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Three Facing Numerous Wildlife Charges Following 8 Month Poaching Investigation
Sergeant David Pond
Oregon State Police - Bend
Fish & Wildlife Division
(541) 388-6213 ext 2240

Photograph link valid 30 days - Source: Oregon State Police

An eight-month investigation by Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division, with the assistance of U.S. Forest Service law enforcement and Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, led to multiple wildlife-related charges for three individuals involved with the unlawful take and waste of deer and elk in the Metolius Wildlife Management Unit.

Senior Trooper Mark Prodzinski and Senior Trooper Charles Lindberg began the investigation when locks were discovered shot off gates leading to critical mule deer winter range habitat. Headless mule deer bucks were found and their meat wasted, as were mule deer does that were shot and left to waste.

OSP Fish & Wildlife troopers worked Wildlife Enforcement Decoy (WED) operations and late night patrols in the area with the assistance of air flight patrols. During the investigation, troopers found other evidence of illegal deer poaching in different areas of the Metolius Unit.

Evidence accumulated during the investigation identified three main suspects who are facing charges in Deschutes, Jefferson and Jackson counties. They are identified as:
  • COLE A. CRAIG, age 18, from Bend
  • TYLER S. MITCHELL, age 18, from Gold Hill
  • 17-year old male from Sisters

Over the weekend, CRAIG was taken into custody and lodged in the Deschutes County Jail on local area charges. He was also cited to appear in Jefferson County Circuit Court on charges for allegations in that County. MITCHELL was cited to appear on charges in Jackson County.

The juvenile male was cited to appear in Jefferson County Circuit Court for Taking Deer Closed Season and 3 counts of Aiding in a Wildlife Violation.

Charges for CRAIG include Taking Deer Closed Season (Jefferson - 8 counts, Deschutes - 1 count); Taking Elk Closed Season (Jefferson - 2 counts); Waste of Wildlife - Deer (Jefferson - 7 counts, Deschutes - 1 count); Waste of Wildlife - Elk (Deschutes - 2 counts); and, Hunting with Aid of Artificial Light (Jefferson - 3 counts).

MITCHELL was cited for in Jackson County for Unlawful Possession of Deer Parts (6 counts). He was also cited to appear in Deschutes and Jefferson County for Taking Deer Closed Season (Jefferson - 5 counts, Deschutes - 1 count); Waste of Wildlife (Jefferson - 3 counts, Deschutes - 1 count); Hunting with Aid of Artificial Light (Jefferson - 3 counts); and Criminal Mischief in the First Degree (Jefferson - 1 count).

The investigation is continuing.