Adrian Wood of White City, Oregon, was sentenced last week for poaching elk in Crater Lake National Park. His penalties include $42,500 in restitution paid to the National Park Service, a six-month detention at a residential reentry center, and five years of federal probation, which includes loss of hunting privileges.
U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams announced the sentencing in a Department of Justice press release. “Our nation’s environmental laws are in place to protect vulnerable wildlife populations and ensure that future generations will have the opportunity to enjoy these animals as we do today. Mr. Wood preyed on elk and deer who were unaccustomed to being hunted and thus uniquely vulnerable to poaching.”
Starting in July 2014, the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Oregon State Police began an investigation into Wood’s activities. Multiple accounts accused him of baiting deer with rock salt and poaching wildlife at night.
On Sept. 22, 2016, Wood was pulled over by OSP near the park boundary, and with blood on his hands and clothes, gave the trooper a partially validated archery elk tag. He claimed he had not been hunting, despite the fact that the tag was also bloodstained. The next day, the trooper walked a short distance into the national park and discovered a freshly killed elk with its head sawed off and some meat removed.
USFWS agents carried out a federal search warrant and discovered multiple firearms, ammunition, and parts of at least 13 elk, 12 deer, and one black bear in Wood’s possession. They also searched his GPS units, which confirmed he was in the national park and had even marked the exact location of the kill. Documents say the majority of his hunting waypoints and track logs marked between 2011 and 2016 were within national park boundaries.
In addition to Wood posting incriminating photos of himself with the elk on social media, USFWS forensic labs determined that DNA from the archery tag blood matched the DNA of the elk poached on Sept. 22. The agency was able to definitively link six seized specimens to poaching that occured in 2015 and 2016 in the park.
“Beyond the depravity of his crimes, Mr. Wood engaged his minor son in his illegal acts and bragged about his criminal behavior to others. Thanks to the hard work of federal and state investigators, justice has been served and Mr. Wood has been permanently banned from Crater Lake,” Williams said.
Through the cooperative efforts of the NPS, USFWS, and OSP, Wood was brought to justice. However, similar to the recently prosecuted Kansas man who poached 60 deer, some hunters are asking whether the penalties for poaching should be higher.
Feature image via United States Attorney’s Office.