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Guilty on Two Counts in Missouri River Breaks Elk Case

William J. Hughes, 35, initially was charged with hunting without a valid license for illegally killing a bull elk on Bureau of Land Management land in the Missouri River Breaks, hunting during a closed season for shooting at a cow elk with a rifle during the archery-only season, and accountability for the conduct of others when two minors under his direction and supervision killed a cow elk without a license and during a closed season.

In a signed agreement filed into Blaine County Justice Court, Hughes pleaded guilty to the first two counts and paid $170 in fines and surcharges and $2,000 in restitution. He also lost privileges to fish, hunt and trap for a year in Montana and the 41 other states currently participating in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, said Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 6 Criminal Investigator Lennie Buhmann, who helped on the case.

The two dead elk were recovered and seized by FWP Warden Sgt. Shane Reno of Havre, Chinook Warden Dirk Paulsen, Buhmann, and others. Blaine County Justice of the Peace Perry Miller agreed with prosecutors and allowed the accountability charge to be dismissed in return for the two guilty pleas.

“These two elk are among the 10 elk that we know were either killed or wounded unlawfully with rifles in Hunting District 621 during the 2012 and 2013 archery seasons,” Buhmann said. “We’re working hard and making cases on these significant public wildlife losses as quickly and effectively as we can.”