DUBOIS, Wyo. — A frequent offender of wild game poaching laws was handed jail time and a ban on hunting privileges for an extensive period.
On March 4, 2020, Fremont County Circuit Court Judge Robert Denhardt found Kelly J. Grove of Dubois, Wyoming guilty of two counts of accessory before or after the fact in taking big game without a license (elk and deer), and one count accessory before or after the fact in the take of big game from a vehicle.
The prosecution dismissed two charges including accessory before or after the fact of shooting from a roadway and interference with a peace officer in a plea bargain reached with Grove.
Through the sentencing, Fremont County Circuit Court Judge Robert Denhardt sent a strong message to Grove to stop his poaching behavior and take responsibility for his actions. Judge Denhardt ordered him to pay a total of $6,365 in fines, assessments, and restitution, to spend one year in jail with seven days credit for time already served, and three years supervised probation upon his release.
Grove is required to serve the remaining 358 days in jail. The Judge also suspended Grove’s hunting and fishing privileges for 18 years in Wyoming and 44 other states, in addition to forfeiting his Remington 700 .300 Ultra Mag bolt action rifle.
On January 7, 2020 Spencer Carrico of Dubois, Wyoming pled guilty and was sentenced by Judge Denhardt for two violations of taking an elk and a deer without a license. The prosecution dismissed the counts of take big game from a vehicle and shooting from a roadway in a plea bargain reached with Carrico.
Judge Denhardt ordered Carrico to pay $6,110 in fines, assessment, and restitution and suspended his hunting and fishing privileges for four years in Wyoming and 44 other states. Carrico was ordered to one-year unsupervised probation and sentenced to 90 days in jail, which were suspended.
History of poaching
The case itself began on the evening of November 10, 2018 when Carrico and Grove were coming down the Union Pass Road west of Dubois in Grove’s truck. They spotted and shot a cow elk and Carrico, using Grove’s rifle. The men were unable to locate the elk after searching for it and were unsure if Carrico had mortally wounded the animal.
The next day, both men, again in Grove’s truck, spotted a doe mule deer off the East Fork Road northeast of Dubois. Grove again handed his rifle to Carrico who shot the doe from the road and inside the truck on a dare from Grove. The men loaded the deer whole into the truck, drove down the road a distance, pulled over, and gutted the deer. They took the deer home and quartered the animal.
Both men had been drinking when they shot the animals, and neither man had an elk or a deer license in 2018.
Although Carrico was the primary defendant in the case, he received a less serious punishment from Judge Denhardt than Grove did as the accessory. This was Carrico’s first wildlife violation, he was cooperative with the officers conducting the investigation, admitted his role in the crime, and took responsibility for his actions. Grove did not take responsibility for his role, tampered with evidence, and is a repeat wildlife violator with two previous serious violations and several minor infractions.
Grove was placed on federal probation for the unlawful taking of threatened wildlife just months before he and Carrico committed these most recent crimes. In 2018, he and another man, Matthew Brooks, formerly of Dubois, were both found guilty for their roles in the illegal take of a grizzly bear north of Dubois in 2015.
Grove was ordered to pay $7,000 in restitution and his hunting privileges were suspended worldwide for five years. Eight other charges against him in the grizzly bear case were dismissed, and his Remington 700 .300 Ultra Mag bolt action rifle was also confiscated in that case but returned two months before he handed it to Carrico to shoot the elk and deer.
Grove also pled guilty August 2007 to being an accessory to taking a bighorn ram without a license, waste/abandonment of a bighorn sheep, two counts each of waste of an elk and deer, and two counts each of false oath to obtain resident big game licenses.
Chief Deputy Fremont County and Prosecuting Attorney Ember Oakley, who represented the state in the current case and in the federal grizzly bear case, stated, “This man has a shocking history of violations. He’s been convicted of wanton waste of animals, including a bighorn sheep. He’s attempted to shoot the antlers off of live deer. He was on federal probation for game violations when he committed this crime and more. We appreciate the work of the Game and Fish in bringing us solid, well-investigated cases. The Fremont County Attorney’s office is pleased with the sentence that the circuit court handed down, in recognition of the intolerable history that preceded this case.”
Grove will next appear in front of U.S. District Court Judge Skavdahl for violating his federal probation by committing another wildlife crime while on probation from the illegal take of the grizzly bear.
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