Teenagers get $8,000 in fines for poaching wildlife

SALEM, Ore. — An Oregon couple who poached two mule deer bucks, a pronghorn and three Canada geese will pay more than $8,000 in court fees and restitution. An Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife trooper discovered the crimes following a traffic stop last year.

In October of 2020, Trooper James Hayes stopped Justin Borchert, 19, of Bend for traveling 95 mph in a 65 mph zone near La Pine. During the stop, Hayes noticed Borchert’s jacket had blood on it. There was also blood on the bed of the pickup. Hayes asked about the blood, and Borchert explained that his passenger in the truck, Tyra Stevens, had shot a deer a few days earlier near Blue River. Stevens, 19, also of Bend, confirmed the story, saying she had used her western Oregon deer tag.

Neither Borchert nor Stevens realized the Blue River area had burned up and was closed after the Holiday Farm wildfire. After further questioning, Borchert and Stevens admitted to taking two buck mule deer out of season. Additional investigative work by the OSP Fish and Wildlife division revealed the two had also poached a pronghorn and three Canada geese.

On May 25, 2021, Lake County Judge David Vandenburg convicted Borchert and Stevens of one count each of illegal take of wildlife. Borchert must pay fines and restitution in the amount of $7,500 to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). Stevens must pay $1,000 to ODFW, along with $202 in court fees. Each lost their hunting privileges for three years, remain under bench warrant for one year, and must serve 40 hours of community service.

ODFW Wildlife Division Administrator, Bernadette Graham Hudson, is frustrated by ongoing poaching throughout the state.

“Poachers remove opportunities for true sportsmen and women who purchase licenses and tags, and follow the rules,” she said. “Hunters may wait years for the opportunity to legally take a mule deer or pronghorn.”

The Stop Poaching Campaign educates the public on how to recognize and report poaching. This campaign is a collaboration among hunters, conservationists, landowners and recreationists. Our goal is to increase reporting of wildlife crimes through the TIP Line, increase detection by increasing the number of OSP Fish and Wildlife Troopers and increase prosecution. OHA manages the reward fund. This campaign helps to protect and enhance Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitat for the enjoyment of present and future generations. Contact campaign coordinator Yvonne Shaw for more information. Yvonne.L.Shaw@odfw.oregon.gov.