Hunter brags about illegal kill on social media, Wyoming officials say. He’s sentenced - East Idaho News

Hunter brags about illegal kill on social media, Wyoming officials say. He’s sentenced

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RAWLINS, Wyoming (Idaho Statesman) — An accused poacher’s attempt to cover up his illegal elk kill backfired when his truck got stuck in the southern Wyoming wilderness — and bragging about his kill on social media didn’t help his case, game wardens said.

Investigators with the Wyoming Game & Fish Department started investigating when they realized key elements of the man’s story didn’t add up, the department said in a June 18 news release.

It stemmed from a report of a missing elk hunter south of Rawlins on Oct. 31, 2023, officials said in the release.

A group of hunters had reported to Carbon County Search and Rescue that their truck had broken down and one of them had tried to walk north to Rawlins, officials said. Rescuers picked up the group but couldn’t find the person who had walked off.

Local game wardens in Rawlins and Baggs were notified of the search and rescue operation and the hunter’s truck stuck near Littlefield Creek, officials said.

Search and rescue passed information they had learned while searching for the missing elk hunter on to the wardens — but it didn’t add up with what they would soon find at the scene, officials said.

Wardens started investigating an illegal bull elk kill in Elk Hunt Area 108, a limited quota hunt area, officials said.

They located a gut pile from a bull elk within 100 yards of the hunter’s stuck truck — but the carcass, head and antlers had been removed before they arrived, officials said.

The truck’s owner, Corey Cruz, told the rescue crew he had killed a bull elk in the general elk hunt area 21 — 2 miles away from where his truck got stuck, officials said.

Cruz had only a general elk license, meaning he did not have the proper limited quota elk license for Elk Hunt Area 108, officials said.

Eventually, someone passed photos of Cruz posing with his bull elk kill on social media to a warden, officials said. Wardens used those photos and interviews with his hunting group to determine Cruz had illegally killed the bull elk in the limited quota Wyoming Elk Hunt Area 108, not the general Elk Hunt Area 21 as he had said, officials said.

Officials charged Cruz with intentionally taking an antlered elk without a proper license on Feb. 5. He pleaded guilty on May 15, 2024 and was fined $1,570 and sentenced to 90 days in jail. He received credit for eight days spent in the Carbon County Detention Center.

Cruz’s hunting and fishing privileges were suspended for five years in Wyoming and 47 states that participate in the Wildlife Violator Compact.

Reports filed by “concerned citizens” helped solve the case, officials said.

“We are grateful that a call was made when things didn’t add up,” said Kim Olson, the local Baggs game warden. “Often, all it takes is one person to do the right thing, be courageous and be the voice for wildlife.”