Lifetime hunting license suspension
* Lifetime ban on possessing firearms
* 5 years' probation
* 400 hours of community service
* Pay restitution totaling $13,600
* Potential 30 month prison sentence for any probation violation

Deschutes County Circuit Court
* 4 months in jail concurrent with Jefferson County sentence
* 20 days in Deschutes County Jail
* 36 months' probation with potential of 28 month prison sentence for a violation of probation terms
* 300 hours community service consecutive with Jefferson County sentence
* $11,971.37 in fines
* Lifetime revocation of hunting privileges

Questions regarding convictions and sentencing should be directed to each respective District Attorney's office.


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