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Residents help Fish and Game nab poachers near Albion

Residents help Fish and Game nab poachers near Albion

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Whether the case is quirky or not, poaching is a crime.

But according to one Idaho Department of Fish and Game officer, some incidents cause him to shake his head.

George M. Kelley, 75, of Albion, and son George “Bill” Kelley, 53, pleaded guilty on Nov. 16 to charges of hunting an elk without a valid tag.

“What’s interesting about this case,” said conservation officer Chad Wippermann, “is that the Kelleys own a domestic elk farm.”

During the late morning hours of Sept. 9, Bill Kelley shot and killed a cow elk near Mount Harrison south of Albion. He placed a tag from one of the family’s domestic elk on the dead cow elk, making it appear as if it were one of the family's animals, and left it in the mountains for the rest of the day, according to Wippermann’s report.

The Kelleys and two other individuals returned that evening with George’s pickup to load the elk and then drove away with their lights turned off.

Wippermann and conservation officer Doug Meyer caught the group shortly after they left the scene.

“There aren’t too many people who have an elk ranch and then go out and poach an elk,” Wippermann said. “It’s an abuse of power when they own an elk farm and stick one of their tags on a wild elk that they killed.”

Wippermann was notified about the Kelleys by an eyewitness. Other concerned citizens acted quickly to help with the investigation. Wippermann said this was not the first time he received complaints about the Kelleys.

The Kelleys were charged $475 in fines and fees for hunting without a valid tag, according to court records.

“Poaching is a huge problem within this whole state,” Wippermann said. “Some people just don’t respect the law or the wildlife. This is a perfect case showing that.”

Thank goodness for honest citizens, he said.

“People don’t like poaching,” Wippermann said. “Sportsmen and citizens who keep their eyes open and turn in poachers are our greatest asset.”

George Kelley told the Times-News Wednesday afternoon that he was “OK with the fine” but didn’t like how the officers handled the situation. He declined further comment about the poaching incident.

Attempts to reach Bill Kelley were unsuccessful.

Andrew Weeks may be reached at 735-3233 or aweeks@magicvalley.com.

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