East Idaho man sentenced in trophy bull elk case

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The following is a news release and photo from Idaho Fish and Game.

CARIBOU COUNTY — Bart Rhead, a Soda Springs man, has been sentenced in Caribou County for the illegal killing and wasting of a trophy bull elk in September 2017.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) conservation officers in Soda Springs received a call in September 2017 from a concerned sportsman who heard a gunshot and witnessed a large bull elk go over a ridge just before dark.

The responding conservation officer watched as Rhead used a bulldozer to move the trophy bull elk to a location near Rhead’s property where he removed the antlers, ivory teeth and hide, and left the rest to waste.

Officers from IDFG and the Caribou County Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant on the Rhead property several days later and recovered the bull elk antlers.  The antlers scored 363 points using the Boone and Crockett points system, resulting in a trophy status for the bull elk.  

The elk’s carcass, which had not been field dressed, was found on the property wrapped in a tarp and pushed off the side of a hill.

During the execution of the search warrant, officers found a wildlife feed station complete with an overhead street style light, large amounts of alfalfa cubes, mineral tubs, and a water trough.  The use of light or bait is prohibited for the taking of big game in Idaho.

In a plea agreement made with the Caribou County prosecutor’s office, Rhead plead guilty to two elk charges and various trapping violations.  For these charges Rhead received a lifetime hunting and trapping revocation, forfeited his rifle, sentenced to pay $12,650 in reimbursement to the state, and given a 90-day jail sentence (with 60 days suspended) and 120 hours of community service in lieu of time served.

Additionally, evidence was discovered that Rhead had taken bull elk previously with a rifle during archery-only hunts. 

In accordance with the plea agreement, Rhead admitted that the three bull elk mounted in his home as well as one mule deer buck were all taken with a rifle during closed seasons.  Rhead was issued written warnings for possession of those animals and relinquished possession of all unlawful mounts.

Idaho Fish and Game reminds the public that cases like these are solved because of tips from the public.  If you have information regarding a wildlife violation, please contact Citizens Against Poaching at 1-800- 632-5999.  Those with information that leads to arrests are eligible for rewards, and all callers can remain anonymous.

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