Trout Creek Couple Convicted of Hunting Violations

Couple was baiting animals, failed to meet residency-hunting requirements

By Justin Franz

A Trout Creek couple paid thousands of dollars in fines after pleading guilty to multiple hunting violations in Sanders and Gallatin counties, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks announced last week.

Investigators say they launched an investigation into Derek and Cheryl Coon Ricks in October 2015 after they were accused of failing to meet residency requirements. That inquiry led to a number of other charges, including unlawful possession of big game; non-resident purchasing of Montana resident licenses; providing supplemental feed to big game; hunting with the aid of bait and other violations.

“This is one of the most severe cases of providing supplemental feed to wildlife that I have encountered in my 32-year career,” said FWP Region 1 Investigator Brian Sommers.

Somers said that in one instance, the Ricks dumped hundreds of pounds of feed to attract animals.

In December 2016, Somers and Thompson Falls Game Warden Troy Hinck issued 56 citations to Derek Ricks in both Sanders and Gallatin counties. According to the citations, Ricks unlawfully killed a bull elk in 2012 while using a resident license despite not living in Montana at the time and in 2015 he shot and killed a white-tailed buck and black bear with the aid of bait. Somers issued 11 citations to Cheryl Coon Ricks, including unlawful possession of big game, a non-resident purchasing resident licenses and hunting with bait.

In August 2017, Derek Ricks pleaded guilty to a number of the citations and was ordered to pay a $10,210 fine, $2,500 in restitution and lost his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for three years. At the same time, Cheryl Coon Ricks was ordered to a $3,425 fine and $500 in restitution. She also lost her right to hunt and fish for three years.

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