Final Defendant Pleads Guilty in Whitefish Deer Poaching

FWP wardens have been investigating the illegal killing of over 20 deer in the last several years

By Dillon Tabish

The fourth suspect in a large-scale poaching investigation recently pleaded guilty in Flathead County Justice Court.

Dillon Erickson was charged with four counts of hunting during a closed season, four counts of waste of a big game animal and four counts of unlawful possession/transportation, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The charges stem from the illegal harvest of multiple whitetail deer in the Whitefish area.

Erickson lost his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for five years, including accompaniment of anyone else engaged in those activities. He received fines of $4,820 and must pay restitution to FWP for $2,000. He also received a sentence of six months in jail, but the jail sentence was suspended.

Erickson is the last of four individuals charged in this case to plead guilty. All total the four defendants paid $16,435 in fines and restitution and lost their privileges to hunt, trap and fish for a total of 51 years.

Montana is a member of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, so as a result these individuals lose these privileges during that period in 43 states across the country.

FWP wardens have been investigating the illegal killing of over 20 deer in the last several years in the Whitefish area.

“Warden’s weren’t able to prove these individuals were responsible for all of the deer poached in that area, but we have seen a dramatic decrease in illegal activity since making this case,” said FWP Warden Captain Lee Anderson.

Anderson would like to personally commend Game Wardens Chris Crane, Wes Oedekovan and Investigator Brian Sommers on the countless hours they put into the case. They spent many late nights on patrol and long days examining evidence. Their dedication along with help from the public and a hard working county attorney’s office made this case possible, Anderson said.

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