The Montana Onion Exclusive

DFWP Ramps Up Enforcement; Protects Montana Wildlife Resource

Helena, Mont. - March 22, 2012.  In a move designed to protect the state's important wildlife resource, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has begun a new effort to curb poaching.  As an opening salvo in its new program, DFWP has cited 23 year old Samantha Broderick for illegally killing a deer on Highway 93 between Missoula and Hamilton.

Ms. Broderick is alleged to have illegally taken a deer out of season when she struck a deer in the southbound lane of Highway 93 with her Dodge pickup.  She has also been cited for not having the proper tag for the game animal she killed, for not tagging the animal immediately after the kill, for not wearing sufficient hunter orange clothing while in the process of taking a regulated game animal, for not reporting the illegal kill immediately to DFWP, for wasting a valuable wildlife resource because she left the deer on the roadside, for using her pickup as an illegal means of taking a game animal, and for using artificial illumination while hunting, all in violation of existing state laws.

DFWP Chief Game Warden Mortimer Cop commented, "These are all serious crimes against the people of Montana and a tragic waste of our valuable wildlife resource.  The law clearly defines 'hunting' as the taking of a regulated game animal, which is what this poacher has done.  She confessed to all these crimes."

Ms. Broderick was located in the emergency room of Daily Memorial Hospital where she was taken to have her two small children checked out for possible injuries after her pickup was nearly totaled in the collision.  She explained, "Of course my headlights were on, even though it was daylight.  The signs all ask drivers to drive this stretch of road with headlights on.  That's why I was charged with illegally using artificial illumination to kill the deer.  I don't think that charge should apply to me."

Cop continued, "DFWP has a 99% conviction rate for wildlife crimes.  We have learned that if we charge every possible offense against poachers like Borderick then we run the defense costs up so high that poachers can't afford anything but to plead guilty to something.  That way, we keep our conviction rate high.  Nobody can afford to fight us.  After all, we can hire all the lawyers we want to prosecute these cases at taxpayer expense."

Snerdley Snider witnessed the incident while north bound on his way home from work.  Following the collision, Snider transported Broderick and her children to the hospital.  Snider reports, "We had only been at the hospital for about five minutes to get the children treated when the game warden showed up.  I was really surprised at all the citations the game warden issued, including citing both children for being accessories to all of the crimes.  When the warden was finally finished writing all the citations, the children were allowed to go into the emergency room for treatment.  The warden told Ms. Broderick, 'Don't take it personally ma'am, I'm just doing my job by enforcing the laws the Legislature passes.' "

Frank Factotem, a local attorney, just happened to be at the hospital emergency room.  He estimated that it will cost Ms. Broderick about $90,000 in legal fees to defend against all of the citations issued.  He said the new level of DFWP enforcement will be great for lawyers.  Private sector lawyers will get a windfall, and public sector lawyers will have enhanced job security.  "It's a win-win for everybody" he said.

Sally Surefoot, an activist with the Mountain Wildlife Foundation criticized DFWP for not doing enough to protect Montana's wildlife resource.  "This is just a tiny step in the right direction" she said, but she encourages DFWP to go much further.  "Nobody really knows how many innocent creatures are killed every year by meteors," she continued.  She hopes DFWP will build a meteor-proof roof to protect wildlife from meteor strikes.  When asked about how wildlife would survive in the darkness created by the roof, she replied, "Well, they could just take it down in the daytime.  At least that would protect these innocent creatures half of the time."

Broderick's bail hearing will be held in three weeks.  Until then, DFWP will insist that she be held without bail.  When asked if this was reasonable, Chief Warden Cop said, "These are serious crimes.  We can't take a chance that Broderick will flee to escape justice, or perhaps kill again.  As long as she's in jail, she won't be able to do any more poaching."

When asked about how Broderick's young children would fare in her absence, Cop commented, "Hey, we can't solve everyone's problems for them.  Besides, the children will probably be in jail with her since they have been cited as accessories to all of Broderick's crimes.  They were certainly present when the crimes were committed.  Let a jury deal with their guilt."

DFWP is also moving forward with forfeiture of Broderick's home and future wages as "fruits of the crime."  "If we allowed poachers to profit from their crimes, that would just encourage others to poach too," Cop stated.

DFWP will ask the upcoming Legislature for more funding to hire approximately 1,376 new game wardens to bolster it's anti-poaching enforcement drive.  Agency administrators assert that existing personnel are spread far to thin to adequately staff its new enforcement goals.

In a related move, DFWP staff will ask the DFWP Commission to designate mice, flies and mosquitoes as regulated game animals.  Staff calculate that sales of mice, fly and mosquito licenses, and revenue from enforcement against people who take those regulated animals without licenses, will help offset the cost of hiring new game wardens.

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